One of my favorite parts of being a creative at COPIOUS is getting to expand my own skill set by exploring new technologies and mediums.
As a digital agency, we’re always talking about the latest and greatest apps — and even getting to build a few ourselves. For a creative like me, that’s really exciting because learning, exploring, and playing are so important to keep my creativity fresh. But while it’s great to break the rules every now and again, there are a few tips to stick by when designing for iOS:
1. Do your homework.
With the continual flow of new apps hitting the market, there is always something beautiful to discover, learn from, and draw inspiration. The app store is a fast way to find what's "New and Noteworthy" and "What's Hot". One of my favorite apps that I’ve discovered recently is Headspace. The design is detailed and the colors are peaceful and bright. It's refreshing to find a beautifully designed useful app that's not tied to a social network or photography manipulation. Some other favorites are Clear, Ness, and National Parks by National Geographic.
2. Wireframe user flows.
Pencil and paper are low fidelity but highly beneficial. Create or download an iPhone template and get sketching. As you go through the various user flows you might discover additional screens that you had not accounted for design or development time. You might also find there are multiple ways to solve a problem, and seeing all the steps in the process will give you clarity for the best solution. Look at current user patterns and keep usability as a top priority.
3. Make your UI with even pixels.
Keeping your UI on pixels is always necessary. Remembering to make everything an even pixel can definitely be a challenge, but it’s a huge timesaver when optimizing your design for the smaller screen resolution. Just think — the time you save by creating a photoshop action and batching all assets is extra budget for the fun stuff!
4. Test your designs on the device.
No matter the platform — iPhone, tablet, multi-touch, print — seeing the design at actual size in its intended platform is crucial to the success of the design. Towards the end of my design sprints, my iPhone photo library is usually flooded with jpegs of the app, so I can see and handle it in the context of my phone. Thankfully, one of our mobile engineers introduced me to X-Scope. It’s a great tool for inspecting on-screen graphics without having to save any content on your phone. (Thank you Joseph!)
5. Two heads are better than one.
Let’s face it, the success of your app depends not only on the power of your design, but the knowledge of your developer as well. If you’re as lucky as I am to have a downright phenomenal engineering team, working together from start to finish will give you the tools to think outside the box and keep within the budget. They might also tip you off to some sweet new functionality you never knew existed. So go...talk to your developer! And be sure to share your own time-saving tips that don't impair your creativity in the comments below.