Tried & True
When we work together we’ll go through the below process, which is key to me delivering you the most value and crafting an app that is as intuitive as it is beautiful. In some cases not every step is necessary but the spirit of the process should still be followed.
Read below about my detailed process.
In this crucial first step we’ll define the app’s key features. I also tend to ask questions like, “how will this app improve people’s lives?”, “how will we differentiate our app?”, “what does our app empower people to do?”, “what will make our app sticky?”, and “what are the core (and secondary) features of our app?”.
Personas are a short snapshot summary of the type of people that will be using our app. This helps us focus on designing for a specific audience and better appreciate each type’s unique (and shared) needs and goals. If your app is designed for “everyone under the sun” then we’ll likely miss opportunities to make the app really special and differentiated in the mind and hearts of those that will actually use it.
3. Needs & Goals
Once I have the personas defined, we spend time defining together the needs and goals for each persona. I’ll ask questions like, “what do they want/need to do in the app?”, “how will the app be better/faster than the alternative?”, “what does intuitive mean to them?”, “what does a beautiful app look like to them?”, “what are they feeling when they use our app?”, “how tech-savvy are they?”,”which features will they care (and not care as much) about?”
If you have an existing app, our next objective is to audit the app — looking at it through the lens of each of our personas. This helps us get in their mindset so we can better appreciate their needs and any frustrations or pain points they may have. At this point, I like to ask questions like, “what is and isn’t working well?”, “what is/isn’t intuitive?”, and “where is the app beautiful and where does it fall short?”. At this stage, I also review any customer feedback, surveys, or app reviews to better understand what’s working well or isn’t.
At this step, I look at a spectrum of your app’s competition to better understand what they do well, where they fall short, how your app will compare, and how I can make you stand out.
Because I approach my projects with a collaborative, team-based mindset, I take a 360-degree look at the app from an internal perspective — talking to relevant team members that represent product ownership, the sales of the app, the technical lead, and key customer support members. This also builds the bridges so we can all have open, frank conversations about the direction of the app, areas of improvement, and the overall design process.
This is where I also dig into the product roadmap with the team to better understand our trajectory, define requirements, as well as learn about any technical constraints I need to design within.
7. Journey Map
Depending on the scale of the app, the next step is to create a journey map or user flow diagram. A diagram maps each step someone will take and each screen they will encounter as they navigate your app — giving us a macro and micro view of the user experience. This is also essential in allowing me to more accurately estimate the effort to design the app itself.
If you were building a house you would create blueprints early on, eventually followed by picking the paint color, artwork, and furniture. Blueprints show the layout, dimensions, and flows between rooms and floors. You may even create a 3d rendering before any construction has taken place. This is essentially what wireframes and interactive prototypes accomplish. They help us focus on the functional experience early on — creating an intuitive app without getting too focused by aesthetics.
With a prototype in hand, I gather feedback from internal stakeholders and potentially even early adopters. Because we’re working off a wireframe we’re able to quickly iterate based on feedback and experiment with various executions without the costly process of redeveloping the app.
10. Design Principles
Before I design the app itself, we need to align on the design principles that will guide us through the UI design. What will the app feel like? Are there apps or other brands we aspire to be like? What existing branding must we work within (fonts, logo, colors, etc)? Are there principles we’ll bend and others we’ll strictly hold to?
11. UI Design
This is where the magic happens to bring all the previous steps to fruition. Using the wireframes, design principles, personas, goals, branding I design the user interface of the app itself to be as beautiful as it is intuitive. Careful thought goes into the use of colors, icons, fonts, microcopy, down to the words we use in a given button or error message. Oftentimes the UI designs are converted into interactive prototypes to better experience how the design will be brought to life.
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If you’re committed to creating an amazing UI for your customers, I’d love to hear from you and talk about how we might work together.