Mobile Development and App Design Tools for the Non-Technical Founder

So you want to create your own start-up. This has been your dream for a long time, but you have been hesitant as you see all these large and rising start-up founders with rich, technical backgrounds.

So you procrastinate on following your ambitions.

“I mean how could I compete with people like that with no technical experience of my own?”

Impekable’s non-technical owner and operator Pek Pongpaet manages a good chunk of the projects at Impekable for clients from the start-up level to Fortune 500 companies such as HP and Google. It is feasible to manage multiple technical projects without a technical co-founder contrary to what many would have you believe.

If you are not familiar with managing projects or technical teams, I strongly suggest you read up on Scrum (software development) and Agile software development but that’s a rabbit hole in it of itself.

Here are some of the tools that we use at Impekable to help us produce our world class design and development work, in no particular order.

Communication Tools

  • Email — If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Lots of people still use email as their primary tool of communication. Trying to move them from this is difficult. That said we use Google Apps for our email.
  • Slack — For team communication. As service providers we have multiple clients and projects going on at the same time. We create a new Slack channel for each project and add all those involved to that channel. We archive inactive projects.
  • Skype — some contractors prefer this over Slack so we use this too. We create group chats in Skype and add parties involved here.
  • Asana — I have to say I love Asana for task oriented things. I’m a todo-list kind of guy and using Asana allows me to assign tasks to people and track them. Communicating over Slack is great for updates, but when it comes to breaking things down into assignable chunks of work, nothing beats Asana.
  • Dropbox / Google Drive — For document sharing, we use a combination of Dropbox and Google Drive. Design files like Sketch files, PSDs, and wireframes are in Dropbox. Files like documents and spreadsheets use Google Drive because we use Google Apps.

Wireframing / Prototyping tools
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when communicating designs to a developer. Rather having reams of documentation, we like to have annotated wireframes and clickable prototypes that developers can see and touch. This eliminates so many ambiguities.

  • Balsamiq — This is the go-to wireframing tool because of it’s simple interface and low learning curve. Anyone can pick it up, especially non-designers and non-technical people.
  • Sketch — Many of our designers have taken to wireframing straight in Sketch. This saves them time for when the wireframes need to be turned into visual design.
  • Invision — This tool is great for quickly putting together a clickable prototype. It requires no technical knowledge. You can string together a series of wireframes and visual designs into what looks and feels like a real app. You can even send it to someone’s phone. The other nice thing about it is clients and different stakeholders can click on any part of the screen and leave feedback.
  • Pixate — This is a great prototyping tool that allows for really fine grain control. You can really simulate the look and feel of an app. However we find that the effort to do this is almost as much as writing the actual code itself. We reserve this for really specific things like showing a particular animation that is hard to describe to developers.

This article was originally posted on Impekable Design Studio’s blog section by Pek Pongpaet.