We recently were lucky enough to get the chance to chat with John Iacoviello, one of the lead designers behind Closet, the new clothing organizer for iOS.
We hope you will learn a lot from his wisdom on mobile design principles, which he shares freely below. Please enjoy, and let us know what you think in the comments.
UI Palette: What is your philosophy when approaching mobile design?
John Iacoviello: I try to keep things simple as much as possible. I’m a minimalist at heart so keeping the design and usability as simple as possible is my ultimate goal. I’m not always successful but that’s the goal.
UIP: How did you acquire your first users for Closet?
JI: The first version of Closet came out in 2009 before the plethora of clothing apps hit the app store. It got picked up in some blogs and a magazine or two so that helped, along with organic word of mouth I guess. I didn’t really do any marketing because I didn’t really know it was necessary at the time. So I guess I acquired my first users by a little bit of market need mixed with a dash of luck.
UIP: Can you cite any direct inspiration for the app? What were you doing when the idea came to you?
JI: I can’t take credit for the idea, that goes solely to my wife. About two years before the app store was announced she came up with the idea to create a Closet-like app for the desktop. I gave some thought to the idea but ultimately it never went anywhere. Once the app store was announced I wanted to try developing an app and that seemed like a great fit, especially since it had a built in camera. So off I went, and seven months of spare time later Closet version 1.0 was born.
I was inspired for the current redesign of the app (version 2.x), however. Being a minimalist I drew inspiration from what Google and Microsoft were doing in terms of flatter design with their UI’s. This was before Apple revealed iOS 7 so it kind of worked out in that regard.
UIP: Volygon’s development portfolio has a few games as well, do you have any thoughts on using gamification patterns in Closet?
JI: I gave that some thought when I was designing version 2 of Closet but ultimately decided against it. I feel like there’s already a lot going on in the app and didn’t want to add unnecessary bloat.
UIP: How did you know there was a market niche waiting to be filled in a somewhat crowded area?
JI: As I stated in a previous answer, the first version of Closet came out in 2009 before the market was crowded. When I first started the app there were actually no other clothing apps in the app store. But since it took me seven months to complete I was beaten to market by (I think) one other app. So at the time I definitely thought there was a niche to be filled, but I had no idea to what extent because the app store was so new.
UIP: What are some the design tools that you relied on during the production of Closet?
JI: During the initial design phase I only relied on a notebook and pencil. Once I was happy with the sketches I moved into Photoshop to lay out each screen precisely. During the development phase it was all Xcode and iTunes cranked to an inappropriate-for-condo-living volume.
UIP: Do you have any advice on workflow?
JI: My only advice on workflow is to plan ahead as much as possible. I like to sketch out every single screen and UI element that’ll be needed in the app so I know exactly what to build. This should minimize any nasty surprises down the road that might require code refactoring or ugly hacks to resolve.
UIP: How long was the total design/development timeframe for Closet?
JI: Version 1 took about 7 months of spare time to complete. I started from scratch with version 2 and ended up starting over a couple times before landing on the current design. The entire version 2 process took a little over 6 months of full-time work spread out over about a year and a half.
UIP: What are your impressions of iOS 7?
JI: I’m mostly happy with it, the flatter design falls more inline with my minimalist style. I’m super glad Apple ditched the skeuomorphic elements that plagued iOS for so long. A new design was greatly needed and I feel it’s a huge improvement. There’s also no way I could go back to a pre-control-center era.
UIP: What’s one thing you wish you knew before making this app?
JI: I wish I knew Objective-C and all its quirks before I wrote the first version of Closet. I basically learned the language as I developed it so it got pretty messy. That made updating the app a nightmare in some cases, and a big reason why I decided to start from scratch with version 2.