Behind the Effective App Design5 September 2016
As a web and mobile development agency, we are often asked to provide code for pre-existing designs. Having the work done by an in-house designer, a web design agency, or a freelancer seems to be a new trend in the business.
This is understandable. An in-house designer is usually most familiar with brand guidelines, a skilled freelancer saves money, and design agencies post so bright works that it’s hard to resist the temptation of ordering one.
Still, all those three options have a common pitfall which we’re facing more and more often.
The design-development bottleneck
Imagine that you’re building an app for iOS and Android with an in-house designer or a design agency. The graphics look fine, user flow seems to be thought-out, but… surprise, the toolbar is not fit for Android.
Having found that out, an agency like ours will address you with this issue and wait until your design side finds the time to fix it. In the meantime, it appears that there are problems with certain actions such as data submission or confirmation. Even if developers report about all such issues in a batch, there is still a chance to discover some more. More problems mean more time for communication and fixes.
Time passes, and it becomes evident that you need either to postpone the release or speed up the development stage, which is risky for a number of reasons.
This doesn’t mean that your designer is unprofessional. Rather, just as we observed in our previous post, iterations are only natural. Though you can’t avoid the bottleneck, there is still a way to minimize the time loss.
Web design as a kitchen
Web design seems to be all rules and trends, all utility and universal laws. In reality, it often isn’t. Let’s just google some mobile design trends for an experiment.
Flat design looks obviously reasonable in the mobile world. It’s trendy, uncluttered, and takes no time to load. UXPin, supported by Awwwards, recommends it as one of the top trends of 2015 and 2016.
Okay, Google. The first search results for flat design are all positive, but occasionally you can still spot a skeptical opinion such as in the article of Oliver McGough (of Usabilla, an agency catering for such customers as Nike and CNN).
As all the people, designers can be subjective. They follow or neglect trends just to create an image of themselves, and everybody has his or her understanding of the use of common web design patterns. It’s like different cooks in the same kitchen.
That’s why, when you assign a design task to a person or group of people separate from the development agency, in a sense, you’re outsourcing it two times instead of one. Designers have their understanding of how web design works; developers may have a different perspective. Each of the times you outsource the task will require its own time to negotiate, cope with the learning curve, and adjust some management practices.
The conclusion it simple: if you outsource the project, we’d recommend outsourcing it once and fully.
Opt for the all-in-one solutions
Despite of the outsourcing trend, wise customers prefer engaging developers on every stage of building their apps. Harvard Business Publishing chose WillowTree to both design and develop their iPad app. Metalab worked on design together with the client when developing the famous Slack mobile app.
Such teams as The Weather Channel even turn to outsourcing after years of unsuccessful in-house work.
From our own experience, outsourcing both design and development of your app can save you weeks of work. You have seamless workflow just because your UI/UX designer and developer have the same working standards. Why not spare yourself of headache now?