With technological interventions quickly working their way into people’s everyday lives, it is important to understand the basic concepts of designing a well received iPad app. These apps do so well with the public because they combine usability with purpose.
The goal is to solve a person’s problem by providing them with an accessible solution. Almost every successful app is easy for people to use and has little to no setup steps. People want to start using their app immediately without being confused on how to get it going.
Your app should also hold some sort of meaning for each user through the use of factors such as personal insight and visual attractiveness. In order for your app to appeal the users, there are a few things that you should keep in mind throughout the design process.
1. Some People Share iPads
Unfortunately, iPads still do not fall into the “cheap” category. This results in family members or friends sharing iPads. They may simply take turns viewing the device or each person may have their own member accounts. App designers should keep this in mind. Anticipate possible hurdles associated with more than one person sharing an item. A simple thing to add to your app is a place for the current logged in user to be displayed.
This will make it easy for each person to see exactly who is logged in so that confusion doesn’t arise. Using accounts also makes it easier for devices to sync together.
2. Avoid Distracting Pop-Overs
Pop-ups can be useful in some situations because they make it easier for users to navigate between the different contents. If used incorrectly, pop-ups can quickly become distracting. The flow of information may be slowed if the pop-ups are difficult to read. Jamming in everything and anything can result in the screen being cluttered. The limited size of the space means that you should limit what information is placed into it. Do not hesitate to send users to a new screen if you have a lot of content to share with them. They will appreciate that more than if you squeezed everything into a small spaced, difficult to read boxes.
3. If it’s Touchable, Make it Obvious
Having touchable areas on a screen makes it easier for you to provide more detailed content to the interested user. A common mistake with having interactive areas is that app designers forget to make those areas stand out. How will a person know that they can get more information if there is nothing indicating the fact? Take the time to make the interactive area large and obvious as a courtesy to the users.
4. Personalize the Experience
How many people do you know who will be willing to spend hours and hours setting up an app that cost $1.99? Social networks are quickly unifying people everywhere. With the user’s permission, consider allowing your app the ability to use information such as a Twitter feed and Facebook updates. Access to this information can help you make a personalized app for the user.
People will be happy to know that their app is smart enough to find relative content for them to read. Many apps currently use features similar to this in order to provide users with a customized selection of articles and news.
5. No Complicated Navigation
Crazy, complicated, over-the-top navigation tools may be okay for games, but it should be avoided in most iPad apps. This is especially true for apps that will be used on a regular basis. Do not be discouraged if you really want to be innovative. With the proper planning, you can effectively work in innovative tools as long as you make sure that they are supportive of the tasks at hand.
The navigation should be easy to use. You should not always add things simply because you can. Additions like this can take away from the overall experience. Try out similar apps and keep track of how you use the features. Note places when your hand had to move awkwardly, or you were confused on how to proceed and see how you can make the process smoother.
6. Stay Goal-Oriented
Simplicity and efficiency are cornerstones of any good app. Even though you may be able to create an app with in depth functionality, it may not always be wise to do so. One of the easiest ways to figure out the right functionality for your design is to sit down and write out the different goals a user might want to accomplish with the use of the iPad app. Next consider the different ways that a person will want to be able to meet the desired goals.
Do not hold back as you cut this list down to a manageable size. You want to have enough functionality that a user will be able to succeed, but not so much that things begin to get lost in translation. Focus in on the features that you think will make the entire experience delightful.
Always make the assumption that the user is a busy person. This means that the functionality of your app should be complimentary to people at the store, at a friend’s house, at work, or sitting in a car. Will any of the goals you listed earlier be affected by different locations? Will people in different locations have different goals? The more places your app can successfully be used, the more likely a person is to use it over and over again when the need arises. For instance, if you are making a note taking app, you can have different note categories. Apps providing a list of stores may have a map display on the side so that people out of the house can easily find what is closest to them.
8. Make Splash Screens Useful
There is a reason why splash screens are no longer an internet rave. Users want to be able to access the desired information as quickly as possible and splash screens can impede that goal. Sometimes a splash screen is necessary and in cases like this, do everything within your power to keep the time it is up to a minimum. Some apps provide a content display along with the splash screen so that users are not simply left staring and waiting.
9. Use Home Pages
Home pages are a simple courtesy that allow users to orient themselves to the information available. They serve as a great guide to the different things a person can perform on the app. The lack of a home page can quickly become frustrating to users who may have a hard time getting from one place to a next. Consider making the navigation on the home page uniform throughout the iPad app so that people do not become disoriented from one page to the next.
This is in no way a complete guide to what should be considered when designing an iPad app. The tips presented here will get you off to a solid start. Remember that if you have problems using it that other people probably will as well. Explore other apps and see why some work while others do not. Apply what you learn and you should have no problem ending up with a fantastic app.