I thought it might be fun to design a watch app that, unlike much of the work seen on sites like Dribbble, is anchored in a real need within an industry (Not just designing for design’s sake). Honestly, it’s just fun to design a watch app, but everything seems so much more worth the time when there’s meaning attached to it.

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So, just as one would begin any application design process, we’ve first got to look at the information that informs the process. We need to grasp:

  • The need
  • The audience
  • The objective

And then, for you marketing heads and data analytics obsessives, we also need to outline what determines whether this application can be considered a success or a failure (success metrics!). Sometimes this can all manifest cleanly and linearly, other times it can be a real battle to cut through bureaucracy, political agendas, poor communication, and any number of other ‘classics’ to get to something usable and bite-sized enough to yield a viable product.

With these points established, we get a better compass reading as to which way is north before we’ve spent a bunch of time sailing in potentially wrong and even dangerous directions (I’ll try to hang on to this metaphor for the duration).

To keep this blog series from becoming woefully long in the tooth, I’ve already assembled all of these points and will break them out in explanation as we proceed.

Often times, a client comes to a design team/agency/investment group, etc. with an idea. This idea, at least in the client’s mind will solve a problem, innovate on an existing idea, break new ground, make a ton of money, change the world, connect people, create buzz, trend, move the needle, yield ROI, appeal to ‘the kids,’ on and on and on and on. The truth is, this idea many times is addressing a symptom while the disease goes on unchecked. A good design process and set of design thinking exercises and principles can work to assess all connective tissue to this idea to see if that idea is really worth pursuing in eras of solving a problem, or if there’s a more relevant, deeper issue that demands the attention and can effect real change when located, iterated on, refined, tested, and produced. Building for an emerging technology like wearables, makes it all the more tempting for folks to lunge forward with a trendy idea or a well explored line of thinking simply to hit the market first or extend market share to new audiences or some other thing. These things are not necessarily the best motivation and can make something with great potential become over saturated, poorly thought out, and ultimately cut down in its prime (Rest in peace QR codes).

It’s important to meet these ideas with the collaborative brainwork born from a design thinking methodology that’s focus is human centric. While the idea might be a grand gesture,—promising to cast light over an otherwise shadowy industry of sorts—it can’t do anything truly meaningful and impactful without first ensuring that it’s truly solving a problem instead of just knocking down a few of the offshoot symptoms. The world doesn’t need to add more to landfills (even digital ones) with ‘flavor of the month’ apps, inspiring as they might be. Building a wearable application has so much potential in a very intimate space—a space that still needs a lot more exploration before we can truly say we understand the ins and outs of it. So let’s take this idea and let’s take the minds of others, let’s put our heads together to research other challenges that our target audience faces. How might we resolve these challenges? Does the presented idea do that with strength or is another direction needed instead? Let’s build paper prototypes and wordlist and color walls with sticky notes and whiteboard markings. And once we’ve done that? Let’s poke holes in everything that we can. What won’t work? What will? Can we move forward? Or is it back to formula?

I can see this is already getting too long, so I’ll continue this in the next segment when we look at our core points for the application and the next steps from there.