Photography plays an important role in site design, especially for businesses. Visitors want to feel engaged when they visit your site, and this is achieved by including a variety of content, with one of the key features being a good set of photographs. Sometimes, it’s hard for site owners to get this right, as Kris… Read more »
Love it, or hate it – the vintage style remains ever popular. E-stores, corporate designs, portfolios, and blogs incorporate vintage styles on both a small and large scale, we guarantee there isn’t a day that goes by when you’re browsing on the web and you don’t stumble across some vintage aesthetics. Its popularity is due… Read more »
There are many irksome and downright headache-inducing additions to contemporary websites, we at Creative Freedom have seen many. With coding becoming a lot simpler and people having greater access to templates which feature wide varieties of add-ons, we’ve seen a rise in site quality over the last 20 years. However, there is a downside to… Read more »
Illustrations on a website are first and foremost an aesthetic enhancer. Many sites today will feature an illustration, besides a logo, at least somewhere. Illustrations are a great tool in giving a rudimentary site a hefty injection of personality. Patrick McNeil of Web Designer Depot explores the uses of illustration as an element of web… Read more »
When it comes to creating an educational site, the same principles apply. With any site, it needs to adhere to those important aesthetic values in order to be a success. The best way to start is to take a look at some of the most visually compelling educational sites out there. Writing in Vandelay Designs,… Read more »
Creative Freedom has been delivering some of the best quality icon designs and web solutions for a good few years now, but, as well as doing the work, we have always been interested in imparting some healthy tips and advice for anyone wishing to delve into the world of web and icon design themselves. Today,… Read more »
A fairly new addition to the pantheon of web design, designing sites for a mobile device doesn’t veer too far away from those essential principles of all web design. You’re going to want your site to look professional, gone are the days when you could get away with having a simplistic layout, you also want… Read more »
In recent years, the use of incorporating animation and stop-motion into web design has been on the increase. Initially taking shape in the early 2000s, with designers using flash extensions, the methods of incorporation have become a lot more simple with time; you can now buy website templates with the ability to use animation with… Read more »
A well designed website is what gets customers interested, not the actual products themselves. Now, stay with us here, you might think that the products you’re offering are what will secure a sale, but the product is only a small part of gaining a sale. Sure, an established brand can have a site where it’s… Read more »
In our last post in this series, we introduced A/B testing—a popular means of testing different design variables in order to gain greater insight into site visitor behaviour and, ultimately, develop long-term effective development practices. To recap, A/B testing involves testing two different design elements, such as copy, navigation, visuals, calls to action, and more,… Read more »
Despite there now being over 4 million apps on the market worldwide, many app designs are severely lacking in the imagination department. It doesn’t help that both Apple and Google produce lengthy, prescriptive ‘guidelines’ on how app interfaces on their platforms should be produced.
While these are important in terms of explaining to designers how they can make their apps fit comfortably within certain smartphone operating systems, they don’t really get to the bottom of what makes an app interface good—not least what makes an app interface unique, innovative, or inspired.
So what does it actually take to make an app interface design, well, good?
Keep things self-explanatory
Many designers today misinterpret ‘simple’ design as ‘minimalist’ design. This can actually lead to designs which, while minimal, are not simple or self-explanatory by any means (even if they look it.) So what do we mean by keeping things simple?
“Simple means a first-time user can open the app and start using it without having to read through directions or follow a guide. It means that they can complete simple tasks in very few steps, or in situations where more steps are required, it is still straightforward,” argues Callum Chapman in design shack.
This might mean going for obvious solutions in some cases (Callum gives the example of keeping delete buttons red), but in terms of usability, it’s often the obvious solutions that are the best. If you cut out unnecessary hurdles to usability and nail your obvious solutions to the mast, you’ve already overcome the main hurdle to good UI design. Look at the most popular apps on the market. Instagram’s interface is made up of five buttons and a few scroll menus—it’s simple, and that’s why it works. Nobody wants to read a manual, so don’t make them.
Standing out, not sticking out
One of the major challenges of good UI design is striking a fine balance between fitting in with the operating system at hand while still standing out. You might be wondering whether you should try and do something entirely new, or stick with the OS’ interface design guidelines.
Look, let’s be clear here. The people who will be downloading your app are used to using the same phone operating system, the same menus, and the same gestures day-in, day-out. As revolutionary as that new touch-free gesture might be, your app is not going to be a useful app if its interface is radically different from that which users are used to (with the exception of mobile games, for which custom menus and the like are often necessary).
Making your app stand out while abiding to the norms of smartphone interaction is one of the biggest challenges app designers face—so try approaching Apple and Google’s interface guidelines like a designer should. See what works for your specification, keep it, and disregard the stuff that doesn’t. These guidelines don’t have to be prescriptive, and can be the building blocks for your UI if approached in the right way.
Break down information into bite-sized chunks
We’ve discussed infographics in the past, and I think they offer a great model for presenting and formatting information within an app’s interface. They capitalise on the human evolutionary tendency towards visual learning by breaking down complex information into small visual chunks. It’s a great way to flex your graphic design muscles and makes information-heavy apps a joy to use.
Just take a look at Transplant Hero, an alarm app created for transplant patients by doctors to help them remember to take their medication. It breaks up the day’s medication into different coloured bubbles, which display the time and dosages required. Users can simply scroll through the bubbles to see what dosages are required later in the day, and the app even gamifies this process by rewarding users with hearts and stars. It’s a really simple way of splitting up long, difficult to remember information. A lot of the best apps do this well: representing information and data in an attractive, memorable, and quickly comprehensible way.