User Experience Analysis and Wireframe Sprint
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User experience sounds like a bit of a challenge for anyone trying to build an app. After all, aren’t we all different? Don’t we all get different experiences from using an app?
It turns out that the answer to these questions is: no, we aren’t all that different. In reality, what humans experience when using an app is so predictable that it is something that we can study, model, and apply to any design process.
In this guide, we will introduce the concept of usability and what it means to make an app “user friendly”.
We’ll explain how a development team carries out user experience analysis and wireframe Sprint, and why this is the best approach to use when building a mobile app.
What Does User Experience Mean?
User experience is all about the good or bad experience an individual has when using an app on their phone or tablet.
Here are some examples:
- Is the app easy to use?
- Does the app feel satisfying to use?
- Is the app fast?
- Does the app do the functions expected of it?
- Does the app have the features expected in it?
- What happens when a user runs into a problem?
These are just some examples, but there are many questions an app designer might ask themselves when considering usability. Fundamentally, user experience is about striving to build an app that people like, enjoy, and will use repeatedly.
User Experience Analysis
User experience analysis is the process that design teams go through to determine how to make an app user friendly.
At its heart, user experience analysis is about predicting human behaviour. It’s about using data and modelling to discover common patterns in how people click through an app.
This predictive methodology forms the framework for user experience analysis. It will start by asking the question: “What do users expect in this app?”
The closer that expectations match reality, the better the user experience.
Achieving this goal requires time and effort to understand exactly what those expectations are, but that time is well spent. Get usability wrong, and an app is likely to suffer from poor engagement, slow uptake, and negative reviews.
User Experience and Mobile App Development
When a development team is building a mobile app, how does user experience analysis fit into this process?
To start with, user experience is something that stretches the full life cycle of product development. It’s as important to app development as testing.
Though development teams do most of the heavy lifting in user-centered design upfront before releasing an app, it’s just as important in any future release.
In the highly competitive world of mobile apps, the goal with useability is to continuously strive for the most engaging app experience imaginable.
Usability is more than just a tick in the box for mobile app development. There are many factors to consider when it comes to how best to achieve usability in a new app.
Here is what best practice means when it comes to usability in mobile app development:
Start With a BASIC Framework
UX Magazine set out a useful acronym to outline the key features that a useable app should aim for:
- Beauty: Is the app beautiful in design?
- Accessibility: Can anyone use the app?
- Simplicity: Is it simple to navigate?
- Intuitiveness: Is it easy to use?
- Consistency: Does the app work as expected throughout?
These five features are a helpful starting point if the concept of usability is new to you.
Design a Great Start Sequence
The start sequence of an app, or the customer onboarding journey, can be a make-or-break moment. It’s the first touchpoint for the user once they’ve downloaded an app.
Spending time during the design process to create a seamless starting sequence. It introduces the app, sets expectations, and provides a lightweight help feature. These factors combined should impress a new user.
Creative Beautiful Visual Cues
Users expect apps to look beautiful. This goes back to one of the main principles of user experience, which is all about managing the user’s expectations of the app.
Great usability is about creating an app that has stylish visual buttons to guide the individual along in how they use the app. It helps improve ease of use, which ultimately helps the app feel seamless.
The golden rule when it comes to navigation is to never reinvent the wheel. Users have come to expect certain functionality to be in a particular area of the screen.
User experience analysis looks at best practices in navigation. It ensures that the layout of buttons and menus are where they should be, and work exactly how users expect them to work.
Continuously Test for Errors
Having a fully functioning app free from errors and bugs is the foundation of good design. Designing a useable app means predicting the types of problems users might run into, such as common input errors when typing names and addresses.
User Experience and Wireframe Sprint
Even with a clear understanding of what it means to have a useable app, how does a development team go about making this a reality?
This is where a technique called wireframing comes in. Cutting-edge development companies adopt a method known as Sprint.
What Is Wireframing?
Wireframing is the process of visually crafting the user journey for a new app.
A wireframe design is an outline of each screen of an app. However, there are no branding or design elements in wireframes; it focuses on functionality only.
This step of visualizing functionality on screen, without the beauty or intricacy of branded design, is important in user experience analysis. It helps the design team focus solely on whether or not the app is fit for purpose.
Wireframing is often done on paper rather than using tools and software apps. This traditional approach allows architects to easily make changes.
It is often said that the brain visualizes better when seeing the design on paper rather than on a screen. In fact, even big companies such as Google use the paper approach.
Companies often adopt atomic design principles.
Atomic design follows a chemistry model. Design teams approach the wireframe construction like the building blocks of atoms in nature, putting together features of the website bit by bit until they form a coherent whole.
Rapid Product Development
One of the big advantages of wireframing an app is that you can make progress on the functionality and user journey very quickly. Design architects can quickly mockup a wireframe in hours, without any coding or branded design needed.
This is highly beneficial to achieving a great end product. Teams can make hundreds of tweaks to improve an app’s usability before a single line of code is written.
The wireframe is a useful way to mimic the user journey, step by step, to discover any flaws in the layout.
But there is another important element in making wireframing a fast and effective aspect of mobile app development, and that is known as the Sprint.
What Is a Sprint?
The term Sprint comes from the development framework known as Agile Scrum.
Agile was the brainchild of leading developers who wanted to find a more fast-paced, results-driven development process that had a strong emphasis on continuous improvement.
The word Sprint is part of the terminology used by the Scrum method. This is a specific methodology for applying the principles of Agile development to a project.
Agile Scrum is focused on an iterative design and build process. To start, the product owner outlines the product requirements. A development team will then work together to determine the order of the build.
When the team is ready, work starts within a time-boxed event called a Sprint. Sprints are typically one-month long and are characterized by intense and focused activity to get a subset of the product ready for release.
During that time, the team works collaboratively. App testing takes place in parallel with the development, meaning that problems are found and addressed early in the development process.
What Is a Wireframe Sprint?
A wireframe Sprint is a method to rapidly create a first-draft prototype of a mobile app, centred around usability.
During a wireframe Sprint. a wireframe architect or designer works on sketches of how the app should look.
As this is wireframing, no time is spent on design and branding. These outlines are purely functionality driven, such as buttons, headings, and navigation routes through the app.
User Experience Analysis And Wireframe Sprint for projects
During this Sprint process, the team will look at user behaviour to model the likely paths someone will take when they are on the app. Since these are quick and basic sketches, it allows the team to make hundreds of modifications to the design very rapidly.
The wireframe approach means that the architect team can easily try out the user journey repeatedly. This helps to fine-tune the usability in a very short space of time.
Sprints always have a narrow, defined goal, and when it comes to the design process wireframing sits well within this model. Sprint aims to get the mobile app designed in its most raw form.
That way, before any branding or coding takes place, the team has already completed the difficult challenge of figuring out how the entire app fits together in a way that is usable and enjoyable for their customers.
Benefits of This Approach
Wireframe Sprints are the optimal way to develop a mobile app. Here are some of the key benefits.
Wireframe Sprints are one of the fastest ways to develop a new app.
The ability to simply get experienced minds together and put pen to paper means that work can begin without having to create large requirements documents or expensive brand outlines.
It Catches Problems Early
Not all design ideas are viable. In many new developments, something that seems like a fantastic idea won’t work once the functionality is there on the screen and tested.
It is far cheaper and quicker to figure out these problems (and solve them) during a rapid wireframing of a mobile app than to build the entire app and discover that it does not work as intended.
The Customer Gets Early Visibility of the End Product
By outlining the structure of the app on paper before it is built, the customer can see if their vision is completely in line with the design company before work starts on the app.
Customers, designers and developers will always have different ideas and suggestions as to what a great app should look like. By working so closely together at this stage, the app benefits from everyone’s input in a simple and low-risk way.
It Focuses On Customer Experience
In traditional development models, the customer is at the endpoint of the development journey.
In this approach, what the customer experiences throughout the development and the lifecycle of the project, and their satisfaction during the process, is central to this model.
It Encourages Innovation
Only by creating a wireframe and walking through a user journey can a team get a true picture of what that app does and how effective it is.
This is a unique opportunity to bring new ideas into the development. A wireframing Sprint is often a rich place for ideas and innovations to flourish. That can help take the app from functional to exceptional.
Often, the best innovations are the ones that are stripped down to their basics.
By following Agile Scrum processes and using a wireframe Sprint, the customer has the opportunity to build an early release of their mobile app. Then they can get it out on the market while further features are developed for the future.
Sprints provide the opportunity to look at ways in which you can differentiate your product from everything else currently on the market.
In a competitive environment such as mobile apps, being able to differentiate your product is important if you want a successful launch.
Does Your Mobile App Idea Need This Approach?
It’s easy to see how attractive a wireframe Sprint can be if you want to launch a highly useable and popular app. User experience analysis and wireframe Sprint is at the leading edge of app development.
If your mobile app idea is something that you want to become a game-changer, then this is a process you can use to your advantage.
To find out more about the process and what we can do to support you, book a free consultation call. We’re here to discuss your mobile app needs and our rapid development approach to turn your idea into a winning app.