At 75 million users in 2014, MENA has one of the largest bases of smartphone owners globally. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, smartphone penetration is among the highest in the world – only Singapore and South Korea come out ahead. With forecasters predicting smartphone users in the region to reach 220 million by 2018, it’s absolutely critical that brands serving consumers in MENA prioritize mobile user experience for this unique environment.

Planning for a mobile future means rethinking user interface and user experience across devices. Smart brands are striving to ensure seamlessness across situations and channels, including out-of-home, in-store, online and on mobile, desktop, and tablet. The priority is to develop easy, intuitive, fast, and personalized interactive digital properties.

Every advertiser needs to decide what type of site they want to build for their business. Separate sites for mobile and desktop require separate URLs and HTML. Sites built using responsive design have the same URL and HTML, so a brand’s web property adjusts to different screen sizes and optimizes to any device. Adaptive site design uses the same URL but different HTML, resulting in a highly interactive, secure site that works for everyone who might ever visit the site with any type of mobile device. The decision whether to build a separate mobile site, a responsive site, or an adaptive site should be driven by return on investment.

No matter what device they’re using, consumers need and expect experiences that are inspirational, informative, transactional, and personalized. Make sure you provide exciting, relevant content in order to maximize interaction with your brand before building purchase intent. Increase consideration by using mobile attributes such as automatic location detection to provide an immersive, informative product experience. Make it easy for mobile users to convert from their device. For example, offer one-click checkout, in-store availability, or click-and-collect options. Reward your most loyal customers with apps and loyalty programs that recognize users across all of their devices.

Beyond these considerations, implement these five simple principles to optimize the user experience for your mobile customers.

1. Get your priorities straight

  • Make information easy to find.
  • Focus the homepage on connecting consumers to the content they’re seeking.
  • Put primary calls to action in the main body of the site, with secondary tasks available through menus or below the fold.

2. Make site search visible, smart, and relevant -- especially for smaller screens

  • Make lists as short as possible, rigorously editing anything out that might not be relevant.
  • Go for drop down lists to eliminate clutter.

3. Allow customers to convert as guests

  • Don’t make your users sign up right away. Let them get to know you (and convert) before making them fill out a form.

4. Simplify the process of filling out forms

  • Break down forms into manageable chunks to make the task more approachable.
  • Include steps and progress bars. Giving users an idea of what’s coming up next makes each step seem easier and more worthwhile.

5. Let users pick up where they left off

  • Make it easy to go from one device to another by recognizing the customer on subsequent visits.

These are some guidelines for a good starting point, but it’s also important to follow your instinct as a mobile user, rather than a professional. It’s easy to identify a great UX. And with these simple tips, a great UX is achievable as well.