It is not a secret that usability, efficiency and meaning lie in the basis of all beautiful things, iPad apps are no exception. Tablet and mobile applications must serve a certain purpose and solve a problem of the user with a set of features it incorporates. To bring real value, the application should be intuitive, so that the users could start using it without going through tiring trainings or reading volumes of manuals. Moreover, it should appeal to the user by means of visual aesthetics, personalised approach, engaging content and so on. This article will not explore the entire process of iPad app design from the initial to idea to deployment, but will highlight the most important steps and aspect that will help you build your perfect solution for the Apple’s tablet.
Our iPad design experts have tried to stay away from trivial tips that you can find in hundreds of posts about iPad app design and suggest a number of methods that can make your iPad app stand out from the crowd and get to the top of App Store. We will focus on the aspect that require careful attention during the development process. This article, composed by a team of experienced designers, will not only help you build a great app, but assess the quality of your design on the whole.
A good application, either for iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch or any other device on the market, is always simple and efficient in doing its task. Therefore, thoroughly plan the functionality of the digital product and keep it to the minimum. We would recommend you to take a goal-oriented approach to determine the features for your application. Create a chart of all goals that the users might want to achieve with the help of the app, or make the user interact with the app and see what they will try do with it and what tasks to complete. What are they doing? Then come up with the least of functions that an average user might want the software to perform. Scrutinise the list and select the minimal amount of tasks needed to complete the task set by the user. When done, choose a couple of additional outstanding features to top the cake.
Imagine that your goal is to create an iPad app for cooks that will help them find and store recipes and ingredients. The users can easily look through ingredients that are placed to the left of the display while keeping track of the recipe at the center of the screen and bookmark the next step with a bright placeholder that they can drag along as they progress with the dish. You can provide reviews and tips in supplementary tabs, which will keep the main screen clean, readable and easy to manage.
Another good practice to follow is to limit the number of buttons - so not create a button for every specific control within the iPad app. Gesture play an essential role in touchscreen interfaces, so try to translate as many controls into gesture as possible, while keeping it intuitive. Take a look at the Apple’s Notes software - there is no button that says “edit”, the user just has to touch the screen to start writing a note, and once you have finished the message is automatically saved. Basic editing actions like copy, paste and cut are all performed by gestures, as well as undo, which can be done by shaking the device.
No one wants to spend hours setting up a one dollar app. Collect as much information about your app’s potential users as possible, using tools for research and analysis. Use every piece of information about the user you can find such as location, calendar events, Facebook account, list of contact, etc, to personalise the application and reduce the amount of actions for the user to get the platform ready for work.
Mobile and tablet apps are designed to be used on the go - in a cafe, in the car on the way home, in the shop, on a bus stop, etc. Does the location of your customer somehow affect the app’s functionality? Does the user looking through a recipe have the same needs when they are in the shop, in a cafe or at home in their kitchen? For example, as user who is searching for a restaurant is likely to want to find places nearby, so it would be convenient if you incorporate GPRS tracking into your app and provide the search results according to the user’s location.
Imagine that there is only one iPad used by different members of a family or by all of them at once. Typically, iPads are viewed as books or magazines that are used to scan through articles, read books or view video content - in most cases, they are not personal devices like desktops, laptops and smartphones. That is why it would be nice if you provide the users with an opportunity to instantly switch accounts and see who is logged in at the moment. Moreover, personal accounts make it easier to synchronise the content across a number of devices that belong to the same user, for instance, an iPhone and iPad.
Breathtaking, off-the-wall and eye-catching interactions are fine if you want to amaze the users with your game or a one-time amusement app. Therefore, if you are building an app for productivity that people will use often, it is better to stick to classical solutions for navigation. If you nonetheless want to introduce something innovative into the way the users interact with your app, make sure that it conforms with the task and is highly usable.
The best way to learn what works and what does not work for iPad apps is to try to use iPad to handle all kinds of tasks during the day. It is likely that you will soon discover many inconveniences that you will be able to avoid and a number of great feature to implement within your application. Keep an eye on how you interact with different applications - what gestures you find the most handy, when you have to awkwardly move your hand or do something that distracts your attention.
When you have decided on the purpose of your app, look for similar applications and determine your app’s path - will it be consistent with the existing solutions or provide something unique and different? Given that iPad applications are not as plentiful as iPhone apps, you can afford yourself a bit of freedom, but ensure that what you do is really useful and efficient - a things that is too novel may scare users away. Another good idea is to design a home screen within your application. Users are accustomed to home pages - they give them an overall impression of the app and let them know how they can interact with it. Without a home screen they can feel at a loss, no knowing where to find the content or the feature they are looking for.
Popover is a unique interaction offered by iPads to show options or information related to the content on the screen. However, it can be rather inconvenient, cramming too much information into a tiny window. So be aware of the limited size of popovers and avoid putting too much text into them. WHen you need to provide the user with a substantial block of information, consider opening a new screen rather than a popover. It is always better to give the content enough room to breathe, so do not be afraid to make it fullscreen in non-critical situations. Another option is using split view.
Do you remember the time when the internet was full of splash screens? Without a doubt, you were annoyed waiting for ages for the content to load, and splash screens are even more irritating on iPad because people usually use it to get the necessary information quickly. So if you need to display a splash screen while the app or a piece of content is loading, show the user something useful and try to make it load as fast as possible. It will give the user a head start on the interaction with the application and make the qiting time pass faster.
We have told you about a couple of useful tips for iPad app design to consider, and although there is much more design tricks and guidelines for the Apple’s tablet, our tutorial is a nice place to start. Do you have any doubts about iPad development? Our talented and enthusiastic experts have a solid background in designing iOS apps for both iPad and iPhone, as well as for Andorid devices and will be happy to help you with your project. Share your business ideas with us and we will think of the best ways to bring them to life. Do you have any questions about enterprise software development or bespoke software for your business? Do not hesitate to get in touch.