Designing the UI for BBM connected applications

As you design the UI for your BBM connected app, be aware of the impact that the layout of the screens and the flow of interactions have on the user's experience with your application. Provide meaningful, streamlined interactions between your application and BBM. The following best practices can help you create the best possible experience for your users.

Best practices for look and feel

  • Create a succinct name for your application. Long names detract from readability. Avoid including the version of your application in the name. For example, use "Word Mole" instead of "Word Mole version 2.0."
  • Mention that your app is BBM connected when you write a description of your application for the BlackBerry World storefront. Because BlackBerry Messenger is one of the most widely used applications on BlackBerry devices, users might be encouraged to try your application. You can use the following sample text in your description: "By connecting this application to BBM, you and your contacts can get together, socialize, and communicate by <insert a phrase that describes what users can do (for example, playing games against each other)>."
  • Create an application icon that is 114 x 114 pixels.
  • Design an icon that is visually interesting. Make sure that users can distinguish the icon from the background of the screen and that they can distinguish your application from other applications. Avoid using BlackBerry Messenger icons or BBM branding in your application.

Best practices for app start-up

  • Register your app with the BBM Social Platform when users open your app for the first time. Users are more likely to expect setup activities the first time that they open an application.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to BBM functionality. If users tap a dimmed item (for example, in menus or on buttons on the screen), display a toast to notify that the application is not connected to BBM and explain how they can connect to BBM.

Best practices for sending invitations and messages

  • Make sure that users are the ones who initiate requests to engage other users. Your application should not initiate requests on a user's behalf. For example, users should initiate requests to send a file, download an application, or invite others to join games, forums, or chats.
  • Allow users to enter their own text or provide default text in the message or invitation. If you provide default text, do not include advertisements or spam. Users might be annoyed if they have to delete unnecessary text.
  • If users send a file, voice note, or image, send only what the user intends to send. Avoid sending advertisements or spam along with the file, voice note, or image.
  • Include a contextual link in messages where possible. For example, if a user sends a picture of a landmark, you can include a link to a map that shows where it is located. Otherwise, link to the main screen of the application.

Best practices for choosing contacts

  • Provide filter options for contacts, if possible and if meaningful to the task. For example, in a game, allow users to filter the contacts by skill level such as beginner, intermediate, and expert. This approach makes it easier for users to find relevant contacts, especially if they have a lot of BBM contacts.
  • Allow users to filter contacts by the contact categories that they create in BBM.

Best practices for chats

  • Make sure that users have the ability to choose the contacts that they want to chat with.
  • When a chat begins, expose the chat interface so that users know that a chat has started.
  • Make sure that you design your screens so that users can access key features when the chat interface is open. If users chat using a virtual keyboard, be aware that the portion of the screen reserved for the application is reduced in landscape orientation.
  • Make the chat interface available on multiple screens in your application so that users don't have to open a specific screen to open and reply to chats.
  • If your application supports multiple chats, make sure that users have a way to switch between chats.

Best practices for BBM user profiles and profile boxes

  • Always ask permission before updating a personal message or status in a user's BBM profile. Do not prompt users to update their display picture because they won't be able to see the picture before it is updated.
  • If users allow your application to update their personal message, use the personal message field to describe a quality that is attributed to the user (for example, "I am a fan of Word Mole"). To describe a current activity, create a personalized status for the user (for example, "I am playing Word Mole").
  • Include only new accomplishments or specific activities that are meaningful milestones, in a profile box. For example, include notifications such as "Kevin has achieved level 4." Do not use the profile box to promote a feature or a new version of your application.
  • Provide a succinct description for each update in the profile box (for example, "Catharina has posted a new playlist. Take a look."). If possible, allow users to click a description to get more information. For example, users could click a description to see a playlist. If a link cannot open a specific location in the application, link to the main screen of the application.
  • Include a unique and meaningful icon for the activity or event in the profile box. For example, use a trophy icon to mark noteworthy accomplishments in a game. Avoid shrinking a large picture and using it as an icon. If you do not create icons for each activity or event, then your application icon appears instead.
  • Create icons that are 119 x 119 pixels. Test the icons on each screen to make sure that the icons, when scaled, still convey the intended meaning.

Last modified: 2014-10-09

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