21 November 2013
3 Reasons Why Design is Critical to Your Product
Investing in design upfront, along with development, is the best thing you can do for your product. Just because you are the first to create an app, doesn’t mean you will be the most successful. Good design is the most effective way to differentiate your product and gain fans. It’s important to deliver a fully functioning project that includes an equal emphasis between design and development. At Gaslight, we employ a constant iteration between the design and development teams, until we are happy with both the usability and functionality of a feature.
1. Design Is About the Experience
Design isn’t just the visuals, it’s how the customer interacts with the app. First impressions are essential in this quick changing business. You could have the fastest app with the best customer service. If the user can’t figure out how to access the information easily, it doesn’t matter how fast it is, you will lose that user. A simple product with little functionality but a clear user experience has a better chance of success than a robust, but poorly designed app.
A project kick off will begin with a discussion of the key features that would lead to creating high level wireframes and flow charts of the app. As the workflow is solidified, detailed screen begin to take shape and will begin to raise questions. This is where half baked ideas are hashed out, trashed, or refined and implemented. This stage acts as design revision, and helps block the implementation of features that will not be used. Overall, being intentional with user experience design and wireframes upfront helps you concentrate your efforts on implementing usable features.
2. Visual Design is Emotional
We are living in a time where users choose what products they use, and are willing to pay extra for an experience they enjoy. Apple and Nest are great examples of products that have elevated the mundane experience to something enjoyable. Many startups revolve around creating a better experience apart from the traditional way of thinking. Visual design plays a huge part in this elevation of experience. Creating an interface that isn’t cluttered with overwhelming buttons and things to do, is the first step to creating a clear product for your customers.
Design is strongly tied to our emotions. Something that seems easy to use and approachable creates a sense of trust and loyalty in the product. When someone is confronted with something that is confusing or unfinished, they will quickly search for another solution if given the chance. Spending time and effort on design as soon as possible is a key to creating a product people can fall in love with.
3. Investing in Design Early Creates Scalability and Awareness
Every good product leaves room to grow and this is true with the design as well. Creating a decisive brand and style upfront will lead to the ability to grow easily into new functionality and places. At Gaslight, we like to start with a style guide. This guide establishes what basic elements will look like across all of the app. Creating a style guide first, before high fidelity mockups, allows more functionality to be added on without a lot of upfront work on the style. The style guide can be added to and edited as the app grows. It ensures that your app will be a cohesive experience for the user.
In addition to scalability, having a cohesive visual design for your app creates a solid brand for your product. Having an app that has a distinct visual style can help promote the product and set it apart from it’s competitors. The example that comes to mind is Twitter. Twitter is a fairly simple app, but the light blue and the bird have become synonymous with short messages. When the fail whale shows up (oh no!) it is still relatable to the Twitter brand because it integrates the bird mark, as well as the same visual style of illustration. Overall, having a distinct brand presence in a crowded field may be the difference between success and failure.
Having a well designed product is more crucial than ever. Overall, design is an upfront process that guides the success of your project. From kick-off to future expansion, design can help to push your product to be better. If you’re in the planning process of your product, please contact us!