Is your creative gusto hurting your app development process?
Mobile apps are on the rise. Today you have an app for everything you do, be it shopping and paying bills online or keeping a check on your diet and exercise routine. According to a Digi-Capital report, the global revenue of mobile app market will be $70 Billion by 2017 with 200 billion app downloads. The report further indicates that the revenue share of non-game apps will become double, from 26 percent to 51 percent.
To address the growing demand, mobile apps are also becoming quite ubiquitous these days. Given the availability of such a huge number of apps, many assume that creating apps is a simple process. But the reality is, each app that hits the market has a painful development story to share, which is full of challenges and frustrations over cost-overruns, development delays, code and asset bloat and so on. And more often than not, your creative gusto is responsible for it.
How the design of your mobile app affects its development
In general, mobile app design has a larger number of stakeholders including the designers, the development team, the product managers, the marketing team, and the customers. Not all of them understand the technical nitty gritty of the app’s code. The problem arises when the client or some other stakeholder wants something too creative that’s almost impossible to code, creating a friction between your design-vision and the actual app building process.
Let’s discuss how your creativity or vision becomes an obstacle to app development.
The problems usually arise when you are locking into a vision which is so ambitious that the code fails to complete it. It is relatively easier to pen down your initial design in Photoshop and/or in some prototyping platforms, but coding the same to build a real app is a different story.
But to understand that, you need to understand the limitation of these prototyping platforms at first. These platforms only provide a visualization of the final product and cannot determine the underlying code. This means, these platforms cannot help you determine whether or not the app is feasible in terms of coding, neither do they help you get a time-frame for the development phase. A heavily animated app with highly dynamic UIs may take months to develop, although it looks visually appealing in Photoshop or prototyping platforms.
Most companies use very compelling visual design as a reference for the app, to convince their clients or other stakeholders. But when it comes to actual coding, the real challenges arise. The clients get locked into the vision shown on the prototyping platforms, and they are usually disappointed when they see the final app, which in most cases is different from that appealing vision. This happens time and again. The question is: Why has it to be like this?
To put it simply: because those designs are being made without real data.
You need real user data to develop a usable app
At first you need to understand the purpose of prototype design. It only defines your app’s look and functionality. A prototype design is, therefore, just a part of the app development process and not the app itself. It loses all its value, once the actual code is implemented.
While it is relatively easy for a designers to create highly appealing UI concepts, animations and rich media content, it is not always possible to implement them through code. As a result, the time and effort put by your designer/designing team is completely wasted and you have to incur new rounds of design to create something which can be implemented through code. Even worse, the problem with the final prototype designed, which is already approved by the client, cannot be discovered until it is handed over to the development team.
Another issue with prototyping process is that designers usually put in hypothetical data that illustrates the response of the final app to user inputs best, without considering the fact that the user inputs in real life can be more challenging and variable. The worst part of designing your mobile app without real user data is that you identify the problems not before it is too late, e.g. when you release the app for beta testing or even worse, after you have launched it in Google Play or another app store. The consumers will hardly forgive you for launching a faulty app – just look at the number of apps being abandoned each day.
The solution: build apps keeping usability in mind
To solve such challenges, many suggest that designers should learn to code. But within our present scenario, where you have designated experts for every field, that’s hardly feasible . A better solution is to get the proper understanding of the app, including the basic programming it requires, its UI and essential art assets. Most importantly, do not depend solely on prototyping. Rather focus on the end-product’s usability.
Developing a mobile app is a dynamic process. It requires you to develop and follow an organic process and to work with your designers and developers together, in order to create a compelling and exciting vision, keeping the usability of the app and not just its design in mind. Also ensure that the design vision is easy to implement through code.
In other words, you need to apply a lean, agile UX approach to solve this issue. Start with an integrated design and development team and also involve your stakeholders in the process. It will save both your time and money while keeping everything realistic.
We now live in a time when mobile apps are becoming the prime, if not sole, interface for companies to communicate with their customers. Fostering an agile approach where designers and developers work together to create a realistic vision is therefore extremely important, especially for the success of an app.