8 Tips From Apple’s Official Guide To App Design

The book is 245 pages long, and free as an iBook now.

8 Tips From Apple’s Official Guide To App Design

Anyone who’s spent $100 to register as an iOS app developer has already had access to Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Now, the 245-page design tome is free for anyone to download in the iBooks store.


The book offers a peek into Apple’s interaction design principles–how they approach user interface on iPhones and iPads–and it’s a pretty good read. Here are some of our favorite tips we gathered from our inaugural skim. Feel free to share yours in the comments below.

Content Always Trumps Interface
“Don’t take space away from the content people care about. For example, displaying a second, persistent bar at the top of the screen that does nothing but display brand assets means that there’s less room for content. Instead, defer to the user’s content and consider less intrusive ways to display pervasive branding, such as using a custom tint or font, or subtly customizing the background of a screen.”

Don’t Say Hello With A Login

“Delay a login requirement for as long as possible. It’s best when users can navigate through much of your app and use some of its functionality without logging in. For example, App Store doesn’t ask users to log in until they decide to buy something. Users often abandon apps that force them to log in before they can do anything useful.”


Circumvent Settings By Building It Right
“If possible, avoid sending users to Settings. It’s important to remember that users can’t open the Settings app without first switching away from your app, and you don’t want to encourage this action.

“When you design your app to function the way most of your users expect, you decrease the need for settings. If you need information about the user, query the system for it instead of asking users to provide it. If you decide you must provide app settings that users rarely need to change, see The Settings Bundle in iOS App Programming Guide to learn how to support them in your code.”

Don’t Rock The Boat With Gestures

“In general, avoid defining new gestures unless your app is a game. In games and other immersive apps, custom gestures can be a fun part of the experience. But in apps that help people do things that are important to them, it’s best to use standard gestures because people don’t have to make an effort to discover them or remember them.”

Talk To Your User Like You’re A Newspaper Editor
“Use a tone that’s informal and friendly, but not too familiar. You want to avoid being stilted or too formal, but you don’t want to risk sounding falsely jovial or patronizing. Remember that users are likely to read the text in your UI many times, and what might seem clever at first can become irritating when repeated.

“Think like a newspaper editor, and watch out for redundant or unnecessary words. When your UI text is short and direct, users can absorb it quickly and easily. Identify the most important information, express it concisely, and display it prominently so that people don’t have to read too many words to find what they’re looking for or to figure out what to do next.”


Don’t Please Everyone, Just Most Of Them
“Focus on the needs of 80% of your users. When you do this, most people won’t have to supply any settings, because the app is already set up to behave the way they expect. If there is functionality that only a few users might want–or that most users might want only once–leave it out.”

Build An Experience That Never Says Quit
“An iOS app never displays a Close or Quit option. People stop using an app when they switch to another app, return to the Home screen, or put their devices in sleep mode.”

Download your own copy here.

[Hat tip: Gizmodo]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach