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Designing for the new iOS ecosystem

almost 6 years ago from , Interaction Designer

I primarily design for native mobile applications. Almost every project I work on is iOS-first, even if Android is considered important. We work with a lot Enterprise and B2B services where the user base is predictable and iPhones are king.

The consistency of Apple's hardware made these design challenges relatively straightforward from a UI design and delivery point of view. Designing at one size with relatively specific dimensions was the way to go. Android generally got relegated to key screens with annotations about relative sizes and functionality. Not ideal, but because of focus on iOS, it's really all we had resources for.

This process was probably doomed from the beginning, but is most certainly doomed now. 3 distinct iPhone sizes are just the beginning of an increasingly diverse array of hardware coming from apple. Our process needs to change. PSDs at 3 (or more) sizes is out of the question, and cascading sets of speccs are as well. No one has time for that shit!

Talking with our dev team has led me to think that a tighter integration of designers into xcode is likely the way to go for iOS projects. I'm pretty sold on this, even if I haven't gotten there yet. What I'm not sure about is projects that are cross-platform: ios and android (or web, windows, and who knows what else).

I've been experimenting with creating pattern libraries and style guides and taking a lot of inspiration from Responsive Web Design, and have contemplated the usefulness of an approach like this: http://sfdc-styleguide.herokuapp.com/?id=style. Does html/css serve as a conduit for designers to translate their concepts to other platforms without having to worry about Obj-C and Java? Or is this an inefficient use of time?

I'm curious how people are changing their design and especially delivery process in this brave new world. Any thoughts and feedback are appreciated!

5 comments

  • Sorin O.Sorin O., almost 6 years ago

    Or we will have to adopt SVG ... I already prefer it for the web.

    For example I have used SVGs for as many items as possible in my portfolio.

    1 point
  • Ryan Hicks, almost 6 years ago

    More reason to be switching to a vector format, designing at 1x, and then scaling. Sketch or illustrator would be perfect for this.

    0 points
  • J VJ V, almost 6 years ago

    I don't know, I think you can still duplicate your master sheet, scale it at 150%, check that everything is aligned with the pixel grid, run slicy, add a hazel rule for renaming 2x to 3x and call it a day.

    0 points
    • Aaron Gitlin, almost 6 years ago

      And if there are 45 screens that you've designed? 150?

      I think for smaller projects/apps, your approach is probably fine. Picking a few key screens and deciding if any changes are necessary on the fly.

      I think for very large projects though, that process sounds unmaintainable. What about as more screens and densities make their way into the fold? What about the 6plus's even larger size and weird down sampling thing?

      I know that I may be overthinking the whole thing, and appreciate your response though :)

      0 points
      • J VJ V, over 5 years ago

        As a freelancer I don't think I've ever worked with master sheets that had more than 150/200 elements, which is still manageable by a single designer.

        And when I've worked in larger projects it's managed by a bunch of designers.

        What kind of projects are you working on that a single designer needs to manage 150 screens? You should hire somebody :)

        0 points