I'm working with a graphic designer to create some iPhone interface elements, but I'm not a graphics designer myself. So I do not really know how to describe what I'm looking for. I'm afraid of over-doing fancy effects, so I have a few questions:

What effects does an iPhone button typically have? Is it a drop shadow, inner glow, etc? Which ones are most appropriate for a "workhorse" button - the one that will be used frequently versus the one that is merely an option button?

I'm going to include a couple panels that slide on/off screen. Do such panels in general have edge effects applied to them to make them blend in better? If so, what is the name of such effects, is it drop shadow, bevel, etc?

What is the name of effect that may smooth the transition between two rectangular views: one is dark gray, another is black. I'm thinking of a fade-like effect where over 5 pixels or so the colors blend together. How is such effect called?

Is it appropriate to use linear gradients within interface elements? If so, how much of a color difference is not "too much". For example is white to dark gray ok, or should it be subtler - light gray to dark gray?

Thank you for any input or keywords that would help me research this topic better!

1 Answer 1


If you're using a designer, my first suggestion (as a designer!) is not to get involved in the technical intricacies, including terminology. Leverage the designer's experience and expertise and let her do her job. I often work with clients who don't have the terminology but do have an idea of what they're going for, and the design process usually iterates quickly to something that is both good design and makes the client happy.

Your designer knows (or ought to) what is appropriate for your particular app, what is "too much" and what it "too plain."

If you have a particular "look" in mind, you will help the designer much more by finding examples of what you're going for, and explaining in your own words what you like about the examples rather than worrying about exactly which technical terms to use.

You will also make the process faster. There's nothing that can mess up communication with a technical professional (in any field) faster than describing your needs in not-quite-understood terms. The confusion that generates leads to much frustration and wasted time at both ends of the communication. Better to say "that fade-like effect where the colors blend together." I know what you mean by that; so will your designer. You'll gradually pick up the vocabulary as you work together, and you'll know when you say "gradient" or "fade" or "transition" that you and the designer both know exactly what you're talking about.

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