iPhone Game Design Heuristics

Within the field of usability, heuristics are ‘shortcuts’ to overcoming major usability issues, and are often used to supplement user testing. They can quickly identify large usability issues, early in the development process, and prevent the need for major redesigns further down the software development process. If many of these issues didn’t become addressed until play testing, typically one of the last steps of development, the amount of re-working needed would increase exponentially.

Their use is particularly important with the ‘home-grown’ scene of iPhone game design, due to the small size of most development teams. Because a development kit costs only $99, and publishing a game requires no budget (except marketing), the iPhone development scene is a lot more small scale than other mobile platforms, and so often teams (or individuals) cannot afford to employ the most thorough methods of evaluating usability, such as expert review.

It would be useful then to have a series of guidelines that developers can follow to identify good and bad iPhone usability game design issues, which is what I’m attempting to achieve in this series of blog posts. Within each topic, I will aim to cover why it’s important, and provide examples of a correct, and an incorrect implementation. Hopefully this will prove to be a useful resource for iPhone game developers. 

For further reading about mobile phone usability issues, Nokia’s study can be accessed here: Nokia Heuristics Study . It was produced before the development of the iPhone, and hence lacks an up to date perspective, particularly with iPhone specific aspects of usability.

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