Do I need to follow design guidelines for a mobile App?

 

Just imagine, you’ve spent months and months sketching, arguing over creative differences and making multiple changes. Finally, you get to the stage where you’ve settled on the most original and imaginative app design and are ready to launch only to have the app rejected by Apple and Google when you submit it for approval. If this sounds like a nightmare you want to avoid, then read on because it happens!

While each company and/or individual designer has their own process and guidelines they follow when creating applications, there is something you cannot forget. Both Apple and Google have their own guidelines that you are required to follow if you wish to have your app approved on their platforms.

As an app designer it’s important to recognise that the world has moved on, “we are now designing for multi-screen behaviour, multi-touch and our call to actions have changed depending on where you are, what someone is talking or even just thinking about” as pointed out by Mobi Director Mike Vasavda.

Clicking has now morphed into slide, swipe, touch, deep-touch and all these are gesture and predictive actions that your designs need to consider. Just designing for the web is old-school design thinking!

Taking this into account means you have the opportunity to deliver an extraordinary product that rises to the top of the App Store charts. To do so, you’ll need to meet high expectations for quality and functionality.

If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t be disheartened, the guidelines aren’t too restricting and if you stick to them before hand, you’ll avoid being heavily disappointed. Plus, Mobiddiction has all the answers clearly laid out below so you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. You’re welcome!

This week we’ll focus on Apple’s Design Guidelines.

Apple uses Human Centred Design Guidelines. They prefer designs that allow users to get straight to the facts. This means minimalistic approaches are favoured over anything that may cause distractions. Apple believes that mobile devices should be used as a window to another world with infinite depth, preferring to use components like alert buttons and text messages.

Apple offers guidelines for all of their devices, but for this post we’ll be focusing on their iOS requirements.

iOS Design Principles

1. Aesthetic Integrity

This relates to how well your app’s appearance and behaviour integrates with it’s function. For example, if your app is designed to help people carry out serious tasks then it’s design must ensure it keeps them focused by using elements like standard controls, subtle graphics and predictable behaviours. If you’re creating an engaging and immersive app, then your design should be captivating and include elements that encourage discovery and excitement.

2. Consistency

To ensure your app is deemed ‘consistent’ you should make sure to incorporate features and behaviours that users would be expecting. You can do this by using well-known icons, standard text styles and uniform terminology. It’s all about implementing familiar standards without losing or compromising on your creativity.

3. Direct Manipulation

Users typically experience ‘direct manipulation’ when they use gestures to effect onscreen content or have to rotate their device. This element helps to engage users with onscreen content and also means they get to see the immediate results of their actions.

4. Feedback

By providing users with the option to provide feedback you’re making sure to keep them and yourselves informed. Built-in iOS apps all provide perceptible feedback in response to every action a user takes. Interactive elements are highlighted briefly when tapped, progress indicators communicate the status of long-running operations. Animation and sound also help clarify the results of actions.

5. Metaphors

People learn more quickly when an app’s virtual objects and actions are metaphors for familiar experiences—whether rooted in the real or digital world. Apple believe metaphors work well in iOS because of how users physically interact with the screen. You should include design elements that allow for users to drag and swipe content, toggle switches, scroll through picker values and move sliders.

6. User Control

As much as users are influenced by design and the elements used to control their actions, ultimately they must be in control. Apple recommends against apps taking over decision-making. Their guidelines insist that the best apps are the ones that find the perfect balance of avoiding unwanted outcome while also enabling the user to make decisions. For example, you can ensure users remain in control by designing apps that allow for easy cancellations of operations or by keeping interactive elements predictable and familiar.

To make sure you’re sticking to these principles, Apple also offers three design themes that they insist you keep in mind to ensure you’re maximising your apps reach and impact.

Design Themes

Clarity

  • Ensure text is legible at every size
  • Icons must be precise and easily interpreted.
  • Any ‘adornments’ should be appropriate and subtle.
  • The design should be motivated by a focus on functionality.

Fonts, graphics, interface elements and negative space will help to convey interactivity and highlight important content.

Deference

  • Content should typically fill the entire screen.
  • Minimal use of gradients, drop shadows and bezels. This helps ensure content is still the most important while keeping the interface ‘light and dry’ at the same time.

Fluid motion and a crisp, beautiful interface help people understand and interact with content while never competing with it.

Depth

  • Ensure you include transitions as this provides a sense of depth as users navigate through your content.
  • Including elements like touch and discoverability helps users gain access to functionality and additional content without losing context.

Distinct visual layers and realistic motion convey hierarchy, impart vitality, and facilitate understanding.

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If these guidelines seem like a lot to remember and somewhat overwhelming – do not stress! Most iOS apps are built using elements from Apple’s UIKit Framework which will help you make sure your application sticks to the principles laid out above. The UIKit’s design components are adaptable and they automatically update when the system introduces appearance changes.

Still looking for more information? You may find the following resources helpful.

https://developer.apple.com/design/resources/

https://developer.apple.com/videos/design/

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