On Antenna for Reddit iOS App

Have you ever smirked at an app only by its not-so-enticing visual design, but found out later it works much better than its beautiful rivals? Have you ever downloaded a beautiful app but gave up simply because you could never figure out what gesture to use? And those beautiful icons placed at an awkward position, which forces you to stretch your thumb and accidentally drops your giant iPhone 6 on the train?

It has been an ongoing quest to find the best Reddit client on iPhone for my daily commute. After giving up on all the pretty-but-awkward ones out there, I decided to try Antenna by Alistair Leszkiewicz.

Visual Design

Antenna, Reddit Client for Mobile

First glance at Antenna, it’s not the most beautifully designed app: the typography doesn’t convey a clear personality and the lack of whitespace makes it feel overwhelming and cramped; the color palette exhibits little harmony between each other; the groupings of visual elements makes it hard for users to scan over; and lastly, the lack of whitespace makes users work harder to comprehend the information at hand.

The Swipe Everywhere Experience

Most of the apps — like Reddit(official app), Beam, iAlien, Narwhal, iReddit — overlays the new view on top of the previous view, with a transition slides in from the right of the screen. To navigate back, a user would dismiss the new view by tapping the back/close button.

On the other hand, Antenna utilizes swiping gesture to navigate back to the previous view and its interface is free of the back/close buttons. This unique feature has given me the best Reddit reading experience on the phone, not only because it is satisfying to swipe but also because it makes binge reading at a distracting environment so much easier (so my eyes and thumbs don’t have to work hard to look for a button between every post).

Antenna’s “swipe everywhere” UX

In general, buttons provide much better affordance but their location and predictability can startle a user. Swipe, on the other hand, though has no affordance and rely on users to have the knowledge of swipe, doesn’t clutter the interface and is a natural interaction for moving items.

There has been quite some debates and research about tap vs. swipe. In my opinion, it all comes down to knowing your users and the purpose of the application. For a app where users filter through a huge amount of information in a short time, I think swiping makes it much easier and faster to find interesting content.

An Unsolicited Visual Re-design

As a user interface designer and a loyal Antenna user, I can’t help imagining the what-ifs. I know it’s superficial and cosmetic to re-design something without understanding the requirements and having constraints, but I am going to do it anyway.

Since I enjoy the experience aspect of Antenna, I decided to limit my re-design to the visual organization of the interface.

Georgia for body text and Apple San Francisco for headers & legends
Different shades of gray to create a harmonious color scheme. A high contrast neon-purple for accent color.

Typographic wide, since I wanted to distinguish between the app interface copy from user generated content, I choose Georgia for serif body text font and Apple’s San Francisco for sans-serif headers & legends. I also decided to set the text to align left and image on the right to accommodate link/text post vs image post.

Color wide, since I wanted the whole interface to be as unobtrusive as possible, I added a bluish tone to different shades of gray as the base color scheme. Extending the blue tone, a neon-purple seems to contrast rather nicely and can be used as the accent color for links/state changes. Overall I think it gives a relax yet confident personality.

That’s it! I hope you find this kind of hodgepodge of review/ux/ui interesting. It certainly helps me to dig into why I find certain applications more easier to use than others and why some apps become part of my daily routine right away while others don’t.