Designing for Actual Global Markets

Considering both iOS and Android platforms when designing mobile

I recently stumbled upon an article about a framework for designing great app icons. The article was very well-structured, thoughtful and thorough. However, it focused primarily on Apple OS platforms. I actually have been noticing this a lot in the design community. When I’m browsing for mobile designs on Dribbble, Behance, Google, etc., the vast majority are focused on iOS. What is it about iOS that draws designers in?

My assumption is that designing for iOS has always been an art form because of how Apple has strategically marketed their products. We perceive Apple as the front runner for its product desirability and ease of use. I mean the lines alone at the Apple store on product release day is a clear indication of popularity…right? Actually no.

I’m an avid user of iOS products but I also reside in the tech mecca of the world, Silicon Valley. Here, we have access to all kinds of technology that isn’t readily available to the majority of the world. I did a quick search and landed immediately on the IDC 2015 report. Based on their research, Android dominates the global mobile market by 82.8%. WHAT?! You mean iPhones have not won world domination yet?

Android users dominate the mobile market by 82.8%.
Full Report: http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp

This is a really important piece of data to understand when designing for global markets. As designers, we have to stop considering only one platform because the vast majority of the world has an easier time gaining access to Android products than Apple products.

I currently design for a mobile application company that has a global user base. Our designers focus on Android platforms first for a few reasons:

  • Our majority user base is on Android phones that carry a screen density of xhdpi and lower
  • Understanding that our users are primarily on Android allows us to utilize platform specific technology better
  • Our Android products release quicker to our users and we gather more data for iterating

Being more focused on Android platforms has actually allowed us to penetrate global markets more easily and effectively. It’s allowed our users in the Middle East, Latin America, and Southeast Asia to have access to products we all have access to in our small Silicon Valley.

Prior to starting a design for any product, I recommend taking a look at the data available to gauge device focus. I get that designing for iOS is a lot “cooler” but making products available to the world is probably more valuable.


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