Remember how I said normals can’t visualize user interfaces without a picture of the user interface in front of them? To be completely clear, I classify normals as anyone who is not an app/front end web developer. Without at least a poorly executed hand-drawn sketch of a screen in an app, everyone else is lost.
I’ve also found that as that hand-drawn sketch gets better, goes digital and gets closer and closer to what everyone thinks will be the final look for the app, normals have a tough time distinguishing between that mockup and the final app. Ditto for “prototyping apps” like Invision.
The screen is the app to them. That screen is also the network and the server, or servers on the other end of those network calls.
Making the actual app look like that mockup, whereever it came from, is the app developer’s job.
You are on some company’s website, interested in their product. It’s packed with features you need. The screenshots look fabulous: So many gradients! You make the decision to download the trial. You click download on the menu, navigate to the download page. There’s a form with 10 text boxes to fill out. You close the browser tab.
This is often the case for enterprise software: they want to vet you right away to see if you’re a good candidate to go after. It could mean martini lunches and golf trips for the sales guys, while the developers work extra hard back at the office getting that TPS report cover letter generator feature working. Sigh, you can probably tell which group I was in.
The water below is a sheet of glass. The sun is just peaking up over the trees, but it is already hot out; hot enough to consider jumping in the lake this early in the morning. From where you stand, there is a 3m drop to the water. It’s easier to get in by the dock, but the water is a deep enough here to safely jump in from this height. There’s a thrill jumping from this height, a little trepidation too, for the first jump of the day.
You jump feet first. Within a second, you’re in the water; the serene surface broken by froth of your entry, ripples in the surface emanating from where you entered the water. You did it: the first jump of the day.
Great. But why doesn’t anyone think about the poor water?
Imagine you are a lake. It’s a pleasantly warm day so far, but even if it gets really hot, you’re a lake; it’s ok. There’s no breeze. All of a sudden you’re surface is wrecked with a big splash by some doofus in board shorts and a bad haircut. Right in your good water! You love that water. Now it’s all over the place. What a mess.
The very first time you open an app, you’re the water. What would make that less traumatic?
I’ve started integrating Apple frameworks into Kapowski.
Rather, I’ve started being a pathological user and realizing my integration is woefully inadequate. What’s a pathological user, you ask? A dickhead, basically.
Do you get a lot of push notifications? You probably got, like, eight just reading this sentence.
Every app seems to want to push something to you.
It’s been almost a month since the last update. Even though I haven’t been writing as often as I’d like about the work, the work is happening.
There is a point in a project when there are no more questions to ask. Everything major has been dealt with at least, but perhaps solved entirely. The rest of the work is following those decisions to their end, filling in the necessary details to embed those decisions in the code.
We are at that point with Kapowski.
I’ve referred a couple times to deadlines and schedule pressure as constraints one should embrace to make a great app (or similar software project). It’s a good cheat at forcing priorities, especially useful for version 1, where everything is so loose and open.
Deadlines, though—everyone knows—can be used for nefarious purposes as well.
I started formalizing the Settings screen first. Settings screens are typically afterthought in user’s minds, as they should be. Get the app design right and users should barely be in there. But, it’s a tough design problem and the code for the settings tends to spread its tendrils deep within the whole app; settings affect behaviour of the app, so getting most of it out of the way first helps get the app out the door faster.
So let’s breakdown the settings screen!
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
The enemy in this case is just circumstance and little things. I popped my ear, it’s the summer; you know, stuff and things. I planned to write every week day, but that hasn’t worked for a few weeks.
But: Kapowski is coming along nicely. I’m learning Sketch, Swift, iOS 10 libraries; I’m taking notes, sinking deeper into the problem; it’s great. You can see what I’m working on!