App Design: Choosing the Right Ingredients

By Thom Smith

Apps, Technical Design, User Experience

I have to confess: I love pizza. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t long for its gooey deliciousness in my mouth. The thing is with pizza though, is that it is easy to get carried away with it. Sometimes the temptation of all that pepperoni, bacon, hamburger, sausage, onions, peppers, olives, hell maybe even anchovies are just too much. Before you know it, I’ve ordered something that looks like the picture above…

That is when something awful happens. I realize that there are too many flavors exploding in my mouth to really appreciate any of them. Did I really need the hot dog crust, fried shrimp, or mayonnaise drizzled over what could have been a perfectly enjoyable meal? Don’t even get me going on how bloated I feel shortly after consuming such an aberration. I hang my head in shame and hold my aching stomach knowing that I have besmirched one of our greatest culinary gifts.

I also love technology. Designing and building apps is something that I am involved with on a daily basis and rivals my aforementioned love of pizza.

The thing is, designing an app is not too much different than ordering the perfect pie. Apps can be a delightful experience that can enhance the lives of their users. They can also be the digital equivalent of a hotdog crusted saucer of mush.

When building an app, the single most important thing to do is to really, truly, define its core purpose. How will the app serve its users in a way that will make their lives easier and make them want to use the app again and again. What are the fundamentals that will create a consistent, easy to use experience that will enhance your brand and make your audience want to connect with it?

This is sometimes easier said than done. A good place to start, though, is to define two sets of rules: your guiding principles and your business requirements. Your guiding principles will act as a written portrait of how you want your app to feel and behave. Your business requirements will dictate all of the key elements that you want to accomplish in order to serve your business and create a high ROI.

Oftentimes, when many different parties are involved with creating these two documents, conflict will arise and adjustments will need to be made in order for these two sets of commandments to live in harmony with one another. It is important to create that harmony prior to actually designing or, even worse, building your app.

Once a good balance has been created between these requirements, designing and building your app will become much easier and more enjoyable. The end product will be something that can enrich your audience’s lives and create a greater connection with your brand.

Ignoring this key stage of app (or pizza) design, however, can generally lead to feature-creep and bloating. This can be a costly mistake that yields an inferior product and an unpleasant taste in everyone’s mouth.