Designing mobile screens often includes positioning elements on the screen for optimal reading and human interaction. Oftentimes designers will work in an art board based program using the edges of the art board (or screen viewport) as a guide for laying out the content on the screen. But are all edges of the screen equal. The answer is NO, because of the golden ratio and the human eye.

“Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, thinks he knows why the golden ratio pops up everywhere: the eyes scan an image the fastest when it is shaped as a golden-ratio rectangle.”

-Mystery of the Golden Ratio Explained

The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is when the sum of 2 quantities is the same as the larger of the 2 quantities.

Artists have been creating compositions with this formula for centuries, believing it created art that was more balanced and aesthetically pleasing.

The golden ratio is also used in the Fibonacci sequence and the golden spiral. The golden spiral is often found in nature from seeds on daffodils to pinecones to seashells to weather patterns and galaxies. Everywhere you look you can find examples of the golden ratio.

Bottom Weighting Picture Frames and the Golden Ratio

A bottom-weighted picture frame is where the bottom border of the frame is wider than the top and sides. Some believe this practice started during the Victorian era where pictures were hung high on the wall at an angle, making it easier to view but visually off-balance. To correct the illusion, artists began framing their artwork with a wider bottom border.

Although it may have started during the Victorian era, it continues today, likely because the optical center of a framed area is perceived as more balanced than the geometric center. In other words, the human eye is naturally drawn to the space slightly above the actual center of a given space.

This is an effect of the of the golden ratio.

Using bottom weighting and the Golden Ratio to find the optical center of a mobile screen

The golden ratio is great for creating artwork, but does it help with balancing content in a mobile screen? The answer is: YES, you can use the ratio, and a modified picture framing technique to find the optical center of the screen.

To do this determine the appropriate frame dimensions, identify the golden ratio of the frame, adjust the bottom border and viola — you have found the optical center on a small screen.

The example below demonstrates the result. Notice the subtle difference between the physically centered screen and the optically centered (aesthetically balanced) screen using bottom weighting and the golden ratio. One looks right but the other feels right.

Leveraging the relationship between designing and engineering can add emotional depth to the product experience — something customers will feel but not notice.

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If it’s true that 77% of app downloads are never used within 72 hours after installing, you have to wonder about lost dollars in development.
Consider that the average cost for developing and deploying an app is $5o-$300k. Multiply that times the current rate of new apps appearing in the app store alone; roughly 252 per day.
We’re talking $12m – $75m spent every day with $9 – $58m of that investment yielding $0 in ROI. With that probability of loss, why would anyone deploy an app without testing the concept with a target audience? Continue reading App Testing In The Wild

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It’s a crazy time we live in.

Something as simple as a logo change gets such buzz, then gets buzz about the buzz. Can you hear the echo?

That’s because we live in a mediated culture. A culture where anyone and everyone can react, react to those reactions and begin to create the perception of a new reality and importance.

In the case of Instagram, the perception is the change of their logo matters to their customers. I’m not sure that it does in the way folks are describing the importance of the change.

However, if we’re critiquing the before and after we need to understand why the make the change and does the result translate well.

At a high level, it appears the goal was to move the brand from something nostalgic and reminiscent of Polaroid (rainbow) and the Kodak Brownie (leather case) to a remarkably forgettable (ubiquitous free use icon). And this makes sense as their community and content are their future, not their brand. The brand was more important in the beginning when it was important to draw people to the community and make them feel they were part of something special and traditional.

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Three months after I joined Moven I started working on the a redesign of the Moven App.  Working under the direction of Brett King, I facilitated collaborative design sessions for proposed features, created hi-fidelity prototypes and conducted remote mobile user testing sessions to refine the concepts. Brett and Alex Sion demoed the redesigned app at FinovateSpring 2015 where we won Best of Show among 60 banking and financial industry leaders.

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I just finished watching Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview and I wanted to share an excerpt that is particularly relevant to product designers. The interview was filmed in 1995, 18 months before Steve Jobs returned to Apple and well, you know the rest. In this excerpt, Steve Jobs shares his views on product design team culture and dynamics.
If you like the excerpt, I suggest buying the DVD.

This excerpt had additional meaning for me. A few years ago I had created some polished stone icons for OSX under the GNU public license. Apple contacted me about using the icons and I donated the set to their product development team.
I never understood their interest but interesting coincidence nonetheless.

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