Note to Developers: How to Make iPad Apps More Friendly

CNN reports on research findings, co-authored by useability design guru Jakob Nielsen, from the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) that provides developers specific recommendations for developing more useable iPad apps.

Research shows ways to make iPad apps more user-friendly

NNG’s research touches on both website design and iPad app design. They make particularly good points that a native iPad app should not make users work more in the app than an existing website and that the app should not provide less information than the website.

The main findings are:
– Make touchable areas big enough to be easy to find and actually touch
– Make app and website navigation options easy to find and obvious to use
– Typing on the iPad’s virtual keyboard is difficult for many people. So, don’t force your users to type a lot to, for example, register for a service
– Too much white space is bad
– Landscape mode is marginally preferred over portrait mode
– Splash screens are bad

The report has numerous screenshots of dozens of familiar iPad apps and websites intended for use with the iPad’s browser. The issues raised for specific sites and apps will resonate with all iPad users. You can find the free downloaded reports (2010 and 2011 editions) here:

Nielsen Norman Group Reports
Usability of iPad Apps and Websites: 2 Reports With Research Findings