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

NewCo Boulder Logo

NewCo Boulder 2016 Inspires Us

Boulder had the privilege of hosting its third NewCo festival last Friday, and we were thrilled to be able to participate. With a mission to “identify, celebrate, and connect the engines of positive change in our society,” NewCo provides an opportunity for purpose-driven businesses to share their stories with entrepreneurs, job applicants, and potential customers that want to learn from them. Thanks to the efforts of Engage Colorado, around fifty innovative Boulder companies opened their doors and invited participants to come see for themselves how passion and purpose change “work” from simply a job to an endeavor that can change the world. Read More

SXSW Interactive 2016

We attended many impressive sessions during our time at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference last week. The festival is a showcase for all things tech, and we were inspired by the exhibits, gadgets, and experiences that filled the city of Austin, TX. We focused on sessions in the Design and Development track including: “Fast and Rigorous User Personas,” “Checkbox That Ruined My Life,” and “Designing for Smartwatches.” We found it interesting that several themes emerged from the design sessions, regardless of the session title and topic.

As predicted in our “Tech Innovations to Watch in 2016” blog post from early this year, the Internet of Things was one such theme, specifically in regard to wearables. Most tech users have transitioned from desktop to mobile, and the next transition from mobile to wearable is happening now. Smartwatches and fitness devices remain the most widely-used items in this network of physical objects embedded with technology.

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Luminescence

Eric Miller, one of our talented software engineers at InspiringApps, has also been busy with an inspiring project outside of the office. He has been working with the Handweavers Guild of Boulder on an activation of the arches framing the entrance to the Dairy Center for the Arts at 26th and Walnut. The arches are woven with various metals and lined with 2280 addressable, programmable, RGB LEDs. Called “Luminescence”, the project is set to launch on the evening of November 19th. Volunteers from the Guild and community have contributed countless hours of labor and expertise so far.

Of his own role, Eric says, “Along with some modeling and design work, I’ve been building a WebGL-based 3D simulator for testing and speccing the project. The code is open source, and the hope is to release it as an authoring environment in which the community can develop their own programs both for this installation and other illuminated art projects.”

Other technical leads on the project are Dan Julio of Dan Julio Designs in Boulder and Mike Bissell from San Francisco. Dan designed the power system, LED drivers, and integrated the core hardware, while Mike has built a lightweight and powerful OpenPixelControl rendering engine in Java.

“Mike’s renderer is running on a networked Raspberry Pi, which is talking to Elizabeth Scott’s awesome little fadecandy boards over the OpenPixelControl protocol. Then Dan’s system carries data and power out to the 38 LED strips. A lot of the hardware has been sourced from our local DIY company SparkFun, which has been contributing as well.”

Meanwhile, Nederland High School teacher Mark Savignano has been working with his students on the the initial interactivity design, which is scheduled for unveiling in early December.

“It’s been a big open-source, community effort,” says Eric. “I’m really happy I could be a part of it.”

You can read more about the project on the Dairy’s announcement page.

Photocredit: Coil Lighting | www.coil-lighting.com

Team Member Profile: Aaron Lea, Senior UX/UI Designer

Aaron joined the InspiringApps team earlier this year after moving to Colorado from Texas in 2010. Art runs in his blood: “We have a lot of artists in my family – one of my family members was even an animator on Pinocchio.

Aaron grew up wanting to be a comic book artist. While he was working on improving his skills, he started using Photoshop and Illustrator. “A lot of people were making comics with them, so I learned how to use the software,” he said. His appreciation for UI and UX grew out of his experiences with bad design. “A lot of comic book artists were making great art, but the design didn’t flow with the story.” With most media transitioning from print to web, Aaron chose to embrace the change instead fighting it, and he learned the ins and outs of web design.

A huge movie buff, Aaron’s favorite project was the first film he worked on, Bubba Ho-Tep: “It was such a weird film, and I got to work with one of my favorite horror icons.” His experience doing viral marketing for the project led to an interest in the psychology of how people responded to various marketing and design strategies. This fed into his UI knowledge and helped him grow his web design skillset.

Here at InspiringApps, Aaron helps bring our apps to life. “I take the clients’ words and descriptions of how they’d like the app to look, and I visualize it on screen,” he said. Aaron pays special attention to a client’s brand and their intended audience, developing the workflow of how an app will be used and adding aesthetics. He has a unique method of creating wireframes. “My wireframes are ‘mid-fidelity,’” he explained. “That’s probably not a real word, but I try to give a better picture of what the art will look like than most low-fidelity wireframes.” After the developers have finished, Aaron then returns to the designs and fine-tunes the artwork.

Aaron’s favorite part of living in the Boulder area is the great beer, and his favorite kinds reveal the artist in him. “I love drinking beer out of a well-designed bottle,” he said. Aaron loves Left Hand Brewing Company’s Wake Up Dead, whose label was designed by local agency, Moxie Sozo.

In his spare time, Aaron likes to get creative. “I’m a very DIY person, so I’m always working on a new project,” he said. Right now, he’s building a screen press so he can print some of the art projects he’s done. Aaron is also a self-professed Instructables junkie and father to three “wonderful little boys.”

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