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It’s time to start thinking about watch app design

Watch app design

With the recent launch of the Apple watch, all creatives (like us) are now leaning towards watch apps and designing for them as a new way of thinking.

The Apple watch has been received well by consumers and it offers app designers and developers the perfect opportunity to create new experiences for the wearer, and by leveraging WatchKit, it extends and enhances app functionality.

So, what are these design tips around watch app design? We’ve got a few starters to get you excited…

Get to know the Apple watch

If you’re thinking about an Apple watch app, you’ll need to know that consumers can choose between two screen sizes (38 mm and 42 mm) both of which come with touch sensitive screens as well as scrolling and zoom functions.

It’s a good idea to use the Apple watch and see how it works, as doing so will help you produce wearable apps that use full optimisation for a rounded user experience… a great excuse to buy one!

Screen and Icon Designs

We’ve already mentioned the two different screen sizes available on an Apple watch and keeping this in mind helps when it comes to conceptualising and arranging user interface elements. After all, this isn’t a design for an iPhone so you need to be very careful about how an Apple watch app functions, and how people will view and use it.

When it comes to user interface controls, don’t use more than three. Use icons over text too (Apple like that) to make the most of your screen. Less is more.

Now, what about shapes? If you have an iPhone, you’ll be familiar with those little square icons that display your apps, but when it comes to your Apple watch app design, think round…

Circular icons fit better on a watch and they are easier to tap with your finger on such a small screen device.

Stay on Brand

As soon as Apple watch wearers see your icon, you’ll want them to know it’s you so stay on brand and be instantly recognisable through your icons. Keep your design as close to your iOS version as you can so they reflect each other, and your brand.

Colour and Write it Right

Use just one font for consistency and one primary colour that represents your brand and keep it prominent when it comes to using titles or important information. When it comes to background, it helps to remember that Apple like black backgrounds for apps – in fact, they highly recommend it and it does work better. A black background will give you that seamless visual blending that looks so good between the background and the edge, and your text will stand out too.

Watch app design

Keep it in Context

On iOS, you wouldn’t think twice about designing an app that drills down three, four or even five screens, but on an Apple watch app design, you need to stay focused on that first screen. Stick to the essential information and let any additional information filter through Handoff and the larger screen on the iPhone or iPad. Think quick, concise and contextual information.

Design Glances and other Pings

Get your watch app users to ‘glance’. Glances happen when users activate the watch with a simple tilt of the wrist. Tapping on the glance icon will give a snippet of relative information that can be ‘deep-linked’ with another tap that then continues the interaction on the iPhone. This links to short-look and long-look notifications and the functionality that goes with them – be mindful to design notifications that allow the user to briefly glance at the news they are receiving with the option to go further in if they want to. Long-look notifications can have up to four buttons along with the dismiss button that automatically appears.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our handy hints guide to getting started on watch app design. The Apple watch is in demand – and that demand will keep on growing – along with the need for apps that fuel the imagination and function well so use this to your advantage if you have a great app idea.

Good luck!



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