Time well spent: An intuitive interface design is the difference between app success and mediocrity

Tips and Tricks

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Nothing is more frustrating than putting countless hours of hard work into your BlackBerry® app, making sure every subroutine is perfect and every millisecond of performance squeezed, only to find out that users are displeased with some aspect of layout or interaction. Speaking from experience, I find that numerous times we all too often dive into architecting and developing the meat and potatoes of an app, leaving the user interface to get created ad hoc. Yet behind every good app there is a great user interface!

Now, you might be saying: “But Matt! I do think about layout and design – but I can’t design for every user’s tastes.” While we do typically put some thought into layout and design, I find we (as developers) rarely think about it from an end user’s perspective. We are too close to the project, and end up seeing aspects of the application from a specific view. Think of it this way – every parent thinks their baby is the cutest ever…but what do the rest of us think? What a good app developer/designer needs to do is take a step back and look at the design from others’ points of view and, better yet, gather points of view from others.

Nothing helps guide a design better than real world feedback. Take your design and layouts and talk to your peers, your mother, your granddad, or even your future end users (basically anyone that will talk to you.) You can even solicit feedback from a limited beta of your app or use various online solutions such as getsatisfaction.com. Ask your users what they like, what they don’t like, how they would expect things to flow, and so on. Taking this feedback and integrating it into your app will help ensure users are happy – and happy users mean good BlackBerry App World™ storefront ratings!

If you cannot easily gather end user feedback on the design and flow of your app, here are some other points to keep in mind at the beginning of your project:

  • Keep the user interface and design as simple as possible. Your app should require a user to have little to no instructions in order to get started.
  • For touch screen devices, ensure proper spacing of objects that a user will interact with. Nothing will frustrate your users more if their touch events are misread.
  • The layout of the screen should be well used, but not too cluttered. For objects in groups, space them evenly for a clean look.
  • Make use of menus when required. Menus are great when there are additional options or settings that you want a user to have access to, but don’t want to have them always displayed on screen.
  • Lastly, remember to keep your app consistent. Every screen within the app should offer a similar user experience in layout, theme and flow. A user should know this is your app regardless of the screen they are looking at.

Hopefully you have found these tips useful. If you have your own, please share them in the comments section below or head on over to the BlackBerry Developer Support forums and post them there.

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