Yahoo CEO Outlines 3 Rules That Ensure Great App Design

Marissa Mayer has made quite the strong impact in the two years that have passed since she became Yahoo’s current CEO. She has brought a sense of immediacy and a lot of swagger back to the tech giant, buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion and spending an additional $100 million on 21 other companies. Since she took over, Yahoo’s stock price has more than tripled.

Even before Mayer took over as Yahoo top boss, she had already built up a significant pedigree. She was Google’s first female engineer, and went on to enjoy many long and fruitful years with the company. During her time at the search engine giant, Mayer developed a knack for rules of thumbs that were simple yet effective. In this article, we explore some of her rules regarding app design, which ensures that every app built under her purview is “fast, responsive, and beautiful.”

1. The Two Tap Rule

Anything the app is designed to do, it should be able to done in two taps on the screen. If the development teams are successful with developing such apps, then they are get the green signal. The others go back to the drawing board.

This design philosophy is evident in Yahoo’s Flickr app. You can take a picture, surf your screen, navigate albums, check out groups, set alerts, and more, all with just two taps on the home screen.

2. The 5-Point Rule

In Google, Mayer would often tell her designers to note down all the different font types, sizes and colors on a page. They would add a point for each of them. She wanted all web pages to have no more than five points.

This was quickly adopted as an unofficial rule throughout Google. In fact, this kind of stark simplicity has defined Google’s sparse yet elegant visuals over the years.

3. The 98% Rule

Every product should be designed for the way it will be used 98% of the time. Mayer would often use a Xerox machine as an example—the Xerox photo-copier has tons of features, but most people only ever use it to photocopy, which really just requires placing the paper source on the glass and hitting a big green button. Mayer advocates that every app should be designed like that.

Flickr has integrated this design rule as well. Although it’s an immense photography-based social network with several features, there’s a large, easily noticeable camera button at the bottom of every screen.

What great about these rules, is that they are very intuitive in nature. It boils down some of the essential features of a good user interface into easily understandable terminology, which ensures that all employees across the board in a firm can contribute to great app design.

Muhtasim Sarowat Rayed

A third year BBA student from IBA, Rayed is keen to gain valuable first-hand knowledge about today’s entrepreneurial landscape. He is fascinated with innovative ideas and seeks to understand how they are generated and realized from context to context. Hobbies include reading books and comics, writing fiction and some gaming when there’s time.