Here’s a description of the contents of Learning iOS Design, straight from the Meet the Book section of the Introduction.
This book introduces and explores the topic of designing iOS apps, even if you don’t consider yourself a designer (yet). Even if you’ve never have taken an art or design course, if you consider yourself to have more of an engineering or analytical mind than a creative one, or if you’re mystified by what actually goes on in the process of design, you’re very welcome here.
At conferences, I’ve presented the topic of design to a largely engineering-minded audience. Lots of programmers know that they should care about design, but the whole practice of design seems from the outside to be mysterious or even arbitrary, leaving them disillusioned or apathetic about the whole thing. But after some demystification and conversation, some folks have told me that they finally get why design is important and how they can think about it systematically. This book will present the art and science of design in an accessible, sensible way:
Part I: Turning Ideas into Software steps through the phases of design, turning a vague idea for an app into a fully fleshed-out design. It goes from outlines to sketches to wireframes to mockups and prototypes. At each step of the way, you’ll find advice about how to think carefully, critically, and cleverly about your project. Each chapter concludes with exercises conceived to encourage you in planning out the design of your own app. Part I includes:
▪ Chapter 1: The Outlines — This is all about planning, writing things down, and making sense of your app idea. You’ll learn about all the ways you can use structured thinking and writing to figure out what your app is about and stay on track throughout the project.
▪ Chapter 2: The Sketches — Sketching is the central activity of design. It’s all about getting ideas out there and seeing where they lead. You can never really know the merits of an idea until it’s out there on a page, a whiteboard, or a screen. This chapter will help you sketch with the right blend of adventurousness and discipline.
▪ Chapter 3: Getting Familiar with iOS — Understanding the constraints of the platform is crucial. iOS offers a versatile kit for building interfaces and experiences; you should know it well enough to decide when to take advantage of it and when to diverge from it.
▪ Chapter 4: The Wireframes — Eventually you need to turn your sketches into precise, screen-by-screen definitions of how the app should be organized. A wireframe is a document that specifies layout and navigation without getting bogged down in pixel-perfect styling just yet.
▪ Chapter 5: The Mockups — It’s not the only concern of design by far, but it does matter how your application looks on the surface. In this chapter you’ll break out the graphics apps and learn how to assemble beautiful assets into a convincing, pleasant whole.
▪ Chapter 6: The Prototypes — Sometimes a static drawing of an interface is not enough. You need to know how it behaves. This chapter is all about simulating and testing the interactions that make up your app.
▪ Chapter 7: Going Cross-Platform — Plenty of apps exist not as a completely standalone experience, but as a part of a multi-platform suite. This chapter explores the concerns you’ll need to deal with if you want to build the same app for more than one device. It uses an app that appears on iPhone, iPad, and Mac as a case study to illustrate how a single idea can wear three different interfaces.
Part II: Principles presents universal principles that apply to any design, and that should be followed in order to craft an effective app that people will appreciate and even love. Each chapter in this part is based on one of the three levels of cognition identified by psychologist Donald Norman, to make sure your app works on every level. Many of these principles are applicable to all software design, but here they’re tailored specifically for the strengths and challenges of iOS. The exercises for each chapter present sample situations to help you learn how to apply each principle.
▪ Chapter 8: The Graceful Interface — This chapter examines the visceral level of cognition, which relates to with how people feel from instant to instant as they interact with software. It deals with things like touch input, timing, and feel. Most of the concerns here are subconscious; users may not even notice them, but they subtly affect how pleasant the software is to use.
▪ Chapter 9: The Gracious Interface — Here you’ll learn about concerns at the behavioral level of cognition. That means how users make decisions moment to moment and how the app communicates possibilities and status. It also discusses how the app can encourage a sense of adventure, so that the user feels welcome and safe as they explore its possibilities.
▪ Chapter 10: The Whole Experience — The biggest, vaguest, most intangible, and most important level of cognition is the reflective level. This chapter deals with how people feel about your app in the long run: whether they rate it well, whether they recommend it to friends, whether they respect you as a developer, and whether they’d buy from you again. Happiness is the ultimate goal.
Part III: Finding Equilibrium should function as a reference, inspiration, and exploratory guide to the various decision points you may encounter in the course of designing an app. It embraces the concept that all designs are compromises, and that many decisions have no single correct answer. That means that lots of different answers to the same design problem can coexist, and every design, no matter how unfashionable or unsophisticated it seems, has something to teach (a fact that many critics seem to forget). You can look at each chapter’s opposed approaches as a sort of slider control, with a continuum of answers between the extremes at either end. For each challenge, a smart designer like you should seek an answer that works best for your app’s unique philosophy. Over time you may find yourself preferring one side of a given slider over the other. Maybe you like to err on the side of focused rather than versatile. Or perhaps you’d rather seek the Aristotelian golden mean, straight down the middle. That’s great; that’s what it means to have a style. Each type of decision is illustrated by examples of different solutions to the same problem, depending on the angle that you prefer. The exercises will encourage you to find your own favorite solution for a situation that may have several possible answers.
▪ Chapter 11: Focused and Versatile — One of the biggest decisions you need to make about your app is the size of its scope. Do you want to do one thing flawlessly or many things competently? What’s feasible depends on the resources available to you and your ability to be aggressive about defining what you expect of the project.
▪ Chapter 12: Quiet and Forthcoming — When most people talk about a design being “simple”, what they usually mean is that it’s in good order and presents an understandable amount of information and control at once. In contrast, designs feel empowering when they simultaneously present as much as possible. This chapter is about how to control the apparent simplicity of your app from screen to screen, depending on the emotion you prefer to evoke.
▪ Chapter 13: Friction and Guidance — Part of the job of a software designer is to make many things possible, but also to gently guide people through an experience. This chapter is about how an interface puts down grooves that encourage a user to move this way or that way next, or to slow down before taking the next step.
▪ Chapter 14: Consistency and Specialization — Differentiating yourself from the rest of the apps out there is both an advantage and a risk. When you think of well-designed apps, the examples that come readily to mind are the ones that break from convention and get away with it. But respecting the established guidelines is usually the wiser path. This chapter will help you decide when to stick to the script and when to diverge.
▪ Chapter 15: Rich and Plain — The visual styling of an app is the most conspicuous outward manifestation of its design. Independent of its functionality, your app can look extravagant or subdued, lifelike or digital. This chapter will help you tune the depth, color, and realism of your interface to set its tone and personality.