The first task we faced as a team of developers and one designer ( that would be me) was to redesign the UI for Recorded Books, an audiobooks app for android and iOS called One Click Digital. We conducted our first usability test using wireframes only with pencil and paper, we received feedback from users and…
We had to begin from scratch. The second time around we applied the users comments and the GUI was ready to go…
Or not. The bridge was wide but after a lot of meetings the Developers and I came to an agreement; we talked to the client and to be honest we had a lot of challenges with this app, in the end 20% of the app faced several improvements sacrificing looks for functionality but this was the pioneer project for the designer department and it was a very good start.
Fast forward today.
The task: Develop the GUI for an app only to be used for employees for the amazing guys at MRIS. They were developing a very functional app for data gathering of their Real state properties the GUI was almost non-existent and we were asked to make a graphic proposal.
1.- Step one. Research, we had to find out who exactly was our client, who were their users and how they would use this product. Their goal is simple: fill up property’s data, upload it and update photos from it; the app should be intuitive enough so a lot of training would not be required. We had some meetings and a big requirements document was handed to us, it was time to take action.
2.-Wireframes. The developers sent me some very functional wireframes but they already had in mind. For wireframing I prefer adobe illustrator, we also use more specialized mock up tools but for me it’s a matter of keeping things more organized. Since this project was exclusively targeted at MRIS employees, surveys were not created but using the knowledge of user research so I focused in that to design. I made the choice of using familiar components from normal iOS interface, taking advantage of conventions makes the UI friendlier and takes little time for the user to understand functionality and to complete the task.
3.- Graphic user Interface. We presented the client with the proposal, the client loved it and after some changes (mostly iconography changes) it was ready to go. We had a tight deadline, but with a lot of communication between the dev team, client and me, we were able to successfully complete the quest.
We always listen to the customer’s needs and after all that I always ask for the user’s needs. Since the first project we developed a persona data base, based in possible prospects. We are in the path of incorporating quantitative data to the UX findings using survey tools and online data we find related to the project, but actually we use qualitative data to focus on interaction.
Several projects have come and gone, we have refined our processes and now we also use focus meetings with developers in order to come to faster agreements; it’s always fun because in the end we are fully capable of finding the best solution to the client’s needs, always working with dynamic iterations and finally closing the gap between developers and designers.
You don't have to be an expert as they are coding to work effectively with them but, do try to learn their language and pass on your knowledge to them. Be open to criticism, hear your users and please DO amazing stuff but remember to make it useful. You might fail a few times but don't give up, technologies change and we have to change according to them. Learn what you can of what you like my padawan designer, but never think you have learned it all. Take all the facts into account, type of users, geographical zones, age, expected time to complete the tasks, possibles problems to find, etc. You are designing for the world. May the force be with you!