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Firstly let me say, I have met Sarah Parmenter personally at the Future of Web Design (FOWD) 16th–18th May 2011 – not only is she a very polite, smiley and fun person to talk to, her speaking skills are to be admired. Charismatic and fun are the two words that come to mind straight away. I do recommend to anyone, that the next time she is speaking, you should attend.


So, as you may know I put it to the twitter community from iOS_Blog to ask questions for Sarah, Here is her reply to those question:

How many Apps do you have in the iStore, which is your favourite and why?

I’ve actually lost count, mainly because there are a lot that I’ve been involved in but can’t talk about due to NDA’s, however, most recently I was involved in designing a donor card for the iPhone, which was released for free to try and increase awareness of the importance of becoming an organ donor. I’m also proud of my involvement with “Beyond the Shock” by the National Breast Cancer Foundation of America. I like being involved in anything that can directly help change a life.

How and why did you get into iPhone UI Design?

A client of mine took a chance on me, after I completed his website UI – it was a bit of a natural progression but a steep learning curve.

For a starting out iPhone UI Designer, what would you consider to be the greatest piece of information you could give?

It’s not all about making a pretty picture. Forget bevels, highlights and gradients, it’s all about a usable interface – you have to think beyond making something look nice and actually get into some mathematics and work out hit sizes, and areas that need to be clear to avoid mis-taps.

For the following categories in the iStore, which Apps would you say are the ‘top of the game’ for design; Productivity, Games, Social Networking, Travel, Utilities.

I never put games in the same category in any of my work. They are significantly more work than designing any other type of app. They can have so many components that can keep you busy for days that the cost of designing a game can be up to 5x as much as a normal app. To answer the question though, Games are always top of the design leader board because they have to be in order to succeed, personally, I enjoy designing utility apps the most.

What is your favourite colour?

It’s always between red and purple, depending on my mood.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I would like to learn more about psychology and how it affects what we do in design. I’ve already started learning bits and pieces, which is what I’ve been talking about at the conferences this year but I’d like to delve into this a bit more.

If you could recommend one tool on the internet for iPhone App design, usability and standards, what would it be and why?

The Human Interface Guidelines by Apple, they are stacked full of important information and are often overlooked by newbies. It takes a good couple of hours to read through in its entirety, which is probably why many don’t bother.

I am starting out, what would be the most useful book be to read?

I’ve always been a huge advocate for Josh Clark’s “Tapworthy” – it’s the book I would have written had he not beaten me to it!

At FOWD this year, when the topic of multiple apps for the same purpose came up, you said that the app with the best UI design would be chosen above the rest, Do you not think that this is the opinion of a designer (yourself) and not someone who is looking for functionality? Have you got proof of cases when an app was chosen above another because of its design?

It’s human nature – you would first be attracted to the app that had the best name that would seem to fit the purpose of what you are intending the app to do, you would then search within a small criteria to see which looked the most professional. It can often be the case that people design professional icons but the interior of the apps are a shambles, which causes hopping around the app store. There might be a few people who search based on functionality but the majority would choose, and indeed pay a higher price for, an app with a better UI design, it’s deemed to have more “worth” and inspire confidence in the user. It’s come up a few times in user tests with apps that “I can’t talk about”.

How do you take your coffee?

I don’t – I’m allergic to caffeine. I thought *everyone* knew that by now since so many people take the mickey out of me for it. I seem to be the only designer who can’t perk myself up with a caffeine hit.

Do you think you will ever find yourself moving onto Android?

Not at the moment, the next thing on my horizon is designing something for Blackberry Playbook though.

I cannot seem to find your FOWD slides, and yes I have googled for them. Where might one find them if they are available?

They are only available to those who attended FOWD I’m afraid, in which case, a link would have been sent after the conference, containing the video and the slides. There are elements of my slides that I want to use for something else, and since they take me 25+ hours to put together, I’m quite precious about where they get distributed.

That is is folks, thanks for reading.

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