Sarah Parmenter – Episode 49

In this Episode of the UMS podcast Giovanni talks with Sarah Parmenter (@sazzy) about designing for the iPhone.

Giovanni Defeterici: Hey, this is Giovanni with Unmatched Style and we are talking to Sarah Parmenter about UI design for the iPhone. So we were just kind of curious, what are your thoughts about some of the key points that people should keep in mind when they are getting into developing for this platform?

Sarah Parmenter: OK, well the first important thing is clearly defining your app. Apple has a really clear set of guidelines for different types of apps that you can find on your iPhone. So you got serious apps, fun tools, entertainment apps, utility tools. There are all sorts of different apps that you can find on your iPhone and they are all designed in completely different ways.

So for example, mail app is a serious tool so we would design it in a different way than you would obviously design a game. So by using these rules, bits and pieces, it just makes it easier to sit down and actually know how we are expected to design.

Oh, and sorry and some other bits. I forget that you asked that. [laughter] Having a really good icon is obviously really important because it is going to be the thing that sits on the iPhone, in the iTunes store and that is going to differentiate you from a competitor. If you’ve got a better app icon than them the chances are that people will actually buy your app first.

And of course the orientations and hierarchy and everything else in iPhone UI design which is really important. Knowing about fingertip targets and how big they need to be, and how to design for different UI elements where you are going to need to use sliders and the space needed between them. It goes on and on and on. [laughter]

Giovanni: Yeah, I guess I’m sure there is tons that goes into it, but what would you say is the most important thing, the most important key to making a successful app for the iPhone?

Sarah: I think, it is a cliche. Making sure you have a good user interface design and that it talks to the user while it does exactly what the user is expecting it to do. And that you keep things simple. You are not going to try to provide them with too much of something that they might expect from a web app for example. You’re going to need to string it back.

And that it works really well, obviously. [laughter] You would be surprised by the amount of apps that don’t even work by the time they hit the iTunes store.

Giovanni: All right, well thanks Sarah. So all you people developing for the iPhone, keep it simple because she said so. Thanks.


Gene Crawford

With over a decade of experience in the industry he has overseen the design and architecture of hundreds of web sites and applications. An active member in the design community, he's the editor & producer of, the ConvergeSE, ConvergeFL, ConvergeRVA and the Breaking Development conference series.