Mobile has truly arrived, and the growing popularity of platforms like iPhone and Android proves that it is not going anywhere. Smartphones have become as common as computers and laptop devices, and almost everyone carries one with them wherever they go. Mobile designers have emerged as a highly popular profession and their demand continues to rise. From designing mobile optimized websites to creating beautiful layouts for mobile applications, mobile developers make sure that the service a business is offering can be easily used by anyone who is online from a mobile phone.
The importance of mobile
More and more people are using the internet connectivity feature of their smartphones to come online, and businesses need to take advantage of this. When someone is outside their home and looking for a business, there is a high probability that the person has made up their mind about buying a product and are looking for a service provider close to them. Having an optimized mobile presence means that prospective clients will be able to access every part of your website with greater ease. It is a well known fact that the best way to increase your sales is to remove all barriers between a customer and the final purchase of a product or service. Ideally, a website of mobile application should let the user access your core functionalities in the simplest popular way, and a capable mobile designer can make this happen.
Some problems that a mobile designer must face
The life of a mobile designer is not without its problems. From the moment that they decide to become a designer, they need to be very clear about their specials. Designing an application for an iPhone, for example, is very different from preparing the UI for an Android application. There are different basic functionalities that need to be accessed, and the screen resolution is also a concern for Android developers. Even within the same platform, there are several different versions of the operating system and the designer needs to account for subtle changes between them. The design also needs to be fast even for phones with slower processors and low RAM.
On top of all this, designers also have to work within the budget allocated for the project, and it can be a frustrating experience.
Unlearn a few bad habits
If you have been a web designer for a while, moving to the mobile world can be a little confusing. The rules of engagement are vastly different, and the best practices of the large screen just do not apply here. You are working with very limited screen real estate, and you need to make the most of it. On top of it all, the touch screen trend means that people will be using their fingers to control the device instead of a precision method like a mouse, so the buttons need to be larger and you will need to get rid of a lot of controls that you normally use on a desktop.
Things to do, and not to do – A checklist to being a mobile designer
1. Dynamic content and transitions are here to stay. Do not treat transition as fancy eye candy. It is so much more useful than that! You can display more information using the same amount of space, and make the user experience more friendly and intuitive for the user.
2. You do not always have to be unique. Let go of the gumption that only a unique UI design is a great UI design. There is hardly any point in reinventing the wheel, and you can save so much time and effort if you focus on core functionality instead. It is for this reason that both iOS and Android now specify style guidelines, and encourage designers to follow them, thus ensuring uniformity in user experience for all applications, while making mobile designing a significantly faster process.
3. Look for practical inspirations instead of concept ones. There is a very valid saying that the only reason something is in concept stage is because it is not commercially viable. If you are designing a new application and have run out of ideas, look at existing apps that are popular, instead of hitting up the public portfolio of your favourite designer.
4. Learn basic development code for your preferred platform. The best designer is one who makes it easier for the developer to do his job. Getting familiar with how the OS works, how the application interacts with the OS, and even something like which activity will cause the battery to drain faster, can help you design a better app.
5. Mobile applications are evolving and taking advantage of the many features that new age smartphones are coming up with. Gone are the days when you only had to worry about where the user was clicking on the screen, Now you have to consider things like location awareness, voice recognition, and with wearable devices like Google Glass, even eye tracking. Learn how to take advantage of these services, and you will be able to do so much more with the app that you design.
6. Learn mobile workflow and get familiar with popular mobile IDEs. Tinker around with the SDKs and learn how to make as much of the app layout using native components.
7. If you have decided to work with more than one mobile platform, you need to be familiar with all the similarities as well as the differences between the way the application interfaces with the OS. In fact, most mobile designers like to work with multiple platforms simply because it gives them a better chance to understand how mobile apps work.
8. Do not leave behind a mess for the next designer. If you have designed something, make sure that you document it, so that someone else can easily take up the project and continues from where you left it.
As you get ready to become a better mobile designer, keep in mind that the world is already moving towards wearable electronics. Keep a sharp eye out for emerging trends, and always be prepared to work in the next big field.
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