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Design by a Friend

Apple tells us that apps are 60% design and only 30% code. So you want to have an experienced designer at your side that has some experience in designing iPhone UI and UX. But at the same time professionals can easily charge $100 per hour or more. A typical iOS app icon would cost you $500. All these price tags make professional looking apps seem out of reach …

Meet Christian Pfandler!

Christian, or CP how we call him, is doing his designing mostly out of passion, but contrary to established designers he has retained the flexibility of a one-man shop. Flexibility that reduces your cost as he is willing to scale his efforts for you from an eye-catching app icon all the way to fully designing an app.

It’s great to call Christian Pfandler a friend of mine worth thousands of dollars normally needed when you hire a designer. So all of our recent design work was done by Christian Pfandler who is frankly a total graphics geek and artisan. He will also start his own UI & UX design related blog soon at www.cp.tv.

Here are some examples of his work.

OSX App Icon

This icon was commissioned for my first app on the Mac App Store. The task was to combine multiple lizard-like animals into one that doesn’t really exist, but looks believable. The book is taking a page out of Apple’s book (i.e. Dictionary.app) and the whole think is designed in complimentary colors (glittering green skeen versus violet leather). Add shadows, highlights and adjust perspective to make it an eye-catcher that we are proud of.

Christian is also doing all the in-app artwork, but I’ll show you that once the app is released.

iOS App UI Revamp

For version 2.0 of iWoman I tasked Christian with fully revamping the optics of the app. I had specified the theme and components to be shown on the individual pages. CP artfully remade each and every piece of graphical asset to be found in the app. Best of all, most of the artwork I had done before by cutting out images I found on Google Image Search. But with the professional touch of Christian I was able to have the entire set of graphics of my own without having to pay licensing fees that otherwise would have cost me several hundred dollars.

Christian has the understanding that if I ask him for a tile-able piece of artwork with any kind of theme, he can make it for you. Being an iPhone-user himself he has an understanding how to bring together your ideas and specifications and what works best on Retina and non-Retina displays.

Christian took the designs I had a general idea of and made each individual piece an artwork of itself.

From my own personal experience it is tremendously uplifting to see how your app begins to glow from this extra visual polish. And a good feeling that you own the results versus paying licensing fees and never having a truly unique app.

iOS App Icon Design

What really makes people look closer at your app is an app icon that is able to tell a story, a piece of art that is both unobtrusive yet full of interesting details.

Christian is able to work in a number of visual styles, from photorealistic to schematic, whatever fits your personal style. In all these examples I provided some basic guidelines what I wanted to convey and what elements are the most important message about my apps. Then I witnessed continues improvements over several iterations and we ended up with some really nice icons that I didn’t have to spend my entire app income on.

The iWoman icon (at the left) has such a clear message that it was recently featured on a conference as a fine example of an app we use to manage our lives.

Beginners water down the effect of their app by creating a 512×512 icon and simply scaling it to the various needed icon sizes. But this means that the message gets lost in a blurry mess. All levels of the icons Christian made for me got love and care individually to make them look crisp in all situations.

Don’t make the same mistake I did at the beginning thinking that you can easily create  professionally looking icons yourself in PhotoShop. It takes perserverance and intimate knowledge to be able to visually implement the ideas you have in your head. Don’t sell yourself or your apps short.

Banners, Ads, Product-Websites

Your website or advertisement might do good or it might do fabulous. At extremely short notice Christian put together this ad banner I am now using on several sites. The task was to use my custom logo, make something that fits this site’s design and to have some elements that would be familiar to iPhone-using app developers.

For another example CP combined design elements found in iWoman into a great in-app banner which I am using on the about screen.

For one of my very first contracting gigs Christian quickly created a low-cost product website in 5 languages. Christian speaks German, English and Dutch.

References

These examples are only what work Christian did for my own business, here are a couple more apps that he actively contributed artwork for:

Besides being really “really good” with Photoshop, Christian is also extremely versatile. He loves maths and physics, so besides of getting your design from him, you might also task him with some nitty gritty algorithm R&D.

To get in contact you can follow him on Twitter or e-mail him directly.


Categories: Design

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