Mobile Tip Design

For my fourth blog post I will mention a few basic tip for mobile design. This post will be unlike my usual logorrhea affliction because I left my original post at home, and really don’t want to head all the way back to grab it because that means having to comfort a neurotic toy poodle that hates being alone—and its been alone for all of two hours—, and a needy Morkie puppy that greets you with the same enthusiasm whether you’ve just stepped out to put the garbage to the curb, or have been gone all day.

So, starting from scratch (and none of the fun pictures, sorry) here are my tips to make an adequate mobile design–if you want a great mobile design, you’ll have to find someone who knows a lot more than me, which will be most people.

Most apps are basically just lists except for the ones that aren’t (Yeah, I know, very deep, very Zen). Your job is to hide the fact that your app or website is just a list. Make going through it a rewarding user experience.

  1. Use the grid. You don’t want your buttons or icons distributed unevenly. It drives some people up the wall…unless you have a pattern in the chaos, in which case, it is a clever use of unevenly distributed buttons; but you have to be artistically clever to do this. Before you break the rules, you first need to know the rules and how to break them properly.
  2. Keep buttons a different colour than the background so it doesn’t all blend together. Also, keep in mind some people are colourblind so what you think may be obvious to spot, may be difficult for some. If you can, view your design in black and white to get an idea of what stands out regardless of colour.
  3. Avoid using red for “Yes”, or “Go To…” buttons. E.g. don’t use a red button for “Buy”. Sure, it stands out, but in US and Canada that colour means “Stop”. I had a nice link in my original post that showed how one company doubled their “Buy” hits by changing the button colour from Red to Green (no, not that Red Green).
  4. Keep visual elements consistent throughout the app. You don’t want your app or site looking different on every page. You want your user to recognize that s/he’s still on your mobile app or website.
  5. Any actions require a feedback. Don’t leave your user guessing if their tap or click is doing anything. Buttons should change when tapped (depress, move, glow, change colour). Have a “loading” icon if one of your pages takes a bit of time to load.
  6. Keep it simple. Overloading a single page with information will have people leaving before they find what they want. Don’t make users spend time searching for something on your page. It should be easy to find. E.g. I’ve given up on pages that made me hunt for their Search field.
  7. Get feedback from strangers, then listen if they’re saying the same thing. As the Yiddish proverb goes, “If someone calls you a donkey, ignore them. If two people call you a donkey, think about it. If three people call you a donkey, buy a saddle”.
  8. Check out bad website and app design to find what you don’t like and then avoid doing that yourself. E.g. check out http://www.anusha.com. I’m not making that link active because this guy likes trying to sue people and he may not be happy with me saying his site is terribly designed. Besides, he has improved the site—the tinny music no longer plays when you visit, and he’s decluttered–yes, that is the decluttered version–it since I first saw it years ago.

Anyway, there are loads more tips out there, and they’re easy to find. As well, you’ll see sites you like and sites you don’t like, and if you have any aesthetic sense and an ability to see through other peoples’ eyes, your apps will look great. Do you have any burning tips you just want to share with the world–okay, given the readership of this blog is probably 3 people, that’s not really the world, is it?, but that now gives me two questions I have added at the end to engage readers?

Tune in next week when I give a tutorial on using Audition to process wildlife recordings. Or maybe I’ll do something on identifying bats using their ultrasonic calls, a Java program, and Excel. Bet you can’t wait, huh? (oooh, three questions). 😉

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