I opened my eyes and saw the true value of project design

App screen used here is a part of H&H portfolio

Imagine a project. Basically, any project that involves any type of IT development. It can be web or mobile service with various features, but in general everybody will tell you that the coding part is the most important one. Everything else is an addition.

Do you support this idea? Well, actually I was. Before I became part of the mobile development team, I thought that the development and coding stages are the only stages I need to care. I declined the importance of project design whatsoever.

Than I was blessed with a knowledge of how I was wrong.

In general, almost every client sees project design stage of development as s hilarious part of working that you cannot take serious. Just imagine a group of people (team on a project) in head protectors that are staying around the building sketches with too thoughtful look on their faces, and you’ll get the joke.

Well, sometimes it’s not so off base, actually, but Rome wasn’t built in a day also.

UX design prototyping

When I tell our clients about project design stage, I usually tell them that this is a most important time to price in the top-priority and complex functionality of the project. If you don’t master this part, the all project will be in the end are just beautiful words and talks.

I wasn’t aware of it, but I opened my eyes one morning with a statement in my head saying that project design is no less important than coding. Let me show this in several steps. Of course, I’ll support my vision with an example from real practice.

So, the core of great project design is a detailed brief made for client on a pre-sale stage. Many sin with frustrated expectations, that is why the early project design is a blessing. For example, you wanted a hoarse, but you get a camel designed. Nobody wants that, isn’t it? To create the expected we are asking our clients to answer in rich details everything about his project goal and values.

Sometimes client doesn’t have answers because he tries to think as a businessman instead of an end-user. From such views and (it’s not a secret!) desires to spend less money we get the apps that are totally useless. For example, the client has his own beauty center and wants to get the Uber for hairdressers. In such case the client doesn’t understand that Uber is a different story where you don’t need to get acquainted with your driver. The only thing you need is a fast service with no attachments. So, beauty salon is not exactly a category where you don’t need clients’ loyalty.

In this example I’m not sure that I’ve ever wanted to trust a complete stranger with my hair, nails or etc.

This is just the most vivid example why right from the start, even before sealing the deal, we need to talk with client in details about his challenges and offer our solutions. Afterwards, when we understand that we are walking the same road, we can form the preliminary functionality and tell the client how it will be looking in the end. The main thing is to say from the very beginning what is going to be included in the app and what is not.

Later, when everything goes according to plan, the art-director steps on stage. On this part of the project we put every bit of our magic into prototype (interface and logic included) to create a god blessed thing.

It means that we create a prototype that will be ideal for store later, will be based on team comments and will have every characteristic of business and client desires taken in mind.

Inner kitchen of the project states that we are (when we are talking about project made from scratch) demonstrating our vision and support it later on.

Unfortunately, if you give too much freedom to the client’ expertise, you can get the completely horrifying thing in the end. It’s usual for client to want more — more color, features or screens. Still, more is not better in this case, that is why while demonstrating a prototype we are selling our expertise wrapped in current business specifics, but we are not selling the client desirable structure. It’s better to fight for the mission that states — we can create something even better than you have ever dreamed about. And it’s really important to fight for this vision.

When the battle is over and the prototype was сoordinated, we create a visual concept of design. During this part of project design we create different concepts that we show to client in order to get his feedback and make the corrections needed. Usually it takes three iterations to get the final design. I’m being asked often what happens if after these three iterations the desirable concept still won’t be here. My answer is simple, the main goal of design team is to find the most optimal decision for your current goals and client needs to put trust in their expertise.

Afterwards we move to drawing the layouts. Usually we show several versions of layout to the client and share the information about processes on the project if he is curious or worried. We also can re-do some things due to client’ suggestions, but we are not implemented the whole bunch of desirable additions appearing, we just add small details that are really important for the client and his business.

The last part is not actually the least one. When the designing is done we create an interactive prototype and show it to the client. Afterwards, we confirm the whole functionality of an app and start to create a technical documentation together with developers. The developers come on stage only there, but, as you saw, the earlier steps were also important.

We have an iGooods project right now that can tells you more about the importance of project design and prototypes. iGooods is a very convenient service for food delivery from Prisma, Lenta and Metro supermarkets in Saint-Petersburg. It asked us to perform a complex task to develop a new mobile product that will bring new audience to their service and evolve their brand philosophy with a help of a clever design. Well, we didn’t reinvent the wheel on this project. All the features available were took from the existing web-service of the client and adapted to mobile apps for iOS and Android.

We conducted extensive work in our team to develop all user scenarios and make them convenient for future embodiment.

We didn’t use any templates on the project. For every element we used all 100 percent of our expertise and created several versions of every screen to find the most suitable concept. Only then we were giving our design concept to the client to agree upon.

As you understand, the importance of project design comes together with a systematization. It makes the project go smoothly with less bugs afterwards and saves clients’ time and money. So, if you’re still sleeping and dreaming only about code being good, wake up. Wake up like me and take some effort to invest in some great project design also.