Now that I'm in my late 40's, I should probably already be doing what I'm passionate about. However, easier said than done! Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a commercial/graphic artist. I've done fine art, but I'm also practical—fine art is like singing or drama—you're not always guaranteed a job. But graphic design is a practical application, and I LOVE to come up with the idea and then really make it work. Perhaps that's the analytical/puzzle-solving side of me?
When I've done fine art, finding a topic to paint or draw was always harder. I like to draw by seeing, rather than make it up in my head, by my imagination. Give me a photograph and I can duplicate it in watercolor or pastel. My high school art teacher once said I wasn't creative, but I was good at art? I had an eye. My college art teacher challenged me to find varying subject matter. When I painted our women's fraternity house (a portrait of it—not the actual walls!), instead of the usual landscapes, she was excited because I had branched out. I had another guest professor at MTU for graphic design. She loved my work and even kept my newsletter piece to show others when she left. She also said I had an eye. When I do graphic design, my gut just knows how to do it, how to place it, how to balance the white negative space with the positive. It's all about feeling, gut. Eye.
The new AppStore, redesigned for iOS6, has been out for just over a week now. Speaking recently at 360iDev, I stressed the importance of great shelf design in the AppStore as part of your marketing plan. Getting to know the new design is key to understanding how it will affect browsing, discovery, and buying habits, especially for developers, but also for consumers. I've been playing with the store all week, on several devices, including the new iPhone5, the iPad, and my old iPhone4. I've found, sales-wise, that some things have improved, some have been unaffected. The new AppStore was obviously designed with the iPad in mind—the cards work/look so much better on the iPad—there's more screen real estate, especially in landscape, so the the side scrolling is a plus. The iPhone5's speed was most likely a huge consideration—the new store screams on the iPhone5, but is slow and kludgy on the iPhone4. (I shudder to think how it is on the 3GS.) On older devices, the icons are slow to load; it reminds me of surfing the web on dial-up (well maybe not THAT slow). The new AppStore includes a few areas only previously exposed and featured on the desktop iTunes store—the “What's New?” and “What's Hot?” per category. We've been featured in this area with each of our new releases, but alas these apps have had little exposure because who shops via iTunes desktop any more? This post will cover details on what's new, what's missing, how it affects our app shopping experiences, and how as a developer we can maximize our sales potential by redesigning and focusing on certain areas of our shelf space.
Last week I attended 360iDev, an iOS developers conference, in Denver. In my last post I covered all the great things that happened as a result of attending conferences. Not only are they valuable education, but also a indirect marketing benefit. Nearly every person I spoke with at the conference this week agreed that the return on investment, although unmeasurable, easily covers the cost of attending the conference. 360iDev is not only a conference focused on technical sessions for developers, but also runs the gamut of sessions from UI/UX design, to graphics design, to management, to great business-side information from contracting, to marketing, to business models. In this post, I'll go through some of the tips and tricks I picked up from this year's conference.
Designing an iPhone UI for a productivity app can take many directions and each time you make a choice, someone will not like it, yet others may think it's brilliant. (Of course, you hope the latter are the ones leaving reviews.) Today the landscape in the app store affects how you design your UI—you need to stand out to get noticed. However, the other edge of the sword is that if you go totally radical, people won't have that comfort feeling of familiarity of a iOS app. So the key is to get a balance of familiar, with a dose of 'zazz. Of course, it helps to have some luck of being in the right place at the right time, so someone with influence also sees your app, but this post is going to tackle areas WITHIN your control—the design of the User Interface (UI).
What's in an icon? App icons are one of the first things a potential customer sees. A good icon will catch an eye, stand out from the rest. It will make your customer take notice, will entice them to click for more info. Your app's icon is one of the most important graphics for your app and can make a big difference in attracting more customers.
When developing many apps, you might also want to opt for branding, either for your company, or for a series of related apps. A key element of branding is to determine a design element that you want to use throughout each icon. This element could be a style, an border, or something more specific. This post will walk through examples of how we've tackled branding for our apps, including our Trip Boss suite, and briefly discuss the difference an icon can make in sales.
Recently we released phase 1 of Trip Boss travel manager for iPhone. We've been working towards its release since the AppStore opened 2-1/2 years ago in 2008. Although we released other iOS apps prior to Trip Boss, with each app we learned something new that we could use in Trip Boss. Full time focus on Trip Boss took about 7 months and we expect another 3-4 months to release the remaining phases, or “modules”. In comparison, Trip Boss for the PalmOS, the initial release, took over a year to write. Some of the subsequent additions and enhancements (such as itinerary) took another year each to release. This post will show you some of the history behind Trip Boss' design and some of the insight behind the design decisions for the iOS release.
We put a lot of thought into the aesthetics for our iPhone app, Serving Sizer recipe converter. We wanted the app to follow Apple's Human Interface Guidelines, but also set itself apart by polishing the basics to an appealing, graphically designed user interface. Let me take a little time to give insight into our design process in this post.