App Creation #55 – App Design – Location & Environment

Understanding the location and environment your app will be utilised in is extremely important when considering functionality.

Different surroundings offer different challenges and many of these you will need to address.

Indoors

Playing a game at home with Sonic Dash for iOS
Playing a game at home with Sonic Dash for iOS

At Home

There’s no place like home and for the app creator, a nice place to begin as really the only limitation is your imagination. Go crazy and create an interface that achieves all of your targets as at home, the only person you need to impress is the user. Always follow good interface practises of course, but in this location you won’t suffer the typical concerns of other environments mentioned below.

The Office

Productivity is all about speed and efficiency in a working environment. Avoid fancy and lengthy animations that can grind everything to a halt.

Sounds also should be extremely limited. Nobody wishes to hear beeps and other repetitive audio cues within an office as it disturbs other workers. Instead, look for other methods of indicating progression or function with graphical elements or other less invasive methods such as vibration.

The Workman

If an app has been created as a reference source or tool, the chances are that both hands won’t be available. While grasping a small portable device, the only available digits the workman can employ may be his thumb, so be careful to design an interface that doesn’t rely on multi-touch gestures or overly complicated swipes. Try to centralise all of the button presses as it will feel more natural with only a single hand available, reducing the need to stretch. 

The Great Outdoors

TomTom Satellite Navigation app on iOS
TomTom Satellite Navigation app on iOS

Out in the Car

Keeping your eyes on the road is far more important than monitoring a display. With only a moment or two available to glance at the screen, the information presented needs to be instantly recognisable, without any kind of confusion.

Text should be quite large and easily legible, so avoid an overly complicated colour scheme that affects the font’s visibility. Work out where the most important information should be located within the display and remove unnecessary jumble.

The vehicle will be in two states. One while the vehicle is sitting still and the other of course on the move. In a static position, the driver could be offered additional features. When in motion, options should be limited to avoid distracting the driver.

When driving, triggering a function on the screen with a wobbly finger isn’t ideal, so help the driver by including large buttons.

In Public

Whether in a zipped pocket or fashionable handbag, the trusty mobile phone is usually best left there until absolutely required to protect them from accidental scrapes and to reduce the chances of loss. The latest gadgets also come at a fairly hefty price and are often an easy target for thieves.

Therefore out of the relative safety of your home, be it on public transport or out for a leisurely stroll, the less visible the hardware the better. Consider how you can limit user interaction. Offer automation wherever possible, removing the need for constant user intervention.

App Creation Series

There are literally hundreds of thousands of applications and games available to download using the digital marketplace. These range from basic clocks to fully fledged 3D gaming experiences rivalling even the leading portable devices that usually only specialise in this field.

Your challenge is competing with this vast library of already impressive offerings which, although a daunting prospect to the fledgling traveller, can be navigated successfully with the right ideas and implementation. Whether you want to create an income generator or simply desire recognition for your efforts, this book will aim to show you the path and inspire your imagination to overflow with possibilities.

Allow James Woodcock to guide you through the wilderness and raise your chances of realising your development dreams by detailing different routes with this light hearted tour of the Apps terrain. Featuring a myriad of exciting and surprising examples, you can glean important suggestions for your own creation.

App Creation Series Index:
App Creation – Beginners Guide to App Design, Development and Marketing

Website | Portfolio | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.