Mobile App Usability Checklist

Have you ever deleted an app that you recently download? This scenario is all too common – you simply delete the app because it is too hard to use. Mobile apps can be exceptional tools that are always with you. To take advantage of their mobility your apps need to provide a smooth and friendly user experience. Usability is a fundamental part of the customer experience that determines if the app is easy to use and if it will stay installed on your phone. A mobile app with good usability helps to attract, retain, and expand your user base and improve your user’s efficiency. We put the following checklist together to foster excellent usability for your mobile app.

Visibility of System Status

  • Can users tell where they are within the app?
    Check the headline of each screen, and make sure it describes the screen accurately.

  • Does the app inform the user that their actions have been received?
    The system should inform the user that their actions have been received and that the results will be revealed shortly. For example, a visual indicator when the user taps on a button, a spinning icon, or skeleton loading to indicate the loading status.

  • Does the app give appropriate feedback for user’s actions?
    Once the user sends data to the backend, make sure there is appropriate feedback. For example, after placing an order, users need to be informed if it is successful and what to expect next.

  • Can the user tell what options are available for what to do next?
    When there is an error or the app cannot fulfill the user’s requests, provide solutions or alterations. For example, if an item is currently out of stock, inform the user when it will be available or suggest similar items.

Match Between System and The Real World

  • Does the system use language that is familiar to the user?
    Check the words within the app. Avoid using jargon if the target users are not experts. Provide explanations when the use of jargon is necessary.

  • Are icons used effectively? Can users understand them?
    Use self-explanatory icons that are widely used in the industry. When the icon is not explicit use texts to help users understand its meaning.

User Control and Freedom

  • Can the user exit the current process?
    Make sure the cancel and or back actions are available and clear to the user.

  • Is it safe for the user to exit the current process?
    In some contexts, the app needs to support undo/redo. For scenarios that the user’s action cannot be reverted, double-check with them (example, are you sure you do not want to save?), and clearly state the consequence before going forward.

Consistency and Standards

  • Is the UI design consistent throughout the app? 
    Check the font, color, icons, and copy. Make sure they are consistent when serving the same purpose. For example, check all the warning messages if they are in the same format (typography, font size, font weight, color, etc.)

  • If the mobile app is within a product family, make sure it is consistent with other products.
    For example, if a product has both a web and mobile version, make sure the user flow is consistent and there are no conflicts or confusion between the two.

  • Does the app follow platform conventions?
    For example, see the iOS standards here: Human Interface Guidelines for iOS.

Error Prevention

  • Does the app help users prevent errors?
    Set helpful constraints and choose good defaults to help users to prevent errors. For example, only allow number inputs when the user fills in a credit card number.

  • Provide timely error feedback to users.
    Check user’s input and actions continuously. Provide feedback if any error occurs as early as possible. It can help prevent future and repetitive errors. It’s easier for users to fix errors instantly rather than revisit them later.

Recognition Rather Than Recall

  • Reduce memory burden for the user.
    Minimize the user’s effort to load memories by making information visible. For example, in a date picker, highlight today to save the user’s effort of recalling what date it is today.


  • Does the text have good readability?
    Use typography with good readability (e.g., sans-serif fonts). Also pay attention to the font size and font weight. Avoid capitalizing the full sentence.

  • Is the color contrast good to read?
    Check the contrast ratio of the texts and graphics with the background. (You can use an online contrast-ratio tool like this one.)

Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

  • Is the information displayed on the screen essential to decision-making?
    Only display text and visual elements that focus on essential tasks. Make sure there is no unnecessary elements on the screen that distract users.

Help and Documentation

  • Is it easy for the user to seek help?
    Make sure the Q&A, help documentation, contact information, online representative, or other kinds of help are easy to access and search. Put the help in the context when the user needs it.

Mobile Specific Gestures

  • Are touch gestures well applied?
    On mobile devices, allow gestures when it is intuitive for users to use gestures. For example, in addition to tapping left/right arrows to switch to another card, users can also swipe left/right. Some common gestures on mobile devices are tap, swipe, long press, drag, pinch, spread, and rotate.

The above checklist is what I modified based on the classic usability checkpoints, with my lessons learned from my project experience. Building good usability is systematic work. And for different products, the principles above should be applied case by case.