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I am working on designing my very first Android app for tablets and I wanted to know what all should I know before even opening PS or other programs to design?

The current app that I'm redesigning for has not only as a poor design, but the experience of using the app is very hard to use and requires a lot of training for new users. I could revamp the UI keeping the same look and feel and possibly enhancing the experience as best as possible, but I would rather present a redesign in phases.

I’ve been looking online for guides, but everything is just cluttered and piecing information together is hard because i’m not sure what is the correct order I need to follow.

Of course I want to build a good UI and map out a really good experience for users, but what are the basics from a “designers” standpoint?

What should I start with first?

If my choice is not to use a Android GUI/Template to build from, what design models/techniques should I follow?

Are there any sites that I should use to not only educate myself with how the Android platform is build and its guidelines, but when it comes to usability and design methods? Real life tutorials...

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What efforts have you taken? Searching google for even just "android gui guidelines" gives you the most relevant information as first hits. (google.com/search?q=android+gui+guidelines) –  kontur Oct 30 '13 at 19:41
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closed as too broad by Koen Lageveen, kontur, ChrisF, Erics, msanford Nov 1 '13 at 19:03

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2 Answers

If you've re-designed UIs for web or other mobile platforms before then you really needn't change your process for Android tablet app design, the same steps apply. You need to identify problem areas then come up with creative solutions that are (preferably) within the Android guidelines using all the usual methods (user journeys, wireframes, personas etc).

Reading through the Android design guidelines should give you a good idea of how your app should look and act. The best thing I have found is to set yourself a goal to achieve with the app you are re-designing then analyse the process you went through and how to streamline it down. If you put yourself in the users shoes then you get a good idea of what needs changing and what needs keeping.

Visiting design pattern sites (like the ones mentioned in this collection) gives you an idea of how other people have tackled problems. This can be useful to help you work out how you want to deal with them.

Not quite what you are looking for but still has some very useful points on what users are looking for in design and usability these results from a survey explain what users want to see when they open an Android app. Most of the design based stuff is fully transferable to tablet design.

The basic things you need to remember are:

  • Keep it clean. Too many elements or pictures can be confusing, annoying or hard to understand
  • Leave enough room around the clickable elements to avoid hitting more than one thing
  • Avoid over complicating things
  • Android tablets use things called fragments, make use of them

Here are a few links to get you started:

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It is great that you want to think about the user experience design before doing any actual work, but sometimes design is an iterative process that need to be tested and validated before you reach the right combination of elements.

The best place I would start is actually finding something similar to what you want to build on the Android market place, because this will give you the best practical examples of how people have applied (or not applied) the design guidelines.

I always say that technology should help people solve a problem better and not actually be the solution, because I don't think the solution should necessarily be constrained by the technology. In the end, any methods or guides are just there to provide a reference point for what you can do, but you will need to know the rules before you know when you should break them.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I never considered to do that myself because I think of it sometimes as "copying" per say. It's hard to think out of the box but when you stated "any methods or guides are just there to provide a reference point for what you can do, but you will need to know the rules before you know when you should break them." it just made sense. Wonderful feedback. Thanks a ton! –  Shad Romero Oct 25 '13 at 22:43
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