Designing For iPhone (Smashing eBook Series 30)

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Figure The percentage of websites which do not have a link returning you to the full website. Figure Daum. What is quite surprising however is that many who force-redirected visitors to the mobile website, refused to link or to allow access the full website. This in turn limited the ability of mobile visitors to access some services. This test was focused upon what could be considered one of the most important elements of a website.

A successful navigation scheme can be the difference between an easy-to-use interface, and a complex and potentially unusable website. When carrying out this test, four types of navigation conventions were checked as to whether they were being used on the home page most sites used more than one : text links, icon-based navigation, image links, and special menus such as dropdowns or panels. Figure A distribution of websites making use of text, icon, or image-based navigation styles. Figure The percentage of icon- and image-based navigation against conventional text.

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Figure The percentage of websites which employ the use of menus or content on demand. The results of this test were fairly conclusive in that every single website as you might imagine had standard text anchor links, though some menus were formed of plain text. In addition, image-based menu options were quite popular and were actually used more often than icon-based navigation—which, for devices that depend on icons representing apps or services, was quite a surprise. Special menus also saw some popularity, especially when used with content-on-demand scrolling mechanisms.

Having a relatively small amount of space can be a real problem in mobile devices, and therefore the potential for confusion as to navigation options, and how many links are provided, can potentially increase the difficulty for users to know the extent of where their choices will lead. As such it seemed worthwhile to see how many options were provided in the form of links on a single page. Figure The number of websites using a small, medium, or large number of links on the front page.

Figure The percentage of websites using a large number of links as a result of a menu convention. When testing the websites, the results were categorized based on the number of links that existed in the front page of a website these were labeled as small, medium, or large as per the link ratio. For the websites being measured, the results indicated that fewer links were visible on a mobile website than on the desktop variant even when complex layouts were used.

This seems to follow conventions, in that a reduced viewing space should hold less information to avoid unnecessary scrolling, and to reduce complexity. Images on a mobile website can be a tricky affair, as these devices often require more bandwidth than anything else and therefore can reduce the loading times. Within this test, the trend of using small, medium, and large as a representation of the number of images on the page were used, similar to the link testing.

Primarily focused upon the home page, the amount required to fall into each category was reduced as most websites will naturally hold more text links than images per page, on average. Figure The number of websites using a small, medium, or large number of images on the front page. Figure The percentage of websites using a large number of images resulting from icon navigation. Figure The percentage of websites using a large number of images resulting from image navigation. Figure Russian Mail. As you might imagine, on mobile websites the results backed up many assumptions that mobile websites will have not only fewer images on the page, but will have smaller images presented on the screen to match the kind of experience available on small screens.

This in turn helped reduce the file sizes in earlier tests and the speed benchmark. What makes this result particularly interesting is that websites such as Flickr which oriented around images, also followed this reductionist trend. The purpose of this test was to go beyond the mere presence of links and images with links and to examine how large the click region actually was on the page.

The Role of Color in UX

With mobile devices and small screens supporting touch sensitivity, there is a need to keep link click regions as large as possible to ensure the usability and accessibility of such devices to help with big, imprecise fingers. Figure The percentage of websites with a large number of links, images, and large click regions. Figure Flickr uses image links to provide a more visible click ratio, for easier usability. The results of this particular test were evenly spread, showcasing a good number of websites using large- to medium-sized links that ensured navigating could be accomplished without an accident occurring.

While this trend was especially present in more image-oriented websites as linking often occurred in image thumbnails , there was also an interesting trend in which Asian or Russian websites were more likely to have smaller click regions fewer characters in words also reduced the click region further. The next test looked at the visual layout of the page and examined how the design was broken down into either physical or visual blocks of information.


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As mobile websites require a lot more scrolling than desktop websites, the separation of blocks becomes more critical to visual identity. Figure Distribution of horizontal elements columns or table cells within the viewport. Figure Distribution of vertical panel segments headings or separated rules per page. Figure The highest, mean, and lowest range of blocks, both in column and panel distribution.

Figure The Zol website makes use of visible blocks, which separate content by heading. Interestingly, while the majority of websites held no horizontal panes including table cells, navigation links, and other side-by-side elements , a number of websites defied convention and had anywhere between two and eight points of reference within a single line on the viewport. This visual separation was also backed up by how a number of websites had vertical breaks, which split the content into separate sections.

The final test was included as a representation of how scrolling is experienced within the mobile website. The variables analyzed included the number of fingers required to initiate a scroll as when content scrolls using an overflow, two fingers rather than one are required , and whether the window supported the fancy flourishes of jQuery, JavaScript, or CSS3 in providing paneled scrolling—where panes of content would rotate at specific intervals, or sections could be scrolled by request.

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Figure The percentage of mobile websites using paneled navigation over conventional scrolling. Figure The percentage of overflow-based scrolling in preference to a full page scrolling effect. This may have been partly due to the nature of the websites being studied portfolio or showcase websites are more likely to have paneled mechanisms. What is interesting however is that to increase the simplicity of the designs as none of the sites used overflow text , they also maintained a liquid layout to reduce the complexity of required scrolling.

That said, the trends which the websites employ do bear a resemblance to many others and therefore can be deemed as reliable.


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Figure Different websites will follow different trends, but they still have comparative similarities. Within these were a mixture of varying website types, but the overwhelming majority of websites followed similar practices, or made changes which would logically make sense under the usage scenario. Therefore, the trends do seem to apply consistently. While this could prove an issue for repeat conventions, the results varied enough to qualify their inclusion.

The common factors which were widely implemented included the trend of using scripts to redirect mobile-friendly users, in preference to giving visitors a choice which is interesting, as it constitutes a double-edged sword in terms of usability. In addition, the trend of subdomains also followed a well-trodden pattern in order to be recognised easily by end users. Figure Some websites actually generate their mobile layouts using automated tools like Mobify. Expanding this study across a different cohort of website types may have varying differences as to how trends are implemented.

In addition, if a website is more content-focused like Smashing Magazine , an increase in file sizes will be an obvious side effect. Taking this study forward, improvements could be made. While the websites were tested using a range of real mobile devices including an Apple iPhone4, a Blackberry device, a Nokia device, a phone using WinMo, and a couple of phones using Android, a greater level of compatibility could be established if an increased number of devices were used excluding emulators.

In addition, a larger range of websites may boost the general accuracy of the results such as if all 1, websites were tested.

Figure Additional studies could be undertaken on particular niches, like newspaper websites. Example: The Guardian. As interesting as these results are, hopefully they will inspire you not just to follow design trends, but to seek them out.

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The 30 Top Web Design Blogs You Should Be Following

While the Web may still be in its infancy, mobile design is literally only a few years old. UI Patterns is a user interface design pattern library. It makes it easy to find patterns that you need for your project. The site also contains a bunch of interesting articles on UI design which can help extend the way you approach using patterns in your designs. From Up North is an online magazine which publishes content on the latest trends in creative industry. It explores different categories providing a variety of design perspectives. The UX Booth is a publication by and for the user experience community.

Their articles are strongly focussed on beginner-to-intermediate user experience and interaction designers. Medium is online publishing platform, with thousands of new stories updated daily. Site Inspire is a gallery which showcase the best web design projects. It features over real-world websites and makes it possible to search for a specific project by type, subject, and style.