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Posted on April 17th, 2014, by

3. Design and content recommendations

Key elements of app design include context, message, look and feel, layout, color, typography and graphics (Fling, 2009). Context means that the application provides better understanding of current events or activities for users. The application should clearly show what value Chorley Autos can bring to the client, and how it is related to the current moment and current activities. Such activities as car refueling, use of public transportation, search of train schedule and purchase of train/bus tickets et al. can be used to target the users at the right moments. The message is the mental impression of the website or app (Fling, 2009). Look and feel is a highly subjective impression of the app, associated with the emotional reaction of the user on the design. In this case, the app should look clear, concise and carry a message associated with sales. Sample design of the app can be Amazon-like (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Sample design for a regular device with standard portrait screen orientation

The layouts can be classified as touch versus scroll, and as fixed versus fluid (McWherter & Gowell, 2012). It is recommended to choose the scroll option (since there still are devices which do not support the touch functionality), and to choose fluid design, because size and screen resolution vary a lot among different mobile devices. It is also recommended to support orientation change and appropriate scaling in the app. Color scheme should be focused on gray colors, because gray is generally associated with solid and practical things, and with the middle-of-the-road impression (McWherter & Gowell, 2012). With regard to typography, it is recommended to use the combination of serif and sans-serif fonts, as the families of these fonts are supported by all devices. Graphics should be also clear and concise, and assist the client in browsing and choosing cars. For alternative devices, it is recommended to use band layout which can be stretched to match almost any device. Example of sample design is presented on Fig. 2.

Figure 2. Sample design of car app suitable for all devices

The designs developed for desktop and tablet/mobile devices for Chorley Autos were different, because these types of devices have different resolutions, different screen sizes and different manipulation constraints. The detection of device type, screen size and device orientation was implemented using CSS, and basing on the results of the detection, the server makes the decision of which type of website/app to show to the user: desktop or mobile. Device-specific HTML code and PHP scripting were used to provide different website version. Both websites include the following sections: Home, Admin, Cars and Contact. Both websites contain admin panel accessible via Admin link, which allows viewing existing records, adding car info, editing database entries and removing entries.

For desktop version, the website was developed using flexible design, where the content stretches dynamically basing on the screen size and resolution. For mobile version, the one-column design was chosen to optimize website experience for the users of mobiles and tablets. Navigation in the mobile version was simplified to make website experience more straight and convenient for the users of mobile devices; pages were shortened and content has been optimized to match one screen. Desktop version has richer content and more graphic details, while mobile version has more minimalistic design and simpler elements, optimized for the users of smartphones with touch screens and for non-touch screen users as well. A separate menu button was added for mobile version to save space and to make navigation more controllable (e.g. for the users of smartphones with touch screen). Fig. 3-6 show the designs for the desktop version of Chorley Autos website, and Fig. 7-10 show the designs for mobile and tablet website.

Figure 3. Design of desktop version main page

Figure 4. Design of desktop version cars page

Figure 5. Design of desktop version admin login

Figure 6. Design of desktop version admin panel

Figure 7. Design of mobile version main page

Figure 8. Design of mobile version car page

Figure 9. Design of mobile version menu page

Figure 10. Design of mobile version admin page

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