Pairing with a Developer to Design an App – Part One

Product designers and developers commonly have a push and pull relationship. Collaboration and communication are key to align on a plan, but once the plan is made, each typically goes their separate way to get to work. This leaves developers with a surface-level understanding of what it really means when designers, well, design. Visibility into decisions about composition, color, content, and more are hidden in the “black box” of the designer’s intent.

Jordan Nelson and I are going to run an experiment. We want to see what we can each learn from each other by designing something, together. We’ll make every note, sketch, and internal dialog transparent through this process.

Why We’re Doing This

We hope for the following outcomes from this experiment:

  1. Understand what decisions or constraints were part of the design process
  2. Expose a shared language for clear collaboration between Designer and Developer
  3. Identify opportunities to improve the design process at Atomic and collaboration with product teams
  4. See if this type of experiment would be valuable enough to do with others and how this might scale

How We’ll Pair

  • One hour per working session. We’ll get as far as we can in the hour.
  • No agenda/schedule. We’ll allow as much time as needed for questions and discussion.
  • Discuss key takeaways at the end of each session.
  • Work remotely. We’ll leverage online collaborative tools and video conferencing.

The Product

Jordan had previously built a mobile app for himself, a personal app that was a hub for his personal data. The app includes reports on finances, access to smart home controls, a photo library, and more.

“The app is a personal financial dashboard hosted privately on my home network. My hope was to provide actionable views on my financial data instead of trying to derive meaning from manual sifting through tables of information.” – Jordan Nelson

To walk through the design process, we’ll rethink the app’s value and purpose by creating an Information Architecture plan. We’ll also sketch early concepts to test some ideas and create a high-fidelity prototype that could be developed.

Pairing to Design an App

Watch for future posts as we reveal how we implement our plan to pair on designing an app.