I often got asked how do I inspect an app from design perspective, especially on the layout, alignment, keylines etc., so I thought to share this in my blog. Sometimes we are able to spot some issues by just looking at it, but with some nifty tools, the design inspection can be done much easier.
Below screenshot is what I usually see when I do a design pass on the static design implementation. It’s an IMDb app screenshot with keyline grid + layout bound shown, which is very useful to spot misaligned elements and incorrect paddings.
- Keyline Pushing app by Faiz Malkani – This awesome free app will print the 8dp gridlines on your screen which have the proper keylines recommended in Material Design. It also has some other gridlines like 4dp typographic grid which can be very useful sometimes. (Update: Another new app called Material Cue can do the same thing as well)
- Show Layout Bound option in Developer Options – This will show the bound of each element in blue lines (clip bounds), red lines (optical bounds) and pink area (margins). This helps a lot to spot unnecessary padding or misaligned bound. To access this option, turn on developer mode in Android. Then Settings > Developer options > Show layout bounds.
How this can help Android developers?
Few months back I introduced these 2 tools to my developer friends, and below are their comments on this tip:
It is useful to see the view paddings and margins, and immediately understand which view is causing the keyline misalignment. However, for standard views, paddings and margins have an expected behaviour so you can fix the issues without the layout bounds. Layout bound option can be really useful for custom views and custom groupviews. For these views, you can do whatever you want with the paddings, so having the layout bounds visible helps understand how your view occupy the space, which is useful to have the correct keylines.
It helped me mostly to check that clip to children works to prevent shadow, animation, and ripple effect cut-off. Also I am able to quickly check that all cards/pictures are correctly aligned based on the key line and the left/right edge of the layout bound. For layout bound, it helps to check that the touch target of images has been extended and is not only limited to the image edges. It also helps ensuring that some views ‘visibility’ are gone and not just set to invisible. With keyline pushing app, it is mainly to ensure that the Material Design spec has been fulfilled.
Happy designing and developing!
It is still pretty surprising that with the Material Design guidelines available for quite some time (close to 2 years!), there are still many Android apps ignoring the basics of Material Design. Sure, the guideline isn’t meant as a complete design checklist, but many basic design details (keylines, elevation, UI elements etc.) and common interaction patterns (Nav Drawer, Bottom Sheet etc.) shouldn’t be ignored if the app is using Material Design as the design language.
Today the victim is the new (?) IMDb app, which I will show what’s wrong with the app in terms of design (they need to work on performance as well, by the way) and which part of the design guideline is meant to address the mentioned issue. Continue reading
Just a quick post to rant about an usability issue I experienced today.
In software development, there are always tons of hidden rules and logics that we made internally for better usability (or may be worse?) and minimizing potential information overload for the user, but if it’s something involved with certain level of user expectation (e.g. user reasonably expecting things should work a certain way), it is always a good idea to ensure that the hidden rules of ours are sufficiently communicated to the user through feedforward or feedback, depending on the situation.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind (and Out of Reach)
Case in point – the funny (may be not so funny) logic in Dashlane that no user can understand (or realize). Continue reading
After 264 emails with tons of exchanges, 200+ mock screens, 30+ interaction prototypes, 9 months+, 17156 times of revisions (OK, I made this up) – we finally have The Fabulous app with Material Design pushed to the public on the early September, and we are happy that we reaches our first milestone for the redesign – an honourable feature in Google Play Store under New + Updated Apps category.
You probably have not heard about The Fabulous – It’s a Health and Fitness app uses scientific-based approaches to help people in reaching their health goal through a carefully crafted step-by-step program. We purposefully crafted the journey based on the user goal by slowly showing them relevant information and motivates them during the process, and hopefully get them to form some healthy habits at the end of the journey.
Floating Action Button, or, in short, FAB, is one of the unique UI element in Material Design for primary/promoted action for a particular screen. Since it is a frequently accessed UI element in a given screen, I think it’s important to make the FAB right in every details. However, there are a number of apps doesn’t have the right FAB as specced in the Material Design Guideline, which also included some of the Google apps (I know!).
Todoist recently have their major redesign using Material Design and I thought it was actually quite nicely done! Though I found one minor design issue that might worth a mention – did you manage to figure it out at the screenshot below?
Just a quick entry for the day. Developers/designers etc., be on the lookout for design details/idea coming out from UX torturer. Every design details/decisions matter and most of them likely meant to handle certain user expectations, and if it’s done wrong, it can probably turn a good user experience into an unpleasant one.
For today, let’s talk about Simplenote.