There’s a lot of repetition in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines and it isn’t particularly pleasant to read. I’ve set out to remove the noise and assemble the information of value into this multipart series. This in no way supersedes Apple’s guidelines, think of it as an accompaniment.

App Design Strategies

On to part two of the iOS HIG for the attention-deficit, starting with the App Design Strategies section. It begins by breaking it to us that building our app may in fact turn out to be heart-breakingly difficult, and suggests coming up with a plan may not be a bad idea.

Apple’s prescription for a good app

  1. Break your idea down into a list of features.
  2. Think of the people. Create user profiles.
  3. Reassess your feature list post-user profiling.
  4. Sum up what your app does in a sentence.
  5. Be careful not to lose the plot during dev with additional features, refer to point 4.
  6. Design the app to be an iOS app. Your app will be more credible if it looks and behaves natively.

Make sure Universal Apps run well on both iPhone and iPad

Unmodified iPhone apps run in a compatibility mode on iPad by default, but this doesn’t give users the device-specific experience they want.

Are you a web designer? I could spot you a mile away

A website is not an app. Here’s the difference:

Focus your app
Websites often greet visitors with a large number of options. This does not translate well to iOS apps.

Make sure your app lets people do something
They say “There’s an app for that” for a reason.

Design for touch
Get to know the UI elements and patters of iOS and use them. Forms and links in particular work differently to web.

Let people scroll
Scrolling is an easy, expected part of the experience. Forget above-the-fold limitations that annoying people cling to in when producing websites.

Tailor customisation to the task

Always have a reason for straying from the existing iOS UI. Avoid increasing the user’s cognitive burden. Users are familiar with the appearance and behavior of the standard UI elements. The benefit is they don’t have to stop and think about how to use them.

Prototype and interate

Use paper prototypes to begin with. Get feedback on them. Put together a working prototype next. The easiest way to create a credible prototype is to use one of the Xcode templates to build a basic app. Install it on a device for testing. Here’s a tour of Xcode.

Next up in part three is Case Studies: Transitioning to iOS.

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