09 Sep 2011 iOS Developers and Designers: Stickin’ together is what good waffles do!
We’ve all heard developers say it: “I’m a terrible drawer” or “I’ve got no design skills”. Perhaps we’re even guilty of saying it ourselves – I know I am. But after attending this year’s Swipe Conference I now subscribe to the opinion that this is no longer acceptable. We are all responsible for the design of the app we are building; developer, designer, tester, or producer: every member of the team is accountable for helping shape the app’s design and interactions.
Why must we all be accountable?
We – as developers – are iPhone experts. We know what can and can’t be done technically. We have toyed with and tried building (with both successes and failures) many ideas before. But before that, we are users; in fact, not just users but experienced super users. Sure we know how to code, but this is really just a small part of creating an app with an amazing user experience.
But I can’t draw
During the Swipe Conference we had a 30-minute session that addressed this exact problem. But the fact is, that it’s not a problem at all. When talking about working together to help build an intuitive interactive app, I’m not talking about creating the entire visual representation of your app. I’m talking about presenting ideas, and thinking through them as a team.
This 30-minute session taught us such a simple lesson, how to use a pen, how to draw a basic shape, a square, a circle, and how to colour them in. This is all you need to do, in order to present your ideas to the team. Sketch some simple shapes that represent the objects in your app, shade the background to bring the elements to the front, and colour them in. It’s simpler than a picture you would have drawn in kindergarten. “I can’t draw” is not an excuse!
So I’ve drawn my picture, now what?
At the end of this session, we were all encouraged to hand in the sketches of the iPhone interfaces that we had created. The organisers then took these sketches and stuck them up on the wall. And guess what, with just a black pen, a grey texta, and an orange texta (the swipe conference colour), we had hundreds of ideas that both conveyed an idea and were immediately understandable.
Just as we were able to do at Swipe Conference, everyone in an iPhone team can and must spend time doing the same thing. Pin your ideas on a wall, tear them down, change them, evolve them, give feedback, and work together to evolve from an infinite number of ideas from each team member into one highly refined and fantastic experience.
Brilliant apps with intuitive interactions
By having a team where everyone can provide input, we help to create an experience that can only be beneficial. I know from some of the projects I’ve worked on, that it can be increasingly frustrating when you’re involved building the inner workings of the app, but cannot influence its overall direction. With such a great device to work on, and the potential it provides to user and developers alike, it would be a gross injustice to continue working in a counter productive way.
Let the designers turn your ideas into beautiful pixel-perfect designs, and let the developers transform these designs into interactive working interfaces – but also work together with everyone to allow your app to become a masterful interactive experience.