Nobody Wants Your App

As a product owner, you simply want customers to like your app. There are many hurdles to overcome when making an app for your project but once you have secured your development team, one pitfall to not fall into is designing an impractical or an unrealistic user interface.

Remember that the success of a mobile or web app depends on the interactions a user has with it, and designing for a strong user experience could make or break this.

Use Data & Facts

Whether your idea for a web or mobile software application be revolutionary or not, good app design isn’t about how good or bad this core product is, but about how accessible the experience it’s wrapped in is to your users.

It is common for the product owner to firmly believe that their idea of design is the best when there is clearly a lack of research. Some design decisions like User Experience (UX) and business strategies should be supported based on real user data, not on your own experiences or preferences. Without proper research and testing in UX or in your market, you are basically just making guesses as to what the user might actually want.

After you present your initial product design to the development team make sure the team is capable of successfully combining creativity with the technical aspects of an app. Do this by flipping to through the portfolio of work on their site and be worried if they don’t have this display available to the public -- red flag. Read reviews or search for testimonials on the team as well.

One of your many responsibilities as a product owner is to make sure you limit from the get-go as many distractions as you can in the design of your app, so that the user gets to see only what he or she needs to. An important part of design to focus on at this stage is UX design.

UX & Design

A great design without an adequate UX design does not go a long way. It is the job of a good design to catch the attention of the user but it is UX what makes the user stay on your app.

Remember to:

  1. Make Core Functions Easily Accessible
  2. Focus on Simplicity and Clarity
  3. Focus on Performance

Users care about speed. This means that users want to be able to access the core functions of an app as soon as they log on. Make sure that your design and the design the development team gives you keeps added features to a minimum. A good tip for ensuring that you are using the simplest and most effective type UX design is to test your interface by creating user personas. Thankfully, there are many easy-to-use resources online to achieve this, and a generous designer offers a free, visual template of how such a persona can be created.

Apart from keeping users engaged because it makes their experience more enjoyable, good UX ends up reducing costs and speeding up the development process in the long run. Click here to keep reading about Lolay’s principles for good UX design.

Why the Differences between the Design and Final Product?

Let’s not forget that even after you perform the required UX Research, design your mock-ups, and decide on the minute details of design, that there is still a team who at the end of the day needs to code your design. You must accept the inevitable fact the final product will not be 100% faithful to your original mock-up.

Why? Because there is no one person who sits alone at a big desk and defines every last detail or interaction in software. When a product is well done, it is the result of a team of people working together to assemble its final version.

Although the product owner may dictate what the purpose of the product should be, it will be the code – not the coder, and what it is realistically capable of doing -- along with the time, budget, and end goal of the app what will determine what the final product looks like. Minute details such as the shadows that images give off in a retina display fall into this category too.

Loose conversations as to what kind of components the final product should have are only enough to get the first iteration of a product going but not its final version. Making an app is a process of developing and incorporating feedback, all while weighing the value of interactions with the cost to implement them.

How to Minimize Disparity:

1. Eliminate the Language Barrier:

There should be no misunderstanding between the UX & UI design department, the development team, and the client. It is suggested that rather than the development or the design team trying to teach the clients or others the detailed and jargon-ladden reasons as to why they do something, that the teams should instead explain with fundamental concepts that have meaning.

In meetings, communicate in basic vocabulary that provides just enough context to allow users, team members, and executives to express their feedback about any issue with the project. The following should suffice as a baseline:

a)   Smart

b)   Simple

c)   Fast

d)   Immersive

e)   Cool

f)    Reliable

2. Consult

As the client, you are in charge. But unless you want your product to require astronomical amounts of time and money to make, make sure you know what it will actually take to turn that beautiful design you have in mind into a reality.

Fortunately, this problem gets resolved by simply communicating design ideas early and often. Try to win over the engineering team and ask them whether something is feasible or whether your requests fall into a special and labor-intensive category. Great user experiences with the design of an app aren’t always the lowest cost implementations and acknowledging that additional effort invites the engineer to own a challenging task that will add value to your overall product.

Remember that although engineers live to solve technical problems, they deserve to be recognized when they tackle a gargantuan project. Your engineers will go a long way to impress you when shown this small sign of respect.

3. Share & Compromise

Apart from coaxing the departments of the developer team to collaborate with you, sharing your ideas early also shows that the job of the designer is important, it says “we need to make sure we get this right.” Engineers are fantastic at helping you solve the detailed problems of design because they push the available functionality right to its limits as well as tell you what things are not feasible or prohibitively expensive at a glance.

As the client, you always want the best solution for the user. But when the price compromises available features, it’s still useful to discuss ideas because they allow the developing team to understand constraints and limitations. These conversations can be tough but they can lead to the engineering team offering an alternative solution when your initial design cannot be carried out.

What to Expect:

As the product owner, ensure that the departments of the development team you are working with overlap or at least strive to ensure that they work with a design team (ideally they should have their own internal one). Expect the designers to create static prototypes to demonstrate functionality. You, the engineers and the designers can then provide feedback to each other, play with functionality and decide on changes.

Most importantly you should be as involved as possible with the product to authorize and really understand why a deviation from the original design or product was decided upon. A product owner estranged from the project will be disappointed with any minute differences between the original conception and the final coded project whereas one who is involved will understand the reasons behind the changes. The involved owner will have had a hand in the direction the final project took. People want to know that they are in capable hands, but they also want to feel like they are being listened to.