Design Principles for Wearables, flat design header with Android and Apple smartwatch
January 26, 2016

Design Principles for Wearables

Written By Rebecca Larkin

The rise of wearables has been inevitable.

As technology advances it becomes more and more involved with our everyday lives, and thats why wearables are really taking off.

Whilst they’re still in their early days, and despite the fact that the majority of smartphone owners are yet to adopt them, we’re still seeing a growing demand for smartwatch apps.

Whether they’re native apps, or cross platform extensions of current apps, there’s an increasing demand, and with a new platform to build apps on, comes new design rules for that device.

Here we give you a few of our basic principles when designing for a wearable.

Be clear

As obvious as it sounds, when designing for a wearable you absolutely must take the screen size into account.

Simple things like considering text size, using diagrams and as many images as possible are key when designing for a smartwatch.

Make sure all text is legible and viewable from a distance and at a glance.

Be concise

Wearables are all about visuals.

It’s about giving users everything they need to know, as quickly and concisely as possible.

Keep information on a need to know basis, keep everything legible, and grab the users attention from the get-go.

Being glanceable is preferable

Unlike phone screens, wearables aren’t meant to be looked at for long periods of time, or you might as well have your phone out. So, this gives apps a great opportunity to get creative with notifications.

Innovative notifications are a great feature of wearables – think different vibrations patterns based on notification type, voice activation options and noise variations instead of the classic phone systems.

Keep notifications on a need to know basis, and give the most important their own variation. Context is the backbone of most UI principles, and this is even more true when it comes to wearable applications.

Consider privacy

Smartwatches and wearables are built to be seen and on constant public display so when building apps, its a key feature to keep user details and personal information private.

This can be done with something as simple as a click to view, or lock screen notification, but will offer your app some much needed security features.

Offline counts too

This sounds obvious, but a wearable may not always have an internet connection, so making sure content is available offline could be vital to your app.

This design principle very much depends on the type of app you’re creating, while some wouldn’t rely on an internet connection for everything, it’s sometimes handy to allow for offline features.

Here at Roller, we love new devices and new creative outlets, and we particularly love the new deign principles that wearables have brought with them. We’re looking forward to seeing how wearables and smartwatches develop further.

If you’re thinking about creating a smartwatch app, get in touch to explore the opportunities for a wearable app.