You've probably seen +Taylor Ling
's excellent second Android Design Challenge. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the judges and everybody who participated.
While working through the 40+ submissions, I realized some problematic patterns, that appeared over and over. Instead of pointing fingers, let me try to add some valuable tips for young designers, participating is such a design challenge: Stay away from big technology brands
Companies like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram spend a lot of time and money on their well-known apps. While you probably can point out plenty of personal issues in their layouts or design language, be aware that those companies employ some of the best designers worldwide. And they come with a certain expectation. It's hard to grasp their complexity or to improve their app with a couple of quick mockups.Spend your time on apps that can actually benefit from it
There are plenty of smaller, lesser known apps that desperately need some UI polish or interaction design. Those are probably much better suited for you to show off your skills, since they don't come with high expectations. And compared to the big brands, they will actually value your work, and possibly even implement it. Instead of Evernote, Last.fm or Spotify, have a take on something fresh.Don't just follow the guidelines—stand out
Android's design guidelines are a very solid set of rules to start from. But they are meant to be used as a guide for OS consistency, not to be seen as dogma. Don't just copy patterns from the Play Store, but build upon them. Use them to push aesthetic and interaction to a unique level—try to differentiate if you want the attention. Keep it short, keep it sweet
With more than 40 entries, it can quickly become a burden to judge all those slides and ideas properly. Don't try to showcase your skills with sheer quantity and 20 screens-mockup that all look the same. Instead, try to impress with a couple of well crafted highlights and exceptions, like Glass or Android Wear UIs. Skip the boring lists and about screens. Your judges will appreciate it.How about responsive?+Juhani Lehtimäki
pointed out the lack of responsive approaches to the design challenge. Almost all entries focused on ~4" portrait devices. Responsive design is a core component of every Android design project. If you want to be taken seriously in the community or by project owners, don't skip this challenging part. Show how your UI concepts scale across landscape and portrait mode, and from 4 inch to 10 inch devices.
There are certainly plenty more areas to consider when approaching an Android app redesign. But those tips should at least help you get a foot in the door of a company or a challenge like this one.
What are your thoughts?