How Much Time Did You Spend on Your Apps Design?

Its your startup’s first minimum viable product (MVP) and you just barely managed to get the product online within your scrappy budget. Spending time and money on a slick user interface (UI) design wasn’t the top priority, a template theme UI did the job. This is the general chain of events for most startups and we’ve made similar decisions at our company as well.

When re-building and re-launching our communication platform over the last 18 months we made a very conscious choice to take a first principles approach with our user interface and user experience design. This was our opportunity to correct many of our initial mistakes and rebuild from the ground up.

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Our older communication platform design

Some of the reasons why revamping our interface and experience had become such Some of the reasons why revamping our interface and experience had become such a necessity:

  • Customer support issues were increasing — not all support issues relate specifically to an apps’ design but these can definitely be reduced by making things easier to navigate and find as well as making helpful guides easily accessible.
  • Customer on-boarding process was not smooth — Sales and support teams had to spend time explaining certain functionality to users which could have been avoided completely.
  • New features were not identifiable — It was difficult to highlight and navigate users to new features that needed more than 1 click to reach.
  • Not all our features were used — Some functionality was never used but was taking up real estate.

Following our first principles approach we went about evaluating all assumptions and basics in order to redesign the new interface and user experience. We followed these steps:

  • Understand our users — we thought we knew our users, but we still took time to interview existing users to understand how they used the platform as well as get their feedback on sections that they had difficulty using.
  • Evaluate Functionality — We actively looked for features and functionality that could be combined with something else or removed completely to free up real estate, de-clutter and simplify the user experience.
  • Mediums — what mediums will your app be primarily be used on web, mobile web, mobile app or all of these? This will determine how the layout and flow is optimized. In our case our primary interface was web and so we optimized for this.
  • Wire frames and flow— We started by building out wire frames for each interface on our app. This allowed us to visualize what the user might see as well as analyze the steps that a user might follow. These also serve as a great way to communicate your thoughts to the designer and determine a clear scope of work.
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The wireframe
  • The Design — We worked with a strong designer with experience in web interface design to bring our wire frames to life. An experienced designer guided us on best practices on layout, colors, fonts, iconography, latest trends and much more.
  • Feedback & Testing — We took time to get feedback even as the design was being created to spot any issues and bottlenecks. Our software development was also involved in this process as they would eventually need to build the design.
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The Final Product

Great design can propel a product to obtain traction and create a viral loop that attracts more customers. No wonder companies such as Apple have design at the forefront of their product development. Great design also creates a strong differentiator and USP from the competition. This was reinforced as customers gave us rave reviews about the new design and also switched to us from alternative providers because of the ease of use of our new platform.

Like all technology products, the first version is never the final version. As we continue to get feedback, our platform develops and features are added the design and experience will need to be improved and re-evaluated. This will help us avoid repeating many of the earlier mistakes and keep in line with our original goals of a simplified, uncluttered user interface and seamless user experience.

Originally posted by Taha Jiwaji on Medium