Designing user interface for an application

Before commencing the task of building an application one must carefully plan the user interface or user experience. This is one very important factor in marketing an app.

There are two ways of doing it, one is the long way of users survey, in order to do this one must build several mock-ups and then do a users survey based on these mock-ups.

There is a much shorter way that can be used only if this is not the first application written for this task.

In my case when I took the task of designing a new EPUB3 reader, I could take the second way, as I am not the first one who designs a reader. Although there are not many readers for EPUB3, there are hundreds of them for EPUB2. So I downloaded several dozens of them and tried to use them for a while.

Most of them where so hard to use that I uninstalled them few seconds after trying them. The idea was that if I can not understand how to use them within 5 minutes, other users will also have trouble understanding it.

I also removed those applications who wanted me to register for their library before trying them. I don’t want to collect any data on my users (other then if they are using or not and even this anonymously so I don’t need registration).

After few weeks of trying many applications I was ready to write down the specification for my application. I wrote down the specification and we started to work on actually writing it.

Finally few weeks ago we where ready with an application, we gave it to several users to try. All users where users who where not familiar with Android applications. Some of them where familiar with reading a digital book.

So we went to the public and uploaded a first version (that we still call Beta) to google play store.

Several hundreds of people downloaded it and after a while we found that most of them where able to easily grasp the way of working with it. However very few users, all of them very familiar with Android applications and software in general, found it hard to switch pages, actually they thought they have to scroll some of them did not even though about the obvious of clicking left or right margin.

That was a problem we did not anticipate and now we are working on a solution that will involve both an explanation on the opening screen and arrows on the left and right margins of reading page.

Posted in books, Computers & Software, Digital publishing

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