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“We’re just looking to quickly build a simple app … like UBER.”

These are the exact words we hear at least once a week, from a prospective client that calls us about designing their app.  The irony (and humor) in that statement is that to create an app that is as immediately intuitive and simple for a new user like UBER actually involves highly complicated code architecture and user-testing to minimize unnecessary steps in the app’s User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI).

I think everybody has downloaded more than a few apps that are so difficult to sign up for, onboard, and get started that instead, we chose to just remove the app before wasting any more time.  The same can be said for certain websites that we’ve all encountered; sites which are downright impossible to navigate, or where it’s just continually difficult to find the right button, link or search area that we need during any particular phase of our visit to the site.

To prevent this from becoming the user experience of your next app or website, it’s vital to understand the importance of laying the groundwork during the discovery and ideation phase, as well as in the proceeding UX/UI design phase.  Skipping too fast through these important phases is often the main reason why one app fails miserably, while another in the same category goes viral!

It’s great if you’re ready to work with a design/development firm who can help guide you through the above process, whether that be Epic or another digital agency, but there are several things you can do to create the roadmap for UX/UI success before even engaging someone like us.

The most important thing to remember is “Put it Out There”!  By this I simply mean, tell (and show) as many people as you know how a user will interface with your app.  What are the exact steps they will take in your app to achieve the results you’re trying to deliver. By doing this, you test the assumptions in your head with how others might envision that same user experience.

If it’s a public-facing consumer app, bring all your Facebook and Instagram friends/followers into the fold.  They will also be the most passionate marketers of your app or website when you release your first version. And if it’s an enterprise app for your company, don’t just keep the ideation group within your immediate department or team. Post your ideas on your Intranet.  Query those at the copier. Ask other department heads for a 10-minute favor to present at their next team meeting. Most of all, just Put it Out There!

As you are putting it out there, what are some of the tools you can use to gather more useful feedback? This could be as easy as walking friends, family or co-workers through crude storyboards (i.e., rough sketches of screens to help depict user flow) you might draw up, before even commissioning any official design work.  Later, it could be as involved as beta-testing multiple prototype versions to different sample user groups.  Again, this is something agencies like Epic specialize in, but if you’re not quite ready to take that step, there are also dozens of very affordable UX/UI testing services on the net and in the app stores which can help you quickly obtain a lot of valuable feedback.  Here are just a few, as examples:

There are also free, and practically-free, app and website prototyping software platforms that anyone can learn relatively quickly (a few examples listed below).  Whether it’s your ‘aha’ moment that makes you want to quit your job, or you are the employee tasked with creating a digital solution at your work, creating a quick prototype with a handful of finished screen graphics will go a very long way to getting an investor, or your boss, to approve a full digital engagement with a design firm.

Once you’ve decided you are going to put a prototype together to get feedback or raise money, you’ll want to seed your initial proof-of-concept prototype with some professional looking graphics. Keep in mind, there is no shortage of talented individuals and companies with loads of talent in this department.  This is a win-win route to take in order for you to have at least 5 or 6 key screens to populate your prototype. If you’re still not quite ready to pull the trigger on an engagement with a digital agency, here are just a few examples of places to find good designers at affordable prices:

Even the giants like Facebook, Apple and Amazon often release new features too quickly, before having a sufficient user-testing period.  Millions spent coding, only to see the final release flop under its own terrible user reviews. It’s a financially painful lesson to learn, but one that can usually be avoided.

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