There is no doubt about iOS attracting a hell lot of iPhone developers to design apps, offering users a sleek, user-friendly, high resolution, clean design. However, for every iOS developer, there is an equally competent Android designer, who makes the best use of Google technologies to develop wonderful apps for iPhone counterparts.
A major advantage that Android UI UX designers have over iOS UI/UX developers is the openness of the Android platform, with most apps absolutely free to use, unlike iPhone wherein users have to pay for the majority of apps. To top that, Google does not have a stringent approval process, like in the case of Apple guidelines.
However, this does not necessarily mean that you have a gala time creating Android apps. There are certain things to be kept in mind as an Android apps UI UX designer, while building apps with killer qualities, blowing the minds of users right away.
#1. Capitalize on implementing ‘material design’ in the first place
Material design is a strong reply from Google answering a critical issue “Is there a mobile design protocol proving itself time and again?” The design came out from Google stable at a time when others were involved in the philosophy of trendiness. The purpose of this whole material design concept was to create a sort of design language, which not only looks simple, but also makes an everlasting impact from a mobile UI/UX behavior perspective.
There is one logical explanation to why you should change to material design. It lies somewhere between flat and Skeumorphic design. While flat design focused on removing unnecessary effects, Skeumorphic design was a big advocate of realistic looking landscape, textures, drop shadows, and more. Flat design replaced Skeumorphic design, a few years ago, for giving emphasis to minimalist design and chucking the useless stuff.
However, it lacked the usability factor, since variance in metal textures, faux wood, drop shadows, helped users to differentiate between UI/UX elements, in turn making navigation a lot easier. Since then, both had it share of advantages and disadvantages, material design not just eliminates weaknesses from both, but also gains strengths of both.
#2. Fragmentation: Know everything you really need to
Fragmentation is something that is simply unavoidable, whether an iOS developer, or an Android designer. However, it tends to be much more complex for an Android developer. To begin with, iPhone users switch to latest OS immediately on release, not to mention switching to latest iPhone device as well. But, that is not the case with Android users.
Android users are not very keen on switching to new Android device, or OS version, since they believe there are no major updates worthwhile enough to invest important time. Additionally, iPhone sends push updates notifications, allowing users to immediately switch to newest release.
Another factor to consider is iOS looks exactly the same on all Apple devices in terms of resolution, even if squeezed or enlarged, as per screen sizes. In fact, with iOS, you have a handful of Apple devices to worry about. This is unlike Android, wherein you not only have different kinds of devices with different Android OSes, but also have different customized versions of Android OS residing in some devices.
What we really meant to point out here is it is easier to test iOS apps on quality assurance parameters, then testing Android apps on a variety of different devices with different stock OS versions, customized OS versions, and screen sizes. Again, you have too many devices in market, with every single manufacturer, only adding to more complexities.
One way to deal with this is thinking your app project from a responsive design perspective. While designing and developing an app, imagine how it will look on different screen sizes, and OSes. Rather than considering the UI/UX as a static piece of art, treat it as a cohesive group of different elements, with size and shape changing as per the device.
#3. Perform thorough testing on multiple devices until satisfied
Testing an app on all the quality assurance parameters is critically important, especially when encountered many problems with app ecosystem during QA phase, in terms of accessibility and usability. Your app might look as well as perform awesomely on one device, but could be a disaster on another.
Testing an app on all possible variables is surely a lengthy process. Unfortunately, it is just impossible to have every single scenario covered. However, it is certainly possible to cover all the potential issues, through an Android device emulator. With an emulator in place, you can create as many different devices, and Android OS versions possible.
But, we do understand the fact that even emulators are not 100% accurate. After all, they are machines, and not real human beings. They can do give a fairly brief idea, but can’t tell exactly how users will be able to perceive your app, and whether the app fulfills their expectations or not. You might ask here, “In that case, is bringing all types of devices on board, the most feasible solution?”
No, not at all. Imagine, spending big time on a magnitude of devices. That could be fairly more expensive than you could imagine. Instead, why not get a group of volunteers, or in other words a team of beta testers on board. Tell your social circles like family, friends, relatives, and colleagues, acquaintances, to use the app and give their valuable opinion. Other than that you can employ a group of people professionally, to act as actual users, and tell the pros and cons regarding the app.
Do prepare a list of devices on which your app have been tested, and try to cover people with different set of devices than what already has been done. Additionally, you can buy inexpensive second-hand phones from sites like eBay, and test the app yourself.
Be a ‘killer’ Android apps UI UX designer to nail your app
There are millions of applications currently present in the Android app ecosystem. This clearly means that you have a lot of competition around, who are creating some real amazing apps. You should not be overwhelmed with the sheer presence of such apps. Remember, you have lot many resources helping you to pull your project.
Just try to be a material design expert with a range of UI/UX components, ripple effects, and drop shadows. A mere touch of a few lines of robust code can help you be an expert in the field of material design. Do share your own thoughts on this discussion, if belonging to the Android apps UI/UX design arena.
Image: Melbourne, Australia – May 23, 2016: Close-up view of Google apps on an Android smartphone, including Chrome, Gmail, Maps.