Sunday, July 06, 2014

Planning an iPhone, iPad and Android App - Part 2

Go back to Planning an iPhone, iPad and Android App - Part 1

How to plan and schedule your project

Just like movie directors, app designers use storyboards to plan their projects. Storyboards, in this context, are chronological pictograms showing the progress of a user through a hypothetical app design. This might sound complex, but you’ll know storyboards in their most traditional format: A comic book.

A storyboard will help you to imagine how your user will interact with the app you’re designing, but it is also an invaluable means of communicating to your programmer how you wish the app to function. Get a large sheet of paper and some pens and start drawing frames that illustrate the functionality of your app. Consider where steps can be simplified, reduced, or removed altogether.

Communicating app ideas visually

As an app designer, you are responsible for communicating the concept behind your app with the programmer. This is often a tricky task – not only must you explain the way the app will function, but you must anticipate any potential misunderstandings between you and the programmer. When you complete any design diagrams, ask yourself:

Can this diagram be misinterpreted?

Ask a friend if they understand what you mean. Be sure to annotate diagrams thoroughly and stick to a plain, easily digested language. The diagrams you supply to the programmer will vary from project to project, but here you can see one of the diagrams we used on Alice in New York to explain the physics proposition.

You can see how the instructions are laid on the page, allowing the programmer to quickly get a sense of what is going on in a scene.

Project management and working methods

In our opinion, the best, and cheapest, project management tool is Google Apps. Go and sign up for an account and you get access to a spreadsheet tool that can be used collaboratively to keep track of what stage a project is at. The great thing about Google Spreadsheets is that any user can adjust the wording of a project stage, or mark it as completed – the spreadsheet is then automatically updated for all users. There are much more expensive project management solutions out there, but save yourself a lot of time and money and hit up Google for this free solution. After all, they’re advertising at you all day long; you’re owed some reward on their dime.

Read back to Planning an iPhone, iPad and Android App - Part 2
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