Author: Sandra Gehrig
What is the art of app development?
In today's digital landscape, it is crucial to make apps a unique and personalised experience. The art of app development is to create a user-friendly user interface. We do not want to have to explain to our users how to use an app - they should be able to find their way around intuitively. That is why we attach great importance to designing an appealing interface.
We strive to create a customer experience that is tailored to the individual needs of the respective target group. By this we mean creating a seamless customer journey in which, for example, a doctor's appointment can be arranged via the app and important documents can be accessed directly and conveniently in the app after the appointment. Our focus is not only on users, but also on employees. After all, they also deserve an outstanding user experience, whether they are using internal tools or interacting with customers. That is why, for example, simple content management should be possible, allowing them to publish news in the app. Our apps should be seamless and tailored to the individual requirements of all parties involved.
How do we overcome recurring obstacles?
In all the years we have been developing user-centred apps, we have come up against similar, recurring challenges time and time again. Below we summarise the three biggest obstacles and explain how we have integrated them into our development process.
1. Core teams tend to assume that they know exactly what their users want. But without a thorough validation of these assumptions, there is room for uncertainty. We therefore rely on user testing to ensure that we understand the actual needs of our target group. This iterative approach allows us to get feedback, make improvements and ensure that our apps meet the needs of our users.
2. A common mistake is to assume that all features need to be built into an app from the start. Instead, we prioritise and identify the most important use cases to achieve our customers' vision. By developing our apps in small iterations and introducing new features gradually, we significantly shorten time-to-market, can respond quickly to user feedback and needs, and make the project more manageable for investors.
3. Particularly in companies with different locations and heterogeneous core IT, the focus is often too strongly on technology, data and solutions and the app's use cases are «bent» towards these systems. In our approach, we always ask ourselves the following questions first: How can we create a seamless, digital customer journey for end users and what use cases does the app need to include to contribute to this? Only then do we analyse the existing core systems. The systems can then be expanded to enable a seamless customer journey.
What are our two core elements for achieving our goal?
Methodology: Human-centred design
Our methodology is based on the human-centred design approach. We focus on understanding the problem from the target group's perspective, conduct extensive research to identify the challenges and then develop solutions to alleviate these challenges. By creating prototypes, we can test the effectiveness of our solutions early on and make adjustments if necessary. This process is a continuous cycle in which we work iteratively and ensure that we solve our target group's problem in the best possible way.
Procedure: Iterative approach in four phases
We generally realise software projects in four phases, which are tailored to the customer's requirements. The phase model facilitates the coordination and management of a project as well as the review of interim results on the way to the target solution.
- Phase 1 - Frame: In the initial frame phase, we work with the customer to define the problem they want to solve. To do this, we focus on the «why». By asking specific questions and conducting intensive customer surveys, we can identify the core problem.
- Phase 2 - Define: In the Define phase, we specify the relevant use cases in a detailed concept together with the customer in an iterative process. The functional, technical and organisational requirements are defined and documented in detail. At the same time, a design system is created with which the user interface is visualised and tested using clickable prototypes.
- Phase 3 - Realise: In the Realise phase, we develop the solution in an agile manner. Intermediate releases are made available to the customer on test systems at regular intervals, thus enabling a high level of transparency and flexibility with reprioritisation. At the end of the Realise phase, the solution is made available to the target customers together with the customer.
- Phase 4 - Scale: In the Scale phase, the solution is operated and continuously developed in line with customer requirements.
The most important tips for us when developing user-centred apps are:
1. Understand your target group: To understand the needs and problems of your end users, talk directly to your target group and conduct conversations and interviews.
2. Validate your prototype: Take suggestions for improvement from your users, learn from your experiences and adapt your app accordingly.
3. Develop agile: Focus on iterative development and carry out continuous tests. This allows you to identify weaknesses and potential for improvement at an early stage and ensure that your app offers an optimal user experience.
4. Develop continuously: App development is an ongoing process: ensure that your app is continuously developed and meets changing needs.
By focusing on user-centred development and adapting our methodology and approach accordingly, we at jls develop apps that are not only functional, but also offer an outstanding user experience. Our iterative approach allows us to continuously work on improving our apps and ensure that they meet the needs of our users.