When you’re developing native apps for different mobile platforms it’s important to provide a balance between consistent UI branding and the unique experience each platform provides. Not every platform looks the same or provides the same options the same way so why do so may apps try to do so? If you want to create a great app on a iOS device you can’t just replicate what you’ve done on BlackBerry and expect the same results. Apps that try this often received comments like “This is the best Android App I’ve used on iOS”. Learn the platform and it’s expectations and design your apps accordingly.
The best platform for design consistency by far is iOS. Apple provides detailed resources to help guide app developers (sometimes they’re very strict) but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something neat and unique. For example, Loren Brichter introduced the popular pull-to-refresh UI in the popular Tweeite Twitter client (before it was aquire by Twitter):
Other platforms are also quickly learning the value of good consistent design. Google recently launched the Android Design site which explains and promotes the UI concepts in the latest Android 4.0 release.
To help you out, I’ve assembled a list of these guidelines, design principles, UI best-practice and style shortcuts for working with native applications across the popular platforms.
Here’s some great reads for general application development.
- Not Your Parent’s Mobile Phone: UX Design Guidelines For Smartphones
- Mobile UX - the intricacies of designing for mobile devices
- Touch Gesture Cards
- Mobile UX Essentials
- Mobile Patterns
- iOS App icons by the always awesome Neven Mrgan,
- Apple’s formal Mobile Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). Learn it if you want to create awesome iOS apps.
- iOS design patterns provides great examples of existing apps and their design patterns.
- iOS 5 GUI PSD assembled by Teehan+Lax will give photoshop a run for it’s money.
- and for a bit of NSFW fun see iOS Sexy Interface Guidelines.
- The Android Design for ICS is the latest resource by Google to help tide the UI/UX fragmentation that’s plaguing Android.
- The original Android User Interface Guidelines are also usfule but some information is a little dated for older Android versions.
- Android Interaction Design Patterns provides some quick resource for designing interfaces around common tasks.
- Android GUI PSD Vector Kit isn’t quite as detailed as the iOS PSD by Teehan+Lax but it’ll provide a great starting point.
Windows Phone 7
Despite not gaining much traction in the market yet, Microsoft has some great resources.
- The User Experience Design Guidelines for Windows Phone is a great starting point.
- Be sure to download the Official WP7 UI design template. These are buried in the documentation but provide a detailed collection of 28 layered Photoshop template files that cover most of the common WP7 screens. Coming directly from Microsoft makes this especially great.
- Next, check Implementing windows phone application design as well as UX Guidelines for WP7.
BlackBerry also provides some introductory design guides for their various OSes, be sure to select the right target OS that you’re developing for.