You have an idea for an app that you would like developed but are new to the process and are unsure of where to start. Chances are you have the following questions in mind: “What’s the process like?”, “How long does building an app take?” or “How involved can I be in the design process?” Well, we’re about to dig into this.
The Two Tall Totems process focuses heavily on client collaboration when building software. The many stakeholders involved include the client, the designers, the developers, and any party who will help craft the vision behind the software or app. We collaborate as a team with the mission to build a world class application with an amazing experience while meeting the client’s business goals.
Let’s take a look at the design process for starters.
Discovery phase (The kickoff meeting)
During the discovery phase we first try to understand the soul of the application. We use the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) philosophy and ask the questions: what is the goal and the vision, who is the target audience, what are the business rules, and so forth. Once we understand this we can define how many features can be created within the budget. At the end of this process we develop a mind map which will be the basic blueprint for what will become version 1.0 of the app.
User Experience (UX)
The UX stage is arguably the most important phase. No matter how great the app looks, if the flow is confusing, users will quickly quit and not return. Our designers take the mind map and convert it into a set of screen views that cover the scope of the project. Once all the screens have been envisioned we connect them together with wireflow. This allows the stakeholders to understand the user flow of the app and envision the user experience. In the UX stage, we make sure to draft all of these screens in black and white / gray scale so that no one gets caught up in the colour choices but instead focuses on the ease of navigation.
We work with all the stakeholders to make sure the UX falls in line with the vision. Often we will also create prototypes using software such as Invision to allow everyone to test the wireframes on a mobile device and get a good feel for the experience. This is not a fully working application prototype but really just screens tied together with clickable hotspots, giving the user a really good understanding of how the app’s flow will transpire.
User Interface (UI)
The UI phase will cover the look and feel of the app. All of the stakeholders will discuss colours, icons and branding. This stage tends to have a lot of opinions from all stakeholders as the visual aesthetics are less technical and more subjective. A lot of the work we create during the UI phase can also be used for any marketing pushes that the client wishes to make.
Software is a journey. The best work we create happens when all the stakeholders respectfully take and positively respond to criticism. Chances are, the client is an expert in his or her field much like how Two Tall Totems is an expert at software development. The biggest challenge we face is when a client simply tells us to figure it out ourselves. This is problematic as we need to leverage the client’s expertise to create a great application. We need to be a team.
When seeking feedback, we do our best to stay away from subjective questions such as, “Do you like it?”. Instead we ask questions that prompt constructive feedback that allow us to figure out the best solution. Questions like “Is everything clear?” or “Does something not make sense?” triggers fewer opinion-based feedback and puts more focus on problems that we can solve to make the app more functional and logical for the user.
At the end of the day, the client has the final say with our professional advice in mind. As the app developer, we provide the expertise and recommend that the client leverage our experience to create an amazing app even though we cannot force this on a client. Great work requires the client and developer to work together, therefore we have developed processes to allow for collaboration.
In the end, we all have the same goal in mind: to make a great product. When we work with our clients collaboratively, we treat them as part of our team which in turn makes the product stronger.