The first app I designed after the bootcamp

Jul 20, 2023

3 min read

Designing an app for a Bootcamp project and for an actual client is a completely different experience. Yes, you might use the same design-thinking methodology, and yes you are still using Figma, but during real-life projects, you might encounter some challenges that didn't consider when starting.

I’m sure there are many others, but in order to keep it short, I'm going to talk about five things that you should bear in mind when designing a real app.

1. Nothing is obvious

A developer’s job is not to guess which screen goes after another, or what happens when a user press this or that button. They are here to build, and it's your job as a designer to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

It's really important that you design for every user flow, not only the happy path but every other road the user might take to accomplish an objective. Take the time to show how components and variants will behave for each case, the different states of an input, etc.

Prototyping is a very useful exercise for this sake, which will help you review all your screens and flows, and also give the developers or other members of the team an opportunity to provide feedback rapidly.

2.Border cases

They exist, and they should be taken into account when designing. Of course, Developers and Q&A will help you with this, but it's important that you really take the time to think of these cases and design for them early on. 

3.When to include Devs?

As early as possible.

In this project, I included them when I was building the site map (I should have done it even earlier), and not only were the insights provided extremely useful, but their involvement allowed us to start working on the development of the back-end before finishing the design, saving us a lot of time.

When I read “Inspired” by Marty Cagan, he was really emphatic on this and it encouraged me to do so, but I was amazed of seeing first-hand the value that the engineering team can have beyond just coding.

4.Walk the road to obtain the reward

I admit that as a junior designer, and given the tight schedule, I was tempted to accelerate parts of the process (wireframes for example), so that I could jump to the high-fidelity designs as soon as possible. This was a huge mistake. 

If you don’t do the process right, you will get to the high-fidelity designs thinking you have a number of screens that will not even come shy to the real number, and thus to the real work and hours that you will still have to put into the project. 

Take the time and focus to build all the user flows and wireframes, and really enjoy this stage of the process and see it not as a means to an end, but as an end itself. If you do it this way, you will arrive to the final stage with everything ready so that you can focus on designing a beautiful interface that will provoke a unique user experience.

5.Basic screens you might forget

Have you ever received a code to validate your email? How about a Welcome or Confirmation email? Well, guess what, someone designed that, and that someone is probably you.

Emails, in-app error & success messages, splash screen, etc. These are screens that are sometimes forgotten or that we don't pay much attention to when designing, but they are really important not only to allow users to complete a task but also when done right, can provide a differential experience, so don't overlook them.

Bonus: now it's real

Yes, this is not something that you are going to show a prototype to your teacher and classmates. The product you are designing will come to life and will be put in front of real users. You will have to work with a real client, with real developers, and with different stakeholders depending on the product. 

It is not an easy task and you will make mistakes along the way, but just keep pushing on and you will feel deeply rewarded once you finish.

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear about your experience or to just chat so that we can share knowledge and help each other out, so feel free to reach out!

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