Chapter 5. The Standard Controls


VANILLA NEEDS A PRESS AGENT. Somewhere along the way, the flavor got a bad rap. The word is trotted out to suggest bland conformity, a drab lack of imagination, color, and flavor. Seriously, what happened here? Vanilla is a subtle, complex, vivid, and bright flavor. When it comes to dessert, a scoop of vanilla ice cream goes with nearly everything. It’s versatile and delicious.

The standard iPhone controls are vanilla. They’re the buttons, text fields, list views, keyboards, and icons that commonly and comfortingly appear in app after app. The standard controls provide a rich and varied set of options for manipulating an app, but because they’re commonplace, they’re often taken for granted and are sometimes dismissed as visually dull. Don’t underestimate just how delicious they can be. Commonplace means familiar, and for your audience, familiarity leads to efficiency and ease—exactly what most folks want from an app. In usability testing sessions, people are routinely most successful at completing iPhone tasks when they’re able to use behaviors learned from other apps. Novices in particular benefit from interfaces that use icons and controls they’ve seen elsewhere. Nobody wants to spend brain power figuring out how your app works; standard controls make for intuitive apps.

Photo: Peter Gorges
Figure 5-1. Photo: Peter Gorges

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