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LABELLING STRATEGY & BUTTON DESIGN IN IOS 7

[fa icon="calendar"] 09-Jul-2013 14:58:00 / by Entropy Gang

Entropy Gang

Following hard on our post on Monday which highlighted a glaring truncation problem in the iOS 7 Music App, Apple released the Beta 3 update - which amongst other small tweaks and updates - seems to have corrected the strange truncation of the "Now Playing" text button. 

Or did it?

As the screen-grab to the left shows, while the full text is now readable in the "Now Playing" borderless button, in order to accommodate the longer text - it has effectively been 'wrapped' with a smaller font. This still seems a tad sloppy from a design perspective as the balance of the navigation is skewed, causing a stuttered cadence in text and layout across the top bar. The variance in font size is a further eyesore - reducing the overall legibility across the area. 

What seems to be forgotten in this new age of borderless buttons is the need for precise and thoughtful labelling conventions. Remember when labelling strategies were all the rage in late 1990's Web Development? It seems second nature now to many of us - but there was once a time when 'Content Strategists' devoted entire decks and approach documents to navigation labelling theories. 

With the advent of the borderless button and a more textual approach to page navigation, labels are now (justifiably) back in the spotlight. And so too should a proper labelling strategy for iOS 7 - ensuring every button succinctly communicates the navigation expectation to the user whilst seamlessly conforming to the design and layout of the space provided. This means (more often than not) shorter text buttons, punchy one and two word titles and commands, and a generally simpler approach to every textual prompt. 

Instead of "Now Playing" requiring a wrapped, reduced font approach - would the simple one-word text "Playing" not convey the same information faster, easier, and more in keeping with the iOS 7 methodology?  

As we have seen over the past few weeks and Beta updates, iOS 7 is definitely still a work in progress. Ideally Apple will begin adopting a more OS-wide labelling strategy that seriously considers the design and readability implications of lengthy text buttons - and simplifies rather than forces navigation text into a button space. 

And as developers and designers gearing up for iOS 7, we should all be resuscitating those old labelling strategy documents and carefully considering the impact of every piece of text (buttons or otherwise) on the design and flow of our applications. 

Entropy Gang

Written by Entropy Gang