Tory Hobson; Product Designer


Don't Make Me Reach


How more apps (like Amazon) could benefit from a bottom navigation.

This problem is far from new, but I thought I’d revisit it because, well… I’m finding a lot of apps that still have the main navigation or primary actions at the top of the screen.

This wasn’t too big of an issue back in the day when phones were smaller, but as the size increases so do user’s frustrations at having to shift their hand in an awkward kind of way or use two hands to reach the top of the screen. While the majority of companies have made adjustments over time, some are still lacking behind.

My thumb thanks you, Twitter


Twitter has done a great job of adapting over the years. You can see that they’ve moved the “compose a tweet” action (the main CTA) to the bottom of the screen by way of a floating action button. They also moved the search feature, another primary action, down to the bottom navigation bar. And it looks like Twitter considers viewing your profile more of a secondary action so that was moved from the bottom to the top. 

My thumb hates you, Amazon

iPhone SE (4-inch screen) vs iPhone Plus (5.5-inch screen)

iPhone SE (4-inch screen) vs iPhone Plus (5.5-inch screen)

Amazon’s iOS app, however, could use a little help. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the most common action a user takes when opening the app is searching for a product (it certainly is for me). But look at where the search bar is, at the very top of the screen and definitely out of reach on larger devices. One idea on how to solve this problem would be for Amazon to adopt the approach that Twitter took. Put the most common action in a FAB, and the rest of the main navigational items in bottom navbar.

amazon-before-after copy.png

I don’t have data to back up these design decisions, but lowering the navigation to a more accessible area sure seems like a win to me. It would also help breakup that cluster of icons in the top right which are so tightly packed together that it can be frustrating trying to tap the correct one (especially for people with large fingers). And those other secondary search actions could get tucked away within the FAB and have them appear on a long press (my prototype below shows this). 

I also think that the search results should start from the bottom and go up (instead of starting from the top and going down like it currently is) so that the top recommended items on the list are closer to your thumb.


It might not be a huge problem, but I definitely think reachability is worth thinking about when designing mobile applications. Because let’s face it, as designers we’re here to make things as simple as possible for the customer—even something that seems trivial, like making things easy to reach.

“You know about the reachability feature on iOS, right?”
To be honest, while writing this post I found out that reachability is still a thing on the iPhone X. I used it a lot on my older iPhone Plus (by tapping the home button twice), but just figured they removed it on the X (along with the home button). Looks like you can add the reachability feature back by going to settings but my guess is that the average user doesn’t do this - or forgets that they can use it when they need it.

Tory Hobson