Ryan Allen, Design Lead at StoryDesk, answers a few questions about designing iPad apps.
What’s your approach to designing iPad apps?
Successful app design hinges on the interaction between user and product. The job of the designer is to help the user achieve his/her intended goal with mimimal friction. If I’m successful, the customer gets addicted to the product. The only way to achieve this is by truly understanding the user. So, for me, all app design begins with research. I like to put myself in the mind of the consumer. I want to feel their frustration. Only then can I design a solution.
How does app design differ from web design?
Mobile has unique hardware and user interface constraints. This forces some hard decisions about design. When I’m designing for an iPhone screen, there isn’t really space to include all of the features I might be able to include on a web site. So I reduce the number of available features, focusing the product. This results in a better experience for the user. Too much choice can be really frustrating for people. They want to get in, get what they need, and then get out.
When app design goes wrong, what are the usual reasons?
Often times, people want apps to accomplish multiple tasks. That’s a mistake. An app needs to be focused on one problem. When people try to solve for multiple challenges in a single mobile app, they end up creating software that is hard to build, use, and explain. Keep the product focus tight, and you’re much more likely to deliver software people enjoy using.
What are some of your favorite apps?
Summly is a news reader for the iPhone. It does a great job of using design to distill content. It offers up news in a way that’s consumable in bite-sized pieces.
Amplify, which I designed and built, is a music sharing app that’s going live in a few days. I’m a serious music person, and I wanted to be able to share my playlists with friends. Amplify does this in a really beautiful way.
StoryDesk is an iPad sales tool that makes presentations, brochures and other marketing materials memorable and measurable.
Based in New York City, our clients include Ralph Lauren, BBC and other major companies, as well as startups and non-profits.