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Drawing QR Code JIS X 0510 in Objective-C 10: Snow Reports for the iPhone

CHAPTER 10: Snow Reports for the iPhone
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Figure 10-10. Close-up of text-shadow embossed technique.
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Loading vs. Splash Screen
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Now, you will find many schools of thought on whether to present users with a loading screen or a splash screen. I ve always found loading screens to be useful, while splash screens tend to irritate me. What is the difference in the two screens A loading screen (see Figure 10-11) indicates that something is going on behind the scenes, whether the application is gathering data from the server or just loading all of its assets into memory. The user isn t left wondering what is going on, the loading screen tells them via an actual loading bar, a simple activity indicator, or just a Loading. . . label.
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Figure 10-11. The Snow Reports loading screen
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CHAPTER 10: Snow Reports for the iPhone
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Splash screens mostly consist of an elaborate graphic surrounding the name or logo of the application. A splash screen serves no purpose to the users; it s usually used in the belief that it will create brand awareness or something like that. Most of the time, splash screens are used as loading screens, but fail to notify the users of their purpose, resulting in the sense that the screen is an ad of sorts, being displayed before a user gets to the actual application. In the end, I recommend that you stay away from splash screens and only use loading screens if necessary.
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Reporting the Day
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One final touch was the custom formatting for the date of the report. I m a huge fan of the little human touches that Apple implements throughout its desktop, and one my favorites is the use of Today and Yesterday for e-mail dates. I decided to do the same for the report date.
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Coming from a Web Design Background
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As I mentioned, the majority of the design work I do is for the Web. Since both a web site and an iPhone application are based on user interaction, they share many design principles. At the same time, some differences change the game completely. I d like to share a few key points that I ve discovered and always try to keep in mind. Apple already provides majority of the UI objects you will need for your application. Take great care in creating new design patterns for interaction; this isn t the Wild West of UI design like the Web can be sometimes. Respect the fact that your users have become familiar with the common objects in iPhone applications, and they will expect your application to behave the same way. A table is a table is a table, and you shouldn t go reinventing it just because you don t want to do things same as everyone else. Convention is your friend, not a hindrance to your design ego. In Snow Reports, I designed a very custom UI for reading reports, but I used the standard UI objects when it came to searching and managing tracked resorts (see Figure 10-12).
Figure 10-12. The standard UI objects used in the resort management areas of the application
CHAPTER 10: Snow Reports for the iPhone
NOTE: Apple provides the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines document specifically for the iPhone, and it s a great tool for anyone new to iPhone design and development. I won t reiterate what s in that document; I just recommend that you take an evening and review it. Use cases go well beyond how a user will interact with your application: You have to take into consideration where the user will be (if you can) and how long your average use case is (I think it s safe to assume that iPhone applications have much shorter use cases than web sites). If your application uses dynamic data, you will also need to test with 2G and 3G connections to see how things perform. These are all very hard use cases to predict, so take them all with a grain of salt but take them just the same. Users are touching your application, not clicking with the frequency and control of a mouse. Buttons should be large enough that a user can easily tap them and maybe still see a part of what is being pressed. Spacing between buttons is key to avoid misses. I think the fold concept applies heavily for iPhone applications, so work to keep key information above it. Just so we re all on the same page, the fold refers to the bottom of the screen, the point at which you can t view the rest of the content without scrolling. The term dates back to laying out a newspaper s content so the main stories were above the physical fold of the front page (I think it s about time for a new term that applies to a screen, but let s not digress). For something like a table, scrolling is completely acceptable, and there isn t much you can do about the fold with tables. But for custom interfaces, if you have scrolling, you need to provide some indications that there is more information below the fold, because the iPhone has no constantly present scrollbar as an indicator. If your application has paging, like Snow Reports does, be sure to include a UIPageControl, which notifies the users of the existence of other pages. One great thing about moving from the web to the iPhone is the controlled environment. You don t need to worry about different environments or platforms or creating browserspecific CSS, and you can use PNG files all day long. You do have to check the application when Apple updates the iPhone operating system, but this is a walk in the park compared to what I have to do for every web project.
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