Designing for mobile takes a special touch. With so much less room to work with, every pixel counts. So where should you look for resources? We asked three experts to tell us which sites and apps they turn to when they need a little inspiration for their mobile designs.
Dan Maccarone, Co-Founder of Charming Robot (New York)
Inspiration: Pttrns, Dribbble
For mobile design inspiration, we check Pttrns or Dribbble for sites that we like. But generally, we look at other apps for the given device (iPhone vs. Android vs. iPad) that seem to be creating or using best practices. One of the most important things with any design—but for mobile especially—is to not get caught up in the gimmicky interfaces that a lot of products use. This includes taking advantage of technology for technology’s sake, such as the accelerometer on iPhone. In the end, it really depends on what the product is that we are designing. Content, commerce, and games all require different inspiration. That’s why we research the challenges users are facing in that realm to find our solutions—and often make them up ourselves.
Nahuel Asuad, Graphic Designer (Austin, TX)
Inspiration: Communication Arts
Communication Arts is a great source of not only inspiration but a way to keep up with what’s trending in the design world as far as styles, looks, and multimedia navigation. When designing for mobile, it is very important to keep it simple and clean, and to focus on the content vs. the functionality. When a user is navigating from a phone or tablet, you want things to load fast; nobody wants to wait for a site to fully load before they can start using it. Leave your fancy buttons, parallax effects and transparencies for the desktop version, and just focus on the content for the mobile version. “Less is more” has a whole new meaning when it comes to responsive design.
Morgan Grimshaw, Graphic Designer (Denver, CO)
Inspiration: iTunes, Google Play
When I need inspiration for mobile designs, I always look at the top apps in the iTunes or Android stores. These apps are created by developers who spend many, many hours developing slick user interfaces. I like to harness the efforts of successful designers and take elements from their designs that work within the framework of my app. When designing for mobile, my process always starts with keeping it simple. The most popular and user-friendly apps all have an extremely simple user interface that has been narrowed down to the essential functions. I aim to focus my design on answering two questions: “what does this app need to do really well?” and “how will the user need to access information?” Also, considering the user’s gestures is key. If you can use the app with just your thumb, you are heading in the right direction.
We hope these tips help inspire your mobile app designs. Share your comments below!