Notes on 10 Lessons We Learned Designing Todoist for Apple Watch

From the 06/10/16 post on by Alex Muench, link here.

Apple’s own watch foundation guidelines emphasize the need for:

  • Lightweight interactions
  • Holistic design
  • Personal communication

The folks from the todoist task manager app evolved the design that they had created using just the Simulator, once they had actually experienced wearing the Watch. Here are their lessons:

  1. The Simulator is no match for reality and testing on the actual device–especially for the experience of holding your arm up to look at the watch, which quickly gets tiring
  2. Le Watch n’est pas une iPhone (art history call out!)–the design has got to be simpler, faster, easier
  3. Especially when it comes to the glance view–hierarchy is key at such a small size and brief timeframe–this is the Watch’s most important view
  4. Second in importance is the main screen–again, hierarchy is key when the scale of difference between elements is so small yet so vital
  5. Be careful with the Force Touch, which can bring up a new menu depending on where you are in an app. Todoist used it to always create a new task–which sounds wise, I’ve read that many users are thrown off when it has different functionality within the same app. But I hope this important feature isn’t lost on people who never use the gesture, which could be quite high. (Aside from the Starbucks app, it never occurs to me to shake my phone, who knows what hidden functionalities I am missing!)
  6. Prioritize ruthlessly (and, I might add, with actual/potential users!). Todoist decided to take up valuable screen space adding checkboxes next to list items, figuring users would want to be able to quickly tick off a task as done
  7. There is a watch “fold”: make sure the initial screen contains all vital elements as scrolling can be costly on the Watch
  8. Adopt colors and icons carefully to read well at the small size
  9. Small subtle animations, when held to a minimum, add the element of delight. Todoist created 2 custom animations specifically in response to the Watch’s unique context
  10. We’re still in the early days, much functionality is still yet to come from Apple’s developer toolkit

From the blogpost: About the author: Alex Muench is product designer at doist, working on User interfaces, User Experience, passionate about graphic design, illustration and typography. You can see more of his work at and


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