Designing Apps for Smartwatches: UI Tips

Designing Apps for Smartwatches: UI Tips The brief and useful article presenting insights to UI design for wearables: points to consider creating applications for the growing sector of wearable devices.
Designing Apps for Smartwatches: UI Tips

Wearable devices are the hottest technologies on the market today. They range from head-mounted displays to wrist-based devices. The most popular so far among wearables is undoubtedly the smartwatch, due to its market share being projected to grow significantly by 2020. According to the IDC’s statistical forecast on smartwatches, the device will nearly triple in sales within three years, reaching 54.6 million units shipped worldwide and the market value is set to reach $17.8 billion.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that many app designers and developers are working hard into target this lucrative market. In this post, we will list down user interface design tips to produce the best experience for your app audience and help you get a foot in the door.

Less user interaction

An effective app must function with minimum action from the user. Therefore, design the app with a single gesture required (i.e. swipe, touch, or voice command). The less time users spend fiddling around with the app, the more they’ll spend time using it. Make the navigation through the app as seamless as possible. The design should allow the audience to do more with less thought. To achieve an engaging app, add empathy when designing apps by putting yourself in the end user’s shoes to appreciate their feelings and behaviors.

The key is to consider the details of the watch design, as it varies from device to device. Compared to smartphones, smartwatches offer a small screen with little area for scrolling. The workaround is to lighten content to the bare minimum by only presenting what users need and that they can easily understand at a quick glance.


Follow platform design guidelines

In order to be successful in app development, you must consider a handful of requirements based on device and system. Google, Apple, Samsung and other OS operators have a well-documented user interface and interaction design patterns on their devices.

These guidelines will help you in designing apps that target user needs and desires, so maximize them accordingly. Remember that the end goal is to produce a well-functioning and easy-to-use application, so it’s ideal to help your audience by maximizing design and interaction conventions that they already recognize.


Consider standalone functionality

Wearables are evolving at the same pace as smartphones. It has gained a multitude of smart and standalone features that don’t require users to rely on their handsets anymore, such as internet connectivity. While some smartwatches are only able to connect through Wi-Fi, others have their own built-in card slot for data usage. The internet allocation for sim data plans for smartwatches, as explained by O2, are similar for iPad and tablet users that range from 300MB to 20GB. Take into consideration when designing apps the internet connectivity of the user, as some can be light surfers with very limited speed and data allocation, affecting the performance of an internet-based app. Soon, standalone smartwatches will be a mainstream device, and by that time, it will enable you to have an edge in the saturated app marketplace.

Presentation is the key

With a small display, the screen of smartwatches is highly valuable in your design process. Take this critical advice – make sure you use it well. Users must be able to view and understand information from your app at one simple glance. Leveraging subtle colors mixed with attractive layout will help keep the user informed and happy with the user experience. However, the aesthetic must be balanced with functionality, usability, and the designer’s personal creativity. Choose an appropriate font type (readable and well-condensed) and color scheme (appropriate contrast) to ensure your presentation is on point.

Designing Apps for Smartwatches UI Tips.

The technology is still in its infancy. As wearable devices mature and become mainstream, we should expect to learn a lot more about what design works and what does not. Hopefully, the aforementioned tips give you a starting point for your exploration into this exciting new device category.

Exclusively written for Design4Users by JenBDesigns

app design, apple watch, design for wearable, interaction design, interface, iOS, mobile, product design, UI, UX, wearable, wearable technology,
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