I upgraded my iPhone to iOS 7 over the weekend and immediately realized why the Internet is buzzing about this OS upgrade. I did a webinar last week on mobile strategy and one of the attendees asked, “how will iOS 7 affect web design?” Once again, it seems Apple is leading the way and creating a new aesthetic for good mobile design.
After playing with iOS 7 for a few days, here’s what I’m realizing the following:
iOS 7 celebrates flat design. In a recent SnackOClock post, Matrix Group Creative Director Alex Pineda pronounced the death of skeumorphism. Wikipedia defines skeumorphism as “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.” Check out the new iMessage interface below. The buttons are all gone! The only things distinguishing Messages from Richard and Contact are color and position. Even Send at the bottom of the screen is just simple text! Apple is basically saying, “you know what this navigation means, we’re not going to use beveling and gradients and such to tell you that something can be clicked.”
iOS 7 is encouraging the device and the OS to get out of the way and let the content shine. For example, when I browse a website in the new Safari, back and forward buttons are gone as well. I can swipe to the left and right to visit previously accessed pages.
Mobile design trends will influence web design overall. It used to be that mobile design came after desktop and now mobile and desktop are on equal footing when it comes to designing a user experience. In some cases, I’m even recommending that clients design for mobile first so mobile will set the tone for the overall experience. However, desktop and mobile can’t be the same because think about it: on a small screen, you’ve got to be very focused with your design. On a large screen, there’s usually a lot going on so we will probably always need skeumorphic elements to create focus and paths through our websites.
The Apple Developer website says iOS 7 embodies the following principles:
Deference. The UI helps users understand and interact with the content, but never competes with it.
Clarity. Text is legible at every size, icons are precise and lucid, adornments are subtle and appropriate, and a sharpened focus on functionality motivates the design.
Depth. Visual layers and realistic motion impart vitality and heighten users’ delight and understanding.
Pretty fancy language and if I just read the above, I’m not sure I would understand it. But after playing with my iPhone for a few days, I think I get it. Next stop, upgrade the family iPads (we have 3!).