App development is often a long and complex process. The development of the app design and the design of the user interface run in parallel and are a challenge of their own for developers and designers. The Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) from Apple and the Material Design (MD) from Google are a first aid. They support developers in optimising the user interface (UI). What HIG and Material Design actually comprise and why they are so important, we have bundled together with all relevant information on the topic of UI analysis in this article, so that you can offer your users the best experience.
Apple's Human Interface Guidelines briefly presented
These are the three main pillars that Apple lays down for the UI in its HIG for iOS systems:
- Clearness: Fonts are always legible at all sizes, icons are precise, and the overall design is functional.
- Responsiveness: Movements are fluid and content usually fills the entire screen.
- Depth: Clear visual layers communicate the hierarchy of content, and transitions give a sense of infinite depth.
Apple's design principles then build on these three main themes:
- Aesthetic integrity means that the form and appearance of an app always follow its function. For example, productivity apps such as calendars or time tracking apps should be limited in their formal design to the essentials, have simple control elements and no distracting graphics or the like. For game apps, on the other hand, the opposite can be the case - the use case defines the appearance.
- Consistency means that an app should use familiar elements, graphics and interactions that the user has learned.
- Direct manipulation refers to the policy that there is direct feedback on every action. The simplest example is tilting the screen and changing from portrait to landscape format.
- Feedback includes signals that inform users about the use of the app. These include flashing icons, loading and progress bars or the red light, framing of form fields or the centring of the screen on them.
- Apple uses metaphors to make interactions tangible, because users learn more quickly when virtual objects and actions reflect something familiar from everyday life - regardless of whether they come from the real or virtual world. The classic example of this: Swiping across the screen is reminiscent of flicking through a newspaper and is thus an intuitive action.
- User control means the balance between security, assistance and the wishes of the user: the simplest example is auto-correction when entering text. If users want to type something incorrectly or use their own word creations, they should be able to do so without the correction system automatically correcting these words all the time - and there should also be the option of adding the words to the dictionary so that they are available later.
Google's Material Design briefly introduced
Material Design is Google's open-source visual design language and is largely based on material-like components such as surfaces, objects and icons. Developed in 2014, this project is still in the process of further development.
Google's design principles are similar to Apple's in some respects, but very different in others. Google calls for so-called flat design, inspired by structures and textures of the real world. Elements should, for example, behave like paper, reflect light and shadow like glass or metal and thus create a natural-looking virtual world. Among other things, Google has developed its own typography for this and places greater emphasis on activating animations than Apple.
Why do these guidelines exist?
On the one hand, Google and Apple want to use these guidelines to ensure that all apps that are included in their stores meet sufficient quality standards. On the other hand, the aim is to create consistency: Design guidelines are significant because they define a uniform appearance and enable seamless integration into the corresponding operating system. Both companies have an interest in offering the best possible user experience with the best possible UI design. They share this ambition with us app developers, designers and testers.
Why is the implementation of these requirements so important?
It can sometimes be difficult to keep up to date with all the iOS and Android regulations, but it is important to understand and comply with the standards. An app serves its purpose best when it does its job efficiently. It achieves this through a simple interface design, intuitive interaction options and a clear language.
Developers aim to create a sense of familiarity through a consistent look and feel. In this way, users learn how to use an app more quickly, which leads to them using the app more often and with greater pleasure. If your app uses elements that the target audience already knows, there will be less confusion, difficulties in use and a lower learning curve.
There is a lot of competition in the app stores and many apps that do the same job. Users:Inside quickly feel frustrated if the operation of an app fails because of a clunky user interface. Therefore, a user-friendly UI is an absolute advantage if you want to differentiate your app in the market and put it ahead of the competition.
Conclusion: How we support developers in UI design
Some of the above guidelines may seem obvious to you, but as a developer:in you also need an outside perspective to perceive potential problems. Our DESIGNLab analyses the UI of your app based on the HIG and MD. We have evaluated both guidelines in detail and designed a best practice app screen in Sketch for each of the Apple and Google guidelines. In our interactive test report, we compare these app screens with the results of your app analysis and make clear suggestions for optimising your app.
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