Building enterprise apps with Indigo Studio

Gradient Girl / Thursday, April 9, 2015

As anyone who works in app development will tell you, it’s an exciting time to be in the industry. With thousands of devices to develop for, exponential growth and amazing new releases coming out all the time, every day brings something new. For those who are ready and willing to constantly learn and push themselves, there are few industries as diverse, challenging and stimulating.

Whether it’s for the consumer, public sector or enterprise market, there are immeasurable opportunities to build apps and tools which can be accessed from different devices and which serve almost any purpose. However, given the variety of work out there, it can sometimes be complicated to align development with stakeholder goals and end-user needs, and this is especially the case in enterprise app development. The people who commission apps are often very different from end-users and have quite different aims and understandings to colleagues “on the shop floor”. We’ve all heard of cases where senior managers think junior colleagues need one thing - yet junior colleagues tell developers they need an app which does something rather different.

Of course, negotiating these differences, and finding a solution everyone is happy with is part of the appeal of working in this industry. Technological advances mean we no longer need to follow the waterfall project management model for large builds, and development is now much more collaborative and human-centred. Modern developers aren’t hidden away in back rooms building IT systems but have the opportunity to work alongside different colleagues across organisations.

Unachieved potential

For all the fantastic enterprise apps which exist, there are many more examples of failed and disappointing designs. Unfortunately, tools sometimes do fail to stand up to expectations and massive investments of time, energy and resources go to waste. Whether due to poor communication between stakeholders and developers, a gap of understanding about the purposes of the app or simply a build which doesn’t correspond with actual business practices, there are many reasons why and enterprise app can go wrong.

At Infragistics we understand the importance of collaboration when developing apps. Indigo Studio, our state of the art UX prototyping platform provides developers with the finest tools for collaborative development. Among its powerful features, it particularly specializes in letting developers demonstrate exactly how their builds will look and work without writing a single line of code. It’s this easy collaboration for development that we’ll be exploring below.

Wireframes: essential practice

Gathering feedback throughout the development of any design and development project is crucial. If simply left to chance - or the developer’s initial interpretation - the final product is very likely to be wildly different to stakeholder expectations. Wireframes are therefore a staple of enterprise app development - companies often invest considerable sums into enterprise apps and therefore being able to track app development is very important. Wireframes allow developers to present simple mock-ups to stakeholders and illustrate how they plan to take the development forward. From here they can negotiate what changes need to be made and what will or won’t be possible.

Indigo Studios includes a number of functions which take wireframing to the next level and really let stakeholders visualize how the app would work in their enterprise.

Functional, animated UI prototypes

With Indigo Studio, developers can build functioning prototypes that are dynamic and give a real impression of the user experience. Typical wireframe features such as content fields, images and column design come as standard yet the prototypes offer so much more. Indigo lets users build animated pages which rescale automatically for different sized screens and demonstrate the kinds of interactions end-users will have with the different parts of the app.

When stakeholders and end-users test the app, these prototypes make it far easier for them to picture what the final development will look like and make suggested changes.

Design realistic storyboards

Helping stakeholders picture how the app you’re designing would actually work in their business gives them the confidence it is going in the right direction. Indigo Studio does just this, by providing a large number of realistic storyboards which let you set the scene and tell stories around your app. They show the kinds of scenarios the app would be used in and how colleagues would interact with and use it at work. The storyboards actually allow you to snap screenshots of your prototype into the devices in the storyboards too, making them even more realistic. Again, this is all about inspiring confidence and letting stakeholders really picture how the end product will function in “real life”.

Enterprises want security

When developing apps for enterprise it is crucial to understand that businesses want to ensure that their investment is worthwhile and going to plan. The stakeholders who have commissioned an app are also very aware that if the app fails, they’ll have to answer to senior colleagues, so it’s understandable that they’re keen to get it right first time! Indigo Studio provides a powerful set of tools that allow developers to demonstrate what their app will look like and give stakeholders the security they’re need. In the end, it’s all about making the development process more collaborative, human focussed and effective.