Design That Works

Know the User, Know the Platform.

A well-designed application is simple and useful. A great application embodies the elegance inherent in a balanced combination of those two qualities. Design begins and ends with a keen understanding of the user. Putting users in the center of the design process allows designers to validate hypotheses that can otherwise give rise to speculative assumptions, and hours of conference room debates.

The Impact of Mobile

The constraints of mobile devices (tiny screens, brief interactions, imprecise input) led to major changes in approach to user experience design. Websites and mobile apps needed to have simpler layouts and be radically easier to use than their desktop counterparts. Navigation had to be clear and obvious.

As designers found solutions to these design issues, they began to integrate the new patterns that emerged into desktop design as well. As a result, design approaches have changed across the board, and are now a common part of the average user's everyday experience.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

— Steve Jobs

Since apps are increasingly used on the go, awkward user interfaces have gone from being perceived as a mere annoyance, to being treated as unacceptable. With hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, the bar has been set higher than ever. User experience has become absolutely critical to success. The following are some key ingredients.

Design for the Target Platform

There's a common pitfall we've seen occur commonly, and it's usually a costly one. It generally has some or all of the following components:

  • The design team is separate from the engineering team.
  • The designers don't have experience with the target platform.
  • Designs are executed without taking into account the platform's engineering constraints and human interface guidelines.
  • Engineers struggle to implement the design because it doesn't align with available components and APIs.
  • The product ships late and over budget due to the extra engineering effort required to build custom capabilities.
  • The next major release of the target platform's frameworks causes significant breakage to a number of custom components, which then have to be either discarded or repaired.

At About Objects, our designers and engineers work closely together. We're keenly aware of platform features, and know how to design and implement features to take maximum advantage of inherent capabilities.

Follow the HIG

Users quickly become familiar with common interaction patterns on well-defined vendor platforms, such as those for mobile and wearable devices. Because today's users have little tolerance for apps that don't behave the way they've come to expect, to be successful, most apps need to closely adhere to a given platform's published human interface guidelines.

At About Objects, our UX/UI designers are deeply knowledgable about the platforms we work with. We understand how to design for the medium, whether it's the web, an iPad, an Android phone, or an Apple Watch. We've executed cutting edge designs for leading brands such as the NFL, Marriott, and DIRECTV.

Follow the Process

We're big believers in following a consistent, repeatable process. And we think that's every bit as important for software design as it is for software engineering.

Our UX/UI design process combines discipline and creativity in the right measures. Following that process makes it possible to reliably deliver a fresh, intuitive, and elegant user experience, each and every time. By correctly defining the business problem to be solved, getting meaningful feedback from users early and often, and performing a series of stepwise refinements, we can calibrate the experience to deliver precisely what the user needs and expects moment by moment.

Design Phases

  • define

    Understanding the problem is the first step for being able to solve the problem. To fully understand the problem, boundaries must be uncovered and defined. Feature sets need to be aligned with business goals. This phase is where direction and vision are nailed down.

  • research

    Once there are boundaries in which to work, the next phase is about learning as much as possible about anything and everything that fits within the defined boundaries. Whether user personas, content strategy, or the details of individual device platforms, the more you know, the better.

  • prototype

    Here we begin adding substance to the app vision by applying the research gathered in the previous phase. Prototypes are developed that embody early concepts of the intended user experience, beginning with navigation patterns. Deliverables and concepts are driven by user personas. Iterating over this phase allows multiple directions to be explored as concepts are refined.

  • validate

    This is the testing part of the process. Getting meaningful validation with actual users via the prototypes is crucial for getting to the right solution quickly.

  • refine

    Once a prototype has been thoroughly tested with users and is ready to be taken further, visual and interaction designers may begin implementing the physical forms and affordance of the application. These may be further validated with users where appropriate. 

Designing A Better Product


In today's fast-paced world, users are always on the move, and smart devices are an integral part of their daily routines. But precisely because things appear to be moving so quickly, users are less willing to invest time learning the features of mobile apps. A great user experience needs to be intuitive, familiar, and snappy. And the only way to get that kind of performance and user experience is to develop for the native platform. That's the only way to develop apps that are truly seductive — apps that users will want to make an integral part of their daily life.

Product Platforms

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