Too many firms are failing to find a means to visualise their applications as early as possible, and those that do are having to throw away their “visualisations” so that the final application can be coded.
If you want to produce usable applications, you must visualise early and create an iterative design process that evolves into the final coded application.
Your team must recognise that usability and functionality work together hand-in-hand. Applications are often released to end-users without the necessary debate that could help shape a usable and useful application.
The result is badly designed software that eventually needs to be expensively redesigned to suit user demands. It doesn’t have to be that way – and if users are consulted as early as possible in the visualisation stage, your business will have software that is fit and ready for purpose.
Take a step back and think about your personal purchasing decisions. It would be anathema to buy a house by just looking at the specification sheet; you’d want to go the property, “walk the boards” and experience the space of the rooms and views from windows.
Business applications are no different. Your end users need to see the application before it becomes final, to ensure it meets their stringent demands. Users, in short, need to try before they buy.
One of the challenges is that screens that are dynamic (based on user input or data) require logic and the development of this logic can slow down the process. Hence the ability to “mock-up” data driven screens without having to program the integration logic required for that data should be a key requirements of the tools you select.
Your users will be the people that interact with the technology on a daily basis, not your IT team. Your users will be the people that use the application to make crucial business decisions, not your IT team.
The right tools will help you to dummy up and test your design (user experience) as part of the visualisation process. That way, you can complete an iterative screen development, without getting tied up in behind-the-scenes integration.
Users will undoubtedly change their minds once they experience the technology; some will feel there’s too much on-screen data, while others will feel there isn’t enough information.
Creating an early visualisation will overcome the majority of changes you would otherwise only get to hear about very late in the development cycle during testing.
Getting your application up as an early beta version allows people around the business to give feedback, without impacting on your development times and costs. And in a cost-constrained environment where users demands change quickly, early insight is bound to be priceless.