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Week 20.

Starting Small

A Donut by Timothy on 24 May

I read an article recently that talked about how in countries like China that mini-sites and mobile apps were used far more than the full scale web pages we’re accustomed to. The article explained that the sheer number of mobile users meant that it was obviously more important to focus on compact design. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I finally got around to giving an app design a go… and felt pretty stumped throughout.

I’ve been struggling with the whole wire-framing process. It’s not that I don’t value its importance, don’t get me wrong. In the past I’ve tended to play around with the layouts and elements as I’ve gone along, trying things here and there. I know I’m being a hypocrite here, particularly when I stress the importance of pre-planning on my students. I suppose it’s one of those things, once a habit is enforced it can take a while to shake – like anything, a little time and practice and I can be where I need to be.

I could probably go as far as saying starting out with the mobile version of a website or an app is the best way to start out a digital project. Websites can be so multifunctional, to the point where I sometimes get distracted from why I arrived there in the first place. When you go in to design an app, the spotlight is solely on its purpose and what the user wants to achieve with it. You’re not putting too much emphasis on the frivolous ad-libs and frills – because those just end up being distractions.

You’re forced to think about the hierarchy – something I’d like to think most newbies struggle with, recognising what is important and should be placed at the forefront. Plus, the fact that you have limited space to work with forces you to really hone in on important copy and communicating your point or calls to action as concisely as possible.

If it were a lazy metaphor, I would be saying that tackling the renovation of a small scale apartment is going to make that leap to doing an entire apartment building a hell of a lot easier.

I’ve been evasive to the whole mobile experience up until this point, perhaps contextually it had something to do with me not using mobile versions of sites as much in my work or “back in my day”. These aren’t excuses, mind you, but I can certainly see with today’s young population – they’re being brought up in an era of tablets and apps. My younger years were spent looking though teen magazines which were more about how much content can I conceivably fit onto this page.

Anyways, here’s a LQ version of what I ended up with. A better version is here. The focus was less about the aesthetic elements and more about the functionality, hence why it is a bit ‘skeletal’. For what could be my most “simplistic” take on a design, it turned out pretty okay looking – these little moments of realisations hopefully amalgamate together so that the design process for me becomes a lot more synchronised in the future.


This week's donut?

The compact constraints of app and mobile design may appear a little claustrophobic at first - but once you remove the white noise, you'll be able to breathe easy. Work out the structure of the walls before trying to hang your paintings on them!

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