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Essential Mobile Interaction Design: Perfecting Interface Design in Mobile Apps

By Cameron Banga, Josh Weinhold

Published by Addison-Wesley Professional

Published Date: Mar 27, 2014


Design User-Friendly, Intuitive Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Any Platform


 Mobile apps should feel natural and intuitive, and users should understand them quickly and easily. This means that effective interaction and interface design is crucial. However, few mobile app developers (or even designers) have had adequate training in these areas. Essential Mobile Interaction Design fills this gap, bringing together proven principles and techniques you can use in your next app–for any platform, target device, or user.


This tutorial requires virtually no design or programming knowledge. Even if you’ve never designed a mobile app before, this guide teaches you the key skills that lead to the best results. Cameron Banga and Josh Weinhold help you master the mindset, processes, and vocabulary of mobile interaction design, so you can start making better choices right away. They guide you through the entire design process, demystifying issues that arise at every stage.


The authors share hard-won lessons from years of experience developing more than one hundred mobile apps for clients and customers of every type. They cover important issues that platform-specific guides often overlook, including internationalization, accessibility, hybrid apps, sandboxing, and what to do after release.

This guide shows you how to


  • Think through your designs, instead of just throwing together UI elements
  • Allow an intuitive design flow to emerge from your app
  • Sketch and wireframe apps more effectively
  • Reflect key differences among smartphones, tablets, and desktops
  • Design for visual appeal without compromising usability
  • Work effectively with programmers
  • Make sure your apps are accessible to everyone
  • Get usable feedback, and understand what it’s telling you
  • Learn valuable lessons from today’s most successful apps
  • Refresh your designs in new apps and future versions
  • Discover new tools for designing more successfully


Packed with iOS and Androidexamples, Essential Mobile Interaction Design offers dozens of tips and solutions that will be equally useful on today’s platforms and on whatever comes next. Extensive resources are available at


Table of Contents


Preface         xvii

Acknowledgments         xix

About the Authors         xxi


Chapter 1: A Look at Mobile and Its Main Players         1

The Field of Interface Design   2

The Dawn of the App   3

What Is a Mobile Device?   8

The Industry’s Key Players   12

Distinctions between Platforms   16

Conclusion   19


Chapter 2: Design for Humans, by Humans         21

What Is Interaction Design?   22

Goals When Designing an Interface   25

Designing for Humans   25

Designed by Humans   28

Where to Begin   30

Anticipating Your User Base   32

Mobile’s Role in User Workflow   35

Conclusion   37


Chapter 3: Dynamic Differences in Mobile Design         39

Understanding the Role of Mobile   40

Mobile-Only Interactions   41

Interactions That Aren’t Possible on Mobile   46

Universal Appeal   48

Complementing Traditional Workflows   55

Conclusion   57


Chapter 4: First Sketches of an App          59

What Tools Do You Need?   60

Becoming a Designer   65

Planning for a Specific Platform   66

Starting with a Workflow   68

Creating Pixel-Perfect Digital Mockups   73

Reiterating Before It’s Too Late   75

Preparing for the Next Stage   77

Conclusion   79


Chapter 5: Finding the Right Design Flow         81

The Big Three App Types   82

Common App Navigation Methods   85

Picking an Interaction Type   93

Minimizing Interface Friction   96

Preparing for Connectivity Failure   98

Conclusion   102


Chapter 6: Designing for Visual Appeal          103

How Appearance Changes Interactions   104

Creating an App Icon   107

Finding a Unique Look   111

Matching Art to Interaction Design   115

Building Art That Scales   119

Adding the Final Touches   123

Conclusion   126


Chapter 7: Working with Programmers          127

Understanding Your Programmer   128

Describing Your Design   132

Communicating During Development   136

Comprehending the Source Code   141

Conclusion   148


Chapter 8: Making Apps Usable by All          149

Knowing Your Audience   150

How Sandboxing Changed Mobile   152

Interactions for the Mass Market   157

Building Multilingual Interaction Designs   160

Designing for Users with Disabilities   163

Conclusion   166


Chapter 9: Designing for Simplicity         167

The Sophistication of Simplicity   168

Simple Design Goals   171

Interfaces That Do It Well   175

Creating Simple Interactions   178

Simplicity through Familiarity   183

Testing Simplicity   186

Conclusion   191


Chapter 10: Gaining Valuable Feedback         193

Showing Off Your Work   194

Devising a Beta-Test Strategy   198

Analyzing Valuable Test Data   204

From Beta to Positive Changes   208

Conclusion   211


Chapter 11: Refreshing a Design          213

Improving as a Designer   214

Judging Who Is Worth Listening To   218

Turning Requests into Changes   224

Preparing Users for Design Changes   226

The Resubmission Process   228

Conclusion   230


Appendix A: Standout Apps          231

1Password   232

Amazon Mobile   232

CNN News   233

Coach’s Eye   234

Evernote   234

Facebook   235

Flipboard   236

Google Chrome   237

Google Maps   237

Instagram   237

Instapaper   239 At Bat   240

Twitter   240

TuneIn Radio   241

Wolfram|Alpha   242


Appendix B: Apps for Designers         243

Adobe Photoshop   244

Balsamiq   244

Bugshot   245

Dribbble   246

Icon Slate   247

MindNode Pro   247

Pngyu   248

Skitch   249

Spark Inspector   249

xScope   249


Appendix C: Artwork Requirements for Android and iOS         251

Android   252

iOS   255


Index         261