App design

Apple Watch and the future of app design – TechCrunch

Editor’s Note: André Shorten is Director of Product Management Adobe Creative Cloud. Previously, he developed web, kiosk and mobile user interfaces for government and enterprise clients at Fujitsu and has since worked for Macromedia, Microsoft and Adobe.

The launch of the Apple Watch is the latest proof that we will only have more devices to consider when designing mobile apps. Not only does this represent a huge opportunity for more personal experiences, but it presents UI designers with the increasingly complex challenge of scaling up to design for web, mobiles, tablets, and devices. portable.

And there are other indicators that digital screens will become the way we interact with just about everything in the future. Take in the latest Coca-Cola vending machines that operate by selecting from a touchscreen. Or consider the Tesla Model S, a premium car that replaces most traditional dashboard controls with a 17-inch touchscreen, hinting that this type of experience will become the norm for the next generation of mainstream vehicles. .

From web to applications

Of course, designing for multiple displays is nothing new; Over the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of responsive design as the primary way to deliver web content to all devices. Rather than designing pixel-perfect layouts, this approach adjusts the layout and content flow based on screen size and uses scaled bitmap elements for display on different resolutions, which helps deliver well-crafted content on a wide range of form factors.

The design challenges go beyond simply adjusting the layout of the content for different screen sizes.

However, as we consider the growing importance of apps installed on devices, the design challenges go beyond simply adjusting the layout of content for different screen sizes. The opportunity here is to create contextual experiences, designed as part of an overall system that allows customers to interact with your app on the device that best meets their needs at a particular time or place.

Application flow design

Starting with the basics, designing an app for a single device requires considering the multiple flows that a user may experience across the multiple screens that you will provide.

While some of these elements can be seen as running parallel to multiple pages of a website, there is usually more emphasis on the relationship between each of the screens, rather than separate layouts. Using art boards in your design tool is a great way to map the flow of your application and show how screens relate to each other.

Use devices to design devices

While we would expect the desktop to remain where most of the design work is done, the use of associated mobile applications in the design process itself can be extremely beneficial when designing for mobile. .

There is also a significant benefit to previewing design work directly on the devices you are targeting.

Interaction design

But designing a set of screens and the flow between them is only part of the overall experience – the choreography of movements within and between the screens of the app in response to user gestures is more and more important.

Communicating what the experience should feel to the user, with subtle use of animation, triggered by user behaviors, in the design stages of the project has become increasingly important. This is something we think about a lot at Adobe as we continue to evolve our tools to meet the needs of our customers.

Contextual design

But looking at different devices as a set of specs, with different screen sizes, display resolutions, and form factor features, misses the most important point. Understanding the context in which the user intends to use the device is key to designing the right experience. For example, the functional relationship we have with our phones is different when we use a tablet, the latter being used for long periods of time for both content consumption (watching a movie) and content creation experiences.

Today, with the Apple Watch, the same kind of awareness is important for designers: users will likely interact with smartwatches in shorter bursts, but more frequently, than with their phone or tablet. So, when designing a phone, tablet and watch, it is not only the screen size that varies, but also the way the user intends to. use the device, the time spent using it and interacting with it. All of these factors have implications for the design of the applications that run on these devices.

It becomes really important to think about the system based design.

Another important consideration that Apple Watch is designed for use with an iPhone is that your users won’t experience your app in isolation on a single device. They’ll likely choose which device to interact with, switching between them, to meet their needs at any given time.

As such, it becomes very important to think about system-based design, i.e. to spend time on a project up front, to consider all the different touchpoints that your users will be interacting with. with your app and create a set of related experiences that are clearly designed as one, but that take advantage of and are contextual to each of the device form factors.

The future of app design

Designing for devices isn’t just about adapting content to different screen sizes anymore. It is about creating a coherent system that covers different devices and contexts of use. And it’s about choreographing a user’s journey through that system, responding to their gestures and behaviors with appropriate animations and transitions that guide them through the flow of your app.

By taking advantage of the latest capabilities of modern design tools, you can reduce design complexity for the expanding device landscape and take advantage of the opportunities offered by this ever-growing range of displays.


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