Back in December, Brian was invited to talk with Lee Kantor on his show “Atlanta Technology Leaders” about building a mobile design offering at stable|kernel, and how he likes to work with clients to realize their needs.
Some of the highlights of Brian’s interview:
LK: Tell us about interactive mobile design.
BH: I like design that’s….clean, minimal, that’s really hot these days, flat. At the core of that, it’s app design that is to-the-point, doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary fluff around it.
LK: And you don’t want the app to be an exact replica of your website, right? Is that a rookie mistake?
BH: There are a lot of unique things you can do with a native app…You have to take into consideration touch interfaces, gestures, what you can do on the screen, the unique capabilities of mobile devices such as cameras, microphones…so yes it should be a completely different experience. Obviously have the same brand guidelines and colors, tone and voice, but yes, native apps are their own things these days.
JD: Is there anything that’s really exciting you these days, that you’ve noticed?
BH: What excites me about native apps is just the range of different things they can do, whether it’s something seemingly mundane like replacing a paper process like physical snail mail or moving paper across an office. Enterprise apps….are very useful and can save people time, eliminate tedious redundant work. So that’s exciting to me. There are a lot of great brain-training apps, photography apps, great social networks, communications apps that work across all platforms. I can be on my laptop and move to a smartphone and have the same experience through a seamless transition. That sort of thing excites me.
LK: What sort of questions do you ask a new client to get a feel for what their aesthetic is, and the outcome they desire?
BH: When talking to any client, I like to be a sponge at the beginning of the process to just absorb what their business goals are, what they are trying to accomplish with this app, who do they want to reach and what their users want from an app. Maybe it’s something that already exists and they want to streamline the process; maybe it’s something completely new and they need to prototype a bunch of ideas. That’s where I’ll come in and start creating prototypes, mock-ups, wireframes, etc.
LK: And you want to get a clear vision before you start coding?
BH: Right. Hearing those business goals and knowing the core of what they are after really helps inform those design decisions later…being able to elevate certain calls-to-action, not just “Well, I like the color blue, so I’m going to use it here.” Tying design back to business goals really benefits from having those requirements gathering sessions in the beginning.
JD: Is there a particular question you ask to really get the most out of meeting with a client for the first time?
BH: I always like to know what sort of apps clients enjoy using, think look nice and appeal to them. Once they come in and I feel I have a good handle on what they are looking for, I like to get into interactive white-boarding sessions and even through photoshop up on a TV and start iterating and workshopping ideas with them and get that immediate feedback. “Do you like this? Is this going in the right direction? Is this what’s in your mind?” They have this vision for a product in their head that they communicate through business plans, PDFs, maybe some sketches. I feel like its my job to try to manifest that into something real or something they can look at or maybe touch an interactive prototype as quickly as possible.
LK: I would think from your perspective elevating the design to this art form and having the elegance of simplicity, that can really elevate a brand. You have to sometimes educate the customer that hasn’t thought about their brand in that manner. Do you have to sometimes work through their expectations of what can and can’t be done?
BH: Absolutely. There are always tough decisions that have to be made and I’ll make recommendations that are new to a company that might be used to doing things the desktop way, for example…. helping those clients transition into a world where data can change at any minute, users can input their own data, they can be on any range of devices… and helping them create a system that can work across all those is sometimes a hurdle. That’s what they come to us for.
LK: Can you share with us a success sorry where you have helped a client be transformative?
BH: We’ve done enterprise apps, apps for service people that come to people’s houses where they had to fill out a lot of forms and if they needed a new field on a form, they had to go get another form…the power of computers, iPads, iPhones, we can have a dynamic form they can change to whatever they need, they can fill it out, add photos they took with the iPad, etc. That sort of experience elevates the full experience.
LK: What’s next for you in 2015?
BH: We are continuing to grow, bring on new clients in all sorts of fields, iOS, Android, probably will see a lot more watch apps with Android Wear and the new Watch that’s just come out. We’ll continue to just create high-quality apps for iOS and Android.
Listen to the podcast here. Brian’s interview starts at 25:12. You can also read more about the other participants in the segment.