In Justinmind’s latest guest post, NexGenDesign Managing Partner Anastacia Novikova reveals common web or app development pitfalls, and how prototypes can solve communication problems.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a 1000 meetings”
Today, developing a winning product demands successful collaboration between developer, designer, product owner and customer.
Just like a basement for your house, a prototype constitutes the very first steps of developing an outstanding product. A prototype reveals how the app or website will be navigated and interacted and gives a general impression of a project. Putting it all together, creating a prototype is a tough job that demands deep involvement of both a customer and a development team.
Through the variety of prototypes for the entertainment, healthcare, restaurant and sports industries NexGenDesign has delivered, we’ve learnt the true value of a smooth communication process between the customer and the team. We love to see ideas come to life quickly and that’s why prototyping is so much fun for us. Unfortunately, a quick and smooth mobile app launch is a pipe dream for most business-owners. What are the challenges of getting your prototype developed smoothly?
1. You fail to manage the team workflow for both technical and non-technical team members
Both customers and development teams love to have prototypes: they’re like a bridge helping both of them clearly understand each other and a powerful tool that brings all their ideas together.
But today, the borders between UI/UX specialists, developers, designers and even managers are often blurred, resulting in a messy communication process, delays and even going over budget.
Avoid miscommunication by making sure everyone’s clear on their roles and responsibilities. Briefly speaking, there are several roles with specific responsibilities for every person involved with a typical software design project:
The Software Architect is who your prototype’s development starts with. He chooses the technology, bears responsibility for applying a particular technology and is also responsible for all the technical headaches on a particular web/mobile app project. The Software Architect is managed by the Project Manager.
The Project Manager is responsible for on-time delivery of the project. He should make sure the product looks and works as it is supposed to. The PM reports directly to the Product Owner.
The Product Owner is the person who provides initial requirements for the project. In most cases he’s the paying customer or his representative. Normally, the PO is able to understand the whole technical side of a project and is even ready to interfere with the coding if needed.
The UI/UX Designer is someone who is capable of translating the initial idea of a project into a user-friendly interface. The designer should be able to understand the capabilities of every technology previously chosen by the Software Architect so that implementation of the prototype to a real product goes smoothly.
If everyone sticks to his responsibilities, reports bugs at every stage of a project and delivers on time – there won’t be any mess or missed deadlines.
Developing a prototype may seem to be a one-man job. But the reality is quite the opposite. You need to be deeply involved and know your role at every stage.
2. You change the common user experience patterns
Sometimes design experiments with navigation and interface look promising. But let’s face up to reality: your users end up spending a ton of time on your competitors’ websites instead of yours. That means that if you break any common web or mobile app pattern your users have got used to, chances are high they’ll use your app just once and go away forever. The plain truth for 2016 is that 23% of users abandoned apps after having opened them just once. Bad UI/Ux inevitably plays a role in such high abandonment rates.
To keep users engaged, pay attention to industry-specific interface features and maintain them within your project as well. Avoid making users think hard or look for the needed page too long. Remember, links should look like links, buttons should look like buttons and be situated in appropriate places. Sign in/login should be placed in the right upper corner of the web-page, etc.
3. Customers are not involved enough into the process of developing a prototype
No one likes to have a crowd of people on Skype meetings or on emails. But you have to convince your customer to take an active role at the communication and goal-setting stage of the project. This way you’ll be more likely to develop something that your customer expected you to deliver.
Share every step of the project with them, invite them to every meeting, ask for feedback and find out if there are any changes your customer wants to implement. When you have the final prototype, ask the customer to share it with friends and colleagues and get back to you asap with any changes.
4. Improperly organized prototype development process
As the quote in the beginning emphasizes, getting a workable prototype is worth 1000 meetings. Perhaps, depending on the project, you’ll need to communicate a lot. Our customers often choose to hire remote development teams for their projects, and making a prototype is among the first steps in their collaboration. To tell the truth, there’s no magic pill for overcoming the time difference if you live in the USA and decided to hire a team from Eastern Europe. You also won’t be able to see your team every morning to check in on your project and will feel some culture clash. There’s no way your remote team will be able to get rid of their accent and speak English just like a native American.
But none of these aspects are critical in terms of your team’s competence, code quality and result. Here’re some quick tips on what you can do about the communication process:
- Set daily/weekly meetings to check progress.
- Set a time when both you and your team are available for urgent issues.
- Use time-tracking/project management software, just so you can keep your eye on the ball.
4 software development pitfalls – the takeaway
As a final thought, we always emphasize the importance of communication between the team and a customer. Based on projects delivered by NexGenDesign teams we’ve found that a prototype plays a pivotal role in getting precisely the project you or your customer were looking for. And in order to get a working product, you need to avoid the pitfalls and make good on that promise to make prototypes worth 1000 meetings.