Instagram lets you snap a photo with your iPhone, choose a filter to transform the look and feel, and send it to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. Its designers created an instant success by following the law of mobile app design – keep it fast, keep it simple.
CEO Kevin Systrom explains the thinking behind the design of Instagram.
Big Little Apps Designer
Kevin Systrom has a rule for designing a killer mobile app like Instagram: explain everything the app can do so people understand it within seconds. The rule works. Instagram hit 100,000 iPhone downloads in its first week and a million in two months. It turned photo sharing into a social media rave the same way Twitter changed texting.
Mobile apps designers are creative innovators, able to imagine what users need before they know they need it. But they also have to be super practical to transform a creative design into an app that delivers quick entertainment or information in the least number of screen taps.
A good designers has a sharp visual eye. She or he can sketch an image from an idea, using digital imaging tools to turn it into a lifelike 3D animation or cartoon character. Mobile phone apps scale up for use on tablets like Apple iPad or BlackBerry Playbook; building these apps is the work of a Mobile App Developer.
Mash up a passion for music with a talent for tech by designing apps for playlists like Jaangle or Media Monkey. Or, turn a sports obsession into a design career creating baseball, football or golf apps. Even Tiger Woods offers instant swing analysis on his own app!
The iTunes store has 400,000 apps and Google Android has 200,000. Thousands more are work just on Facebook and Twitter. If at least one of your interests doesn’t mash up with a mobile app design speciality, then maybe you’ll invent your own like Instagram!
For people who
- Are passionate about mobile
- Think logically
- Can transform complex concepts into practical apps
- Combine creative artistry with technical and functional design
- Are detail oriented and meticulous problem solvers
- Are open to new ideas
- Are team players, able to communicate a design vision and bring it to life
- Work well under deadlines
Courses for mobile apps designers include interactive multimedia design or visual arts programs at universities and community colleges. You can also add courses in 3D animation and working with digital imaging software.
Just about anything you imagine can become a mobile app. People want the convenience of doing everything on their smartphones or tablets whether it’s tracking baseball action in real time on MLB’s At Bat 11 or getting directions to a friend’s house with MobileNavigator.
Many companies now include mobile apps designers on their marketing and web teams. Others have apps designed for them by specialists like Xtreme Labs, BE Mobile and Toronto’s Five Mobile (which has done work for Zynga, Facebook’s top gaming apps developer.) Larger companies have their own mobile apps teams – like IBM, BlackBerry, Cineplex, and Canada’s big banks.