Approaching your project like a designer can help, says Worry Free Labs Design Principal Jeanie Barker. She suggests keeping these five things in mind:
- Create with purpose. While it can be tempting to build an app just so you can say you have an app, don’t miss the opportunity to do something far more important: solve a problem. (Designers can be exceptionally good at this!) Software – whether for the web or mobile, or both – can be a powerful means for addressing your business’ pain points and the pain points of your customers and/or employees. Even if you think you know what you need and why you need it, begin with:
- A business analysis
- A market analysis
- User research
- Create with empathy. Understanding the needs and feelings of your end user is essential to thinking like a designer, so take everything you gleaned from your analyses and user research (above) and create with that in mind. Let the question “What does the user want/need/feel/expect?” drive most – if not all – of your decisions.
- Collaborate. Designers understand that today's business challenges are often too complex for any one person to solve. You need people from other disciplines to contribute to the conversation – and then build on each other's ideas.
- Think outside of the box – and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. While not every aspect of your app needs to be created from scratch (users want and expect some things to be common across all software, like the envelop icon that prompts an email), apps provide a tremendous opportunity for you to get creative in your problem solving. Just remember, for every one great idea, there can be 10 not-so-great ideas, so get comfortable with both the joy and frustration that can be a part of the process.
- Understand that your app will always be a work in progress. Software is never a “one and done” undertaking. Budgets may force you to sprint toward your ultimate goal one iteration at a time. Changing needs will require updates over time. Technology will evolve (think Alexa and Apple watches) – and you’ll want your app to evolve with it. Embrace the opportunity for evolution!