The majority of our interactions online occur through our mobile devices. According to Statista’s 2017 results, the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.77 billion (Statista, 2016) . This statistic is not even surprising as let’s be real, we live in a not so patient society where we want instantaneous results at a push of a button. I can bet that almost all of us can’t count the times we have had to sit and wait for our computers to take up to three minutes to start up and have it test our patience. Mobile applications take the “wait” out of the mobile. This is a product of having all the information stored within the application, therefore removing the need to wait on loading information over a slow 3G connection.
It is clear that mobile applications (apps) have improved our day-to-day activities and made things easier. However, to fully understand the effects that apps have had on mainstream society we must first analyse the origins of its creation. The mobile phone that started it all was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X in 1983. ‘It paved the way for all other mobile phones, including smartphones and apps users can’t live without today’ (Empirical Works, 2014). Whilst the brick of a phone couldn’t do much more than make phone calls, Nokia and other manufacturers added more functionality by including basic games such as Snake, Pong and Tic-Tac-Toe. These simple games created opportunity for app development as it allowed consumers to rethink the way they used their mobiles.
Snake III screenshot from a Nokia X2-00
By 1993, the touchscreen was introduced by IBM. This evolutionary step for user interface design resulted in the creation of apps that users wanted the most, such as calendar, clock, notepad, email, contacts, and games. However, it wasn’t until 2007 when the Apple iPhone and App Store was released that consumers really got a taste of what they wanted. The Android market promptly followed soon after. ‘Both markets quickly reached one billion app downloads with Apple hitting the mark in 2009 and Android just a year later’ (Empirical Works, 2014). Mobile applications have evolved from being an entertainment novelty to being a highly sophisticated way to ease and organise daily activities.
This infographic depicts just how progressive applications have become and their popularity in 2013.
As you can see, applications have revolutionised the way we use our mobiles and have opened up the doors to innovative app development. There are so many apps available now, some designed by a team of professionals, or by amateur designers. This idea of exploring the elements of what makes a good app and the user interface design elements resulted in my digital artefact (DA) idea: A how to make an app tutorial/progress series.
The DA would consist of myself learning how to build an app and be presented in a series of YouTube screen recordings that will be uploaded onto my wordpress blog. I am using the application design program Sketch to create my designs and launch the prototype. The applications function is purely a music database where users can listen, search, and find music. The main focus of my tutorials will be designing an aesthetic and easily navigated user interface. Stephen Janaway from online fashion retail group Yoox Net-A-Porter, states “to target a first-time customer, you want to make the barrier of entry as low as possible” (Mortleman, 2017). Here he is suggesting that if you create a native-like feel to your interface that users are much more likely to download your app. Research into innovative app design, like Janaway, will also be posted with the videos in order to allow the audience to learn as much information as possible before creating and designing an app themselves.
I have created one time-lapsed screen recording below of my first attempt of working with the Sketch program in designing the login page to my app. As you can see, I’m still not entirely confident with the program and use online tutorial resources to teach myself. I aim to have ‘sleeker’ videos produced in the coming weeks as my abilities improve.
Statista. 2016. The Statistics Portal. Mber of mobile phone users worldwide from 2013 2019. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/274774/forecast-of-mobile-phone-users-worldwide/ [Accessed: 20 March 2017]
Empirical Works. 6 Feb 2014. Empirical Works. The History of App Development for Companies in the Future. Available from: https://www.empiricalworks.com.au/blog/app-development/ [Accessed: 20 March 2017]
J. Mortleman. 21 Feb 2017. Buyer’s Guide to Mobile App Development, Part 1 of 3. The Changing Shape of Mobile Apps. Available here: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=19cd107a-1ce3-4f4e-b825-fb279599b22a@sessionmgr102&vid=3&hid=122 [Accessed: 20 March 2017]