“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Today, there are over a million apps and counting in the Apple iOS store. Each one of these apps is customized; there is no such thing as a standard template for iOS. The key question for iOS app development: How do you design an app that stands out from the crowd?
Here are 6 design elements iOS app developers need to keep in mind to ensure user engagement.
1. Less is Better
You’ve got a limited amount of real estate to grab user attention. Cluttering it up with too much detail will only confuse them. Worse, it can make your app unattractive in a space where aesthetic value is at a premium. Mobile design consultant Jonathan Stark emphasizes the need to, “Edit your features ruthlessly. You are going to have to leave stuff out.” Focus on a few things that really set the app apart from anything else out there, and develop the app design accordingly.
2. Seek Clarity
Your iOS app development design needs to highlight important content. Even more importantly, it needs to invite user interactivity. Apple development guidelines recommend legible text at every font size, precise icons that immediately convey their purpose, subtle and appropriate adornments. Perhaps most important is a sharp concentration on functionality. It’s the old adage of form following function.
3. Fit the Format
Users should see everything they need to see without having to scroll or zoom. Given that apps are used on various sized iPads and iPhones, either in portrait or landscape orientation, your design must be adaptable to all viewing interfaces. Fortunately, there is a development tool specifically for this purpose. Auto Layout provides the means to define rules, or constraints, to ensure buttons and icons are always positioned consistently on an image, regardless of screen size. The iOS app development tool also defines rectangular areas that, while not visible, aid in the proper positioning, alignment, and spacing of content.
4. Keep Color in Line
Apple provides a vibrant color palette to developers. You can use it, but you probably shouldn’t. As colorful (literally) as the palette is, the danger in using it is that a lot of other developers use it as well. To stand out, use your own colors. Here are a few additional considerations in the effective use of color in your app design:
Don’t use the same color for interactive and non-interactive items. Using a different distinctive color for interactive items is a great visual clue to let users know where to tap.
The colors should work together. So, for example, if you’re using pastels, use a palette of pastels, don’t introduce something that conflicts with that palette.
Be subtle. It might be tempting to use a lot of bold and even contrasting colors in an attempt to stand out. But in most cases, elegance is what attracts the eye, and elegance typically involves two, no more than three primary colors.
Avoid using color combinations (red-green, blue-orange) to distinguish between two states or values – color blind users won’t be able to see the difference. Most editing tools can check for potential color blindness conflicts and suggest alternative formatting.
How does it look in daylight? Preview your app under multiple lighting conditions to see how the colors appear and adjust so the color scheme looks best viewed under a variety of conditions.
Make it pop. Use tints or light colors for background and overlay darker shades to make text stand out.
5. Get an “All Thumbs” Up
UX designer Adhithya Vijai points to studies that show 75 percent of app interactions are conducted with a thumb. So your design should accommodate a “thumb zone”—place frequently used controls within easy access of a thumb, and things you don’t want users to accidentally tap in hard to reach areas.
6. Large and Clear Fonts
Back in the early days of personal computers when word processing programs first appeared, authors littered their text with a bunch of different fonts and sizes because, well, just because they could. This resulted in ugly documents that distracted from anyone actually reading them. Style guides eventually evolved to stress a document should have a single font style and a consistent series of font sizes to designate levels of information. The same holds true for fonts on your app. They should be easily readable, an appropriate size that looks balanced on your app, fit to the overall design scheme, and above all, a single, preferably simple, font style. Here’s a list of some pretty cool modern fonts to consider.