June 26, 2015
Five steps to create an awesome experience on mobile
Step #1. Design for mobile, not web (or print)
You are probably wondering how different can it be to design a mobile app from designing a mobile site. The difference is poles apart. On web, the interaction is between the cursor and pixels. Whereas on mobile, the interaction is between your finger (natural stylus) and pixels. On web, it’s mouse clicks and keystrokes. On mobile, it’s gestures and multi-touch detections. As you can see designing interactions for mobile is a completely new ballgame. Not only we are working with myriad hardware, but mobile design also has the potential to impact us in very different ways emotionally. It is a personal and people-centric platform. Hence, your designs should be able to create a connection between users and apps.
Step #2. You are selling an experience and not just a piece of art
Designing for mobile devices requires a dedication to user experience beyond anything that has been witnessed in designing for the web. Designers who have the easiest transition to mobile are those who embrace a high standard of usability and creativity. The idea that designing for the user experience first somehow deflates creative potential is the exact opposite of reality. Think of it as not just “there’s an app for that,” but instead as “there’s a product for that.” You’re not just designing apps you’re designing products with planning, attention to detail and aesthetic design. So bottomline is: Know thy user. Create at least user personas and scenarios if not the task-flow.
Step #3. Template vs. Custom Designed
This tip is for the clients too. With 10,00,000+ active apps and 25 billion downloaded apps, do you think you stand a chance with design templates provided by Apple (or Google, Microsoft)? I can bet not. The decision to use custom versus standard graphics is often based on the overall budget available for the project. Just having the budget for good coders isn’t enough; a budget must also exist for a designer to create custom graphics. But you must remember, custom app design integration can sometimes be very difficult for the developer or development team, and that time can add up to your overall budget. But at the end of the day it’s definitely worth it. So my friends (read designers), time has come to stop copying blatantly from Dribbble and create your own UI controls.
Step #4. Photoshop rules!
What software should I use to design apps? This is the first question designers new to mobile seem to ask. Good news – it’s Photoshop! That said, with the proliferation of devices, screen sizes, and resolutions, vector shapes are also a big part of designing for mobile devices. So instead of saving an Illustrator file as .png, import it to Photoshop, and play with it. And please try to make your design less cluttered (dense is okay) sans filters and layer effects.
Step #5. Be insanely simple
Last but not the least, to be pixel perfect you need to be insanely simple in your design and your thoughts. As the greatest visionary of all times, Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it at the end, because once you get there, you can move monuments.” And pixel perfect is the direct outcome of being insanely simple. It’s the art that will act as a key to your app’s success.
Photoshop rules! Thanks a ton for this.