Build your own app p. 2

Guest blogger Chandos

Blog: Entry Two.

So who did their homework?

Got a Mac yet? Downloaded Xcode? Start designing?

Let’s talk about interfaces for a moment.  This is easily the most important aspect of the design.  If you take a look at some of the most popular apps on the App Store, you’ll find a few things in common.
        1. They are all super-easy to use.
        2. They all have a similar look and feel.
        3. They all stick to basic design concepts.
Ease of use is incredibly important to your app.  If I can’t use it, why would I ever use it? And why would I recommend it to a friend?

Looks are necessary.  If your app doesn’t look pretty, why would I ever use it? And why would I recommend it to a friend?

Basic design concepts means everyone will know what to look for when using the app.  If I don’t know why I downloaded it, why would I ever use it?  And why would I recommend it to a friend?

Notice a trend here?  The two most important criteria would be:

Will they use it?
Will they share it?

If you can’t say yes to both, you probably shouldn’t make the app, or at least start over.  When you’re designing your app, you don’t have to create the flashiest, shiniest, prettiest, most incredible app I’ve ever seen.  You just have to make it not ugly, and usable.  Which can sometimes be hard.  A good rule of thumb is to see what everyone else is doing, and at leaststart there. You don’t have to have a degree in graphic design.  Look at current trends, check out upcoming trends, watch video tutorials, read up on design, or flat out buy a template. Remember: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” –Charles Colton

If you need some design inspiration, check out some design blogs. A couple I’ve looked at before are:

As said before, I cannot monitor the content on these sites.  I haven’t seen anything objectionable before on these sites, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Please use the web responsibly!

The idea with graphic design is simple.  Make it look good.  Good is definitely subjective, but it means turning something like this…

into something like this…

Now you may say, that’s hard! I could never do that! Tutorials on the previous websites give you exact instruction in creating buttons and other elements just like that.  If you’re looking at it and think, “Hey, that first button looks great!” Don’t. Not that your opinion is wrong, per se, but the vast majority of people who use iPhone apps would prefer the second. Sure, the first button works and gets the point across, but if you can make it look a little nicer and like you spent more than 5 minutes making it, the time spent will translate into a thought-out design.

For planning your design, draw it out.  I can’t draw people or objects worth a lick.  But, with a ruler, I am master of the rectangle.  If rulers aren’t your thing, get some graph paper.  Plan out your design on paper first, then try to make it digitally.  If you can’t get a good plan on paper, a digital version definitely won’t come together.

One last thing and I’ll go.  Here are Chandos’ Three Rules of Design:

  1. NEVER USE A FONT THAT COMES PREINSTALLED ON YOUR COMPUTER!!!!!! Seriously.  Every font that comes installed is too readily identifiable. Comic Sans, Herculanum, Papyrus…those are all big no-nos. There are thousandsof fonts available at sites like just waiting to be used. Granted, you need to make sure that it’s legal for you to use it in an app, but there’s one out there waiting for you.
  2. Avoid using white if you can.  White is plain and boring.  Spice it up with a little color! While it can be used artistically, white typically makes things look empty. Like this blog.  It’s just text on a white background.  Not very exciting, right? (The inverse is true too though.  Don’t use too much color.  And try to stick within color schemes.  If you need help with color theory, check out
  3. Don’t go crazy.  Remember, we’re talking about an iPhone here. If you get too complicated of a design, it’ll be really hard to see on that little 3.5 inch screen!

That’s all! I could go on and on and on and on about design and things like that, but if you check out some blogs, do a little Googling, you should have a pretty killer idea or even a design come out of it.



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