Mobile Design Primer

Deep diving into mobile design and development guidelines has been enlightening and frankly exciting. After watching a series of iPhone App videos from Apple online, I’ve done as advised and jumped into the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

Right out of the gate, Apple discusses the key differences between Computer Applications and iPhone/Mobile Applications to be aware of as you enter the designing and planning your application for iPhone OS-based devices.

Here is a primer of the key characteristics to remember.

1. Screen size is compact.

It will force you to focus on the essentials.

2. Memory is limited.

Managing memory is crucial. The virtual memory model does not include disk swap space.

You will need to:

1. Eliminate memory links.

2. Make resource files as small as possible.

3. Optimize how resources are loaded.

3. People see one screen at a time.

On the iPhone with some exceptions users see a single application screen at a time.  The number of screens is not the issue but remember as you design that users will see your screens sequentially not simultaneously.

4. People interact with one application at a time.

In iPhone OS 4.o applications can transition to the background through multitasking but users will still interact will one application at a time.

5. On Screen User Help is Minimal.

This creates a big case for make it simple. Users don’t have time to read though alot of help content. In order to create ease of use.

1. Use standard controls correctly.

2. Be sure that the path through the information is logical and easy for users to predict.

3. Provide back buttons so that users can find where they are and how to retrace their steps.

Finally, additional key questions to answer when preparing to design an iPhone app.

1. What is the expected user motivation for using the application?

2. What do you intend to be the user’s experience while using the application?

3. What is the goal of your application?

4.  How does your application organize & display the information?


Excerpted from the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines.

An Additional Recommendation:

TapWorthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps by Josh Clark