Cross-platform design refers to the practice of designing and developing digital products, such as mobile applications, that can be used on multiple platforms. In the context of mobile app development, the two most significant platforms are Android and iOS, which are the operating systems used on the majority of smartphones worldwide.
Designing for both Android and iOS can be challenging due to the differences between the two platforms, including differences in design guidelines, user behavior, and technical capabilities. However, by following some key principles, it is possible to create a cross-platform design that works well on both Android and iOS.
1. Understand the differences between Android and iOS
The first step in creating a successful cross-platform design is understanding the differences between Android and iOS. This includes differences in design guidelines, user behavior, and technical capabilities.
Design guidelines: Both Android and iOS have their own design guidelines, known as Material Design for Android and Human Interface Guidelines for iOS. These guidelines outline the principles and best practices for designing user interfaces and interactions for each platform. It is important to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and understand how they differ to ensure that your design adheres to the conventions of each platform.
User behavior: In addition to design guidelines, it is also important to understand the differences in user behavior between Android and iOS users. For example, Android users tend to be more tech-savvy and open to trying new features. In contrast, iOS users tend to be more conservative and expect a more polished user experience. Understanding these differences can help inform your design decisions and ensure that your product meets the needs and expectations of users on each platform.
Technical capabilities: Another factor to consider is the technical capabilities of each platform’s devices. For example, iOS devices tend to have more powerful processors and higher-resolution displays, while Android devices can vary widely in terms of hardware specifications. It is important to understand these differences and design for the lowest common denominator to ensure that your app performs well on all devices.
2. Use a common design system structure.
A standard design system is a set of design principles, guidelines, and assets that define the look and feel of a product across all platforms. By using a standard design system structure, it is possible to create a consistent user experience across Android and iOS while still adhering to the specific design guidelines of each platform.
A typical design system should include elements such as color palettes, typography, iconography, and layout grids. It is also important to define design patterns and interactions, such as how buttons and forms should behave, to ensure consistency across the product.
Using a design system helps to create a cohesive user experience and makes it easier to scale and maintain the product over time.
3. Use platform-specific UI elements
While it is crucial to create a consistent user experience across Android and iOS, it is also essential to respect the conventions and expectations of each platform. One way to do this is by using platform-specific UI elements, such as tab bars and navigation bars, which are familiar to users on each platform.
By using platform-specific UI elements, it is possible to create a user experience that feels native to each platform while still maintaining a cohesive overall design.
4. Test and iterate
Testing and iteration are crucial to the success of any design, and this is especially true for cross-platform design. It is essential to test your design on both Android and iOS to ensure that it is effective and intuitive on both platforms.
There are several ways to test your design, including user, usability, and A/B testing. Gathering user feedback on both platforms and iterating based on this feedback makes it possible to create a UX-friendly interface for your users.