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Designing the iPhone User Experience: A User-Centered Approach to Sketching and Prototyping iPhone Apps [Paperback]

by Suzanne Ginsburg
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 22, 2010 0321699432 978-0321699435 1
Given the fiercely competitive state of the iPhone app landscape, it has become increasingly challenging for app designers and developers to differentiate their apps. The days are long gone when it was possible to crank out an app over the weekend and refine it after receiving a few not so flattering user reviews. Users now have choices -- lots of them. If your app is difficult to use or doesn't meet their needs, finding another one is just a tap away.

To illustrate, consider the ever-growing field of Twitter clients. There are hundreds of variations in the App Store but only a handful stand out from the pack (such as Tweetie or Twitterific). For most apps, it boils down to one thing: the user experience. The same is true for countless other categories within the App Store; well-designed apps are more likely to attract and retain users. Of course there are other critical aspects of iPhone app development: the coding, the marketing, the customer support. All of the elements must come together.

Designing the iPhone User Experience will help you tackle the user experience part of the iPhone challenge. Three key themes will be reinforced throughout the book: Know thy user, the Design Lifecycle, and Attention to Detail:
  • Know Thy User
    Millions of people depend on iPhone apps to get them to work, find their next meal, and stay in touch with family and friends. Professionals of all kinds also rely on iPhone apps: doctors look up drug interactions; photographers fine-tune lighting; cyclists find the best routes. To truly understand how your apps can fit into their lives, designers and developers must learn how users do things today, what's important to them, and what needs have not been met. Part II, Introduction to User Research, will introduce a variety of user research methods.
  • The Design Lifecycle
    Award-winning designs rarely happen overnight; they usually only occur after many rigorous design cycles. To illustrate this point, consider USA TODAY's iPhone application, which went through at least seven iterations for the article view in their app. These kinds of iterations should happen before you launch your app, since it will save valuable time and money, not to mention the headaches a bad design could create for your user. More importantly, you may only have one chance to impress your users -- you do not want to sell them half-baked ideas. Part III, Developing your App Concept, will explain how to iteratively design and test your app concepts.
  • Attention to Detail
    Most professionals know that attention to detail is important, but hundreds of apps fail to incorporate even the most basic design principles. This lack of attention is not merely an aesthetic issue (which is important) it also affects the way apps function. For example, a news article without proper alignment will be difficult to read, and a poorly rendered icon will be challenging to interpret. Apps with a razor sharp attention to detail will stand out because their apps will look good and perform well. Part IV, Refining your App Concept, will show you how to make to your app shine, from visual design and branding to accessibility and localization.
Mastering these three areas will help set your app apart from the crowd. You may not have an award-winning app over night. But knowing your users, iterative design, and attention to detail are important first steps.

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Designing the iPhone User Experience: A User-Centered Approach to Sketching and Prototyping iPhone Apps + Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"In her book Designing the iPhone User Experience, Suzanne Ginsburg takes a fresh look at cutting-edge, user-centered design from the perspective of designing mobile user experiences for the iPhone. Her book brings together everything you need to know to design great products for mobile contexts."
-Pabini Gabriel-Petit, UX Strategy & Design Consultant and Publisher and Editor in Chief of UXmatters

"It's about time! Suzanne Ginsburg takes the best of User-Centered Design (UCD) principles and tweaks them with a dash of mobile and a lot of hints about what it means to implement the Apple Human Interface Guidelines for iPhone. Your idea for an iPhone app has much better chances of being accepted by iPhone owners (and by the iTunes watchdogs guarding entry to the App Store) if you follow even half of the suggestions in this book."
-Nancy Frishberg, Ph.D., User Experience Strategist and past Chair of BayCHI

About the Author

Suzanne Ginsburg is a user experience consultant based in San Francisco, California. She helps companies conceptualize and design software. She works with many different kinds of organizations, from established technology companies to small iPhone startups.

One of her favorite aspects of user experience design is exploratory user research which helps uncovers users’ unmet needs and inspires innovation. She has conducted exploratory research for online communities, home networking software, and several iPhone apps. Sketching and prototyping also play a big role in her design process. Suzanne is constantly exploring new approaches and evolving her prototyping tool kit.

Suzanne is most passionate about products that connect people, such as messaging and social media. These projects often involve cross-platform design which looks at the user experience across the web, desktop and iPhone. Suzanne is also interested in the field of augmented environments, particularly software that helps users learn about the people, objects, and places around them.

Suzanne is an experienced speaker and writer. She regularly presents at meetups, UX book clubs, and conferences. She also maintains a UX blog, iPhone UX Reviews , where she reviews iPhone apps and provides advice on iPhone app design.

Suzanne has a Masters Degree in User Interface Design from UC Berkeley’s iSchool and an undergraduate degree in Business Management from Cornell University. You can learn more about Suzanne at Ginsburg Design .

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (August 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321699432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321699435
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Suzanne Ginsburg is a writer and user experience consultant based in San Francisco, California. You can learn more about Suzanne on her web site:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The design reference for mobile experts September 22, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I design and create iPhone and mobile apps for a living, so I've seen my share of carbon-copied iPhone HIG's with little thought about the user research, experience design overall device navigation. Suzanne's book is not this! She covers all of these important mobile user experience topics plus some. She starts you off with a classic interaction design approach, then dives into how these research elements apply to device design, and provides a great deal of exemplars to back up her thoughts.

For those already familiar with user experience design, Suzanne's discussion of the device capabilities, navigation and interface elements/interplay is equally as valuable. Suzanne's book actually changed the way I approached my soon-to-be-released iPhone App DrivingBuddy. You could spend hours looking for examples of well-designed mobile apps and diagnosing why exactly they are great, or you could just read Suzanne's book :)

This book is clearly written for a designerly audience, but also lays the groundwork for user experience newbies. I highly recommend this book to anyone tackling the difficult task of designing for mobile.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graduate course in design September 14, 2010
This book is a must-read for anybody seriously interested in understanding the nuts and bolts of good user experience design for the iPhone.

The fact is, there's a huge difference between designing the right thing and designing the thing right. And Suzanne Ginsburg hits the nail on the head as she expertly conveys what's involved in designing for the iPhone, or for any mobile device / app for that matter. She manages to demystify the front end of the design process, the part that most people don't know they don't know.

As the user experience migrates from being browser-centric to being app-centric, it becomes increasingly important for anybody interested in developing such apps -- clever entrepreneurs and enterprise product managers alike -- to understand the fundamentals of good design, the process steps, key distinctions, and best practices.

Designing the iPhone User Experience walks the talk by connecting what some mistakenly think of as abstract theory to irrefutable value of the practice outlined in the case studies she has included.

What I love about this book is:

- How Part 1 orients the reader to the capabilities of the iPhone from the point of view of somebody who might want to take advantage of them; and it does so in a way that inspires and challenges the reader to imagine the possibilities.

- The way Part II demystifies the aspects of the design process to increase the likelihood that you're going to design the right thing. That is to say, by presenting the essentials of user research and evaluating the competition, the author reminds us that there are ways to dramatically reduce the chances the reader (as designer) developer will go awry early on or that the investment will fall flat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a catalog of good design August 23, 2010
Browse the app store and you'll find a ton of bad iPhone application designs, and a few great ones. "Designing the iPhone User Experience" is more than just a catalog of successful apps or UI patterns - it gives you a set of tools for how to approach the design process from start to finish. What should I design? Who are my users? How do I make a prototype? How do I figure out if my design works? What about branding?

Much of Ginsburg's insights apply equally well to spaces beyond the iPhone as they do to this one device. Android, iPad, and web app designers alike will find a ton of value here.

The case studies are thoughtful and illustrative - not filler.

I have consumed more than my share of design books over the years. "Designing..." is one of the few that will help me both create a better product and a better process.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Blends an expert knowledge of what is unique to the iPhone with a deep expertise in the science of developing products that delight users of any platform.

Ginsburg draws upon her consulting experience to deftly apply key elements of the disciplines of user research, interaction design, and visual design to mobile apps. It's like having a team of experts at your fingertips.

Case studies with entrepreneurs in the trenches of iPhone app design (Foodspotting, Aardvark, Voices, lots more) illustrate how to apply user-centered design to various app styles.

Don't just release your half-baked app to lukewarm reviews - read this first!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Rail
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What's been missing from the user experience literature has been a well-written, easy-to-follow, practical manual of user-centered design. Many books focus on either the patterns of design (narrow) or the philosophy of design (wide). Designing the iPhone User Experience, is both a a practical, beautifully illustrated, manual for someone ready to employ user-centered design (UCD) on a project as well as a valuable introduction to how UCD works in real life.

Ginsburg's case studies alone make for illuminating lessons of user centered design and should be required reading for budding user experience designers, developers, and product managers. The scope includes both development of new products from the ground up and refining an existing application.

This is the best user experience book I've come across so far. This book is invaluable in the grand task of making compelling user experiences.
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