Everything is in the title, I'm currently having an eternal "confrontation" with developers. This question could be summed up like this :

About mobile manufacturers guidelines, are they really made up of the best design patterns ?

It's hard to find some examples, a lot of them are representatives but here are few of them:

Should we use "Toggle / switches" instead of classical checkboxes in forms?

Are accordions an anti pattern?

Should we really "crop" some content to show an area could be slided?

Sorry for bad english...

  • I'd think it'd depend on the manufacturer, for example Apples guidelines for iOS apps should be much more influential than say LG's guidelines for an Android app (as they are only a small segment of the market). – DasBeasto Apr 20 '16 at 17:58
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Guidelines are just that: guidelines. They guide the development of your application, they do not make all of the decisions about your application. They document the best thinking about design at the time that the guidelines were written. They help you make a better application by focusing your time and attention on the decisions that matter to your specific application instead of wasting time arguing about toggles versus checkboxes.

There are great reasons to follow guidelines. Consistency across applications makes it easier for users to use your application because they can anticipate how it will look and feel, and they can build upon the expectations for behavior that they learned in using other applications. Likewise, guidelines can help your application feel like it fits into your mobile environment, thus making users more comfortable with it.

There are great reasons to not follow guidelines. Guidelines are written for application development in general, and they do not always work for a specific workflow. Guidelines can get outdated if they are not updated in a timely fashion, and thus can lag behind current best practices.

If you choose not to follow guidelines, you should be able to clearly articulate why you are not following the guideline. Most of the questions that you have asked can be addressed through user research. A/B testing will answer your question about checkboxes versus toggles. (In this case, since toggles are significantly easier to manipulate on a touchscreen, your A/B testing is virtually guaranteed to come out in favor of toggles.) A simple usability test can answer your questions about accordions and whether you need to show less content to make it clear to your user that they can scroll. If your research indicates that your users are able to complete their task, and are satisfied in doing so, you are probably safe in not following guidelines.

Users don't care whether you follow guidelines. They care that they can do their thing. If they can seamlessly and successfully do their thing with your application, they're not likely to notice or complain about not following the guidelines. If they can't seamlessly and successfully do their thing with your application, they're more likely to notice that you are not following the guidelines. Optimize for the success of your users.

Design guidelines make it easier and faster for developers to help them fill their app stores.

However, most of the best accepted, understood and enjoyed apps have little regard for the UI/UX Guidelines from the manufacturers.

Those that consider their users, the market and the existing ideas and accepted paradigms of input, and then optimise and explore from that base, they're better. Always.

So, yes. You're free to ignore the guidelines, and quarrel with any developer holding steadfast to something that has the word "guidelines" in it. These aren't even rules, and definitely not laws of UI/UX.

  • 3
    This comes across as more of an opinion/rant, are there any sources to back up these claims? I'd imagine big OS makers have better reasons for UX guidlines than sheer number of app creation (for example consistency and ease of use) or they would simply force users to adopt the guidelines or make a drag & drop interface to decrease production time. – DasBeasto Apr 20 '16 at 18:09
  • If almost everything is driven by Business are you really considering that it could be the only possible answer ? I was thinking about consistency too. – Brice Apr 21 '16 at 9:05
  • think outside the bun. – Confused Apr 21 '16 at 12:06
  • 1
    This rant belongs on a blog somewhere. It's not an answer to the question. – nadyne Apr 22 '16 at 5:07
  • 1
    Guidelines can also slow down development when they become difficult to follow due to complexity. The benefits for the user (learnability for example) can be the reason to go through this difficulty. – jazZRo Apr 26 '16 at 11:39

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