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Mobile user interface designs need to be user and client friendly. The best way to keep this a top priority is to be able to easily present and adjust the design throughout the creation process. One difficult hurdle is not having access to a devise or designing for hardware that isn’t complete. When we’re working on a new mobile user interface design without access to hardware, there are a few things that make the process run smoothly and ensure our success. One key step is printing variations of what we’re doing on photo paper. 

Design Tip Photo Paper

We print out designs on glossy photo paper to mimic the look of the screen and to see our design with pixel-level detail. Spending time on the details in the beginning of a job is paramount in designing a successful mobile user interface.

Viewing an image of a mobile device on a computer screen doesn’t give an accurate representation of the finished mobile user interface design. The pixel density (pixels per inch) are much higher on a mobile device. When we don’t have access to hardware, our solution is to design the mobile user interface at real size in terms of pixels on a computer and then scale it down and print on photo paper at the real size the screen will be on the hardware. This gives us the real size that an image will be on a mobile device.

Using this method we can see if the layout and fonts work. It’s critical to determine if the user interface will be functional with big enough fonts and clear user interface elements.

This is also very handy when we’re designing for touchscreen mobile user interfaces as spacing is another issue that is distorted on a large computer monitor but solved by printing out. We can test to see if any user interface elements overlap and see if we need to adjust them for the mobile device.

Printing out our design also makes it possible to present our mobile user interface concepts to our client to give them a more accurate feel for the design. It also helps them in their presentations (remember the missing hardware…) We’ve seen our photos used in the past presented on plastic model prototypes. It was cool to see as people would dissect the interface and analyze it as if it was digital.

I’d love to hear any other User Interface Design challenges you face and you solve the problem.

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