Do’s and Don’t’s of Creating an Effective iPad App

Mobile applications, more commonly known as apps, are one of the most popular components in today’s technology world. Everyone from school students to high tech professionals is aware of mobile apps, which have surged in popularity in recent years. Earlier mobile apps were sold only in stores and only for a few mobile models. However, with the advent of the iPhone, iPad, and Android phones, the world has witnessed an entire new surge in apps.

Thanks to the iPad and smartphones, the number of users accessing the web through phones has increased tremendously. When the entire web world is available at your fingertips, why use a cumbersome laptop or desktop? Today people access the web on the move, from social networking business to regular browsing, shopping, ordering, and much more. As the number of iPad users increases, so does the demand for iPad apps.

App designers are in great demand as no one wants to miss the opportunity to connect with customers. Designing an iPad app is not like designing a desktop app. One needs to understand the specific requirements before designing an iPad app. This article discusses the important factors involved in designing an iPad app. First, we will look at the importance of iPad app design and why the need for such apps emerged.

Importance of Designing an iPad App

Recent research on mobile and app usage says it all. The main reason for building an iPad app is to reach users using mobile phones to browse and take action in the web world. Compared to other phones, the iPad has a wider display, which makes it more usable for mobile internet users. As a result, iPad users do almost all their internet work through their iPad. The demand for iPad apps has increased in today’s world, as evident by the number of search engine results for the phrases “iPad apps” and “iPad compatible apps.” When demand is so high, there is no reason to fall behind by not providing an iPad app to users. Moreover, studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons people are adopting design ideas for iPad apps is to deal with recent statistics and future predictions.

  • Recent Statistics: According to TBI research, mCommerce grew about 150% to 200% last year. ATG, Inc. research states that “20% of all consumers and 32% of 18-34 year olds are researching purchases via mobile at least monthly.”
  • Future Predictions: Coda research states that “mobile commerce will increase at a rate of 65% annually.” Tower Group states that “active mobile banking users in the US will grow from 10 million in 2009 to 53 million by 2013.” A popular Huffington Post report states that “mCommerce will be bigger than eCommerce in the next 5 years.” ABI research predicts that, “in 2015, $119 billion worth of goods and services will be purchased via mobile phones” (source: ABI research).

In order to move ahead with this impending mCommerce growth, one needs to design iPad apps—the most popular smart mobile technology used today. Marketers need to adopt mobility in order to keep pace with the web world. Thus, designing an iPad app stems from the need to increase demand. The number of people using iPad apps is increasing; so is the number of iPad apps. The eCommerce market is not the only one adopting iPad apps as a primary object; so is the entire market beyond that. Indeed, in the world of television, TV serials and reality shows are available as mobile apps. Thus, irrespective of the field, developing iPad apps and designing iPad-compatible sites is paramount.

Designing an iPad app requires expertise—or at least experience—as these applications are different from regular web designing. One should identify the requirements and consider certain facts to produce a great result. Let’s take look at the most essential factors to consider before designing an iPad app.

Simplify Functionality

One of the most important facts to consider when designing an iPad app is a simplified approach to functionality. Your iPad app should be useful and meaningful as well. It must be easy to use in order to capture the users’ focus and not let them bounce back due to complex functionality. Even if you are providing only a few things, provide them in simple terms. The fact that you are designing an iPad app does not mean including as many features as you want. It is an iPad app, not the kitchen sink. The first thing you need to do is target a goal. Irrespective of your business, your major focus is to make users use your iPad app; thus, you need to think from their point of view. Users go to shops where they find everything without spending a lot of time searching. Organization equals fast and easy shopping. Thus, to attract users to your iPad app, include important features in an organized way. Unlike websites, which offer wide displays, iPad apps highlight only the most important components. Create a clean iPad app, not a complicated one. For example, the following iPad app from Big Oven Lite clearly provides all the necessary facts. After you find your recipe the ingredients are provided on the left side and the recipe—the most important component—is displayed in most of the part of middle to right, clearly and neatly. Thus, users can easily extract the necessary information.

instantShift - BigOven iPad Application

You should also consider controlling the app as user. Do not provide buttons for every control; use simpler steps for controlling your app. For example, Apple’s Notes application doesn’t have an editing mode; instead it provides a touch edition and auto-save functionality. Such features enhance the usability of your iPad. At times, a host of controls and menus might disorientate users from their focus. Therefore, make sure that you are offering a simple interface for users.

Identify Your Audience

Identifying your target audience enables you to focus on targeting only them. Here, audience doesn’t just mean the customers who will buy your product, but also the customers who will buy your product and who are using an iPad. When designing an iPad app, do not ignore the fact that you are designing the application for iPad users, not for your regular audience. Consider factors that will enhance the usability of your app and make your app look smarter and smoother to use, such as being able to locate calendar, location, and Twitter or delicious accounts. The user experience should be such that—from navigating from the first page until sharing after shopping—everything is provided in an easy format.

Identify Location

After identifying your iPad app users and personalizing the app according to their comfort, consider the location of your user. Your users will not be using their iPads only at a particular place. Identify and consider all the locations where customers might use your iPad app. iPads are popular for their mobility; app designs must take this into consideration. Suppose you are looking for restaurants. Your app should display list of restaurants and their ratings along with a map to their locations. If you are surfing a social networking site, you need to be allowed to search for your friends, read messages, and update your status instantly.

instantShift - Facebook iPad Application

Landing on the Facebook iPad app, users see their updates first before moving on them to other things. The Facebook iPad app displays the most important features first, then on the left side people can make use of other features, like account settings and events. Understanding users’ location and requirements is critical when designing an iPad app.

Home Page Design

Another important factor to consider when designing an iPad app is maintaining a well-structured homepage. You might think people can directly land on a landing page, so a home page is not required; however, people are used to home pages and become frustrated when they cannot find one. The home page defines your site. It states the facts of your site while the navigation tags or breadcrumb links help users browse your app. The same is true of iPad apps. Designers should not ignore the home page design; they should think about users’ comfort zone and simplify their experience with your app. A home page with the essentials and well-navigated sections will help users travel across your app without facing any issues. Easy navigation is critical for ensuring that users are not disoriented.

Multi-user iPad App

iPads are costly gadgets, and often an entire family uses a single iPad. You need to accept this factor when designing an iPad app and make your app compatible for multiple users. iPads can be treated like a public magazine that is read or shared by the entire family. You need to make users identify whether someone is logged in and give the option for switching accounts easily. Flipboard is one of the best examples of having multiple users’ facility.

instantShift - Facebook iPad Application

Consider the Thumb

Though the sub-title sounds weird, remember that you are designing an app for iPad users and must consider their movements when designing the app. When holding an iPad, it is natural for your thumb to near the top left. Therefore, important buttons, such as the login or exit buttons, should be ideally kept in the top left-hand side. Try using the app yourself before making it live to determine where you are distracted and where the flow is not smooth. Consider those areas to be zones that need reworking. Similarly, consider your thumb and make sure that the flow while using the app is smooth.

Avoid Awkward Pop-outs

Pop-outs or popovers are usually used in applications to drive the users to a certain place or to offer navigation facility. But ask yourself, how many times do you enjoy a pop out? Not many times indeed! Therefore, make sure you are using pop-outs only when necessary. Avoid awkward pop-outs in your iPad app as this is one of the major reasons that people bounce back. Although popovers are ideally meant to enhance users’ navigation process, at times they become jerky. As the width of an iPad is limited, make sure you are not stuffing your app with objects. Before taking your users to a separate full window, consider taking them to a full screen rather than opening a pop-out. You can also use split views to avoid this problem, although make sure not to interrupt the flow of your iPad application.

Be Touch Conscious

When designing your iPad app, don’t forget to consider touch. You cannot expect your users to know everything from your app. If there is a feature where a user can land by tapping the area, you need to share this info. Make interactive areas stand out. Highlight them to ensure that your users make effective use of them. Ignoring the interactive feature in your application is one of the major mistakes that designers commit when designing an iPad app, yet such features are the most important factors. Therefore, always make sure you are considering the touch factor of your design.

Be Careful in Using Splash Cards

Users naturally want to view all the important factors at one glance. The best way to do so is by using splash cards, but excessive splash cards can distract your users. Including a host of splash cards in your iPad app might make it look stuffy and disturbing. Therefore, whenever you are using splash cards, make sure that your design is not looking stuffy and disturbing. Utilize using splash cards while maintaining the space and discipline of your iPad app. Splash cards can be a great idea to keep users engaged while the site is loading. Consider splash cards when necessary, but keep them to a minimum and simple.


These are the most essential factors to understand when designing an iPad app. However, the list does end here. You need to be in the users’ place and think from their perspective when designing an iPad application.

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  1. this information is very usefull, thank you

  2. great read. thanks for sharing as its very useful and antique information for iPad users.

  3. Nice designing tutorial for iPad apps.Thank you for sharing.

  4. Great Tut :^)

  5. Just bought an I pad. Thanks for the tips.

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