creating beautiful apps: getting help

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New to app development? However skilled you are in software design and development, there will be times when you will need to draw on outside expertise. Involving others can also provide a useful additional perspective, ensuring that potential issues and bugs are picked up.

Once you’re confident in your idea, you’ll be itching to get started on the design and development – so that you can get your app to market as soon as possible and bask in the kudos. Seriously, though, getting customer feedback is key to making sure your app is the best it can be.

Getting an app to market quickly means completing key stages in the creation process efficiently. Having a clear design and development plan is crucial, as will be having access to the right skills and resources at each point along the way.

Don’t be too proud – or possessive – to ask for help. No one can do everything well and, as the old adage goes, it’s better to be a master of one trade than a jack of all. So be realistic about your own strengths and limits and be prepared to ask for assistance when needed.

Preparing to collaborate

Start by defining what skills you have and how these fit into the app development lifecycle. Identify where you have any gaps in knowledge so that you can start lining up suitable support.

Next, document your app idea, including as much detail as possible about how you think it will work. This will help you get across your vision accurately to other members of the team so you’re all on the same page.

Defining where you will need help

These are the main stages of a typical app project, giving you the opportunity to predict any additional resources you will need at each point:

1. Requirements definition

This is where you sketch out what your application will do and the technical requirements involved in making this happen. That includes defining the user journey within the app, and how all of the content and features will work together. It’s important to get this right – you should allow 2 to 3 weeks to define and refine your thinking.

2. Creative elements – design & wording

Design

Designing an app’s data storeis as much an art form as the visual design, so don’t focus on one at the expense of the other. The relationship between the data and the front-end user experience is crucial to the performance of the app.

The app must be designed to perform efficiently, taking full advantage of the underlying technology platform.

For a sleek and engaging look and feel to the app, a strong visual designis vital too. Your choice of logo, colour scheme and special effects will make all the difference in ensuring your app is eye-catching and immediately identifiable as users browse through the given app catalogue. Clean and simple may be best, but make sure you harness the input of a design expert, and test your design on target users.

Design skills needed, then, will include:

  • Application database design: to establish and optimise the inter-relationships between your app’s content and features, and ensure you have the optimal set up for the technology platform used by your target device
  • Apps design: for visual branding and page designs

For resources specific to designing Windows 8 apps, take a look at:

You can also find further useful links in the resources section below.

Wording

While a good graphic can be worth 1,000 words, there will be at least some written content in any app, and the way this comes across contributes significantly to the user experience. Make sure you apply the same creativity and flair to the wording of any instructions and content displayed to the user as you have to the visual elements.

Although you may know exactly what you want to say, working with someone who’s good with words will lift the user experience, getting the personality and tone of voice of the app absolutely right. The smaller the screen, the fewer words you’ll be able to use to have an impact, so make each one count.

Any professional copywriter should be able to help, but web and even specialist appcopywriters will have good experience of creating attention-grabbing content in the space of just a few words. A good port of call may be someone who specialises in delivering pithy 140-character Twitter posts on behalf of their clients.

Try a directory like http://www.freelance-writers.co.uk/.

Testing

Testing your app thoroughly is vital to ensure absolute quality and a good first impression when the product hits the market. This is something you should NOT try to do in isolation as it will be impossible to pick up all the bugs yourself.

When getting help, seek out:

  • A technical QA – to identify and log any glitches that impact the user experience or back-end processes.
  • An editorial QA – to ensure user-facing content makes sense, is grammatically correct and reads well.

Sourcing professionals

Investing in individuals can be expensive but can ultimately save you time and minimise mistakes. The best resource will be someone believes in your app, rather than someone who’s motivated solely for the money. Find people who are passionate and experts in their field.

Good places to start your search include online tech communities like Generation App, events and social networks like Linked In. Have at it!

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview

 

RESOURCES

 

Published by Johnny Raper

Johnny is a London-based front-end developer, who enjoys writing semantic code and making pages look pretty. He has a design and e-learning background and is far too pixel-perfect for his own good! Aside from web development he also has a penchant for music and photography.

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