Our app design journey Step 1: The idea

A blog series that documents two designers’ approach towards designing an app. Warning, this post contains an unhealthy amount of bullet point lists.

My partner and I love finding solutions to the things that frustrate us, but if those solutions aren’t quick and easy to implement, they get put aside and gather dust. We decided to brush the dust off of our neglected ideas and design one of them, because…

What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world. -Simon Sinek

Okay, so we’re not planning to change the world with this project, just design something that makes peoples’ lives a bit easier.

We both come from digital design backgrounds (me in UI and Adrien in UX) and are passionate about what we do. So, we decided that we would use this project as a chance to get acquainted with Material design by designing an app for Android.

Before discussing ideas, the first thing we did was define our product mission statements to help us keep our design process focused and on track. They are:

  1. Meaningful. We are creating a product that solves a problem.
  2. Desirable. We are designing a product that appeals to users.
  3. Feasible. We are designing a product that is feasible to build.

Over the next few days we gave our brains a chance to recall some of our ideas that we discussed in the past, as well as adding some new ones into the mix. When it came to the weekend we found ourselves in the pub discussing each app idea against our three product mission statements. This helped us to decide which ones we would take forward into a rapid idea generation session.

In our rapid idea generation session each idea got 15 minutes worth of discussion, idea generation and crude wireframing. The goal isn’t to solve the problems, but to see which solutions feel like they have the most potential. Granted, at this stage we are making decisions based on our intuition, but further down the line we can define whether or not there is a need for this product and change course if need be. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves at this stage as that can kill momentum.

Historical reenactment

We ran over for two of the ideas (one that we couldn’t stop generating ideas for, the other we struggled to generate any ideas for). I think it’s okay to break the rules a bit, they are just guidelines to stop you using too much time at this stage and to try and give each idea a fair chance.

So, once the hour (and a bit) was over, we voted for two ideas each. We felt it was important to keep our votes from each other to avoid influencing the other person’s choice, so we wrote them on a piece of paper. There were three possible outcomes:

  1. Two of our choices are the same, in which case we both circle our favourite one of the two and if at that stage we choose the same idea, hurrah, if not then put the two choices in a hat and pull one out.
  2. One of our choices are the same, in which case we do that idea.
  3. None of our choices are the same, in which case we choose one of the other person’s choices, put them in a hat and pull one out.

Luckily we had one choice in common (the idea that couldn’t stop generating ideas for): ‘An app that aids people in finding their ideal area to live in London’.

The idea came from our current struggle to find the perfect area in London to buy a house in. We feel overwhelmed with choosing where to settle and we know we are not alone in feeling this way. It’s no small commitment buying a house, there are so many things to consider: Can we afford a home that suits our needs in this area? What’s the commute to work like? Do we like the area? Is it safe? Will it suit us in 5 years time? And so on.

We have spent a lot of time researching and visiting places and then trying to sort the information we have collected into a way that will be useful for us. We use multiple apps such as: Zoopla, RightMove, Google Maps, Evernote and Google Images to name a few.

In answer to this frustration, we want to design an app that empowers the user to feel like they are making the right choice for them as well as making their process faster and more pleasurable.

So, now we have our app idea. It’s time to start designing it…

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