Mobile Standards

As Cisco’s smartphone apps proliferated rapidly, the company had to enforce standards for usability and branding. EightShapes established an app design standards program, providing Cisco tools and guidelines.

Techniques used: mobile design, design standards, visual design

Design Challenge

Over 2010 and especially 2011, Cisco experienced a rapid increase in “random acts of mobile”. Development teams launched dozens of powerful yet narrowly focused apps that were nonetheless inconsistent, hard-to-use, and not reflective of a cohesive Cisco mobile strategy. The apps varied in how they implemented standard controls, how they were structured, how they looked, and how they represented the Cisco brand.


EightShapes set up a Mobile Apps program that included:

  • Establishing and documenting design standards for iOS and Android
  • Recommendations for control-by-control implementation guidelines
  • A starter design kit to help teams design new apps
  • Collaborative design reviews — “office hours” with the team that maintained the standards

The program ultimately focused on:

  • Screen design: Focusing on key screens, like the splash screen, the spring board, and the log-in.
  • Color systems: Establishing a standard palette and textures plus variations to provide sanctioned alternatives.
  • Iconography: Designing a language of icons for use on toolbars and buttons within the apps as well as for identifying them.
  • Process: Establishing a consistent method for reviewing and approving app and icon designs.

Finally, EightShapes educated individual app owners about the standards. We worked with them occasionally, in limited engagements, to redesign portions of their apps. Centered around “Office Hours”, EightShapes worked alongside Cisco staff to consult with each stakeholder quickly, correct their direction, and be available for further clarifications.