Hey, designers, there’s a thing called guidelines

As a designer you should always know a medium you are designing for. And it doesn’t matter whether your final product is a book, website or mobile application. There are always rules you should follow.

Skype released big update for its iOS application last week. It brought in a major overhaul of not only an interface but a product itself. I have to admit that I hated previous version for for it being so clunky and suffered every time when I had to use it on my iPhone. I was so excited when I’ve found out that new version is in the air. So I downloaded it and…

…I thought it was a joke!

I really love Skype as a service but their both — iOS and Mac — applications have terrible interface so my motivation as a customer to pay them for their premium services is very, very low.

Don’t get me wrong — the interface in new Skype for iOS is much better than it was before and I would love to use it but still there’s one problem — it doesn’t look and behave like iPhone app at all! And no folks, Skype 5.0 is not remastered for iPhone, I don’t believe you.

Designers, please follow the guidelines

When I am about to use something, I have some expectations in my head about it (we call it mental models). For example, one of the reasons why I bought my iPhone was that I liked design principles behind its operating system.

If you are a manufacturer allowing third-party companies to build a new product in your eco-system or upon your product, it’s wise to give them some guidance or recommendations. It’s the only way how you can ensure consistent experience for all your customers.

In application industry, where I work, this is a standard. Apple does it, Google does it and even Microsoft is not an exception. So it’s really strange when you open Skype for iOS (by Microsoft) for the first time and you starting to feel little insecure with iPhone in your hand and Windows Phone app on it. Ehm, wait!

“Resist the temptation to display your logo throughout the app.” iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

It’s your work to fight for your customer

I know it may not be the laziness of the designers and there could be business decisions behind why did Skype clone their Windows Phone experience(see screenshots), but I strongly believe when there’s a will, there’s always a way how to meet business and customers goals with product platform specifics in mind.

It’s your work as a designer to fight for your customer, hassle for their convenience and be their ruthless advocate within your company. If you can’t do that, don’t call yourself a designer.

Skype for iOS redesign

Sometimes it’s only little effort needed to provide the right app experience.

I took a screenshot from the Skype for iPhone, fired up a Photoshop, mocked this and that and made Skype for iOS more platform specific. See, no major change was made and you still can tell it’s Skype from its look and feel.

Skype for iOS makeover


Update (September 5, 2015): I took Skype more than a year to roll-out a new version of their application respecting iOS guidelines: http://blogs.skype.com/2015/09/03/skype-redesigned-for-android-iphone-and-ipad/ Hooray!

New Skype for iOS is finally here!