Tag Archives: mobile

gamification in UI UX tubik blog

Gamification in UX. Missions and Challenges.

A life is always full of challenges and that what makes us self-improve again and again. The same pattern works with digital products. When users have challenges to handle and missions to attain, they have reasons to come back to an app or website.

 

In our previous articles, we described the role of gamification (the technique of exerting game mechanics into the non-game environment) in UX. Also, we explored one of the game mechanics called user journey. Today’s article is devoted to a mission and a challenge as two effective gamification elements. Let’s see how they can be applied in a digital product and what solutions they can bring for the efficient UX.

 

Mission and challenge as game mechanics

 

Every game provides missions and challenges to the players so that their journey would be exciting and interesting. People go from one mission to another handling different challenges on their way. Accomplishing the levels players grow from beginners to professionals which helps them feel more confident in the world of this game. These game mechanics have the same effect on apps and websites.

 

Users need the motivation to return to a digital product every day. One of the most powerful motives which move people to do something is a desire to prove that we are able to handle any kind of challenges. So, why not to make a good use of it? Let’s see what mission and challenge are in terms of product UX.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Mission

 

A mission is basically a task which users need to complete. Missions serve as guidelines which help users adapt within a product. People learn how to use an app and improve their skills by accomplishing one mission after another. There are also repeatable missions which can return every day, week, month or any other interval. This kind of game mechanics keeps users motivated and engaged daily and makes them constantly go back to a product.

 

Challenge

 

Challenges can be compared to the stairways which lead users to the end of a mission. In other words, they are mini-tasks which people need to do to complete a major task. For example, users have a mission to gain a new level of user proficiency so that they could have an access to extra features of a product. To complete the task, users have to handle certain challenges such as visiting a website daily during a week.

 

A mission and a challenge are effective game elements motivating people to take an action which can be great tools on the way for UX improvement. To enhance their effect, it may be a good idea to use some kind of rewards, so that users could feel even more motivated.

 

Mission and challenge in digital products

 

To delve deeper into the topic, let’s see some practical examples of how and where missions and challenges can be applied as effective UX boosting tools.

 

home budget app case study

Home Budget app

 

First of all, we need to say that these game mechanics are widely used for educational applications. Learning itself is often a difficult process which requires persistence and motivation to get things done right. That’s why one of the main tasks of educational apps is to keep the learners interested and motivated all the time.

 

Various missions and challenges can work as powerful motivators for people. Game elements are able to make educational process more dynamic and exciting especially for young learners. What kind of a mission and challenges to choose depends on the type of educational material. For example, language learning apps can challenge the users in learning of a certain number of words per a day.

 

Another sphere of human life where people challenge themselves day by day is a sport. Fitness apps are useful helpers for both amateurs and professional sportsmen. They track our activities as well as show how a body reacts to physical exertion. So, why not to add the element of fun? Providing new missions and challenges, fitness apps help people self-improve their sports skills and reach greater heights.

 

fitness app UI design tubik

Fitness App

 

One more example of applying mission and challenges in digital products is alarm apps. To be more specific, let’s see a practical case of the app called Toonie. It’s is a simple alarm app for iOS which wakes people up whenever they need it. The thing that makes it stand out of the crowd is custom stickers which users receive as a reward for handling challenges such as waking up at the certain time. This way users turn into collectors and take one challenge after another to gather all the stickers available.

 

toonie alarm stickers ios tubik

Toonie Alarm app

 

These are only a few examples of how missions and challenges are applied in products. Designers can experiment with game mechanics and apply them to the most ordinary digital products. This way they may add the element of uniqueness.

 

When and why to apply mission and challenge

 

To define if missions and challenges suit your project, let’s see what solutions they may bring to UX.

  • Missions help to onboard users which only start their journey. They guide people assisting to adapt within a new interaction and navigation system.
  • When users accomplish tasks from applications, they achieve different life goals. For example, taking challenges such as doing squats every day, they move forward to their big life goal — getting fit.
  • Challenges are strong motivators which induce users to take the expected actions. They are the effective tools assisting to increase user engagement.
  • Game elements such as a mission and challenge add interactivity to digital products.
  • They can bring the element of fun to an ordinary product making it stand out of the crowd.
  • Missions and challenges make people return to an app or website more often because some tasks require constant actions within a product.

 

Animated stickers mood messenger design tubik

Animated stickers for Mood Messenger

 

Gamification may not work well for some products. Everything depends on the business goals which stand behind a product as well as the solutions which it brings to users. Before you start gamification process, you need to consider the peculiarities of a target audience and learn if the game elements respond to the users’ needs.

 

— Make sure if the potential users will have time and desire to take the challenges. In some cases, people just need to use a product quickly and leave it till the next.

— Missions and challenges should be optional to attain. Even if the target audience is inclined to challenges, there is still a part which would prefer to skip the tasks.

— Keep the level of gamification in balance. Depending on the type of a product choose the number of missions and challenges as well as their level of difficulty.

 

gamification in UI UX tubik blog

Night in Berlin App

 

Motivation is a powerful engine that makes people move forward. Challenges and missions are the game mechanics serving as motivators for users. The curiosity and excitement drive people to continue performing various the missions and handling and spend more time on an app or a website. Stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

Gamification in UX. Increasing User Engagement.

Gamification Mechanics in UX: Smart User Journey.

Gamification

Challenge Accepted! The role of challenge for gameful design


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

content strategy expert quotes

30 Expert Quotes on Content Strategy for Digital Products

Content is an inseparable part of any digital product. It helps to make websites and applications valuable for users and assists to increase user engagement of the product. However, the content created without certain purpose may seem confusing for users and have a bad influence on the credibility of the product. That’s why there always must be the well-thought strategy standing behind the powerful content. To dive deeper into the peculiarities of content strategy, we decided to refer to the professionals of this field. Today’s Tubik Quotes Collection presents the set of wise thoughts and tips from gurus of the content marketing and strategy including Kristina Halvorson, Lee Odden, and Joe Pulizzi.

content strategy expert quotes

«Content isn’t King, it’s the Kingdom.» (Lee Odden)

 

«A content strategy flips the tables on traditional, linear marketing by defining the process and then securing the right resources for producing a consistent stream of content mapped to buyer needs across all phases of the buying cycle.» (David Beebe)

 

«In my experience, the content strategist is a rare breed who’s often willing and able to embrace whatever role is necessary to deliver on the promise of useful, usable content.» (Kristina Halvorson)

 

«Focus on providing better answers for your audience: know that Google wants to have ‘answers’ for its audience, not just a lot of information.» (Cyrus Shepard)

 

«Treat your content like a product.» (Drew Davis)

 

«Here’s everything you need to know about creating killer content in 3 simple words: Clear. Concise. Compelling.» (Demian Farnworth)

 

content strategy expert quotes 2

 

«Your top of the funnel content must be intellectually divorced from your product but emotionally wed to it» (Joe Chernov)

 

«Content that understands its audience will be good content. Content that doesn’t can’t be.» (Doug Kessler)

 

«People don’t find content by mistake, or by accident. Every content plan needs a complementary promotion plan that combines paid, owned, and earned media.» (Matthew Gratt)

 

«It comes down to access. Giving the consumer something they can’t get anywhere else.»  (Jeffrey Moran)

 

«Create content that satisfies your uber goals and desires.» (Tom Webster)

 

«The key ingredient to better content is separating the single from the stream.» (David Hahn)

 

content strategy expert quotes 7

 

«Content that builds trust is human, personal, and relevant. It isn’t greedy, and it doesn’t trick people. If the recipient knew what the sender knows, would she still be happy? If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely it’s going to build trust.» (Seth Godin)

 

«There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.» (Rebecca Lieb)

 

«Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.» (Avinash Kaushik)

 

«Curation is a natural and necessary extension of content creation. That is, as great as your content may be, your audience wants to learn from other experts and differing perspectives.» (Pawan Deshpande)

 

«Content should ask people to do something and reward them for it.» (Lee Odden)

 

«We need to create a business strategy for our content. That means saying no to many channels and content types, and focus on where we can build an asset, an audience, over time.» (Joe Pulizzi)

 

«Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.» (Jeffrey Zeldman)

content strategy expert quotes 3

 

«The new era demands a focus on ignition, not just content, on trust, not just traffic, and on the elite people in your audience who are spreading and advocating your content.» (Mark Schaefer)

 

«Quality, relevant content can’t be spotted by an algorithm. You can’t subscribe to it. You need people — actual human beings — to create or curate it.» (Kristina Halvorson)

 

«The more content I put out, the more luck I have.» (Gary Vaynerchuk)

 

«Create content that reaches your audience’s audience.» (Ann Handley)

 

«Stop thinking about flat websites and get your content out of the domain.» (Robert Simon)

 

«Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.» (Andrew Davis)

content strategy expert quotes 4

 

«Just as your content needs to target customers at every step of their journey with you, it also needs to appeal to their rational and emotional sides. Every customer needs to have their interest piqued, engagement provoked and confidence built.» (Mark Wilson)

 

«In the future I see a democratization of content creation through content relationships with famous influencers (brandividuals) and niche influencers alike. There’s upside to content co-creation for both brands and contributors. The influencers get exposure to the brand community and the brand gets exposure to better quality content shared with an entirely new audience.» (Lee Odden)

 

«Pushing out content you want to publish is very different to executing a successful content marketing program- one that connects with customers by delivering meaningful experiences that are contextually relevant.» (Ardath Albee)

 

«People use content to express identity.» (Ze Frank)

 

«Actually talk to your customers. Use the language that they use. Talk about the things they talk about. Never feed salad to a lion.» (Jay Acunzo)

content strategy expert quotes


Welcome to check issues of Tubik Quotes Collection on branding, usability and user-centered design

design navigation UI UX tubik studio

UI/UX Design Glossary. Navigation Elements.

One of the basic features of product usability is thoughtfully created navigation. It doesn’t matter if the visual performance is creative, stylish, original, catchy and so on and so forth, in case the users don’t know where they are and how they could reach their goals with the website or app. Whatever is the reason that brings users to your digital product, the high level of respecting them means letting them know what is going on and where they are going at every step of interaction with it. Earlier we have already published the Glossary posts with key terms for the topics of usability and web design as well as business terms and abbreviations. This time the perspective will get focused on navigation aspect: let’s check out what parts and elements of the interface are responsible for this vital issue. 

 

Dribbble shot Tubik Studio

 

Navigation

 

In its basic meaning, the word navigation names the sphere of human activity responsible for enabling a vehicle to get from one place to the other, controlling and supporting this process. According to etymology dictionary, the term has deep roots and comes from the Latin word navigare «to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship,» which in its turn is based on two words: navis «ship» and agere «to set in motion, drive, drive forward». So, to navigate is to make possible for someone or something to cover the planned route. This is the foundation from which the numerous meanings of this word took the start and adjusted in many other spheres.

 

In terms of user experience design, the concept of navigation is one of the basic notions setting the usability. Navigation, in this case, could be generally defined as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The aspect of efficient navigation has a great impact on setting positive user experience: users start using apps or websites with particular aims and expectations, and that’s designers’ task to set the best and easiest route to solving users’ problems.

 

The aspect of helpful and seamless navigation in UI should be thought-out from the early stages of creating the user interface. Users are navigated via interface with a number of interactive elements such buttons, switches, links, tabs, bars, menus, fields and the like, some of which will be described more in details below.

 

Here in Tubik we support the workflow in which all the basic navigation issues, such as layout, transitions, elements placement and functionality, are set in the early phase of UX wireframing and then checked with simple prototype to make sure all the important operations and options are clear for users. Neglecting this essential aspect sets high risks that all the other effort on design can be just wasted, so it’s much more user- and client-friendly to start with the basics.

 

Tubik Studio UI sketches

 

Menu

 

Menu is one of the core navigation elements. It is a graphical control that presents the options of interactions with the interface. Basically, it can be the list of commands — in this case, options will be presented with verbs marking possible actions like, for example, «save», «delete», «buy», «send» etc. Menu can also present the categories along which the content is organized in the given interface, and this can be the high time for using nouns marking them.

 

Menus can have different locations in the interface (side menus, header menus, footer menus etc.) and different ways of appearance and interaction (drop-down menus, drop-up menus, sliding menus etc.) Any solution, which designer makes about menu functionality, appearance and placement in general layout, should be based on thoughtful user research, analyzing not only potential wishes and expectations of the target audience but also their tech literacy and possible environments in which the digital product could be used. Well-designed menu can significantly speed up the process of achieving goals and satisfying needs that lay the solid foundation for positive user experience.

 

tubikstudio ui app design

 

Here is the example of mobile blogging app interface which features left-side menu presenting the categories of content. The copy describing positions in the menu is supported with icons presenting recognizable visual mark for the category.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

 

The presented app UI concept shows the type menu applying the effective technique of color marking: when users move to a particular category, the specific background color is used for all the content in it, which forms strong associations and quick perception of the nature and theme of data the user sees.

 

CTA

 

Behind the widely used abbreviation CTA, designers and content creators mean call to action. This is actually the word of phrase which stimulates users to interact with a product in a way and for the aim it is designed for. CTA elements are the interactive controls which enable users to do the action they are called to. Typical types of such interactive elements in the layout are buttons, tabs, or links.

 

In the interfaces of all kinds, CTA elements are the core factor of effective interaction with the product, which plays the crucial role in usability and navigability. When all the path of interaction and transitions is built clearly for users but CTA element is not thought-out, placed or designed well, users can get confused and will need to take additional effort trying to achieve their goals. That sets the high risk for poor conversion rate and general user experience. That’s why this navigation element should draw particularly deep designers attention. In any interface, it should be one of the most prominent and quickly noticeable parts to inform users how the product can be helpful or useful for them.

 

Contact List Concept Scrolls Tubik

 

As we mentioned in the article with tips on copy content in UI, some call-to-action elements may be represented with icons that don’t require copy using widely and instantly recognized images such as a telephone receiver for making a phone call or the envelope for opening received mail. The app interface presented above shows this case: the button with a receiver is the most prominent interactive element on the screen navigating user to achieving their goals with app quickly, and it doesn’t need the copy to let users understand what action can be done with it.

 

However, when the image of an icon is not so obvious or can be misleading, it is more effective to use double scheme, when the icon, button, or link is supported with the copy.

 

landing page UI design tubik studio

 

The example above features the landing page for a web platform devoted to cooking seafood. The headline of the page presents a call to action and immediately sets the theme by both verbal and visual means. Still, this call to action is not interactive. The active CTA elements are clickable buttons informing users that after clicking they can see more information on the particular topic or recipe. The bright color enhances visual hierarchy on the page and draws users’ attention to the key interactive zone.

 

Bar

 

Bar is a section of the user interface with clickable elements enabling a user to quickly take some core steps of interaction with the product or it can also inform the user on the current stage of the process. Among the basic types of bars, we could mention:

Tab bar — in mobile applications, it appears at the bottom of an app screen and provides the ability to quickly switch between different sections of an app.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

 

Loading bar — the control informing user on the current stage of action, when the process is in active stage and user can see the flow via timing or percentage shown in progress.

 

tubik studio motion design

 

Progress bar — provides feedback on a result of the current process so far, for example, showing how much of the planned activity has been done.

 

juicy player UI Tubik Studio

 

Button

 

Button is, perhaps, one of the most popular elements of any interface. Button is the element which enables a user to get the appropriate interactive feedback from the system within a particular command. Generally speaking, button is a control with which user directly communicates to the digital product and sends the necessary commands to achieve a particular goal, like, let’s say, send the email, buy a product, download the data, turn on the player and tons of other possible actions. One of the reasons why buttons are so popular and user-friendly is that they efficiently imitate interaction with the objects in physical world.

 

Modern UI buttons demonstrate high diversity and can serve plenty of purposes. Typical and frequently used buttons which present an interactive zone, usually clearly marked out for visibility and having a particular geometric shape and often supported with the copy explaining what action will be fulfilled via this button. Designers usually apply considerable time and effort for creating effective and noticeable buttons that are harmonically added into general stylistic concept but are contrast enough to stand out in the layout.

 

tubik studio page 404

 

Besides, we could also mention several types of buttons with additional functionality, widely used in mobile and web interfaces.

 

Hamburger button — the button hiding the menu: clicking or tapping it, user sees the menu expanding. It is called so as its form consisting of three horizontal lines looks like typical bread-meat-bread hamburger. Nowadays it is a typical element of interaction, still highly debatable due to the number of pros and cons.

 

Most users who visit and use websites on the regular basis know that this button hides the core categories of data so this trick does not need additional explanations and prompts. Hamburger menus free the space making the interface more minimalist and full of air as well as allow massive saving place for other important layout elements. This design technique also provides additional benefits for responsive and adaptive design hiding navigation elements and making the interface look harmonic on different devices. Although hamburger menus still belong to highly debatable issues of modern web and app design, they are widely used. The arguments against hamburger menu are based on the fact that this design element can be confusing for people who do not use websites regularly and can get misled with the sign which features a high level of abstraction. So, the decision about applying hamburger button should be made after user research and definition of target audience’s abilities and needs.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

The presented website concepts uses hamburger button to hide the menu and support general minimalist approach to the visual performance of the layout.

 

Plus button — the button that being clicked or tapped presents the ability to add new content, be it a new contact, post, note, position in the list — anything user could do as the basic action with the digital product. Sometimes, tapping this button, users are directly transferred to the modal window of creating content, in other cases there is also a medium stage when they are given additional option to choose from and make adding the particular piece of data more focused.

 

tubik studio button ui

 

Here is the concept showing that plus button first enables a user to choose the category of the added content (image, video, text) and only then directs to the particular screen where it can be done. This practice takes seconds still makes experience more user-friendly as designers can present users with modified options of adding content for every particular case.

 

Share button — the button enabling a user to share the content or achievement directly to social networking accounts. In vast majority of cases, it is presented with icons which present a brand sign of particular social networks and are easily recognizable.

 

Switch

 

Switch is a control that enables users to switch the option on or off. Again, it is applied with the high level of efficiency and popularity in the modern interfaces because it presents the direct imitation of switches people are accustomed to in real life. The important point of consideration here is that states of the switch should be visibly clear and distinctive so that user could avoid applying effort to understand if the option is active or not. Various sorts of contrast and slight animation can solve the problem making the experience simple and user-friendly.

toonie switch UI animation

Here is the switch turning on and off the alarm in Toonie app. Animation makes the interaction smooth and natural, while changed color of the tab and the toggle transforming into spinning sun let users instantly understand whether the alarm is active. If you want to see the full case study on how this animated element was designed and developed, welcome to check the details here.

 

Picker

 

As it becomes clear from its name, picker allows users to pick the point from the row of options. It usually includes one or several scrollable lists of distinct values, for example, hours, minutes, dates, measurements, currencies etc. Scrolling the list, users choose and set the needed value. This type of interactive element is widely used in the interfaces which have the functionality of setting time and dates.

 

toonie UI animation

 

Checkbox

 

Checkbox is graphical UI element which is used to mark a particular piece of content, usually setting the choice for the binary options. It is another element setting the bridge with the real world as it looks really similar to the process of filling in tests, questionnaires and other stuff of this kind when you put a tick or color the box to mark the option. Checkboxes and switches can be found in any type of user interfaces, especially in the sections of the user, screen or page settings. Also, checkboxes present a common part of navigation in apps and websites with functionality of task managers, to-do lists, time trackers and the like.

 

todo list UI app tubik studio

 

Here’s the example of design concept for the mobile to-do app for complex tasks. Tapping the checkbox, users marks the task as done and it automatically gets faded, the copy is colored differently and the font gets bolder to support the contrast of this task with the ones which are still in progress.

 


 

Today’s set of our glossary is ready for those who need it and we are going to continue this practice before long. Don’t miss the new sets — the next one will continue the issues of navigation with deeper insights into types of menus and buttons, tags, breadcrumbs and icons. If there are any specific terms you would like to see explained, described and illustrated, feel free to contact via direct message in our Facebook page or Twitter as well as our Quora representative. New definitions are coming soon!

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is the set of recommended materials for further reading for those who would like to get deeper into this topic and learn more on the theme.

 

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

 

Navigation patterns for ten common types of websites

 

3 essential rules for effective navigation design

 

Perfecting navigation for the mobile web

 

Understanding Web UI Elements & Principles

 

User Interface Elements

 

The Most Creative Mobile Navigation Patterns

 

Basic Patterns for Mobile Navigation


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

Welcome to read us on Quora

mobile application design

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Mobile Application

Most modern people would find it difficult to imagine their day using the smartphone «just for calls». Most mobile devices jumped far beyond the primary goal behind them — making phone calls and sending simple instant messages. Today even quite a simple mobile presents a platform to house various applications for everyday use that turns thousands of people into grateful users of more and more apps. Simple or complex, informative or entertaining, minimalist or packed with bright and catchy details, practical or joyful, meeting the user needing them, they make life better. The variety of apps available today enables users to do the great variety of things using their mobile phone only. Setting an alarm for tomorrow, calculating expenses for the next week or sending mum a selfie via messenger app, vast majority of users don’t even imagine how many people stand behind these simple everyday operations.

 

Earlier in our articles we have already unveiled the typical steps of creating interface design for mobile applications. Today let’s go further and set the full path of creation for a mobile app, from setting the idea to its release in App Store.

 

As well as in any creative process, making a mobile application out of the thin air is a sophisticated process which has its individual peculiarities and features in every particular case. Still, on the basis of Tubik Studio extensive experience of creating diverse applications, it is possible to define several typical creative stages for this process, such as the following:

 

— setting the task and initial scope of works

— estimation

— user/market research

— UX wireframing

— prototyping

— UI design

— animation

— software architecture planning

— iOS development

— testing

— release

— updates.

 

Although you see the sequence of stages, it doesn’t mean that every further phase starts only when the previous one is completed. It’s impossible to imagine this kind of linear dependence as many processes and stages are interconnected even not being consequent in the presented list. Moreover, some of them like testing or estimation come up here and there being spread for all the process of app creation.  Now let’s go along this way step by step to see how a subtle idea becomes a real mobile app.

 

tubikstudio app ui design

 

Setting the task and initial scope of works

 

As we have already mentioned in the article considering logo design stages, the point of setting the task is the foundation of all the design and then development process. At this point, the team of designers and developers should obtain maximum information from the client to mark the right way to the goal. The one who walks without a destination in mind will possibly come nowhere. In product design it works the same way: to get the result, you should clearly set the goals from the very start of the path. It doesn’t mean that the goals should stay totally the same at the end of the journey: the proper level of flexibility has to be set as the objectives can modify more or less in the creative process, research and testing. Still, if the general goals are not set at the start, the creative process can get easily transformed into a mess.

 

Another vital tip, which we have seen through long practice, is that communicating with clients you should get not only their wishes but also try to get the ideas and reasons behind these wishes. If you understand why your customer wants to see particular colors, shapes or transitions, it will be easier for you (if necessary) to justify other methods of realization of these ideas which would give the result desired by the customer and at the same time user-friendly and thoughtfully consuming resources or enabling interactions.

 

The more information you get from the client, the better it is for setting the right direction. Design briefs, calls and Skype-conferences, chat in Slack, brainstorming sessions, mood-boards can all form the good starting line for productive work. In our case, this point of journey is started by sales managers and business analysts who take over the first line of communication with clients and are experienced on setting the bridge between the customer and creative team.

 

tubik studio clients service

Tubik Studio Head of Operations Kate uses all the means to communicate with clients and get into projects

 

At this stage, it is highly advisable to get the data about:

  • the nature of the product and its USP
  • the target audience
  • geographical targeting (if available)
  • the keywords with which the company represents its identity
  • preferred structure and functions clients see as vital in the app
  • preferred visual features (color palette, general style, special features, connection with other already existing digital products or brand strategy etc.)
  • potential technologies, devices and surfaces at which the app will be used
  • need of consistency with existing corporate identity (if available)
  • nature of data processing, need of server side and additional technologies
  • specific preferences

 

Obviously, the list is not completely full, still it contains the most important positions needed for setting a general design and development flow. The outcome of this stage is the diverse set of information blocks establishing the basis for further estimation of the project, planning logical milestones and sprints as well as working our efficient design and development solutions.

 

Estimation

 

The data collected at the previous stage enables business analysts and sales managers to provide the client with the first-level estimation of the time needed for the project and therefore the planned costs. As in any creative process, it is practically impossible to make one totally exact estimation which will stay the same during the whole project: this is the data which should be got back to and reviewed after every stage of design process. Certainly, there can be some cases of products that are quite simple, have a clear structure and do not include many screens or elements, so estimation will be quite exact from the very first stages of processing client’s data and wishes. However, the more complex is the project, the higher are the chances of estimation reviews and adjustments. One more vital thing to mention: these reviews do not necessarily mean growing pricing or timing, as in the creative process designers and developers can find the ways of optimization for design and technology solutions which can even shorten the initial estimation.

 

This flow is close to perfect in cases of full-stack teams: it means that business analyst can involve designers and developers into the assessment process from the earliest steps of analysis and estimation which are able to provide more real and exact planning of time and costs. Furthermore, specialists participating in discussion are able to contribute a lot of knowledge and experience on technical details and factors influencing time and resources needed for the app design and development.

 

Design Studio Tubik

 

User/market research

 

This is the stage when being based on the established task and aims, UI/UX designer starts the path with getting deeper into the environment in which the future application will function. The research stage usually moves on in two directions simultaneously: user research and market research.

 

User research means getting deeper into details of core target audience to understand their preferences and psychological peculiarities, the influence of different factors like colors, stylistic decisions, and logic of interaction on emotions and experience of the defined group, the sources of information and creative performance ways which could engage users and make them active. Marketing research means exploring the market segment, primarily in the perspective of creative solutions used by competitors. Visual design presumes to create original and recognizable style that will make the product stand out of the crowd and draw potential customer’s attention.

 

Famous guru of advertising David Ogilvy emphasized the great importance of research for creating effective result: «Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.» Time has changed the means, goals and technologies, still vital role of research established even stronger. Neglecting the research stage and relying only on their creative intuition, experience, and talent, designers risk failing this task as they will not know the conditions of the app functioning and will not be able to make it efficient, user-friendly and original.

 

tubik studio UI designers

 

UX Wireframing

 

It is the process of creating general structure of the designed application or website. It’s usually accomplished via the set of schematic screens or pages of low or middle level of fidelity. The aim of this stage is setting clear and orderly structure of all the layout, transitions and interactions on the basis of user’s problems and pains which the product is going to solve.

 

In one of our previous articles we provided a bit of metaphor on that. When we think about building the house, for example, we usually mean the process of physical appearance of the construction rather than tons of projects, drawings, and calculations made on paper. And yes, physically it’s possible to build the house without any project as well as it’s possible to create the interface out of thin air. However, in this case, you shouldn’t be surprised if one day the house will crack and collapse without any visible reasons as well as the app looking amazing and stylish won’t bring you any loyal users. If you want to have a reliable house, a durable mechanism, a powerful application or a highly-functional website, the recipe is the same – take your time for thorough planning and projecting. This is not going to waste your time, vice versa, it will save your time you would otherwise have to spend on redesign and attempts to find out why your product doesn’t work properly.

 

That is the aim of UX part of design process. UX wireframing stage should be heavily based on user research, competition research and analysis of all the data obtained. In the outcome, it creates the clear scheme whose complexity depends on the product functionality and reflects all the system of transitions and interactions as well as placement of all the elements of the interface based on their optimal use flow. In some cases, wireframing done in pencil sketching or rough drafts is enough, although preferably it is accomplished with the special tools and software optimizing design process and increasing performance.

 

tubik studio design process ux

 

Prototyping

 

The original concept behind the term ‘prototype’ is the sample model of the product that gives the ability to test it and see if the solutions and decisions made about the product are efficient. Prototypes should not be seen as the analog of the final product as they aren’t those. Their main aim is to enable a designer, a customer and a user to check the correctness and appropriateness of the design solutions.

 

The value of prototypes in the sphere of app and web design has rocketed for the last few years. Actually, it is easy to explain as even the low-fidelity prototype gets the designer, customer and tester much closer to the looks and functions of the future product than the most elaborate schemes, drawings and wireframes. Certainly, that doesn’t mean that schemes and wireframes could be eliminated from the process as they are essential in the process of creating design solutions. However, when you want to feel their efficiency and check if nothing has been missed in the design process, prototype will be the great help.

 

Considering the fact that a lot of customers see the prototype as something very close to the final version of product design aka “UI in action”, in practice this approach is not effective. Prototyping is much more efficient and useful as the step between UX design and UI design. So, here in Tubik Studio we support the workflow having the sequence «UX – prototype – UI».

 

The prototypes on UI stage can be created for the presentation of application general looks rather than for testing and improving its functional features. And this is the trap in which it is easy to get confused. Prototyping all the details on the final stage of UI in most cases is not so reasonable as it could seem. It will be too time-consuming and in this perspective, it would be better to spend the same time on coding a demo-version. Moreover, usability should be thoroughly checked first of all at the UX stage, otherwise, it would be much harder to change inefficient solution after having accomplished a lot of work on UI. Certainly, it would be amazing to create prototypes both for UX and UI, but by far not all the designers and customers agree to spend so much time on design tasks and want to test and improve the design much faster and cheaper.

 

invision prototyping tool tubikstudio review

 

UI (User Interface) Design

 

User Interface is actually a finalized interactive field in which the user interacts with the product. It includes all the tools of increasing usability and satisfying target users’ needs and wishes. All the features of visual perception as well sound and tactile feelings influencing the product use and interaction with is should be analyzed and optimized here to the purpose of the app or a website is designed. For example, such aspects as color palette, types and fonts, shapes and forms, illustration and animation and so on and so forth are able to affect the performance of the final product greatly in both positive and negative way.

 

In general terms, the UX research and wireframing stage is about how the website or application works while UI is how it looks. Both these stages include work on successful interactions, but UX deals more with logic, connections and user behavior while UI stage provides visual representation of all the concept. It means that ideally, designer should first work on UX part with the concentration on the layout, making it more powerful, thought-out, clear and easy to use. Without this vital work, you highly risk creating pure mess out of the user interface.

 

After the UX part is tested by a prototype, agreed upon and the concept of layout, transitions, and features are accepted, the designer starts the UI design part. This is the time when a newborn heart and brain of your product is clothed with its skin and bones. Here the product gets its real color scheme, forms and features of the layout details, styles, animated elements and so on.

 

All the UI solutions directly influence the positive or negative user experience, so the processes of UX wireframing and UI design should mutually support each other and follow the same strategy otherwise the efficient solutions of one stage will not work on the other.

 

Tubik Studio

 

Animation

 

Telling about the details and benefits of interface animation used in mobile apps, we mentioned that the most efficient way is to consider this aspect through all the creative stages. However, the high time to apply it in practice is when UI design is basically accomplished and general stylistic concept is agreed upon.

 

Like everything that is put into the interface and process of interaction with it, animation must be a functional element, not just a decor. Considering motion elements while planning user journey around the digital product, designer should deeply analyze its potential for increasing usability, utility and desirability of the product before making a decision to apply it in the layout or transitions. Animation in UI requires thoughtful approach and always needs to have a clear purpose set behind. Advantages and utility of using it in interaction process have to be obvious and outweighing possible disadvantages.

 

tubikstudio ui design

 

After this stage is accomplished, the visual details approved and agreed upon, designers transfer the assets to developers who are going to do the magic of making them alive. Also, this is the good time to review the estimation once again and plan the clear sprints on development on the basis of thought-out design.

 

Software architecture planning

 

A noteworthy detail is that scalability is one of the most important things for a mobile application. Planning of software architecture can take place as a stage parallel to design. This is a complex process: it usually includes a lot of iterations, with a constant feedback loop between design team and development team. The main goal of architecture planning is to create a constructive and integral plan for the software architecture of the app (front-end and back-end). At this stage, developers decide on the most efficient technical and technological solutions for actual realization of the app and maintaining its operability. The decisions depend on various factors, for example, the nature of the product and data it processes, the complexity of design solutions, necessity to save data and availability of log-in functionality etc. Back-end development sets the bridge of the app with the web and supports synchronization of data in both directions.

 

iOS development

 

The actual process of coding the app here in Tubik is done in Xcode as the effective and flexible platform with broad functionality for iOS developers. As it is defined on the official website, «Xcode is Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE). You use Xcode to build apps for Apple products, including iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac. Xcode provides tools to manage your entire development workflow—from creating your app to testing, optimizing, and submitting it to the App Store.»

 

Xcode only runs on Macs and has everything developers need to build iOS apps. There are no official ways to launch it on a Windows or Linux PC. This means that if somebody wants to develop an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac apps but doesn’t have a Mac, he or she will need to buy it.

 

Two basic and most popular programming languages for iOS development are Objective-C and Swift — we considered benefits and drawbacks of each in our earlier post. Since 2014, Swift language has been used by Xcode for coding more often than Objective-C, which is a difficult language for developers to learn and code. Still, Objective-C is a good fit for early iPhone hardware which has less RAM and slower processes and it is also effectively applicable for maintaining and updating the apps initially created in it. Swift keeps step with modern hardware and it is also faster in the process of coding, it is more easy-to-use, shorter and secure. For creating iOS 10 apps, Xcode 8 and the iOS 10 SDK need to be installed, also available from Apple. There are significant changes to the Swift language and the SDK in this version of Xcode.

 

ios development glossary

 

In this phase of mobile app creation, iOS developers think over the architecture of the app, write the code, integrate functionality to created UI, edit source code, debug and finally export the app to the App Store. Also, writing unit tests and running integration testing are relevant steps in this phase. The Interface Builder is one of Xcode features and it is alternative to hand-coding the client-side part, allowing developers to put the app code together visually. This feature allows dragging and dropping different visual controls into the app code. AutoLayout helps to control the app presentation based on the size of the user’s screen. With Storyboard, developers can see what each screen of the app actually looks like, while Preview Mode delivers a prior acquaintance of what the app will look like when it is done.

 

Lots of mobile app developers are of opinion that a text editor is generally necessary, even though it is theoretically possible to do the entire coding inside Xcode. Handling long and complex codes can become particularly confusing unless programmers use a text editor that supports all relevant programming syntaxes.

 

ios development tubik swift objective-c

 
In most cases, while part of developers team is building client-side part, the other part are coding, integrating and linking to the front-end server-side components of an app such as database, APIs, middleware and etc.

 

It also should be noted that planning the workflow and the number of people involved in the development process depends first of all on the complexity and urgency of the project. For small projects, one iOS developer may be able to create all components of software architecture for the app. For multilayered complex projects, at least a couple of programmers should be engaged, having experience in software architecture and good expertise in both client-side and server-side development.

 

The main task of this phase is to make a fully working app which is scalable and integrated to all required server-side components like a database, APIs, and other related infrastructure it needs to run. If clients aren’t ready to build the original server-side infrastructure, they can buy a Backend as a Service (BaaS) software bundle or other products. The bundles include a variety of storage options and features, but they aren’t completely “turn-key” as well as they often do not provide the options of deep and comprehensive analytics. It means the client needs a developer who understands back-end engineering to integrate it into the app.

 

web development

 

Testing

 

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”, William A. Foster once said and it’s definitely true when it comes to a digital product testing.

 

Testing is one of the crucial phases of the entire app design and development lifecycle, it can help to find bugs before the app is brought out to actual users. App Store will not accept any apps that have compiling errors and bugs, so the mobile app being prepared to submitting has no chances with those kinds of issues. In the majority of cases, users abandon the app if it has functionality problems, no matter how promising and engaging it seems. Even the simplest apps can be successful for commerce, business, advertising and other aims if they work correctly and efficiently, according to target audience’s expectations and solving their problems .

 

Testing doesn’t mean that developers do not provide the upper quality. To set the analogy, the fact that every book, magazine or newspaper issue goes through editor’s eye doesn’t say that journalists or writers are not talented and qualified. Different specialists have different goals and skills in the process to increase general productivity and efficiency, and it works the same way for design and development of mobile apps. Supposing that developers have done a great job and made no mistakes, the task of testing is not only finding errors. Quite the opposite, it helps to understand the quality of the app and find the way to improve via real interactions.

 

mobile app testing

 

Automated testing got really popular now because it is effective, cheap and reliable. iOS Simulator and other testing tools such as Appium, Frank, Calabash and others are available to help to run the app through the testing process and point out the issues requiring attention. Continuous testing at all stages helps to keep small bugs from becoming major issues later on.

 

In the process of testing, a developer usually goes all the way through the app on a device or in the iOS Simulator of Xcode, screen by screen, to ensure there are no bugs or errors and everything works properly. Fixing or debugging can be done right in Xcode.

 

All aspects of the app should be tested. Developers will need to check it across different devices (iPhone, iWatch, iPad, iPod, etc.) as the points like screen resolution, processors, battery life and memory will be different and can significantly affect how the app runs. They also test functionality (Do all the functions work well?), handling and loading time (Will it slow down if traffic increases?), and UX (How easy is it to use?). In addition to above-mentioned issues, developers review crash reports to see what should be fixed.

 

tubik studio developers testing
Here are some types of testing applied in the process of mobile app creation:
Functional testing. It is the most basic test for any application to ensure that it is working according to the defined requirements and there are no functions missed in the process of interaction.

 

Performance testing. This type covers client application performance, server performance and network performance. For example, it checks the performance specifications and behavior of the app under certain conditions such as low battery, bad network coverage, low available memory and etc.

 

Memory testing. This type checks that each application maintains optimized memory usage throughout the user surfing.

 

Interruption testing. An app may face various interruptions while working, such as incoming calls or network coverage outage and recovery. This kind of testing shows what will the app do under these conditions. The common types of interruptions are:

 

  • Incoming and Outgoing calls, SMS or MMS and different notifications;
  • Low memory warning
  • Cable insertion or removal
  • Network outage or recovery
  • Media Player on/off
  • The device power cycle, such as low battery notification etc.

Security testing. It checks vulnerability of the app to hacking, authentication and authorization policies, data security, session management and other security standards.

 

Usability testing. It is carried out from the early stages of app creation to verify if the app fulfills the established objectives and tasks getting a good response from users. As Joyce Lee, the representative of Human Factors Design at Apple mentions: «Usability answers the question, “Can the user accomplish their goal?»

 

Submitting / Release

 

Finally, there comes the day when the app is alive and ready to be introduced to its users. In order to be submitted to the App Store, it needs to join the iOS developer program. Apple reserves the right to review and approve the app before it can go live. In any case, it is advisable to plan around a week or so to have the information reviewed and approved by Apple. If the app is used for commercial purposes, an additional step to submission via filling in short surveys will be included in the process and will need the separate approval which is usually expected within a day. The process of an app release in the App Store takes a few steps, including configuring the code, creating a profile, creating a listing, then submitting it through Xcode for certification. It might involve a few fixes and re-submissions, so it is helpful for iOS developer to know the ways and what to expect.

 

As you can see, the way, which a mobile application goes through, is quite complex and includes a variety of steps ensuring its functionality, beauty, and quality of performance. Don’t miss our next articles that will provide deeper insights into each of the stages as well as tools and tips for better design and development process.


 

Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance