Iterative Prototyping in the Mobile App Development Process
13 min read
90% of the time that consumers spend on their mobile time is spent on apps, as per data obtained from Yahoo Flurry. The speed at that the mobile market has increased and is expected to continue to increase has led app developers to adopt an iterative approach to mobile app development. The process of developing mobile apps differs from web development in that the lifecycles of mobile apps are more frequent and developers need to keep the different types of screens, devices and operating systems both during the design phase as well as when testing with users. Traditional web-based development techniques that are geared towards creating a single version of a site, aren't able to perform equally well in the context of the development of mobile applications, which requires an agile approach.
All of this has led to the use of an iterative, fast process of development. Prototypes can play an important role contribute to this approach that allows developers to create and test, then iterate to re-test, build and rebuild quickly and with less expense (not to mention that they allow everyone involved in the process from the beginning). Prototypes for your smartphone's UI design are a crucial component of the mobile app's development process.
This article provides a breakdown of mobile app development services in 12 steps and describes the importance of iterative prototyping in.
Step 1: Define the USP or goal of your app.
The power of inspiration can play a part in generating an app that is successful on mobile However, it has to be channelled towards clear goals at the very beginning. The first step in the road to bringing an app to the market is to answer a few fundamental questions: What is the primary purpose of the app? What is the problem it addresses? Who is the main person or target public?
If you are able to answer these questions, you'll eventually be able to define what makes your app "sticky that's why people will want to keep your app on their phones and be in touch with your company throughout the day. Apps are a great way to build brand loyalty therefore, you should define your USP for users from the beginning of the development process. For instance, Spotify's USP is to provide users with access to legal, anywhere-anytime access to thousands of tracks. It's possible that at the beginning of their growth process, the team at Spotify identified a need or issue that users faced with concerns over downloading that was illegal or not paid for as well as a more mobile lifestyle, as well as set off to address the issue.
Finding a compelling USP is a must, and requires thorough research of the target audience, so during this phase of the development of your app, you'll need to determine your ideal users and their pain points or pleasure factors. Questionnaires and focus groups can aid in the creation of user profiles. These must be filled in with general mobile preferences as well as behaviours.
The goal, USP and target audience will help you define the minimum viable product (MVP) or an outline of features you can test prior to implementing a full solution.
Step 2 - Create a wireframe on the paper with your team
After you've established your goals and the things that distinguish you it can be tempting to leap right into creating using a program like Photoshop. If you're working as a group (or even on your own) making a move back and using paper wireframing can ensure that should you need to alter a fundamental aspect of your design, the process will be easy and quick.
Create a rough prototype to illustrate key functions and user flows. While prototyping on paper is usually used to create specific UIs, it could be useful in constructing user journeys and navigation flow when done correctly. You can go with the basics and use markers and Sharpies to sketch out your app, however, there's a wide variety of tools and templates that can aid you in making use of the prototype stage on paper. There are many downloadable mobile screen templates online. You can use them in conjunction with paper cut-outs of icons and buttons (also accessible) to make designs that look professional enough to show to potential investors should they choose to. If you plan on doing lots of development for a particular operating system, it's possible to purchase metal stencil UI Stencils which allow users to design widgets on your wireframes for both iOS and Android.
Whatever tool or method you choose now is the best time to get everyone in the team to agree with the goals you're trying to achieve. Once you've got it, consider moving to digital and wireframing it in prototyping software.
Step 3 - Go through the competitors and learn from their mistakes
With a median of 1,000 applications submitted to Apple's App Store each day in 2015, it's likely that someone else has tried to solve the issue you're working on or offer the user the same features. Instead of keeping an eye on the competition, you can learn from them both their failures as well as their triumphs.
A thorough study of the competition can assist you in four key areas.
Replay who is doing the exact same thing
Offer the inspiration
Offer an understanding of the technical requirements and functions.
Show evidence of the marketability and profitability
Explore the app store as well as Google search for relevant keywords or keywords, then browse the related apps and terms too. Note down the relevant apps, and then check the reviews from customers and make informed use of online forums to read what actual users have to say about them.
If you have an existing application that has something you love it is possible to check whether it has control components that are open-source. To determine these, check the acknowledgements page of the app and determine which open source components it uses It's possible that you could implement something similar to provide more user-friendly. The marketplace for open-source Cocoa Controls is a great source for locating the open-source control options used by your rivals.
In addition, a thorough analysis of competition also can uncover that your app idea was successful in its development and launch by a different person. If your app's idea was already developed take a look at how it's performing by making use of brand recognition or awareness tools, or even a free tool to identify the perception of your brand regarding your rival.
If you're unable to determine the significance your product could bring to the existing landscape, or if you're unable to develop a sound strategy for reducing risk It's time to call it quits for the day and get on with the next mobile development project. Keeping meticulous documents of your development and design process even if you fail in this phase is a way to ensure that you learn from your mistakes and continuous improvement will be an integral part of your methodology.
Step 4 - Gathering requirements and story-mapping
With your goals established and your competitors established, you are able to opt for digital options or continue to follow the paper trail for a bit longer. If you're looking to stick with analogue, you may want to start creating user stories using post-its or paper It's an excellent method to ensure you remain flexible and imaginative in your story mapping before moving into pixels.
But, mapping your user stories using the old-fashioned way could be a disadvantage in certain situations, especially in the case of remote teams or you're in search of a storyboard that's dynamic and active as well as integrated into the entire design process. If you decide to digitalize your user stories, tools like StoriesOnBoard and FeatureMap provide browser-based solutions that allow you to connect to different teams.
Although tools for storyboarding like the ones mentioned above are excellent for a variety of projects if you're working with an agile approach overall, they could be detrimental with regard to reporting. In this situation, you may want to move to using an online prototyping program. At the beginning of developing an app Wireframing the basic design in a digital program like Axure, InVision or Justinmind can assist in eliciting visually different and more detailed requirements from those involved. Also, make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the scope of the project.
This is where the wireframe you have created serves as an illustration of your solution to the issue identified in the first step. having your requirements collected in your prototyping tool eliminates the need for extensive explanations and documents on requirements.
Step 5 - Define user scenarios
By using your wireframe, can determine whether the application is functioning in the manner you or your client would like as well as being focused on the user. Tools for prototyping let you create navigation flows through the creation and testing of scenarios for users, comprised of wireframe screens as well as the actions by the client. It is possible to connect different elements to one another in the scenario to the flow of navigation is mapped. These are able to be transformed into functional flows after you have moved your wireframe to a high-fidelity prototype.
As you progress, you'll be focusing on your requirements for the project showing workflows to those in the team and pointing out any areas that require discussion. Directly asking clients or stakeholders what they would like specific elements to work is an excellent procedure, along with posing scenarios that 'what-if', and then exploring workflows to reveal unspoken requirements. It is possible to add remarks in your prototyping software so that even if it's not possible to get all stakeholders to meet, they are able to collaborate to refine requirements.
Step 6 - Update the requirements
There's a chance at this point that your app is not having a screen, your navigation flow is an unintentional path, or you've not addressed an issue in the right way. This is a good opportunity to pinpoint the issue and not have the developer create your entire application. With your prototyping tool, you can modify the requirements and add fields on a per-user basis.
Step 7 - Create an extremely high-fidelity prototype that incorporates feedback from stakeholders.
Once you've completed a set of updated, agreed specifications, the next step is to transform the static mockup into an ultra-high-quality prototype. Make authentic animations as well as transitions to the wireframe that you have already created to demonstrate the potential for interactions, and then test the scenarios you've previously imagined.
The transition to interactive, without having to go full-speed forward to code means there's less room for interpretation (read the word misunderstanding) between development and design teams in the future.
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Step 8 - Test your prototype on a variety of mobile platforms
Testing the user is the foundation of creating a great mobile app. Testing exposes issues and exposes elements of design that could be overlooked. The testing phase for users is crucial to keep the project within budget too changing the fundamental UI concepts after they've been implemented shouldn't be too costly but implementing a huge overhaul of a feature code is expensive, sometimes increasing the cost by as much as 100% in the event that the entire app has to be overhauled.
Tests for user-friendliness can be conducted in many methods, and determining the perfect combination of software and users will guarantee a complete process. Software for testing users such as Validately as well as Crazy Egg obviate the need to establish your own testing lab for users that includes a target audience and equipment, and a variety of prototyping tools integrate with these programs. Utilizing these tools in conjunction together with your own A/B tests or other methods and tools, which can be executed across a range of operating systems, along with the high-fidelity prototype you've created, allows you to gather extensive feedback from users.
But, a word to be cautious about - early testing of prototypes is essential in order to reduce costs, but testing the actual software code shouldn't be delayed until the very last moment. Depending on the type of project you may want to separate from the prototype in this stage and involve the developers in the code with your concepts. There is no perfect weatherproof way to test the way users interact with the actual software. Continually testing the software code will help you remain agile.
Step 9 - Ensure that requirements are met
At this point in the development project for your app, you will be able to test the final guidelines using your prototype iteratively before going on to write creating code. For projects that still rely on static requirements, a thorough document review is conducted by using an interactive prototype, you are able to present the solution to all parties involved and, from then, perform prototyping iteratively based on the comments that they make within this tool for prototyping.
Step 10 - Allow the Developers to put the foundations
Once you have an application that has been clearly identified You can now call the developers and let them prepare the way for their quick development sessions. As a starting point, the team of developers must set up servers, APIs and storage, then pass on the specifications and sketches to provide them with a solid foundation to start creating.
Step 11 - Create your skins for your UI and feedback on the cycle
Based on the feedback gathered from the user and stakeholders developers can now convert your prototypes' screen and interaction into high-quality skins. Developers could choose to use a backend service such as Kinvey as well as to enhance their front-end development using SDK tools like Adobe PhoneGap. Integration of data storage and integration with server-side logic, and versions should be the main focus of the work as regards the back end. for front-end use, prototype screens are hard-coded into the user interface.
Whatever technology the team behind development employs, it is crucial to remain a user-centric approach and to incorporate feedback from the users received up to this point.
When it comes to the management of your team's development, agility is the key word to remember. To remain agile, the development team must focus on the flexibility of their team, quick change-response times techniques, iterative methods and collaboration with customers. The team can be organized in Scrum sprints to meet these goals of development However, be aware that Scrum can have some issues of its own... regardless of how you structure it your development process, iterative design and user experience remain central to the process.
Step 12 - Test the user... and again
In the final stages, you should have your mobile application fully developed and ready to go with no fake content and brimming with refined UI elements. However, before you're overly exuberant, it's time to do another round of user testing on all devices, and with a variety of users. If the project isn't able to raise enough funds to conduct this test of users There are several options available: contact a "user marketplace" such as ATryBox and ask them to find appropriate user groups to run tests, or employ an app for testing such as Validately as well as Framer.
If you're looking to be creative in user testing, here are a lot of options that aren't expected from triaging to drinking testing.
Iterative prototyping is an effective tool in your mobile app development services. From the importance of users and user stories to back-end and front-end tools, as well as final user testing, each project has to go through certain gates along the way to realization and release. These markers can be helpful in organising both your work and expectations however, every mobile development project is alike. By employing tools and methods that enable your team to be both flexible, collaborative and imaginative and collaborative, you'll be able to create apps that are responsive to the requirements of your users and deliver amazing UX.