Mobile app designers typically have a favorite phase of the design process. For many, the ideation phase stands out. You can just open your mind to new ideas, explore infinite possibilities and let your imagination do the legwork. This is the one moment of the creative play you can use to the maximum, and hardly anyone complains about it.
App development ideas come in different ways and from different directions. One size doesn’t fit all. You can adopt multiple scenarios for brainstorming and testing app ideas. You can do as many exercises – really, there is no limit. But if you don’t want to cut loose and forget about the next steps in the design process of app development, you definitely need some kind of ideation framework to keep you afloat.
Let’s say you’ve been diligent in the research, collected precious data from end users, developed your buyer’s descriptions and journey, and you are now ready to take the next step – a deep dive into ideation.
How should you go forward?
1. Run an Ideation Workshop
Start the process by getting your whole team involved. An ideal way to mix up 360-degree ideas is to invite all members to a team workshop. App designers should take the center spot in this plenary meeting. The rest of the colleagues can get incredibly creative, true, but it’s the designers who get the picture of app development in way unlike others. There hasn’t been a team who couldn’t share an anecdote about the discrepancies between design expectations and reality from people who aren’t in the niche!
Ideation workshops do stick out as invariably creative meetings. At least you won’t see two- thirds of your colleagues with one leg out the door!
Keep in mind that before you run the workshop, you need to spend some time preparing it. Focus on supporting the team to keep to the task at hand, and solve the problem. Provide the research data and set the room. Once this is done, you can open the ideation process by talking about some of the user personas and discussing the problem in more details.
Heat up the atmosphere by setting a time challenge. In case you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, now is as good as ever to try it out. Run 20-minute sessions, and don’t spend too much time on finding faults at the beginning. Just kickstart the ideas and let them snowball into better versions in the following timed sessions.
2. Cast a Vote Using the NUF Test
Collect all ideas and cast a vote. By this time, you can start thinking to involve the wider app development team, and why not, everyone on the company payroll. Post-it notes work perfectly in workshops. Instruct people to write their ideas on sticky notes and to put them on a whiteboard.
Letting the full agency take part in this fun interactive exercise really makes all the difference for positive teamwork atmosphere. However, the main objective of the workshop is to apply these innovative app development tricks and solve the user problem. This will help you nail it – to quicken the pace of the final choice, use the NUF test.
Take the prevailing ideas and rate them on a scale from 1 to 10, on the basis of three basic (NUF) criteria – innovation, usefulness and feasibility:
- N: Is this a brand new idea or one used before?
- U: Does the idea solve the user problem without creating a new one?
- F: Can it be implemented without unthinkable resources?
Obviously, the decision made by this popular vote can be measured and removes plenty of the ideation concerns from the gestation process.
3. Go for Pen and Paper Prototypes
Even when you are a digital prototyper per se, pen and paper prototyping can add extra value that can take you back to early-age creative processes.The extra zing of pen and paper may arise from the fact that you are making use of your intuitive brain, which usually stays dormant when you prototype on a computer.
It’s also chance to get clients concentrate on the process more than on the visual impact, as well as draw a line or two. This can be considered only if you like partnering up during the app development with whoever is pulling the strings for the final call.
Paper design may not be perfect. Yet, this is not something you should worry about at this stage since the next steps will make those imperfect sketches better.
4. Dive into Detailed Design with Wireframing
Although many users think that mobile app developers just sit and play with wireframes all day long, this is certainly not true. This may be the impression due to the numerous simple and affordable wireframing tools that can be accessed with ease, even if you are a beginner designer.
Once you get that ideation and sketch done, ready-made drag-and-drop wireframes make the rest of the process pretty simple.
In fact, the ‘meat and the potatoes’ of app development has a lot to do with the previous stages, and less to do with beautification. If you start improving up the visuals too early, you can spend valuable hours on recreating the content and the structure later. Make a solid layout for these crucial app development elements and save the makeup for the end.
One more reason why you wouldn’t want to mix up visuals with content is that of feedback. The ‘work in progress’ tag can affect the subsequent versions of the mobile app. Make it work for you by clearing any confusion before you draw down the curtain.
If you’ve come up so far in the process of app development – congratulations! You are way over the ideation process and may have even come up with a ready product. In practice, however, coming up with a product takes a bit longer, despite the fact how awesome the idea was and how talented your app developer friends turned out to be.
You still need to do some testing and check the performance of the app in the real world. But, if you’ve set up a clear ideation framework, at least you got a basic tool to make that stage of the design process right.