Building applications with traditional development processes is not easy and it certainly is not quick. Because of this, most orgs don't have the risk allowance to launch an app that their users don't use or don't like. If you want to give your app the best chance to survive post-launch, there are 3 bare minimum must-haves I explore in the latest Mendix Minute.
Get to know your users
This is a key first step to creating any application. On the surface, its about getting to know the people who will use your app and the time spent here is well worth it. This is a combination of a "discovery phase" and prototyping.
During the discovery phase, set up meetings or calls with as many potential users as possible. There are some good questions you can ask to make sure you get the information you need to build a strong wireframe and eventual app:
- What problem do you think we are trying to solve with this app?
- How are you solving this problem currently?
- What scenarios do you picture yourself using the app in?
- How have previous solutions failed?
There are other questions but these can get you started in the right direction. We'll get into prototyping at another time (maybe in my next Mendix Minute!).
Design a great looking UI
Most of the time, designers take a brand's baseline set of colors, in combination of a logo, and start designing. This is really selling yourself and your brand, short. Great looking UI is more than colors—the magic lies in elevating the nuances of your brand, from tone & voice, to patterns, buttons, and even corners.
Make sure you are creating powerful hierarchy within your imagery, icons, and typography. Of course, you should align to your brand's font, but you may find yourself needing to create new guides on typography, or on other elements, to align to this app design—if your guide doesn't align on usage for applications, don't be afraid to create new boundaries!
Launch and iterate
Getting your beautiful and exponentially useful app :) into the wild is never a one and done thing—your journey is just beginning! Give your app some time to soak with its new users so that you have enough data to make confident decisions on changes you want to implement.
But don't just look at data.
Get our there and start the "new" discovery phase. Start asking questions to your new users and see what they think of the app. You might feel like your users are not interested in having these conversations with you—you're wrong! Your new users will be very willing to help you improve their experience!
Have a few questions that you can use as a starting point for your discussions:
- What do you think of the app?
- How does it look?
- Does it work well?
- Does anything distract you or get in your way when achieving X task? (where x is a task you want them to achieve)
- What is your favorite part of the app? Why?
Do you think you can afford to not follow these 3 must-haves? It is important that these steps are used as a foundation for your apps, throughout multiple stages of the development and design process. With Mendix, you don't need to be an expert in UX or UI, we have beautifully built templates and an amazing UX framework that takes apps from good to great. Where you come in, is engaging with your users on improving the experience through user research and discovery.
The app I show here is called "Kitchen Stories" on iOS.