Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UA Design and Implementation for iPhone Apps

Joe Welinske

Mobile devices likely to be primary interface for most people. Not just for applications for mainstream consumers. many orgs are looking for ways to scale off parts of their enterprise applications. All ways for modules to be available for employees on the go.

Place for work we do in mobile. Independent software vendors (ISVs) have a place in mobile. Ripest place for UA people to get involved. 5000 people at Apple Developer Conference last June, almost everyone a programmer, huge need for the type of thing UA people do. Lot of opportunities to get involved. Many of these apps are robust and have the need for user assistance.

Complexity and minimal screen real estate don't mix. Multi-touch and mult-key controls are not easily discoverable. Conceptual and contextual information, work that carries over from desktop applications, is still important.

iPhone development environment easily accessible, low price to discover. Requires Mac with Leopard, and iPhone SDK, which is free. Need to know Interface Bulder, Objective-C, and WebKit.

The SDK ha Interface Builder, Xcode, WebKit, free from Apple with no-charge registration. If you want to distribute apps, only then is there a fee to Apple.

Interface Builder is interactive software kit, can drag-and-drop element, programmers can work from there to extend features of objects. The simulator is great for experimenting with UI text.

Hard editing to vitally think about what's important. Not a lot of room to make things fit. Joe showed a "Quick Start" page for the iPhone app Timewerks where he created Twitter-length instructions, short and direct.

Showing short procedures, without numbers in steps, without a lot of extra words in the sentences, really stripping out non-essential words to fit into the space. Example of early version.

Small changes can have a dramatic impact on the success of an application.

UI text opportunities

Enormous opportunities for wordsmiths to get involved. Many times, it is the first word or phrase that the developer thinks of. Unlike large-scale apps, it may be easier to make changes, and easier to do testing. iPhone UI text opportunities in places such as labels, placeholders, alerts, action sheets, segmented controllers, table and picker data, and tab bar text. Important to understand the iPhone vocabulary.

Server-based help

Advantages and disadvantages to sever-based help. Able to make good assumptions that people will be able to get info through their network. All of my work (server-based content) was totally outside the Apple approval process. Content pulled into the frame UI from the server. Can offer dynamic information. Easy for information to be updated.

Web pages use the Safari browser. Browser based on WebKit open standard. Supports HTML and CSS.

Needs the viewport metatag. Proprietary tag, exclusive to iPhone, doesn't mess up display with other devices. meta content="width=device-width" name="viewport" Makes it so content fits appropriately in the iPhone display space.

Apple Human Interface Guidelines is great fro everything to do with the iPhone UI--except user assistance. There's nothing in there about that.

Working in Android development environment is similar to working in iPhone SDK, but 10 times more confusing. Partly because so many more devices to support, not just phones, but tablets and more. Development environment most people use for Android is Eclipse.

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