One of the best ways to set your application apart – and set it up for greater success – is the interface. One thing that the most successful BlackBerry app developers have told us is that they had to be able to balance setting their application apart through UI and meeting their number one priority: making sure that your BlackBerry UI is easy to use, easy to learn, and visually appealing.
In our upcoming UI developer webinar, we will be discussing a host of details that are often overlooked in BlackBerry application UI design. With the material covered in this session, you’ll gain a new appreciation for how small changes can make a big difference.
So how do you get started? Here are some topics to think about before attending the webinar:
- The key is to be patient – don’t jump into your own BlackBerry application UI design until you have a firm grasp on what you think will appeal to users of your target device.
- Figure out the basic concepts for your screens, but do not design the screens themselves. That is, determine the principal features of each screen such as whether or not it will present items as a list, will it use tabs, will there be buttons, will there be menu controls, etc, but do not actually sketch out the screen. Instead, build a list of criteria that you want to consider for each and every screen and field. Items that you might want to consider are:
- spacing / padding
- layout / alignment
- contrast / gradients
- images / backgrounds
- transitions / animations
- presentation and organization of data
- Before you make any decisions relating to the items of that list, take stock of what other applications have done, learning from the successes of others. Start with the applications that are resident on the BlackBerry® smartphone and carefully inspect some of the design choices in these apps. Pay special attention to UI features that might be applicable to your application and examine them with a fine tooth comb – what do you like about it, what could be improved, does the layout make sense, is it consistent with other applications on the smartphone, etc.
- If you’re able to replicate any UI resident in applications that ship with the BlackBerry smartphone, your users will bestow some inherent goodwill on your application since on first launch, there are elements to your UI that they can immediately identify, allowing them to leverage what they’ve already learned. Take a look at the UI Guidelines documentation to get a feel for common usage patterns on BlackBerry smartphones.
- Once you’ve picked up some of the existing interaction models, it’s time to set your application apart. The first step in differentiation is understanding what’s already out there. Research software stores like BlackBerry App World™, inspecting some of the most popular applications. Of the most downloaded applications, find a sampling of applications that have received very positive feedback and those that have been successful in spite of neutral or even negative reviews. Read the reviews to discover what users liked and what they disliked. Install and run these applications, learning everything you can from the various screens of these applications.
- When building your BlackBerry application UI, if you remember nothing else, think of this: do not overlook even the smallest of details. If an image isn’t crisp, if some piece of text isn’t exactly how you want it, or if something just doesn’t feel right, change it.
Want to learn more? Attend the webcast on February 16th for an in-depth exploration of the criteria items listed above along with an analysis of real-world examples that will help you apply the same critical eye to your own applications.
Small Screens, Big Dreams: a Detail-Oriented Approach to BlackBerry Application User Interface Design
Date: February 16, 2010
Time: 2:00 PM EST (North America)
Presenters: Brian Zubert, Sr. Application Development Consultant