Looks DO Matter


PocketWeather screenshot 

Palm have fallen way behind Windows Mobile. Palm apps generally look much more dated and much less slick than Windows Mobile apps.

Just read a very good post by Andrew at the Treonauts site, titled ‘An Issue of Design’ – which talks about his frustration with applications for the Treo that are, amongst other things, dated looking. He makes some very good points about not only a need for more pleasing and fresh design, but more importantly a need for developers to ‘optimize the display of information’ on the small screens they have to work with.

This is a hugely important area for mobile applications.  Looks absolutely DO matter when you have so little screen real estate to work with.

Every little user interface component within a mobile application – from icons, to menus, toolbars, and the ‘main screen’ of the app – can have a very large impact on how effective and useable the application is. Ineffective design, that might be a smaller factor on a Desktop PC, can make the user’s experience pretty miserable on a handheld device.

Bad design, and design that does not tie very closely to the ease of use and functionality of a program, stands out much more quickly and severely on mobile devices.

So, I agree with Andrew that this is an area where many developers need to do better. 

I also think its an area where Palm have fallen way behind Windows Mobile. Palm apps generally look much more dated and much less slick than Windows Mobile apps.  That’s a big generalization – but if you just look across, say, 25 best selling WM productivity apps and the same sort of list for Palm, it seems striking to me how much ‘better looking’ all the WM apps are.

Palm have done some great things in terms of form factor and very clever hardware design on the Treos – but the look and feel of most applications doesn’t live up to those high design standards. 

Check out Andrew’s post at:

An Issue of Design 

And Some Other Related Posts on Similar Subjects of Design & Function:

Form & Function – A Developer’s Perspective

More One-Handedness Wanted in Mobile Apps


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