Android is the world's leading smart phone platform, installed on 400 million devices that make up 59 percent of the market share. There are more than 600,000 apps available for Android on the Google Play store. Android is an open source platform, meaning developers can design, license and distribute their own mobile applications.
Best Practices for Designing an Android App
When it comes to designing Android apps, there are several factors that can improve performance, usability and appearance. A high-quality app can generate higher user ratings, more downloads and higher retention rates, which leads to more positive publicity and social media buzz.
Here are some guidelines and best practices for creating an effective app for Android mobile devices:
- There are approximately 4,000 different types of Android devices, meaning there are many different screen sizes and densities to cater to. Here's a brief overview of the varying factors.
- Screen size: Refers to the physical size of the display, measured as the screen's diagonal. Android groups screen sizes into four general categories: small, normal, large and extra large.
- Screen density: Refers to the quantity of pixels within a physical area of the screen, in units of dpi (dots per inch). Android groups screen densities into four general categories: low, medium, high and extra high.
- Orientation: Addresses the screen from the user's point of view, either as portrait or landscape. Not only do different devices have different default orientations, but the orientation changes when the user rotates the device.
- Resolution: This is the total number of physical pixels on a screen. Apps do not work with resolution, but are concerned with screen size and density.
- Density-independent pixel (dp): A virtual pixel unit used when defining user interface layout. A density-independent pixel is equivalent to one physical pixel on a 160 dpi screen, which is considered medium density. To ensure proper display on screens with different densities, you should always use dp units to define the app's user interface.
- By default, Android resizes your application's layout to fit on the current screen. This works fine in most cases. However, in some situations your UI may not look as good, and you will need to provide different layouts for different screen sizes.
- When designing for different screens, the key factor to remember is to avoid fixed-width layouts. Do not use hard coded pixel values in your app's code. Instead, use fluid layouts that stretch based on the width of the browser or screen.
- Create large tappable areas, such as buttons and sliders that are easy to touch; also, use large, easy-to-read fonts.
- The structure of your app should be clean and easy to navigate. The look and feel of the Android app should be consistent throughout.
- Before publishing your app, you should thoroughly test it on all supported devices. Android provides the SDK Manager, which replicates the sizes and densities of common screen configurations in which your app is likely to run. With the Android SDK you can test multiple Android devices in both portrait and landscape orientations, without having to go out and purchase each device.
- Invite real Android users to try out the app and observe how they interact with it. If you notice any patterns of confusion in certain areas, now is the time to fix them.
Blue Interactive Agency develops custom Android apps for use on all supported devices, from Android mobile phones to tablets. The company also offers iPhone app development, iPad app development and mobile website design.
For more information on Android apps, see Android App Development. If you are interested in a custom Android app with proper strategy and content creation, or want to learn more about developing a marketing strategy for your team, contact Blue Interactive at 954.779.2801.