Collaboration is leading in the mobile application development process. When it involves all stakeholders, it allows the integration of all unique points of view and knowledge so that the final product is as good as possible. It is especially important in the initial stages of the project, when the client has presented his idea and it must become a concept. Here we will look at some of the main ways to collaborate between the developer team and the client. It is good for the managers of companies ordering the development of a mobile application to know them so that they can be as productive as possible.
These two types of goals are always different, and it is the job of the mobile app developer to find common ground between them, so to be able to be achieved simultaneously. First of all, they must be clearly defined, as they will be based on a large part of the decisions during the formation of the conceptual design of the application.
Take an example with a news mobile application. The main goal of users is to learn the latest news quickly and in detail. Secondly, they want to look at photos and videos from the event in addition to reading the article. The main goal of the business, in this case the media, is to attract a certain number of consumers. Secondly, it wants to generate a profit of a certain amount based on the chosen monetization model.
When the client turns to a developer and does not have clearly defined goals, specialists can help to specify them in the form of consultation through a specially designed method that is easily applicable. Through it, you focus on how the path to the goal can be traced and walked. This creates real and achievable goals.
Let's look at this method, based on five components:
Very often the client comes to the developer only with an idea for a mobile application. In order for the idea to be shaped more specifically and to make the most of the business knowledge, the developer can conduct an exercise for business assumptions. It focuses on the following main aspects:
- Who are the consumers;
- Problems experienced by users;
- The proposed solution;
- Channels for winning customers;
- The chosen business model;
- Market environment and competitors;
- Product risks and business assumptions.
These are many and important points of reference that can be presented in detail and schematically. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a questionnaire. It is good to provide it to different members of the client's team without prior discussion. If you work with a specialized project consultant to develop your mobile application, you can count on support in marketing research, which is mandatory in cases where there is no pre-generated data on which to base the answers to the questions.
The collected data are processed and analyzed, and then the analysis is used to detail the concept. Having a good idea of what consumers want and what the market conditions are, the development team can reduce market risk by a deeper understanding of product assumptions and the use of special methodologies for their testing.
Simply put, these are virtual users of the future mobile application, in which the generalized characteristics of the target audience of the application are woven. They include not only demographics, but also the problems that people want to solve, their expectations and their behavior. By using user personas, the most effective solution can be built.
And this method is based on collaboration between the teams of the developer and the client, the latter concentrating on the submission of the necessary information. It can come both from data generated by the business and from a purposeful survey among potential users of the mobile application. When summarizing in order to build user personas, the data are usually divided into four groups:
- Personal characteristics;
- Situation and environment in which consumers find themselves;
- Problems to solve;
- What users need that the application can offer.
Usually all specialists from the development team make sketches with which they offer their ideas about the interface and functionalities of the mobile application. They can be drawn by hand or with special software. Representatives of the client's team also participate in the collaborative sketching. They share their vision and the designers turn it into sketches.
All finished sketches are collected, discussed and evaluated together, selecting the most valuable ones on which to base the conceptual design. The opinions of all participants are important during the discussion, and it should be well organized in order to be as productive as possible. There are usually about three rounds of discussion and screening of the sketches, but there may be more if necessary. Another important aspect is that the number of participants who actually make decisions is small.
The sketches are used to build a prototype of the future mobile application. In general, it shows the user's path and how the "raw" application will work. It does not have detailed elements of visual design, such as colors.
Once the high-precision prototype is available, one can consider the vision of the mobile application, which is also of great importance for the user experience. The participants in the client's team can also be actively involved in this task. This is even recommended, as designers will have a better idea of how they see the business when they start their actual work.
An easy to apply method of collaboration is to present about 15 examples of visual design, whose styles are as different as possible. Each is displayed within about 20 seconds individually as part of a presentation. The short time allows to capture the natural impulsive reaction of each participant in the working group, which is very close to that of the users when they open an application for the first time. The task of the participants is to rate each example, and the scale may be typical for ratings - from one to five, with five being the highest rating. The style with the highest overall score wins. It must, of course, be discussed, and the feedback provided serves to refine the details of the visual design.
The elements on each screen must be carefully selected and arranged. The layout largely determines how convenient the mobile application will be. The method by which a choice can be made together with the client's representatives is close to that for choosing an application style. However, the display of possible options is longer and accompanied by explanations, so that non-specialists can understand the importance of the layout for the user experience. The feedback is more than valuable.
The methods discussed here for collaboration between the teams of the developer and the client within the project for the development of a mobile application are only part of the ones used. They can be modified or replaced with others that lead to the same result - an interactive prototype of the mobile application, approved by the customer, and guidelines for visual design and layout of screens, set based on his preferences. From now on, the developer's team deals with the implementation of the concept - building the application and putting it on the market.
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