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Haiyuan Jiang

Beijing, China
Haiyuan is a UI designer with 4+ years of experience who has delivered over 50+ projects to satisfied clients from all over the world. Though her specialty is designing for the user interface, she also has an acumen for graphic, motion, and industrial designing. She enjoys the startup culture and relishes project delivery. Click to continue

Jeremy Afuso

Brooklyn, United States
Jeremy is a user experience/user interface designer available for consulting with digital agencies, startups, and independent clients. After studying architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, he discovered his real passion lies in finding the intersections between technology, culture, and the design process. He has a natural thirst for understanding and creating design systems that are functional, meaningful, and pleasant to use. Click to continue

Indre Lobinaite

Split, Croatia
Indre is a passionate web and app designer (UI/UX specialist) with over 6 years of professional experience. She is focusing on the end-user to design products that are usable, engaging, and functional. She is capable of creating traditional and new creative graphic solutions for any communication issue. Indre always prefers to design clean, smart, and effective products. Click to continue

Evgeny Vasenev

Seattle, United States
Evgeny is a highly motivated UX/UI and brand designer who is passionate about design, technology, and photography. What he finds truly rewarding is using his skills to further great projects. He feels his biggest strength is that he's creatively ambidextrous and can jump easily from artistic to technical projects. Click to continue

Fabio Muniz

São Paulo, Brazil
Fabio is a product designer with 5+ years of experience working with venture-backed startups in NY, SF, and EU. He has designed mobile apps that were featured in publications and app stores, and websites with over 100k monthly visitors. Currently Fabio is also writing about usability for TestLodge and mentoring DesignLab's and Springboard's UX courses. Click to continue

Alex Gilev

Chaykovskiy, Russia
Alex is a senior product designer with a passion for creating intuitive, simple, and beautiful designs that delight users. He goes beyond just making things that look and feel good. He endeavors toward work that drives action, generates results, and makes for change. Click to continue

Jake Frey

New York, United States
Jake built Fancy which was deemed one of the best apps of the year from Apple and Google. Other clients include Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Shopify, Hermès, and Kanye West. He's privileged to work on amazing projects with brilliant people. Click to continue

Jorge Juan Perales

Madrid, Spain
Jorge Juan has more than 10 years of experience in user-centered design throughout the whole product life cycle. With a strong background in illustration, graphic design, creative direction and branding, Jorge Juan strives to deliver meaningful user experiences through strategic thinking, great attention to detail and aesthetic sensibility. Click to continue

Christoph Hellmuth

Ditterswind, Germany
Christoph is a multi-disciplined UI/UX designer with over 7 years of experience in the design industry. He helps startups and companies by bringing a wide range of design skills to the table. He has designed products that are used by millions of people around the world and has experience in remote and consultancy projects. He loves teaching design and helping people from all over the world to find passion and joy in design. Click to continue

Benjamin Tse

LOS ANGELES, United States
Ben is an award winning designer with 15 years of experience in UI/UX & development. He has a thorough understanding of both the design and development process. He started his own digital design firm at the age of 15 and has since designed apps and websites for over 100 clients including startups, governments, corporations, artists, and hotels. Beyond design, he is detail-oriented and a strong communicator. Click to continue
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A hiring guide
The Vital Guide to Interviewing Mobile Application Designers

This guide deals with mobile application design and its goal is to provide clients with information on mobile design, and help them recognize a top notch mobile designer. It touches on multiple aspects of mobile application development, some or all of which will be relevant to the specific context in which you are looking to hire.

Testimonials
“Carlos has the unique talent of blending both quantitative and qualitative research to keenly identify UX challenges and opportunities. He thinks methodically, empathetically, and holistically to produce data-driven strategies and well-executed designs. Over the past 8 years of working with fully or partially distributed teams, Carlos manages working remotely better by far than anyone I've encountered because of his strong communication and presentation skills. He is the first on my list the next time I need a UX designer.”
Michelle Krogmeier
Project Manager @ Union Station
“Michael has been a great fit for our project and is an incredible designer. He just gets it in a way that can’t be taught. I have nothing but good things to say about Toptal as well. My goal was to pay Toptal to find me a high quality designer for my project, and that is exactly what happened. It was easy. Thanks for the t-shirt by the way! Being able to see the portfolio work on Toptal’s platform is what gave me the info I needed to choose Michael. I’m looking forward to using Toptal for other projects in the future.”
Edward Daniel
Co-Founder @ improvemygun.com
“Best talent is here for sure. Toptal hiring and overall working experience has been wonderful. This is way better and faster than any other means of getting top talent.”
Rajesh Nagarajan
Co-Founder & CTO @ maxMantra
“Toptal has been extremely helpful to us in finding top remote talent. The ratio from interview to hire with Toptal candidates is the highest I've ever experienced in my professional career.”
Philipp Berner
Co-founder and CTO @ KeepSafe
“I couldn’t have been more pleased with Toptal. These guys are professional, quick, well priced, and fun! I will be using them again for my next project, and the next, and the next, and the next.”
Mac Smith
President @ New Texas Internet MGT
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Xavier Xicay
CEO & Creative Director @ Tuatara Corp
“We had a wonderful experience with our Toptal consultant. He was very reliable and punctual, delivering excellent work on a budget—we will certainly be using him again!”
Barbara Karpf
President @ DecoratorsBest
“Dean blew us away. He ranks right up there as one of the top five designers of the hundreds I have worked with in the past. He listened, was totally professional, and came up with a 3D rotating cube design completely on his own. We didn't even ask for it, and yet it has become the centerpiece of our app and how users engage with it right off the bat. What he produced inspired all of us at Votify, and put us on track for launch and investor funding.”
Michael Lawrence
Founder & CEO @ Votify LLC
“One of our biggest and most time consuming problems is finding qualified staff. We need to find the correct platform to advertise on, create a proper ad, filter through tons of useless applications to try and find the small gems, interview and test the capabilities of applicants to see if they fit our profile and finally take a risk by hiring. This was the old way of doing things! The new way: describe the job position to our Toptal account manager, interview a few qualified applicants, hire with a risk-free trial! Much faster, a lot easier and with incredible end results.”
Catalin S. Balaci
Owner @ EvoBits Information Technology SRL
“We had an amazing experience working with our Toptal designer. In only two weeks, we accomplished what would've taken most companies 3 months to complete. We also enjoyed working with the Toptal team to make sure we were paired up with the right designer that would fit both our company culture and working style.”
Ted Blosser @ WorkRamp
“I can't say enough about how happy and confident I am in working with Enrique. He brings an enthusiasm to his profession that is very refreshing, constantly surprising us with his depth of knowledge and his capability to not only complete the task, but to surpass our expectations. He presents us with solutions that we would not have thought about ourselves, and sees the problem better than we can explain it.”
Chad Berryman
Senior Technical Lead @ Zoomedia
“With the pressure on and millions watching the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA Playoffs, Toptal delivered the talent and expertise needed to launch a brand new fan engagement platform.”
Conor Kenney
Director of Professional Services @ Cleveland Cavaliers
“Getting set up with Toptal and finding a new team member was so easy, I don't know why anyone wouldn't give it a try. Best of all, we no longer have to worry about finding great people to help with our projects!”
Mike Branch
President & CTO @ HarborSI
“Darko did a great job figuring out the user architecture for our concept, which led him to produce terrific wireframes. His knowledge of usability and design was a perfect match for the outside voice we needed to to help jumpstart our project. We would certainly recommend him and work with him again in the future.”
Rich Danker
Founder @ Prose Market
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Toptal is a marketplace for top mobile app designers. Top companies and start-ups choose Toptal Web designers for their mission critical design projects.
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Haiyuan JiangChina
Haiyuan is a UI designer with 4+ years of experience who has delivered over 50+ projects to satisfied clients from all over the world. Though her specialty is designing for the user interface, she also has an acumen for graphic, motion, and industrial designing. She enjoys the startup culture and relishes project delivery.
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Jeremy AfusoUnited States
Jeremy is a user experience/user interface designer available for consulting with digital agencies, startups, and independent clients. After studying architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, he discovered his real passion lies in finding the intersections between technology, culture, and the design process. He has a natural thirst for understanding and creating design systems that are functional, meaningful, and pleasant to use.
[click to continue…]
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Indre LobinaiteCroatia
Indre is a passionate web and app designer (UI/UX specialist) with over 6 years of professional experience. She is focusing on the end-user to design products that are usable, engaging, and functional. She is capable of creating traditional and new creative graphic solutions for any communication issue. Indre always prefers to design clean, smart, and effective products.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerAdobe PhotoshopAdobe InDesignAdobe IllustratorWebiOSAndroidUser Experience (UX)WireframingUser Interface (UI)
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Evgeny VasenevUnited States
Evgeny is a highly motivated UX/UI and brand designer who is passionate about design, technology, and photography. What he finds truly rewarding is using his skills to further great projects. He feels his biggest strength is that he's creatively ambidextrous and can jump easily from artistic to technical projects.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerAdobe InDesignAdobe PhotoshopSketchAdobe IllustratoriOSAndroidBrandingUser Experience (UX)WireframingUser Interface (UI)
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Fabio MunizBrazil
Fabio is a product designer with 5+ years of experience working with venture-backed startups in NY, SF, and EU. He has designed mobile apps that were featured in publications and app stores, and websites with over 100k monthly visitors. Currently Fabio is also writing about usability for TestLodge and mentoring DesignLab's and Springboard's UX courses.
[click to continue…]
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Alex GilevRussia
Alex is a senior product designer with a passion for creating intuitive, simple, and beautiful designs that delight users. He goes beyond just making things that look and feel good. He endeavors toward work that drives action, generates results, and makes for change.
[click to continue…]
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Jake FreyUnited States
Jake built Fancy which was deemed one of the best apps of the year from Apple and Google. Other clients include Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Shopify, Hermès, and Kanye West. He's privileged to work on amazing projects with brilliant people.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerAdobe PhotoshopSketchMobile App DesignUser Interface (UI)eCommerceApp DesigniOS UI DesignWeb DesignUser Experience (UX)
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Jorge Juan PeralesSpain
Jorge Juan has more than 10 years of experience in user-centered design throughout the whole product life cycle. With a strong background in illustration, graphic design, creative direction and branding, Jorge Juan strives to deliver meaningful user experiences through strategic thinking, great attention to detail and aesthetic sensibility.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerIllustratorSketchPhotoshopUI DesignUX Design
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Christoph HellmuthGermany
Christoph is a multi-disciplined UI/UX designer with over 7 years of experience in the design industry. He helps startups and companies by bringing a wide range of design skills to the table. He has designed products that are used by millions of people around the world and has experience in remote and consultancy projects. He loves teaching design and helping people from all over the world to find passion and joy in design.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerSketchUser Interface (UI)iOS User Interface DesignAndroid User Interface DesignMobile DesignWeb Design
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Benjamin TseUnited States
Ben is an award winning designer with 15 years of experience in UI/UX & development. He has a thorough understanding of both the design and development process. He started his own digital design firm at the age of 15 and has since designed apps and websites for over 100 clients including startups, governments, corporations, artists, and hotels. Beyond design, he is detail-oriented and a strong communicator.
[click to continue…]
Mobile App DesignerAdobe IllustratorAdobe PhotoshopAdobe Edge AnimateiOSAndroid
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The Vital Guide to Interviewing Mobile Application Designers

This guide deals with mobile application design and its goal is to provide clients with information on mobile design, and help them recognize a top notch mobile designer. It touches on multiple aspects of mobile application development, some or all of which will be relevant to the specific context in which you are looking to hire.

Before we proceed to define what makes a top-notch designer, we need to be aware of the definition.

Mobile application designers focus on native mobile apps and work closely with UX and UI designers to apply their design to mobile interfaces.

Mobile application designers focus on native mobile apps and work closely with UX and UI designers to apply their design to mobile interfaces.

Mobile designers have many names and some of them are app designers, iOS designers, Android designers, and so on. They usually work closely with user-experience (UX) designers and user-interface (UI) designers to apply their design to mobile interfaces. Their main focus is on native mobile applications, but they should also be able to create designs for mobile and hybrid apps.

Every mobile application designer should be aware of the difference between these three platforms.

The Challenge

Native apps live on the device and they are accessed through icons on the device home screen. Native apps are usually installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). They are specifically developed for one platform, and can take full advantage of all the device features; they can use the camera, the GPS, various sensors like the accelerometer, compass, and so on. They can also incorporate gestures (either standard operating system gestures or new, app-defined gestures). Also, it’s worth noting that native apps can use the device’s notification system, access local information like the contacts list, and they can work offline.

Responsive web applications are not real applications; they are really websites that, in many ways, look and feel like native applications, but are not implemented as such. They are run by a browser and typically written in HTML5. Users first access them as they would access any web page: They navigate to a special URL and then have the option of “installing” them on their home screen by creating a bookmark to that page. Web apps became popular when HTML5 went mainstream and people realized that they could obtain native-like functionality in the browser.

Today, as more and more sites use HTML5, the distinction between web apps and regular web pages is blurring. For instance, there are no visible browser buttons or bars, although the site runs in Safari (when accessed from an iPhone). Users swipe horizontally to move on to new sections of the app. And, thanks to browser caching, it’s even possible to read the newspaper offline.

HTML5 vs. Native Apps vs. Hybrid Apps

A lot of features are available in HTML5. It possible to access some sensors, implement the tap-to-call feature, and even other functions, such as the device’s camera API. However, few web apps and websites take advantage of these possibilities.

Mobile app developers must be aware of the difference between these native and hybrid apps, as well as HTML5 apps.

Mobile app developers must be aware of the difference between these native and hybrid apps, as well as HTML5 apps.

There are, however, native features that remain inaccessible (at least for now) in the browser:

  • The notification system, running in the background
  • Sensor input such as accelerometer information (other than detecting landscape or portrait orientations)
  • Complex gestures

Of course, one can argue that many apps (native or otherwise) do not take advantage of those extra features, anyhow. But if you really need those native features, you’ll have to create a native app, or at least a hybrid app.

Native mobile apps provide fast performance and a high degree of reliability. It’s important to note that most mobile video games are native applications. We all know that video games are among the most popular mobile applications, and many of them need to utilise the hardware in the most efficient way in order to ensure smooth gameplay and a good user experience.

Hybrid apps are part native apps, part web apps. Because of that, many people incorrectly call them “web apps.” Like native apps, they live in an app store and can take advantage of the many device features available. Like web apps, they rely on HTML being rendered in a browser, with the understanding that the browser is embedded within the app. Often, companies build hybrid apps as wrappers for an existing web page; in that way, they hope to get a presence in the app store without spending resources on app development. Hybrid apps are also popular because they allow cross-platform development and thus significantly reduce development costs: The same HTML code components can be reused on different mobile operating systems.

Tools such as PhoneGap and Sencha Touch allow people to design and code across platforms, using the power of HTML. Doing justice to many of these topics would warrant posts of their own. Nonetheless, this guide is intended to provide, at least, a meaningful overview of key issues and topics relating to mobile application design. Furthermore, every good mobile application designer should be aware of all the terms used in this article.

It’s not unusual for a client to demand native apps rather than responsive web applications. In order to provide a different and unique user-experience on each device, many clients will require a native application.

Q: Native, Web App, or Hybrid: Which Should You Choose?

To summarize, native apps, hybrid apps, or web apps cater to the needs of the mobile user. There is no best solution; each has its strengths and weaknesses. The choice depends on each client’s unique needs.

Q: When designing a new application, what are the most important questions you need to know?

  • What is your app’s main goal?
  • What are the most important sections in your app? How many are there?
  • What kind of actions should be available to the user throughout the app?
  • Who is your direct and indirect competition, if it exists?
  • Which features and functions do you want to include in your app?

With the answers, the designer should be able to start searching for the best design pattern for the new application. Maybe the best question to ask when starting a new design would be: “If you came home angry and stressed out, looking to buy a cinema ticket, how you would like to application to work?”

The same question can be adjusted to any real-life situation and mobile app. If the application design works when the user is frustrated, then the application is probably well designed.

Q: What do you need to consider when designing for iOS, Android or any mobile platform?

When people are about to use something, they have already expectations (we call them mental models). For example, most users will buy a certain smartphone because they like the design principles behind its operating system, the appearance, or how the device works. So, the most important thing to consider when designing for iOS, or other mobile platform, is to consider vendor guidelines. While developers need to stick to vendor guidelines, the basic logic behind each application should be identical, regardless of vendor.

Designers should not try to reinvent the wheel by implementing some unexpected elements within the application. In order to provide an extraordinary experience, designers should experiment with improved user flow and interaction design. In the application industry, this is a standard; Apple does it, Google does it, and Microsoft is no exception.

Q: When designing for a diverse set of users who will engage with your products, what do you need to consider?

Along with device platform guidelines, the designer should consider accessibility guidelines for a range of users. Design for people who are young, old, power users, casual users, and those who just enjoy a quality experience. Embrace these accessibility guidelines as you would any set of design constraints. They are part of the challenge of creating amazing products.

Q: Why are application icons so important for an application and what should be considered when designing the icon?

Beautiful, compelling icons are a fundamental part of a good user experience. Far from being merely decorative, icons play an essential role in communicating with users. Focus on a unique shape; some icons have many colors or they feature gradients, but they all start with a simple shape. That allows them to be recognizable at a distance and at a glance. Icons are seen in a range of different sizes. They are large in the App store, get small on the home screen and even smaller in the notification centre and in groups. Make sure your design scales well and is clear at any size.

The designer should also test the icon on different wallpapers; while it might look great against a traditional backdrop, iOS raindrops for example, there’s no guarantee it looks great on all wallpapers. And try grouping your designs into folders to evaluate how they look.

Q: How to design an intuitive user-interface and still achieve the “Wow!” effect.

Intuitive means easy to understand or operate without explicit instruction. The designer should always use different visual treatment for icons that are “tappable” and icons that are used as indicators and are “non-tappable.” Once a coherent system for distinguishing tappable from non-tappable icons is in place, the designer needs to follow it throughout the mobile app. In order to achieve the “WOW effect,” the designer should play around with unique shapes (for example custom made icons), animations, and then present them in a whole new way.

For example, the paper plane is now widely recognized as the “Send” icon. When it was first introduced, it was probably a little bit confusing for a user. “What is this paper plane? What does it have to do with email?” In many applications, the “Save” icon is an image of the extinct floppy disk. A life buoy icon could be used, instead. Once users understand or discover the meaning of a new UI element, it becomes “intuitive” the next time.

Three Components of the “Wow!” Factor

If the designer is limited by brand guidelines, the “Wow!” effect can be achieved in other areas.

Let’s imagine that we have a beautiful and expensive pen. But if it doesn’t write well, we will probably abandon it and go for an ordinary pen that suits our purpose. Fancy, eye-catching design cannot always help an ineffective product, so we must always think about designing an experience that pleasantly surprises the user by helping him to achieve the intended task faster and efficiently.

It is important to note that “Wow!” factors depend on the concept from the UX/visual designer being well executed by the programmer.

Q: Should we use gestures in our mobile application and how will they affect User Experience?

With the integration of gyroscopes and motion sensors, smart devices are able to detect movement. With this, the interaction between the user and the device extends beyond the click and tap, bringing real-life gestures to the screen.

Users are intuitive about gestures. When asked how to delete an item, users tried to move the item out of the screen regardless of age, sex and gender. Enhancing the user experience with fewer taps or scrolling allows applications to become more interactive.

Q: How will 3D Touch technology from Apple change the interface?

Force Touch technology does not enable truly new gestures, it is simply an extension of gestures we are already familiar with. It will help designers and developers to add a Z-axis in order to provide more depth of information on a top layer without touching or overcomplicating the Information Architecture underneath.

Q: How many fonts are recommended and what is the best practice with typography while designing mobile applications?

Reducing the number of fonts on a screen can reveal the power of typography. Instead of using different typefaces and leveraging different characteristics (e.g. italics, bold, semi-bold), different font sizes can better differentiate discrete areas of content. Embracing a singular typeface across an entire app drives consistency not only for branding but also across channels — e.g. app, mobile site, website — thus optimizing the mobile elements across the omnichannel experience. Also, users prefer the simplicity of having one typeface while scrolling for relevant content.

Q: What are micro-interactions and why should we use them?

Micro-interactions are small, visual enhancements (for example, an animation or a sound) occurring around a use case. These scenarios may include completing a transaction, flagging an item, or prompting a pop-up message. Such interactions are subtle, but they differentiate the product by pointing the user’s attention to the right element.

Micro-interactions may be leveraged as a signal to prompt the user while accomplishing a task (adjusting a setting, for instance), thus creating a small piece of content such as a pop-up message. Apps with well designed micro-interactions are considered easier to use, more fun, and more engaging by their users.

Final words

Before designers choose to create something, they must conduct market research in order to learn what’s out there and what they have to do to create a unique and successful design.

The biggest difference between developing a mobile application and a desktop application, or even a website, is context. This is what makes mobile apps so powerful. Each app is used for its own purpose, at a specific time and place. There are several ways to accomplish the same action for mobile, and it’s up to you, the designer, to design and choose the most effective way.

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