Realigned

The effect of designing for iOS 7 on an iOS 6 brain

Published Aug 3rd 2013

These last few weeks have provided an interesting inflection point. Up until a few weeks ago, I took pride in building interfaces with hallmarked navigation. Gilded subviews soaked in texture. Custom-built grouped table row styles. The works. But when I saw iOS 7 for the first time, I knew that all those techniques I’d developed over the last five years were toast. Background textures, text shadows, beloved one-pixel, pure-black, half-opacity, outer glow blend layers. A Dropbox full of custom-built iOS component PSDs. All bound for the virtual landfill.

I was unsettled at first, but now I’m pretty happy about it. I’ve traded in all those rich techniques for freedom. I don’t fret about customizing tab bars anymore, or wonder if the noise filter on the background is too pronounced. I work in shape and color. I’m back to focusing on information architecture and interface design instead of finish work and filigree. I’m finding that I’m able to iterate faster and edit with less hesitation. My PSDs hierarchies are flatter. Views are more purposeful and content is amplified.

Designing for iOS 7 is realigning my design priorities and forcing me to exercise some of those parts I’ve let atrophy. It’s forcing all designers to think harder and focus on deference and intent. And that might be the greatest thing Apple achieves with this redesign, both for you and for me.