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Book review: Designing the iPhone User Experience


When I was preparing to teach some classes on app design, I collected a lot of reading materials. One of the books I picked up was Designing the iPhone User Experience: A User-Centered Approach to Sketching and Prototyping iPhone Apps by Suzanne Ginsburg.

App SketchAs I dove into the book, I thought it had only marginal substance, but I stuck with it — and now I’ve started incorporating ideas from the book into how we work at MotionKick. It’s also required reading in some of my classes.

The book opens with a discussion of devices and mobile apps in general, including the three basic categories of apps: utility, productivity and immersive. She also talks about the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) published by Apple and Google, the rules that dictate how apps should be designed to be optimal for users.

Xcode StoryboardThis book is not about design, user interface, user experience and code. It’s not a technical manual. Rather, it’s a guide to defining functionality, concepting, sketching, prototyping and usability testing. It’s not about physically making an app; it’s the theories and practices behind making an app that users will truly love — and return to again and again.

The real meat of this book is actually in helping define what your users need and what your app will do to fulfill them. One of my biggest takeaways from Suzanne Ginsburg’s book: If you want to make an app but aren’t sure where to start, always start by doing research. Not even sure where to start with research? Shadow users, perform field interviews or even take notes on the apps you use the most — and highlight the features that are missing or needs you have that are going unfilled.

Actually, even if you do know where you want to start with your app, you should still do research. Make sure the product you want to create is something other people want to you create.

And pick up a copy of this book. There’s a lot to be learned from it!