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I'm creating my first Android application at work that shows state health rankings. It's very similar to this website: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/. I have almost finished it, but I'm having trouble designing the home page layout. Right now, I just have our logo as an imagebutton and a textview that says, "How healthy is your state?" It looks pretty bad.

So my question is:
Is there some criteria for creating a good 'home screen' for apps? What should be included, and what should be left out? I'm asking this as a general question, but it would also help to hear suggestions that are specific to this health app.

The goal is to have the home page portray what the app is about, how it's helpful, and why users should use it.

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As a request to any responders to this post: In order for this question to be of the most use to future visitors it will be good to get advice for apps in general, rather than specific advice for this application as that is quite localized. –  JonW Mar 26 '12 at 8:50
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4 Answers 4

There's no criteria for creating a "good home screen" except for:

Talk to your users & find out how they'll be using the application (i.e. their workflow & priorities). If you can't find any real users (not your friends & family), put yourself in their shoes and think about the workflow (this is called heuristic evaluation). If you can't think like your users, you have to hire a UX designer to do that.

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Android devices feature a lot of cool internal gadgets... Make use of them! If you know generically the location of the user, why not open the program directly to the stats for their region?

It's rather useless to put an action between the user and the content if there is only a single action that can be performed.

Now if you don't know their location, or you don't want to be so presumptuous you can put a color-shaded map on the home page... it doesn't need to be interactive but it's great to have info-graphics to 'hint' to the user what your program is about before they start interacting. I find this especially true when most people have 50+ apps installed.

It would also be intelligent to have a call to action "Tap the map to find your states health rank!"

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I guess the question you have to answer is this. What is the most common 'task' a user visiting your site is going to do. Not being a US resident it's difficult to fully put myself in the shoes of your target user - however I'd hazard that it's going to be the ability to search for their appropriate state.

Why a user should use the app/service is almost - for me at least - secondary. A simple CTA and a search box would be more than enough

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User-centered design, put the user first! What would their core tasks be, and how does the homescreen accomplish that?

The other alternative that comes to mind is to do some branding, something to reinforce the connection between the app and the site.

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