When it comes to mobile, most of the leading mobile strategists and designers that I know put an emphasis on utility. This sentiment, in large part, is probably driven by the plethora of completely useless “throw away” apps that were prevalent shortly after the iPhone’s launch (did the world need another “beer pouring” app?). During that exuberant period, creative directors everywhere were proposing the next “gimmicky” app that would make a brand famous. Only to find out that without a significant promotional budget, most apps never got downloaded. And if by chance they did find their way into a user’s hands, they got used once — maybe.
So, most smart digital and mobile marketers ensured that the emphasis was placed on providing “useful” app experiences (anyone else having flashbacks to 1999?). UX began touting navigation best practices and iOS design guidelines. Brands started to create platforms that connected their consumers in deeper ways than ever before…Nike+ being one great example.
The trouble is, much of the new design work being done in the app space today looks the same as everything else that’s been done. For some elements like global navigation that makes perfectly good sense. I liken it to the evolution of e-commerce shopping carts. Once someone landed on a model that consumers liked, then why not replicate instead of reinventing the wheel and spending tens of thousands on usability testing.
Lately, while reviewing design concepts for a project we were working on, it struck me that once the various art directors applied brand standards, that many of the designs started to look the same. It prompted me to ask the question — Is there room for creativity in mobile?