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Android UI Design Tips, Page 2

  • January 17, 2012
  • By Lauren Darcey & Shane Conder
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Android UI Design Tip #7. Use Large, Readable Fonts and Font Styles

Just like bad color schemes, we've all had family members send us unreadable text in some wacky font that was likely designed by demented, calligraphy-obsessed monks who drank too much mead. Certain fonts are easier to read than others.

Font size is also a factor -- make the font as big as possible without losing the balance with other screen features. Just like with a fax machine, fonts below 12pt are usually not a good idea.

The designers of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) designed a new font just for the platform -- one that is easy to read on a mobile device. It's called Roboto.

Android UI Design Tip #8. Don't Deviate Too Far from Platform Norms

Many of the most successful mobile applications leverage user interface patterns that users are familiar with. They have simple, streamlined user interfaces that use controls as they were intended to be used. Don't try to be too different when it comes to user interface controls and screen design. Just keep it simple and in line with how the rest of the platform behaves. Use the platform as a cue for how your app should look and behave.

If you are creating a UI that is different, make sure to use objective methods such as user studies and A/B-style testing to compare against a more traditional version of your UI to determine if it is better -- i.e. more efficient, easier to use, and perhaps more pleasant looking.

Android UI Design Tip #9. Follow Documented UI Guidelines

The Android documentation includes many UI guidelines to incorporate into your app. These guidelines often vary depending on the version of Android on which your app will appear. When this happens, you'll need to include alternate resources to cover multiple guidelines. The guidelines cover icons of all types, widgets, menus, and activities.

Android UI Design Tip #10. Beta Test Your App User Interface

Developers do not make good QA or beta testers. After your app is reasonably stable, it's usually worthwhile to perform some true beta testing with users completely unfamiliar with your application design and intentions. App designers often assume users will find their application UIs intuitive when they may not. Only by putting your app in front of users can you discover any unanticipated issues before you publish.

Bonus Android UI Design Tip: Consider a Professional Artist or Graphic Designer

These days users expect an application to look polished and professional. Just like you wouldn't go to a job interview in your pajamas, you shouldn't publish apps without spending a reasonable amount of resources making the app look awesome. In many cases, code monkeys are not very skilled artists, so it's worth hiring a professional to help you out. Just make sure you are clear about the requirements -- mobile design is a specialty.

Conclusion

When you've had your head down developing your Android app, it's easy to forget about the user interface design. It's a good idea to walk through this list after your application is relatively stable and add some professional polish. These tasks are generally best left until late in the development lifecycle when screen content is relatively stable, as it makes no sense to tweak and perfect contents your app won't be using at publication time.

About the Authors

Shane Conder Shane Conder and Lauren Darcey--Contributing Editors, Mobile Development--have coauthored two books on Android development: an in-depth programming book entitled Android Wireless Application Development (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-62709-4) and Sams Teach Yourself Android Application Development in 24 Hours (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-67335-0). When not writing, they spend their time developing mobile software at their company and providing consulting services.

        Email        |        Blog        |        Twitter

Lauren Darcey


Originally published on http://www.developer.com.

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