In my last article I looked at the motivation behind and part of the Mobile Developer’s DNA. I mentioned that many great apps had started with a great ‘iDea‘ that was either inspirational, formed by personal needs or to better apps that did not quite do it as well as they could have. It is very easy for the developer to get to thinking of how to use the technology first, but this is not a great approach and can limit the opportunities for applications. My friend Anne Skare Nielsen, at Future Navigator in Denmark (http://www.futurenavigator.dk/) identified the formula to be an innovator...
Meaning > Solution > Product > Technology
Ultimately… Think of a meaning for your application and the solution it will achieve, then come up with the concept of a product and identify the technology it will use. Using this order, you get much more of a forward thinking approach when you put the meaning and solution first. Once you have been through this process you can come up with a Application Definition Statement or ADS, that is concise, made up of a small paragraph and can clearly define the high level definition of the application. This is necessary to minimise feature creep, before you go onto the next step of a visual interface with the user.
With the introduction of the iPhone and iPad, as well as other Mobile Devices, UX (User eXperience) design has become more important than ever before. Years ago Windows Developers would probably dedicate about 40% of the total project development time to the look and feel of the GUI (Graphical User Interface), now with iOS Apple is suggesting that this become about 60%. that is how important the way an app in the Apple App Store interacts with the iPhone or iPad end user. Apple are masters of the interface and have dedicated many thousands of hours and Dollars in the usability labs of iOS. So iOS developers should make their apps at least behave like others that are part of the Core OS. This does not mean that iOS developers are restricted and should not innovate new ideas, but be aware not to deviate away from the straight and narrow set by the Cupertino Engineering and Usability Teams. Even Apple are attacking the boundaries of iOS, take the new usage of gestures as an example, that will come along in future releases of iOS.
Storyboards or Mockups on paper are a great start to initially plan an idea and amend after discussion with potential users. If you are not an artist then electronic mockup tools are available, even on the iPad (iMockups for example). These allow the iteration of ideas to be less painful than completely re-drawing and transmission of ideas instantly by email. I have seen that a developer can be so close to their idea that subtle changes that could make a massive difference can be overlooked, as well as the application not working in a way that a user instinctively would expect after using iOS for a while, so Design and Usability Labs are essential.
Again, check out some of the cool UX designs from the teams at SAP!
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