The 4 Don'ts of Graphic Design for Mobile Apps (Part 2 of 2)


The 4 Don'ts of Graphic Design for Mobile Apps (Part 2 of 2)

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Last week, we covered the four do's of graphic design in mobile apps. This week, we finish up our two-part series on graphic design with the four don'ts.  Bar-Z has seen its fair share of app graphics over the years.  Bar-Z clients can utilize our professional graphic design services or choose to create and submit their own graphics for use in their apps.  Complete flexibility in app graphics is a huge benefit of our platform, allowing apps to be customized for each client, but with this flexibility comes the opportunity for graphics to also have wide variation in quality.  Many app graphics we receive are wonderful while others can sometimes come off as a little dated or have a lot of room for improvement.   At the end of the day, we want our customers to be happy, work within their budgets and for their mobile solutions to be a success.  

Use the Default Typefaces in a Design Program

All too often we see typefaces in graphics that are so common and well known.  Typefaces like Papyrus and Comic Sans are so overused to the point that they make people that aren’t designers cringe. When it comes to typefaces, what you choose can set the whole tone for the graphic.  Typefaces are often what will make a design seem trendy or dated.  Think about your overall goal for your app when deciding on a typeface.  You want something that is legible.  If it isn’t going to properly communicate your message and be easy to read then don’t use it.  Another thing to consider is its depth of the type family.  Does that typeface have options that are bold, italicized, san serif or serif?  Overall, only use one or two different typefaces in the overall design.  An extensive type family will help you find typefaces that easily complement one another. FontSquirrel is our resident graphic designer’s favorite site to use. Just make sure you have the correct permissions when using the font you choose.

Include Too Many Buttons and Forget to Size Accordingly

This is probably the number one issue we see arise when our clients see their app in action for the first time.  When you begin to lay out your app flow, make sure you have no more than 9-12 buttons that lead to different content or features.  Too many navigation options can be overwhelming for a user.  The space constraints can also force the buttons to be too small to read and tap on.  The best way to test this is to view them on a phone as you design.  Don’t be afraid to have buttons cover a good portion of the screen as this is where the interactivity, purpose and content of your app will lie.  There are still people with smaller phone screens in the world that have limited space for your design.  Apps with high usage often highlight one aspect really well.  Keep this in mind when planning your navigation and app flow.  It might help you narrow things down.

Use Generic Stock Photos

We aren’t saying that anything is wrong with stock photos.  However, your app graphics should really reflect the unique look and feel of your area and set your app apart from others.  A photo that looks like it could have been taken anywhere might not be the most ideal option.  However, there might be some sort of stock photo that includes an iconic landmark in your area.  Those are great to showcase.  Other important aspects to consider are making sure that your photos look professional and that you have the rights to use them.

Be cluttered

You know the saying, “Less is more”. This is often true with good digital design as there is often a tendency to include more and more stuff so that you reach a broader audience or pack in features. One of the easiest ways to have a cluttered screen is by having too many buttons which we touched on.  Having a “cluttered” look can also result from the overall combination of your photos, typefaces even your spacing. A way to help prevent cluttered graphics is to determine a unified grid and hierarchy.  This will help you balance your graphics from your home screen all the way to your app icon. We also suggest picking out elements in relation to each other keeping the big picture in mind. You might be inclined to choose an intricate typeface, detailed button icons and colorful background photos, but when you put all of the elements together with your navigation, it could be too much. Be flexible in your design elements and willing to scale back or switch out elements as your putting together your final design.

Overall, have fun when brainstorming ideas for your apps design.  This is one of the parts of the process that is so much fun and allows for a lot of creativity.  Extensive research on your audience and market will help you come up with a great vision.  Better planning will only help benefit the product and brand in the long run.

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