Though it was written with developers and designers in mind, Mashable’s “5 Things to Consider When Designing Your Mobile App” reads more like a how-to guide for mobile application testers – covering the basics of native apps vs. mobile web, screen size, user location, UI intuitiveness and other common design issues.
Of course, when these issues are not dealt with properly on the developer/designer side, they eventually become the problem of mobile test engineers. So with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at their five things to consider:
1. Weigh the Options — Mobile App or Mobile Website?
“Do you need a mobile application, a mobile website, or both? Before even starting the design process, you need to figure out what format or formats are best suited for your goals. Sometimes this can be really easy. For example, if you want to build a utility or game, you may be better served building a native application rather than worrying about how different mobile browsers will interpret your content.”
2. Consider Where Your App Will Be Used
“Once you’ve decided to make a native mobile app, you’ll want to consider where your application is most likely going to be used. This is important because where and how an application is used can directly impact how it can be designed.
For instance, if you have an application that is going to be used while walking around — a geo-location app or an app that takes advantage of a device’s GPS — making sure that core app functions are easy to see and access is very important.”
3. Be Aware of Various Screen Sizes
“Even on the same mobile platform, screen sizes and resolutions can vary based on device type. For instance, the screen size and resolution on the HTC Incredible is different than that on the HTC EVO 4G. Consequently, for an application to have a consistent look and feel across both devices and across a variety of other devices, user interface elements and graphics need to be scalable.”
(Editor’s note: Our guest bloggers have dealt with subject many times before, here’s the most recent post).
4. Follow Existing UI Conventions
“On desktop computers, there are certain user interface elements that make a Windows app a Windows app or a Mac OS X app a Mac app. There are user interface conventions tailored for mobile apps as well. While you don’t have to follow these guidelines 100% of the time, sticking with consistent methods of displaying data and interacting with content will make your app easier to pick up by end-users. Following these conventions will also ensure that your app is consistent with the other applications already on a mobile device.”
5. Design For Touch
“In almost all cases, mobile apps are going to be used while in someone’s hand. Therefore, designing your mobile app around touch and ergonomics is very important.
Think about how you hold your phone in your hand. Now, think about where you thumb sits. That’s why many applications have main menus and selectors at the bottom of the screen and content near the top of the screen. Apps with that type of layout are designed for touch, and yours should be too.”