When you decide to design an app you must always follow the basic principles of industrial design.
Many people think of this commissioning an app, but when you are describing the application and then how their idea can be translated by the user experience and graphic interface (User Interface & User Experience), they are unprepared and very often they hide behind phrases like “I do not know this is a job for engineers, lets see this to the technicians …see ye.”

Needless to say,  when the  “technicians” get to work these people, who have no concept to delegate, will begin to demand substantive changes giving advice and information of any kind and almost always only after the app came to final stage of its development.
And the well-known concept that the “technical”, and engineers, first build the core of the application and then they adapt the design and  they do the opposite, in spite of themselves, only if the commitment are valid and convincing, especially when this is decided right from beginning of the design.
In accordance with the approach of “you do that then we see”, wanted by professionals distracted and ill prepared, the final aesthetic result can be poor which seem as every engineer knows that, before starting to write code, you need to have clear UI principles with a description of the functions related to the experience of the user.

Some sophists can criticize me for using the word “user”, which sometimes is not very appealing if you think that the end users are just people, or individuals users. This difference in meaning of words is very clear to me, but for ease of communication and especially for translation needs prefer to use the word “user” or “users” instead of ‘”individual”.

 

10 principles for a good design of an app and for a product

First of all, to quote Steve Jobs, I propose a definition of design that has convinced me more:
“Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”

Of course, the same principles Jobs was inspired by Dieter Rams, former Braun’s designers, who enumerated his 10 principles for good design of a product:

 

Dieter Rams e i suoi prodotti di design

 

  • Dieter Rams Ten Principles of “Good Design”
    1. Good Design Is Innovative : The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
    2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful : A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
    3. Good Design Is Aesthetic : The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
    4. Good Design Makes A Product Understandable : It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
    5. Good Design Is Unobtrusive : Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
    6. Good Design Is Honest : It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept
    7. Good Design Is Long-lasting : It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
    8. Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail : Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
    9. Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly : Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
    10. Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible : Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

 

Of course it is easy to see that these principles will be adapted to the design of industrial products, but also for the design of applications, especially if they will be used on products that were built precisely according to the principles of good industrial design, as are all products Apple.

Design better, work less

Dieter Rams, creator of the 10 principles, has always expressed his approach to design with the phrase: “Weniger, aber besser” or “Less, but better.”

Minimalism, as well as being very elegant, is certainly the best way to allow all users-users to understand instinctively the product and its functionality and it makes the product itself, or the App, friendly to use (user friendly) and “pure”.

Heuristic evaluation

At this point I can only describe even the so-called heuristic evaluation.
The Heuristic Evaluation is a method of inspection that is performed exclusively by the experts of usability and allows to evaluate whether a set of general design principles have been applied correctly in the UI.
The guidelines (“Ten Usability Heuristics“) upon which this sort of evaluation were developed in 1990 by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich and are designed for desktop software, but in this case, these principles are still valid for designed for touchscreen applications, such as the iPhone OS App for iPhone and iPad app for Android and Windows Mobile.

 

With the heuristic evaluation is detected then the fidelity and adherence to the principles of usability of the product, you can find on  Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usability )

This method, which as we said, is a type of inspection, provides the only involvement of usability experts and does not call into question the end-users: for this reason it is easy to perform, cheap and fast but does not take into account the possible evolution of the needs of public and therefore, in my humble opinion, is certainly very useful but if it owns it in the limit of being inflexible, and the lack of flexibility can usually castrate the creative evolution.

The heuristic evaluation test , therefore consists in a series of navigation of the product which are carried out separately by each “expert”. During the test use, the software product is evaluated for both static aspects of the interface, such as window layouts, labels, buttons etc.., And for the dynamic aspects of interaction and (logical processes and flows).
After finishing the investigation, experts will gather in brainstorming, check the results and compare them with the principles provided in the guideline to reach some common conclusions.

Conclusions

The heuristic evaluation method is certainly very useful and often necessary, but it can also be done instinctively , if the “expert” who heads the app is an old business guru.

I doubt that when you follow these methods, very hard, is that you can easily fall in the risk assessments of caging in a bureaucratic system – with its sculpted rules – which severely limits the creative people, as suggested by the same creator iPhone and iPad, “think Different”.

Think Different is in fact always been the key to the success of each product in each sector.

Obviously none of the great success stories, “Think Different” model-based , has never ignored the existence of principles that Nielsen is one of the cultural foundations of this industry.
We must never ignore the basics, but even being locked in a few principles, how big and important they are, if you want to try to be innovative and revolutionary.