Design in Apps

Well designed products work they way you expect. As you use such products, it becomes clear that the designers thought about the concerns you might have and designed the product to address those concerns. —Ted Landau

Design is, I think, a very important element for things that involve the eyes. Well designed things are nice treats to the eye, just as candies are to the tongue. It’s always a pleasure for me to visit an art gallery and just admire the displayed statues or paintings. Or perhaps to a furniture store to window-shop the sofa and the shelves that makes me drool. They’re just begging to be taken home.

That applies to my digital life as well. I’m really a sucker for good-looking apps for both my Mac and my Android phone. Layman speaking, if a developer gives that much attention to design and puts effort into maintaining good design, then it can be inferred that the said developer does not only put forth making money and/or get fame out of his handiwork but also cares about it. That means we can trust the app for long-term use and get continuous support.

On the Mac, it isn’t really that hard to find those apps. Design is in Apple’s philosophy and app developers adapt that into their works too. Take Day One, for example. I bought this diary/journaling app back in March 2011 because I was needed an app of this kind that doesn’t bloat itself with too powerful features. I was sold by the screenshots only. I love its user interface: grey sidebar with self-explanatory icons for easy navigation, elegant writing environment with the date and time on top (and great choices of fonts, too), and an option to show an unobtrusive “Inspirational Messages”. It’s nice to see the reminder that pops up from the menu bar icon, too. Or maybe Reeder, an RSS reader app, which is just so good to look at. (I have just discovered an app called Wordsmith — The Next Generation Word Processor and it looks so, so good from the screenshots. It’s website is well-designed, too. I’m sure this app will go big in the future, at least for writers.) I often find myself opening the apps I mentioned just to admire the user interface because they’re so good to look at.

On Android, it’s not that easy to find such apps, although if you have the eye there are some nice ones as well. My recent findings include Writer, an app that offers extremely minimalistic interface for writing purposes; Any.DO, the sexy-looking to-do app that has a simple, neat-looking home-screen widget (although I use Do It Tomorrow for the purpose—not that I have much to do); Flipboard, the news aggregator app that has a magazine-like interface. The instant messaging app WhatsApp is worth noting too, as well as Dropbox and Evernote. (Apparently the ones I mentioned are all free apps.)

Like the paintings and statues in the art gallery or the sofa and the shelves in the furniture store, an app should look good so as to make people hear the begging of the app to be bought. If anything, people see before they touch and feel, right?

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