In our “How to Design an App” series, we’ll be going step-by-step through the design process for mobile apps, with tips on how to make your apps more efficiently along the way.
When you’re designing an app, it’s easy to get lost in the process and overlook features or requirements that may seem obvious to people outside your project, which is why you need to get real people to test your prototype.
But once you’ve got that information, what are you supposed to do with it?
Well, it’s time to start refining your design, which involves taking all those notes and ideas that came out of your user observations and questionnaires, and start making lists of the changes that could be made to your prototype to make it a better experience for your users.
Remember that all of your users are individuals, and just because one of your test users really liked the idea of having flashing GIF animations everywhere, not everyone would agree…so have a broader think about which of your observations are subjective to a particular user (which doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be considered), and which will affect all of your future users too. Then, sort your to-do list into this order:
- Must Do: things you need to improve to stop your app confusing people, or worse, crashing and stopping their experience entirely
- Will Do: these are things that need doing, but don’t necessarily damage the user experience – this includes adding instruction screens, and improving features to be more usable
- Might Do: changes are those tweaks that would make the process a little smoother, but won’t break anything if they’re not included (e.g. re-wording labels)
- Won’t Do: there are always hundreds of possibilities and cool extra features that could be added, but you should focus on getting the app right first. Put the big ideas on the “Not for now” pile, and come back to them when you release a new version, or keep them for another app entirely (remember that apps should serve a clear, single purpose)
Once you know what you’re going to change, you just have to follow through. Make your way down the list of changes, testing each major change as you go. Then it’s probably time to do another round of User Observation.
NOTE: If you’re using AppFurnace, it’s a good idea to save a copy of your app, then make your changes to a new version; this way, if anything goes horribly wrong during your refinements, you’ve got a working prototype sitting there to work from.
You can decide how many times you want to repeat this process; the more iterations of testing and refining you go through, the more polished your app will be, and the more accurate your results will be before releasing. But remember that the great thing about digital experiences is that you can update them after they’ve been released too. You shouldn’t release apps that you know don’t work properly, or that have poor user experiences – especially if you’re charging for your app – but real users may offer you feedback that you can incorporate into new versions and updates of your app, after release.
Next time, we’ll start thinking about making your app beautiful, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts about iterative design? How many rounds of testing is too much? Comment below, or let us know @AppFurnace.