Should you build an Android app or an iOS app?

Does your business needs an iOS app or an Android app?

Both.

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As of 2015, "both" is usually the correct answer. The mobile market is a duopoly, and while the market share, and typical spending power of Android and iOS may vary, depending which survey you read that week, it doesn't make sense to ignore either market in the long run.

However that's not to say you should attempt to build both an Android and iOS app simultaneously. In fact, at ReignDesign, we usually advise clients to avoid doing that! Building for a single platform first lets you validate your hypotheses about your app. Is it easy to use? Is this screen really necessary? Does it meet my users' needs?

Since app development is always an iterative process, you can save time and money by first building for one platform, validating your ideas, and then later building out the second platform's app. So the question then becomes - should we build an Android app first or an iOS app first? To answer this, consider which platform allows you to validate your hypotheses about the app more easily.

First, the demographics of your target market. While I won't quote specific numbers in this blog post, to avoid it quickly becoming out of date, it's easy to find data which can help you understand the usage of Android vs iOS in your target market. Consider both market share, the versions of the OS people are running, and their average spend. For example, if most of your target users are Android users in China using Xiaomi devices, build your first version in Android (and buy some Xiaomi test devices). If your market is US businessmen with the latest iPhones, start with iOS.

Second, the habits of you and your own team. If your personal mobile phone is an iPhone, you will find it easier to build an iOS app first - even if you're hiring someone else to do all the development. Having your app installed on your personal device will allow you to use it frequently, and in a realistic way, and you'll be more aware of how "normal" apps on the platform should work. For example, if your app starts up much slower than similar apps on your personal device, you'll notice.

Thirdly, technology - some apps are easier to build on one platform. Start with the easier platform. For example, Android makes integration with other apps simpler through Intents. iOS has a simple way to integrate payments, and powerful image processing libraries.

Fourthly, distribution. Consider how you will get your app into the hands of the critical first few thousand users, and get their feedback. Android apps can easily be distributed without using Google Play, simply by distributing an APK file. The process for iOS is slower (since you need approval, even for beta apps), but less-technical users will find it easier to install an app from the iTunes Store.

Finally, talk to your app development partner. This is your first app, but it might be their 100th. In a rapidly changing mobile market, it pays to get the latest and best advice on selecting the right platform for your app.

On Visual Hierarchy

What is Visual Hierarchy and why it's important?

Designer’s job is not only making something beautiful but also arranging the content clearly and making an interface work well so the user never get lost. And that is possible by creating visual hierarchy.

Visual hierarchy is the organization of items on an interface. It is so important, because it helps people recognizes the most important elements first and in the right order on the given interface.

Especially on mobile app interfaces, the users have a very low attention span. They need to understand the interface within an instant, without reading labels or content - even more so than on the computer. Why -? Because they are looking at the screen on a mobile device: They are usually multi-tasking, or outside, walking even.

When a user looks at a interface they don't read, they scan. That means they will not stop until something interesting catches their eye. Visual hierarchy make the interface easier to be scanned and lets the user focus on the important information. It is like an invisible hand to lead them to notice the things that matter most and lets them take action confidently.


4 basic components of visual hierarchy

Use contrast, size, color and proximity to organize elements on a page to create a sense of visual importance. Actually there are many other things which can affect the visual hierarchy such as shape or prominence. However, those four above are basics to create hierarchy.

1.Contrast

Contrast shows relative importance. you want to give important things higher contrast like the square in the middle. The rest of the image is light, so a dark square is more noticeable. People would click the dark one than if all the squares were the same colour.

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2.Size

This one is simple. We all know the larger text is more important than the smaller text - News headline is bigger than other less important article for instance. Bigger grabs our attention first and so comes across as more important. Size guides your eyes from the biggest to the smallest elements. If everything is the same size, nothing looks more or less important.

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3.Colour

You can use a bold color to make something stand out. Applying a bright, bold color to a feature will draw eye to it, making it a main item within the design.

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Like in this example blue is quite, red is loud. More people will click a colour that comes forward like red. Colours that stand back are good for something like a menu that is always on the screen. If it is as strong as red, it steals focus from more important things.

4.Spacing & Grouping

The closeness or distance between two objects creates a feeling of those objects being related or unrelated.

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In the image you see 6 squares which are not aligned horizontally or vertically, but we see two groups of squares and the squares in each group seem together.

To create this perception put related elements closer together and unrelated elements farther apart in your design.

Reference Article


Create Visual hierarchy : 3steps

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1. Create a version without hierarchy, spread the content out and read each item’s hierarchical level.

2. Place the items (Spacing) and give different weight(Contrast, Size) on them to achieve a solid foundation of Visual hierarchy without using colour.

3. After nail down the purpose of each items then dress the design up using colour to take the visual hierarchy even further.

4. Last but not least, always do user-testing. Get your design and VH choices validated by potential users by asking them what elements on the screen they are drawn to first, second, and so on.

To sum up, Prioritize your interface based on thoughtful consideration of the content and goals of the design. Then, apply contrast, size, and spacing. For the last step, figure out where to add colour to use for increase the visual importance.

>Reference Article


Here are some good articles to check out if you want to know more about Visual hierarchy!

52weeksofux 

Awwwards : Understanding Web UI Visual Hierarchy

Creativebloq : 4 key ways to create visual hierarchy

 

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything

In any software project, a plan is out-of-date the moment it is written.

Imagine: we plan out what features we want to implement for SuperAwesomeProduct for the next 6 months. But then: requirements change, new technical challenges emerge, Bob is sick, the new iPhone 7HD is launched, we decide to remove an entire module, our user testing shows us that our initial assumptions were wrong.

Creating time estimates is also fraught with difficulty. Designers and developers dislike doing them, they are often wildly inaccurate, and clients assume that a rough estimate means a firm promise.

So, if we know that plans and estimates are likely completely wrong, does this mean that spending time planning the future progress of a project, or estimating how much time or money it will cost, is worthless?

Not at all. US President Eisenhower once quoted an old Army saying, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

The process of sitting down to write a plan, and regularly updating the plan, helps promote discussions that will help a project succeed.

When arguing about whether a particular section of SuperAwesomeProduct will take 2 or 6 weeks, perhaps it will emerge that there’s a misunderstanding about what this feature actually does.

When figuring out if Bob or Fred should work on the module, perhaps it will become obvious that we need to hire another developer.

And so on. After three hours of discussion, we have a plan for SuperAwesome Product for the next 6 months. And we file it in a drawer and never look at it again.

ReignDesign attending TechCrunch Shanghai

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Matt, Jason and Andreas will be attending TechCrunch Shanghai on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th June, and guest-blogging for Technode!

As a global entrepreneur gala, TechCrunch Shanghai 2015 aims to build up an opened platform to gather together the most talented startups, medias, venture capitalists and those who have passion on Internet Industry & Startup Innovation.

You can read updates from the event on Technode or follow ReignDesign on Twitter for live updates and photos.

The most interesting parts of Google I/O for developers

Google is currently hosting their Google I/O conference in San Francisco, and have just announced a whole range of improvements to Android and other Google products. In a seven-hour keynote (really? did they stop for drinks?) we got to hear about the new version of Android "M".

With more than 50 new products and initiatives, it can be hard to filter out the noise, so here are some of the announcements that have made us sit up and take notice so far: the ones which will have the most practical impact in the short-term.

  • - A new permissions system, apps will ask for permissions when they need them, instead of requesting all permissions when an app is installed or updated. Like on iOS.
  • - "Doze" should help battery life. It will automatically shut down apps in the background to save power. Like on iOS.
  • - Android Pay will let you pay for physical goods using NFC. Sounds similar to Apple Pay. Like on iOS.

Indeed it seems that over time, Android is becoming iOS and iOS is becoming Android. Rumours about what's coming in iOS9 include a new "Proactive" screen which sounds exactly like Google Now.

It's good for consumers - any "must have feature" in iOS is copied in the next version of Android, and vice versa.

There were some interesting improvements to Google Play too:

  • - You can run A/B tests for your app description and photos
  • - Cloud Test Lab - automatically test your app on hundreds of physical Android devices
  • - Customise your Developer page with text and images to match your brand

We're looking forward to getting our hands on the new tools!