I'm creating a locator app as a project for one of my classes. The main menu of the app lists different categories of items for the app to locate and show the user via a map.

Right now, I have about 8 different categories and I don't think that list will be expanding (especially since the scope of the project is limited to the end of the semester).

If I use Apple's native icon based approach, I only have 2 rows of icons on the screen and a bunch of unused space that I just don't need. And instead of trying to just come up with features I don't need to fill the space, I want to see if there's a more intuitive way to display this information on the screen.

Here's a mock up of what I have now:

As you can see, there's just a bunch of empty space after the menu.

What would be a better way to create a menu this small? I don't want to use a UITableView for it as I am already using that in another part of the app and I don't want the stacks of TableViews to get really high.

(Please let me know if this would be better asked at graphicdesign.stackexchange.com)


At the UX Australia conference this year, there was a short case-study by the team that worked on the Australia Post iPhone app.

They experimented with three options for primary navigation; a classic Apple tabview, a Facebook-style table view that slid in from the left and a grid view as you've demonstrated here.

The team found that users preferred the grid view as you've presented it (although they put the grid at the bottom of the screen and used the remaining space for branding/promotional uses).

Naturally every app will be different, but it's worth noting that your solution, at least for one app, tested very well with real users. Your only real option is to prototype it and test it on your own target users to see which they adapt to most easily.

  • Wow, this is very helpful. I never thought to put the menu at the bottom, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense lol. – OghmaOsiris Sep 20 '12 at 4:53
  • @OghmaOsiris glad you found it useful! – Kit Grose Sep 20 '12 at 4:56

Why is it a problem to have empty space? Space is not there to fill. If you need that many functionalities, it's perfectly fine to have that many icons.

As far as I remember, Nokia Maps for Symbian started with a menu of about 8 icons like yours.

Another solution could be to make a choice, and go with it as a default.

For example, you could show all the restaurants (to say a category), and, if it's the first time the user uses the app, a quick arrow + tip pointing to the appropriate item would tell her, that there are other categories as well.

When the user starts the application next time, it's simply let off at the last category setting the user was looking for, at the last map location - exactly how an iOS app should work.

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