Katherine May is a Brisbane-based graphic designer with 9 years of experience designing event apps and event collateral. Katherine is an Entegy Expert and works with our partners and event organisers to create beautifully-designed event apps.
In this post, Katherine shares her 5 event app design tips to seamlessly incorporate your brand and style whilst ensuring a great user experience.
An event app that seamlessly matches your event branding and is well designed is what every event organiser wants. It’s essential to app adoption and engagement. The good news is, it’s achievable by following some simple, best-practice guidelines.
When I’m designing event apps I keep a few things in mind:
- Brand look and feel: how the brand has been used in existing designs, how can I apply it to mobile to ensure it’s effective without compromising the brand.
- Less is more: when choosing design elements for mobile I follow the design principle of ‘less is more’. Choosing a single stand-out element, leaving plenty of space and using restraint with typefaces and colours ensures a minimal look and feel that does not overwhelm the user or compete with content.
- User experience: how user-friendly will it be for the end-user (eg. legibility of text over backgrounds), what content will be included in the app – how can I best show this?
- Sponsorship: the best way to honour sponsors/other sub-brands that need to be shown with event brand.
- Device size and platforms: does the design work across different phone sizes/types and tablets.
Brand look and feel
The key to a good app design is relevance and consistency. Before I start designing, I always take a look at the clients existing collateral. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it is good to present an image to the end-user that they are already familiar with from all their other interactions with the event so far. And secondly, If you are working with an event organiser, they have probably been dealing with a committee and have had to go through the ‘fun’ of getting a design approved that multiple people are happy with.
Event brands can be a bit hit and miss to work with – meaning some are abstract and simple and easy to pull apart, some are a tad more complex. Some have very complex logos with a lot of text and don’t always work well when reduced to mobile. In this case, I often present the client with options – one will be using the logo as is, the other I tend to try and split the text out, add some hierarchy, and bring elements of the logo into the background design or generic header. More often than not the option which keeps it simple, honours the brand, and works on mobile devices will win.
Less is more
Clean, simple and dynamic designs are best for mobile event apps. Looking for little modifications to the menu icons sets or something subtle in the background can make your app design beautiful while ensuring that you don’t compromise on readability. Here are a few other things to consider:
- Look for colours/patterns/subtle imagery in the event branding that you can pull out for backgrounds.
- the tablet menu background is a solid colour, so find primary colour for the mobile and tablet background to allow for consistency.
- The mobile background sits behind the menu, so it can’t be busy (darker tones make it easier on the eyes and for a delegate to use during a talk!)
- The mobile header can be transparent – meaning your logo can sit on top of the background making the design seamless.
- The Entegy design templates show how the tablet header lines up with the generic header – meaning you can have a picture/pattern going from the tablet header across to the generic header in a seamless way even though they are two different elements. Fun right!
App structure and the organisation of event information makes the difference between a great and average user experience. Content can be displayed in various ways to improve navigation and visibility:
Use images or graphics to create a visually appealing list. This has a premium look and feel and can be used to highlight sponsors.
Format content pages with header styles, line breaks and clickable links. Highlight important information with quote boxes and introduce individual sections with a header to make them stand out.
Event apps are a highly sort after sponsorship item. Placement of one or multiple sponsor logos and branding is very important to the overall design.
The App banner is the perfect spot to start for sponsors, committee logos or other messages/prompts that you want to be present all the time. This banner can be linked to more information/forms/feeds (eg. ‘join the passport competition to win!’). A shadow can be added or removed from this to make it pop/be separate from the design or part of the design.
Menu icons are another opportunity to highlight a sponsor or ‘sponsors page’ by making it a unique colour.
Pop-ups or push notifications can be used as adverts for sponsors, prompts to join gamification, day messages for special events – anything is possible. However, keep these to a minimum, users will get irritated if they are constantly bombarded with messages.
App splash screen, icon and store listing – perfect for events with a global app/technology sponsor, include your sponsor’s logo on the app icon. Seen in the app stores and on users’ device home screens. Not all app designs will have these elements. If the app is accessed via an existing portal app these elements aren’t required.
Important: these elements can’t be easily changed once they are submitted to the store. You need to get these right as it will incur extra fees to resubmit designs to the app stores.
Sponsored page headers or program session pages – sponsors can support a particular session, networking event or piece of content which can be reflected in the app page headers and session icons.
Device size and platforms
Finally ensuring the design works across different devices and platforms might require some testing. When you’re designing, remember the framework you have to work with cannot be changed – boxes can’t be made bigger to fit a logo and icon text needs to sit over the background – this is your challenge, and if you just accept it, a design will come to you more easily. Read the design notes look at the Entegy Knowledge Base articles, and keep the guides in mind – leave plenty of breathing space for where the design gets cut down for smaller phones. Then step back from thinking about it too much and know that the templates have you covered!
In summary, Entegy has really great InDesign templates for their app design that helps make designing the skins for their event apps a little more straightforward. Examine a few app designs before you start to get a feel for the layout and just dive in. The beauty of it all is that if you discover something in the app design that is not working, you can tweak your design and re-upload it. If I’ve been given access to upload the designs myself, I always have a look at it through the portal and make sure it is working.