Riding the Wave of User Experience
A Developer’s Perspective
Posted by Sean Wright
As an iOS developer I’ve had the fortune of working closely with some talented designers and UX specialists; and it’s my belief that this is one of the reasons I’m able to show such pride in the projects I’ve worked on.
I get my day-to-day satisfaction from playing with the apps I create and perfecting the user experience. To me, this is the goal of a UX design process — for the user to enjoy the app experience as much as possible.
Of course the app needs to meet functional requirements too, and the technicality required in achieving that ranges vastly from simple to complex. I often find myself cycling through a myriad of products to solve different problems.
What generally remains constant is the platform I build for and the tools I have to do so. As a result of this, one of the processes I’ve become familiar with is the construction of a user interface and the consideration of a designer’s intention. Achieving this is only possible if a solid thread of communication between the designer and the developer is established and maintained.
One of the reasons I enjoy working at Hi Mum! Said Dad is because of the strength of communication. Along with this, there are a few other rules I’ve adopted for myself to aid the process of user experience:
- Actioning gesture: is it a swipe, or a tap? For a swipe, rather than triggering a preset animation, have the animation track the finger’s (or mouse’s) movement, giving the user extra feedback and allowing them to back out by reversing the movement.
- Think about the tempo: if you’re firing off a set animation, remember that the goal is to create a sense of fluidity. An animation that moves too quickly can be jarring, and one that moves too slow can be frustrating. It’s important to try and match the speed to the context.
- Fade is your friend: when loading in data to display on the UI from one or multiple endpoints, don’t block the UI completely. Try using placeholders or loading indicators when consumers are waiting, then nice animations to populate the newly retrieved data.
- Get to know your designer, and trust them: this only applies to those who work closely with a designer, but it’s a simple one really; they’re experienced, and if you can establish a good micro-process of review and amends then you’ll be able to output the sum of your strengths in your work.
- Be a yes person: I often come face to face with daunting requests from the creatives I work with; how they envision a particular idea to function and find myself stumped with how I’d go about making it work. Be honest and optimistic — and don’t be afraid to turn to Google for help. Once you’ve given it your best and you’re still at a loss, work with your team to try and find a happy compromise.
- Buy yourself time: the reality of deadline-driven development means that every hour is precious to the business. Things like subtle animations to enhance the user experience or custom transitions may be the first items to get relegated from the project-plan due to budget requirements. Find that extra time somewhere.
- Enjoy it: when you get it just right and you know it, play with it until the function behind it doesn’t matter to you any more and in your favourite dreams you’re swiping, back and forth and back and forth…
A good designer essentially does all the heavy lifting in regards to the UI of an app, but one area where it becomes the developer’s responsibility is in the animation. For me, animation is where the magic happens. It’s the filler between all states, and it’s now become standard to animate every action and transition in order to give users the feedback cues needed to maximise the feeling of interaction.
It’s with these small details that I find myself obsessing, and it’s why I’ll move back and forth between a designer’s desk and my own — collaboratively perfecting something so small that no one would notice it; because sometimes the user not noticing something is the desired effect. The smoothest flow will leave the smallest wake, but I can guarantee that it’ll bridge the difference between a good experience, and an excellent one.
Originally published at www.himumsaiddad.com.