Mobile devices include both smart phones and tablets. Nowadays, most of these devices have touch screens. Consumers are given plenty opportunities to interact with various software applications. Understanding how the minds of mobile users work could help a lot in designing successful mobile apps.

Mimic Reality

According to Immersion Corporation’s ‘Immersion Mental Model White Paper’[1], “consumers often employ a mental model of a physical keyboard when they use the touch-based soft keypad on their mobile devices”. Hence touch sensations have to be implemented so that consumers feel that they are actually pressing down the keys when they type on the keypad shown on the touchscreen device. This points to a key point that app designers have to keep in mind: consumer interactions with apps have to evoke feelings of touch. Instead of making “pictures under glass” appear, as Bret VictorUser Interface (UI) expert and designer of the Apple iPad described it, designers have to provide interactive elements. To improve the user experience for mobile apps, high-definition haptic technologies are now available to provide touch-based effects that create realistic physical sensations on mobile devices.

Enrich Experiences

According to a Norway study, e-book readers have fewer memories of the content of the book than if they had chosen to read the same text on paper.  Why was it harder to mentally reconstruct a story for Kindle readers? We believe this is because e-books lack the touch-feedback experience that a print pocket book reader experiences flipping through pages, smelling the scent of the book and so on. Effectively understanding that consumers relate better to well-synchronized visuals and sounds could help in creating a more satisfying reading model on mobile devices. User’s imagination should be stimulated about their mobile device’s content. Strong emotional responses could be invoked through interactive elements that leave a lasting positive impression about the mobile app.

Understand Distractions

One of the most important things a marketer designing a mobile app has to understand is that mobile users are often in an environment with plenty of distractions. The digital app has to be compelling enough that the senses of the user are excited and distractions can be overcome. The content in the app has to be brought to life by predicting how consumers react to different sections in the app and thus planning their future actions to design the appropriate course. Cognetics Corporation's designer Scott McDaniel’s article ‘What’s Your Idea of a Mental Model?’[2] illustrates it clearly: if a person is ordering a steak at a restaurant, they would assume that they would be met at the door, seated and presented with a menu; however, a person who goes into a buffet restaurant would not be waiting for someone to take their order. In the same way, set up the context for users to clearly understand what they are being offered, as that would guide their interactions in the smoothest way possible.

[1] Immersion Corporation. “Immersion Mental Model White Paper” (2012)

[2] Scott McDanielboxesandarrows“What’s Your Idea of a Mental Model?” (2003)


Point Taken:

Create intriguing and usable apps by understanding how consumers’ minds work: they desire realistic, rich and focused experiences.


Want a demo on creative mobile apps that are designed according to mobile users’ minds? Contact our Chief Experience Designer at or call 416-595-9823.

GenesisXD, an Experience Design firm, helps our clients stay ahead of the curve with interactive mobile apps for marketing communications.