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Build your own app

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Designing useful and usable apps

Before you start designing

Setting the scene, Koen Pellegrims (Flow Pilots) explained that a good preparation can save a lot of time and effort. Before starting the actual design, it is useful to go through following preparatory steps:

  1. Identify the business needs
  2. Convert them into user stories: “with this app I want to …”
  3. Sketch and draw
  4. Define the navigation flow
  5. Use wireframes to define the outline
  6. Look around for best practices and learn from them
  7. Make a prototype
  8. Decide on the look and feel of the app (you might want to use a mood board or style guide to help you)
  9. Start designing

Cases

  • Case “pig farmer” – Werner Raemakers (Cegeka)
    “Our customer is market leader for IT solutions in the agricultural sector. By automating the follow-up of animals and their different treatments, the efficiency of pig farming has substantially increased. The number of animals per farm is going up and a fast and easy way of introducing data in the stable is important. To augment efficiency and return on investment of processing the data, the choice fell on an IPad solution. The user has local access to all data for all animals on the site. Entering the information is intuitive and quick via the touch screen and the user interface is adapted to the circumstances. Whenever the iPad comes within reach of a Wi-Fi network, local information is automatically synchronised with the server in the background, without the user being required to take action. This solution for iPad is a tool for the user, speed of data entry and having access to all recent and relevant data at any time ensure that the user can manage his business in a more efficient way. 
  • Case “Vigo” – Stefan Van de Poel (Cosmoz) 
    VIGO is specialized in technical orthopedics. They developed an app on a Windows 8 tablet to support the whole process flow, from first contact with the patient/customer to the delivery of the material. The app that is linked to the existing SAP backend does not only allow a good follow-up of the ordering process, it can also register new patients, track the records of a patient, make the planning for the health care provider, etc.  – even offline. The ROI for VIGO is enormous as the paper flow disappeared to a large extent, but there was also a substantial drop in mistakes.

ADM members can download the presentations via the links below (just log in to the website first)

Workshop

After the theory and examples, it was time for the participants to design their own killer app! In teams of 2-3 they discussed ideas, sketched, created databases and started designing their apps with the help of the experts.  In real CoderDojo style there was a “show and tell” afterwards during which the teams discussed each other’s apps. Here are some of the ideas that made it to the drawing board:

  • App to help schools register student absences on mobile devices as replacement for the old-school (pun intended) absence register, that needs to be collected on a daily basis and the information transferred into the system
  • App for a manager collecting information on the activities, to do’s,… of this own team, linking this to their to-do lists, the CRM, etc., thus allowing him to interact with them via 1 interface
  • App connecting people in a training session with the trainer and between themselves, allowing them to set their personal goals, follow up on their progress, exchange information, follow up after the actual session
  • App following up on the relationship between manager/coach and employee: goals, endorsements, notes, … giving an instant feedback on how the person is doing, helping to adapt when necessary. It is a useful tool for appraisals as you can look back at small facts throughout the year. The app is personal, not to be shared with the human resources department.

Who knows .. we might see some of these  in practice very soon ?

Useful prototyping tools in case you want to get started : 

  • Fluidui
  • Axure
  • Microsoft Project Siena
  • Balsamiq
  • Keynotopia
  • Place it

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