Can non designers make good looking apps/UIs?



  • Edit: Changed title to a more meaningful name.

    A lot of developers always say they suck at designing. I'm not a great developer but I am no designer either. I learn coding in my spare time. I've never had an I.T related job or anything related to Qt. I would love to make real world Qt Quick apps as a hobby. I started to learn it a while ago but stopped. The reason was my test scripts looked so awful. I thought what's the point learning this, even if I know how to code, it won't save the ugly look of the UI. I recently considered trying to learn Qt Quick again, but like I said, I do it in my spare time. I don't have a team or a designer to save or do my designs and I really lack creativity. So this post is a reality check I will need answered.

    Is it essential to have good design skills to make Qt Quick apps that people will take seriously?
    And if yes, should I give up now rather than waste my time learning Qt Quick?
    Do the same problems apply to QtWidgets?



  • QML/QtQuick won't work design magic for you, any more than HTML/CSS does (in fact arguably those do more for you than QML does, in some areas).

    I've seen a project completely transform a clunky developer created QML design by getting a design pro in to create some PhotoShop mockups of what the app should ideally look like, using a Photoshop-to-QML translator (there is one Out There), and decorating the behaviour-free resulting QML with the necessary UI (MouseAreas, JavaScript etc) with some scripting (Python).



  • [quote author="timday" date="1420914239"]QML/QtQuick won't work design magic for you, any more than HTML/CSS does (in fact arguably those do more for you than QML does, in some areas).

    I've seen a project completely transform a clunky developer created QML design by getting a design pro in to create some PhotoShop mockups of what the app should ideally look like, using a Photoshop-to-QML translator (there is one Out There), and decorating the behaviour-free resulting QML with the necessary UI (MouseAreas, JavaScript etc) with some scripting (Python).

    [/quote]

    There's always bootstrap to help regarding html/css.
    Oh I had no idea about Photoshop-to-QML. I'm not good with Photoshop or Gimp etc. I've never really used them. I guess this isn't looking too good for me. Thanks for your input.


  • Moderators

    Hi,

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]Can non designers make good looking apps/UIs?[/quote]Yes, it's possible :)

    Formal training as a designer certainly helps. But what's also important is attention to detail, creativity, and a willingness to laugh at yourself saying "That's terrible! Let me try to improve it".

    Pay attention to the applications that you use (that are made by other people). What do you like and dislike about each one? What designs stand out? What designs make the GUI clunky?

    Try incorporating the good ideas that you see into your own apps, and avoid the bad designs that you see.

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]I'm not a great developer but I am no designer either. I learn coding in my spare time. I've never had an I.T related job or anything related to Qt.[/quote]I don't see that as an issue at all for hobby projects.

    The real issues are:

    • Are you willing to devote time and energy to the endeavour?
    • Compared to the other things that you could be doing instead, how important is this to you?

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]I would love to make real world Qt Quick apps as a hobby.[/quote]I believe that's an achievable goal for regular (non-professional) developers.

    Start small, then do bigger projects when you've gotten a feel for things.

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]The reason was my test scripts looked so awful.[/quote]What exactly made it awful in your eyes? Can you think of ways to improve it?

    Share it with a designer friend and/or the "User Experience Stack Exchange":http://ux.stackexchange.com/ and seek feedback.

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]Is it essential to have good design skills to make Qt Quick apps that people will take seriously?[/quote]It depends on your target audience.

    Consumers have very high expectations for mobile phone apps, so you'd need good design skills for them to take you seriously.

    On the other hand, the industry is far more tolerant of design quirks. As long as your software does useful things for them and isn't a pain to use, you don't need fancy skills for them to take notice of your application.

    [quote author="Dynamite101" date="1420909370"]Do the same problems apply to QtWidgets?[/quote]Yes. Whichever technology you use to build your app, you need to think of things like:

    • How do I make the GUI look good?
    • How do I make the GUI easy to use?

    However, I find it easier to create office-style apps with Qt Widgets, and to create mobile-phone-style apps with Qt Quick.



  • Thanks for the detailed response JKSH. You've answered a lot of questions for me. I'm now motivated to give Qt Quick another go.

    """
    Are you willing to devote time and energy to the endeavour?
    Compared to the other things that you could be doing instead, how important is this to you?
    """

    It's very high on my priority list! I'm definitely ready to devote a lot of time and energy into it. Thanks again.



  • I too think that it is certainly possible for hobbyists with little or no design experience to make decent looking and working user interfaces. However, I do think that it is easier to do so in the widget world than with Quick, if only because widget-type applications usually have a more standard look and feel to them. Emulating that look and feel will get you a long way. In the Quick world of often non-standard, dynamic interfaces filled with smaller and bigger animations, I think it is harder to make something that looks and feels good. That is not the fault of Quick, it is just that the added degrees of freedom also correspond to added opportunities to screw up.

    Still, I think that anyone who is interested in creating decent interfaces can do it. There are lots of sensible guidelines and basic observations that can help you avoid the most common mistakes. I'd advise you to follow ux.stackexchange.com for awhile. You'll learn a lot about design principles, next to reading other sources on UX of course.



  • Thanks Andre, for the insight into QtWidgets and QtQuick. I definitely appreciate the advice you guys have given me.


  • Moderators

    You're most welcome. All the best!


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