Mobile UX Design: The Past, Present, & Future

As of June 2019, the Pew Research Center indicated that roughly 81% of Americans who own mobile phones own a smart phone.¹ The sheer number of people using these devices has made mobile user experience (UX) design crucial. Just imagine how much less time you’d spend on your phone if mobile UX wasn’t giving you a positive experience.

“Mobile user experience (UX) design is intuitive, frictionless, and meets the user’s needs wherever they are.”

– Natalie Weathers, Director & Digital Marketing Offering Lead, Avanade

Mobile UX Design

The History Of User Experience

UX is constantly evolving. Natalie Weathers, Director & Digital Marketing Offering Lead at Avanade explains that user experience has become, “…pervasive and grown more intelligent as time and technology has advanced.”

While mobile UX is a more recent development, traditional UX design has been around for quite some time. In order to have a better understanding of what mobile UX entails, it helps to see a timeline of user experience. Refer below for a brief timeline.²

1900s – Fredrick Winslow Taylor

He established the modern optimization of work. This is also known as ergonomics.

Mobile UX Design - history

1940s – Toyota

In the 1940s Toyota produced their human-centered-production system. This was a major milestone in UX history. It taught the importance of humans interact with machines.

Mobile UX Design - history

1955 – Henry Dreyfuss

Back in 1955, Henry Dreyfuss wrote “Designing for people”, where he emphasized the relation between people, their experience and the product’s design.

Mobile UX Design - Henry

1966 – Walt Disney

Learn more about why his “attention to detail, focus on immersion, and the desire constantly improve his products made Walt Disney one of the earliest designers of user experience” here.³

Mobile UX Design - Walt Disney

1970s – The Era of Personal Computers

Xerox’s PARC developed many of the now well-known UX design elements. Just two of the many things they created were the mouse and graphical user interface. These features would later be introduced in the original 1984 release of Apple’s Macintosh.

1995 – Donald Norman

Donald Norman joined Apple in the early 90s. He was first person to have UX in his job title. Norman was quoted saying, “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow: I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.” ⁴

2000s & Beyond

Since the 2000s, user experience has greatly evolved. Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality are just a few examples. Keep reading to see some more recent design trends and to learn exactly UX has changed.

Mobile UX 101

So, what does mobile UX look like today? There’s no denying that UX has greatly changed since the early 1900s with Fredrick Winslow Taylor. But, over the past few years with the fast paces changes in the evolution of technology it seems that every single year brings us new trends.

Over the course of 2019 we saw quite a few UX design trends.⁶

  • Optimized navigation
  • UX for wearables (smartwatches)
  • Apps designed for every platform

Mobile UX Design

How It Has Changed

Weathers from Avanade perfectly explains what UX was like a couple years back: “Remember Siri a few years ago? She was the worst – not helpful, misinterpreted most of what she heard and even interrupted at inconvenient times. That’s what UX was a few years ago…Kind of cool, but not really helpful.”

Thankfully, the evolution of technology has helped to solve this issue. Face recognition, voice, and AI really allows UX to remain “customer-centric.”

The Future

It’s been suggested that many mobile UX designers will start working on emotional intelligence in the near future. However, a lot of research suggests that brands will go this route as emotion can help build long-term relationships.

Over the next few years we will see improvements to chatbots and voice technology. By adding emotion, it will allow individuals to communicate with technology in a more natural. In addition to this, comes the ability for the technology to understand how you are feeling. Emotion sensing technology is just a few years around the corner.⁵


Although the future for mobile user experience looks bright, it still will come with its challenges. One of the most common challenges faced by UX designers is the constant evolving technology.

“It is constantly changing and hasn’t defined itself yet.”

    – Michael Melen, Co-Founder, SmartSites

In addition to this, Michael Melen, Co-Founder of SmartSites emphasized that, “Mobile UX is still in its teenage years. It is constantly changing and hasn’t defined itself yet.”

With technology always changing, it can be difficult for designers to stay up to date.

Meanwhile, Weathers added on that understanding the user and creating experiences that allows them to accomplish their goals in a rewarding way is a constant challenge. She explains, “Mobile experiences need to be clean, pleasant and allow users to achieve their objectives without getting in the way.”

“Mobile experiences need to be clean, pleasant and allow users to achieve their objectives without getting in the way.”

    – Natalie Weathers, Director & Digital Marketing Offering Lead, Avanade


User experience has come a long way. And, as technology continues to improve so will our experience with our mobile devices. As a brand, it is almost impossible to keep up with the ever-changing technology. This is why many companies are hiring agencies that specialize in UX design, so they too can stay on the cusp of technology transformation.

If you’re having difficulties finding the perfect agency partner, check out Agency Spotter.



¹ Pew Research Center Information & Technology | ² Career Foundry | ³ UX Magazine | ⁴ Adobe Blog | ⁵ Adobe Blog | ⁶ Entrepreneur |


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Nicole Schuster
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