Top App Design Tools

Top App Design Tools

Thoughtful design offers a definitive competitive advantage in numerous industries, and app development is no exception. Design impacts everything from the app’s appearance, to its ease of use, to the emotions people feel while using it. As noted in our book review of Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, the way people feel when interacting with a product strongly influence whether or not it succeeds.

InspiringApps employs a four-stage process (discovery, design, development, and deployment) to take a mobile application from start to finish. While each phase is critical to the launch of a successful product, decisions made during the design phase lay the foundation for the app. Our designers understand the impact of design and consider many factors in order to create an outstanding product.

It’s useful as a client to have a high level understanding of the process and tools, for it enables you to know what kind of information is valuable at each stage. The list below summarizes the app design tools we use frequently. Each tool has a place in the process, enabling us to ideate, communicate needs with our team, and share the developing vision with our clients. Read More

Watch App Development

When to Develop a Watch App (or Not)

With the recent release of Apple Watch 2 and new versions of Android Wear smartwatches introduced regularly, the idea of building a watch app is front of mind for many clients. A watch app seems cool and timely (couldn’t resist), fun to use, and super convenient. While a watch app is all those things, it may not be the right choice for your business.

Although some watch apps (like fitness tracking, Apple Pay, music) do still offer some functionality without a phone nearby, watch apps do not stand alone at this point in time. As a result, one doesn’t build a watch app instead of a phone/tablet app, but rather alongside these devices. The best watch apps do not mimic the features of the phone app, but act as a companion app that takes advantage of the unique features of the watch in order to bring additional value to the user’s experience. In almost all cases, the user will continue to use other devices for more in-depth tasks. Read More

Staying Current with Changing Technology

Staying Current with Changing Technology

As a leader in mobile app development, we consider it our responsibility to keep current with changing technology. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, though, given the vast number of new products, languages, versions, and technologies that continue to be created in this industry. In our experience, staying on top of your game requires two things: time commitment and an awareness of how you learn best. The team at InspiringApps spans a wide variety of personalities and each of us has a preference for how to keep our tech knowledge fresh. Here’s a summary of our techniques for staying sharp in a sea of constant change. Read More

Basics of the Mobile App Development Process

Potential clients often wonder what’s involved in the app development process. We previously posted about the importance of doing market research before building an app, and we’ve also discussed some of the technical concerns like operating systems and native vs cross-platform development. If you’ve thought about these market and technical considerations and determined you’re ready to build an app, what comes next? At InspiringApps, we suggest a four-phase process.

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iOS7: Because being a developer isn’t hard enough already

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For this week’s Lunch and Learn, software engineer Will Helling gave us an overview of the changes he’s discovered as he works to make our ePCR for iPad app compatible with iOS6 and the forthcoming iOS7.

Here are some of the highlights of his presentation:

Design – while the presentation was largely about changes from a developer’s perspective, it’s impossible to talk about iOS7 without mentioning Apple’s radical design changes.

Although they’ve kept their main color scheme (white, blue, grey and black,) Apple decided to allow whitespace to dominate the new design. We noticed that this helps make the content “pop,” compared to the overwhelming frames created by the various toolbars in iOS6.

View control overrides

In iOS7, view controls are automatically set to fullscreen, covering the status bar. However, iOS6 does not have this feature, leaving an awkward gap between the status bar and the view. To ensure compatibility with both operating systems, Will had to use a command that would force fullscreen in iOS6:


Flurry 

iOS7 requires developers using Flurry to update to the most recent version, 4.2.3 – apps not using this version may experience “irrevocable data integrity issues.” Since providing the best tools based on our users demands is a core function of ePCR for iPad, updating this feature was absolutely necessary. In order to update, Will had to download the new SDK and make sure to include Apple’s security framework and ad support framework. And… voila! Flurry is compatible with iOS7.

Libraries

Will also ran into some backend issues with libraries. iOS7 links to the new XML library… but the old XSLT library is incompatible with the new XML library, and the new XSLT library is incompatible with the old XML library. This required Will to do a manual universal compile of LibXML.

iOS7 will be available to consumers sometime next month, but with some users slow to adopt to a new OS, we’ve emphasized making sure ePCR for iPad works on both systems. As these new changes roll out, we also plan to introduce some new features, like a “night mode” that will be easier on users’ eyes at night.

We have a weekly Lunch and Learn where team members share different aspects of their work. Have a topic you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments!

Boulder Startup Week at InspiringApps

It’s May, and Boulder Startup Week is upon us. Due to the success from last year’s packed, standing-room-only event here at InspiringApps, we decided to host not one, but two events for 2013 to accommodate the entrepreneurial spirit of Boulder. Be sure to register early to ensure your chance to get in the door.
 

I Moved To Boulder And…

Wednesday, May 15th 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

What happens when you move to Boulder? A LOT. It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to get plugged into the community here. Instead of just reading about it, come meet people who have moved here in the last year and hear how easily they’ve integrated into the community.

This event will start with a short panel where some recent Boulder transplants will tell their stories and answer questions, and then we’ll wrap things up with a happy hour.
Register here to attend (free)

 

UX Crash Course

Friday, May 17th 2013 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Does everyone LOVE what you are building? Great product is the result of great user experience (UX). Join the national thought leaders in UX to learn how to make product that not only works, but is a JOY to use. Brian Baker, Managing Partner of The First User, along with Aaron Lea of Inspiring Apps will illustrate the fundamentals of UX – and with a small group of folks, dive deep into how you can build Great UX into your product.
Register here to attend (free)

We hope to see you there!

UI17 Recap

Last week I had the amazing opportunity attend the UI17 Conference in Boston. UI17 focuses on the leading trends and best practices in interface design, multi-device design, and team-based solutions. The conference follows an unconventional format with one day of shorter talks sandwiched between two full day workshops. This format was an effective way to dive deep into two topics while still getting an overview of related important topics.

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3 Characteristics that Make or Break User Experience

User experience is like the Zooey Deschanel of the design world—a quirky mix of science and art that many are enamored with but few understand. So what characteristics contribute most to a solid user experience? That’s like asking “What makes Zooey so darn like-able?” Ask anyone and you will get a different answer.

In my humble opinion, the three characteristics that make or break a user experience (aside from performance, i.e. an app must function correctly, and function quickly) are simplicity, clarity, and consistency.

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Layout and Responsive Design with Twitter Bootstrap

Some of you may have noticed some websites look great on any device. You visit a website on your desktop computer, enjoy using their services, and then leave your desk for the day. Later while you’re out moving around, you remember you need to update your account on your favorite website. You only have your phone with you, but you decide to give it a shot. Lucky enough, the website you enjoyed on your desktop has magically transformed into something that feels comfortable to use on your phone. All of the same features are there, along with the site’s look and feel. It’s an easy transition between devices, and since it’s the same site, you spend hardly any time at all figuring out how to update your account with your phone. (For an example, check out our website, InspiringApps.com on any device or just by resizing your browser window.)

Now you want that same easy device transition for your websites. Today I’ll talk about how to do just that. If you want to do everything by hand, you can do everything manually, but there is a great front-end framework that has everything you need built in: Twitter Bootstrap. If you need an introduction to Twitter Bootstrap, check out my introductory post, “First Impressions of Twitter Bootstrap.”

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Design and Development Tutorials

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“The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.”

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure who said that first but they were really on to something. The team at InspiringApps believes very strongly that one of the keys to our success is to continue learning and asking questions when we need some help. That’s also why our open concept office space works out so well for us.

We’ve compiled a list of online resources that our team finds useful when we have a question or two, we hope you find them helpful too.

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