Aaand we’re back with the 2nd chapter of our series dedicated to the topic of making an application. If you missed the first one, please head over here to grasp the importance of writing down your app description, inflating your project’s scope to the maximum and then cutting it down.
Today, on the other hand, we’ll focus on the design and how to tackle its creation in such a way that could save you both time and money. Without further or do, let’s get into it.
User personas and user flow
Have you ever had an opportunity to use an app that looks fantastic, but the whole experience is just plain painful? That’s what happens when you blindly design without considering who your target audience is, how THEY use applications and without thinking through their whole journey.
Now, the way we approach this step at Software Brothers is we invite our clients for something that’s called — the workshop. Essentially, what it does, is it gives you access to both technical and designer teams, which together with you — go through your business idea in order to identify said user personas and user flows. It’s not the only tool we use, but mentioned ones are extremely important for the design phase.
If you’d like to learn more about defining personas yourself, head over here: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/personas-why-and-how-you-should-use-them.
You might ask, “But wait, why do I need to spend so much effort, if I know that my users are, for instance, gym goers?” Well, that’s a good insight, but you need to identify how exactly they are using workout apps. What’s their background? Are your target audience newbies? If yes, they most likely won’t need advanced performance statistics etc. Hope you’re catching what I’m trying to say.
I’ve mentioned some fitness app features you might want to include in your app is this article of mine: https://softwarebrothers.co/blog/how-to-build-a-fitness-app
Sometimes, I speak to a potential client who thinks that it doesn’t make sense to spend 40 hours on creating a wireframe. What I think slips here is the fact that you can spend ONLY 40 hours and get something that you can click through as if it was a functional application and decide whether it works as you intended it to.
You can even take it to your potential users and ask them what they think about the layout, if it’s really intuitive etc. It may turn out that you need to implement some changes, sometimes drastic changes and guess what, you didn’t spend 500 hours on developing the actual working product.
After you’re happy with what you have in front of you in not-so-pretty grey colour scheme — time to move forward.
Time for some excitement has finally come! During the design stage, you’ll be getting your hands on something feasible.
There’s one important thing to keep in mind — make sure there’s someone technical overseeing the designer’s work. If you’re not limited by any specific tech stack you need to use in order to develop your application, it becomes a slightly less of an issue, but in general, your designer is not going to be aware of all limitations the technology you use has.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation when it will take your team an extreme amount of time in order to achieve the designed state of the application or even worse — after long battles with the implementation, you’ll find out it’s not achievable at all.
Simple overseeing on a daily or weekly basis can save you money that you can later spend on something much more important than an additional text field that, for example, your e-commerce engine just doesn’t support. Yes, I know a couple of such cases (Hello Shopify!).
In the end, you can also turn your designs into a clickable prototype. We even have a nice comparison of the best prototypes tools, so click through if you’d like to learn more: https://softwarebrothers.co/blog/framerx-vs-protopie-vs-flinto-vs-atomic
There you go, you’ve reached a point when you can finally start developing your application. In the next and the last chapter of my series, I will touch the development phase as well as such things as soft and hard launches, so definitely stay tuned.
Hopefully this piece has convinced you of the importance of dedicating enough attention to the preparation stages: from user personas to actual designs.
Feel free to send me your question or business inquiries you’d like to discuss — to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.