When designing for different platforms different approaches must be taken. Our Creative Director has worked with numerous clients to help them design applications for Android. Through his work with clients such as Simple and Airbnb, Adit has a tremendous amount of insight to share on best practices. If you’re interested in knowing more check out his presentation below.
The InVision app is a great set of tools aimed at making it easier for designers to create interactive web and mobile mockups to better share their designs with clients and developers. Two Toasters uses the InVision app on the regular, so we were dying to know more about it. InVision’s Lead Designer, Ryan Duffy, was nice enough to chat with us about their helpful app.
Sara: This is Sara Sundqvist talking with Ryan Duffy. He’s the Lead Designer over at InVision. It’s a great tool for prototyping and mockup creation.
Sara: What inspired the idea to build the InVision app?
Ryan: Well, Clark and Ben our founders were running a UX consulting company, you know a small 10-15 person shop, and they were having that same challenge that everyone was having. Which was, “How do we show and demo our stuff for our clients”? Like everyone back then they were shooting PDFs or putting together little mini-sites to click through. They thought, you know we want to create something for ourselves so that we can just quickly build interactive prototypes and share them out and have it be a kind of native to the browser experience. So that’s how it first came alive and then at some point they got some funding and they went for it.
Sara: So it started as an internal tool for you to use?
Ryan: It did. Yeah, I wasn’t a part of their company at that point, it was a part of their consulting company. But yeah it was something they were using and then realized, “Hey, this may be a company”.
Sara: What tools in the InVision app do you think people find the most useful and who are you finding are the main users of the InVision app?
Ryan: Probably the most popular thing is the prototyping. So, dumping your designs in there, quickly linking them together and sharing them with somebody. That’s a really important part of what people use (InVision for). Just to get the flow or feel of an app or a site going.
I think close on the heels of that is the commenting feature. So not only can you browse this, but as you go you can leave comments and feedback on specific areas of the screen and actually have a dialogue about this icon or this button or this page or whatever it is. Those are pretty big specific features that people use. Because we’ve got individual designers who are serving clients, we’ve got small teams like consulting teams, we’ve got agencies, we’ve got startup companies, and we’ve also got these big global people. So, startups like Evernote and Airbnb redesigned their site in Invision. We use it ourselves to work on our own product. So, I’m designing InVision inside of InVision in this weird inception sort of way.
So product development people use it for user testing, for mobile stuff, for client presentations, for collaboration. Like one of our customers is Disney and the Asia Pacific team and the team in L.A. use it to collaborate. They’ve got all these people spread all over the globe so they use it to share and interact on their designs especially on thier mobile stuff.
Sara: Have you been getting a lot of feedback from users about how it’s (InVision App) been helping?
Ryan: Yeah. We actually have kind of a cool thing. We send out an email to everyone who signs up and ask them for some insight. And there’s been a whole wide range of it. What were trying to do is were trying to keep ourselves in the middle and the core of our value proposition so we get lots of feedback about all the different ways people are using it and it’s all different. So for some people it’s about iterating and being able to quickly share those things out and move fast. For some people it’s like, yeah I can jump on and see what everyone on my team is working on and I can look at all the designs and browse through them. There’s a whole range of stuff. We actually had a really huge global architecture firm just sign up. So like sharing their renderings and stuff with InVision. So there’s a whole range of ways people are finding to use this.
Sara: Since we are a mobile dev. shop, what particular tools within the app are specific towards making mobile prototypng easier in your opinion?
Ryan: I think the coolest part of the mobile story is the idea that it empowers a designer to get their design and prototype to the device quickly, without Xcode, without provisioning certificates or any of that stuff. You know, me as an indivudal designer can put together quick prototypes share them to anybody’s phone and because it’s clickable it becomes touchable. And then you can walk around with an app on your phone that’s seamless and feels like it’s on the phone installed and just touch it and use it. Which helps you to answer those kind of flow and big picture design questions about the app way before there’s any baggage or overhead for code. And then you realize this isn’t gonna work or this is gonna be weird or people are reacting oddly to this. So it’s just this way to really jump in there quick and get the feel on the devices, rather its tablets or mobile. I think that’s the biggest win. Cause if you need to pivot or change or shift you’re changing quickly.
Sara: So who would you consider to be your main competiton in terms of product offerings and what makes your product offering stronger?
Ryan: You know our space is kind of new. There are a lot of different people, a lot of smart people all over doing all sorts of things. For us we’ve been watching a range of them with different attacks on…the same problems. Which it ranges from just kind of an online shared repository of your design files to very specific mobile prototyping and everything in between. So for us, epecially with our 2.0 product coming out, we don’t have anyone where we think this is exactly a competitor to us. But there’s lots of cool stuff going on.
So let me answer it this way. In terms of what I feel we’re strong in is that we are not trying to be a technical tool. In some spaces like especially in mobile prorotyping there are people who are creating these very intricate highly almost programming oriented ways of drawing regions and building little features. It’s very detailed and really powerfully functional. I think we’re taking a stronger approach which is to answer the right problem. Which is elevating the design conversation and keeping that in the right place and actually producing better design by facilitating quick sharing interaction and testing.
So really empowering the design team or the designer to lead that conversation, rather than creating a technical tool that you need to get training in. We’re remaining in a way that’s totally agnostic to the designer. So UX people use us for wireframing, hi-fi pixel monkeys use us for those really perfect suspend disbeief hi-fi prototypes. We want to be available and usable for all those different kinds of designers and all those different kinds of processes rather than creating a tool that requires tons of configuration stuff. Especially on a mobile platform, because what are you gonna do with that? Probably nothing. That’s gonna get thrown away at some point. So i think we’re getting pretty strong there.
Sara: I heard you mention a little while ago a version 2.0. So we have to ask, I mean we use InVision all the time in our office to communicate with our clients, and between developers and designers… in the future what are your goals for mobile, for helping with mobile prototyping and what are some tools that we might see in a futue release, if you can talk about it?
Ryan: I am so excited about 2.0. I really am. I design everyday and I think, “I need this now. Please launch this”. So we are very close to launching 2.0. There are kind of two fronts that we’re thinking about on the mobile front and there are some kind of specific interactions to the mobile space that we are gonna be introducing over the next six months or so. Which are different kinds of swipe interactions, transitions, fixing bars to the bottom and the top of the screen so that you can keep those there and it rolls like an app does normally. So we’re trying to bite off some of those big things to make sure we’re creating the right level of reality for mobile prototyping.
We’re also doing some stuff on the desktop. So if you share a mobile prototype and someone loads it in their browser in their desktop we’re actually skinning it with the device of your choice and scaling it to the screeen so that they can see. Otherwise, it’s sorta just a design. So we’re gonna allow them to click back through the machine as well.
The other kind of side of our thinking on mobile especially is actually developing some apps…making some iOS stuff or web apps that allow you to do some offline browsing of your projects when you give them to your clients or whatever doing demos when there isnt wifi. I have some people that go into some pretty big companies that have some very secure networks. They want to just be able to walk in with the thing on their device and do the prototype demo.
So 2.0 in general… think project management for design teams. So the core and the features and all that is remaining intact. We’re actually addng a lot of visibility and communications to the process around that so that everyone can keep abreast of what everyone else is working on. And were taking the first step very soon. But again over the next 6 months were trying to become the de facto. Let me restate that we will be the de facto project management platform for creative design teams… so that’s the goal there.
Sara: Awesome. Well I know we’re definitely looking forward to that release. You’ll have to let us know, you’ll have to keep us in the loop.
Ryan: Yeah, I’m excited. So we’ll let you know.
Sara: Well thank you so much, Ryan. It’s been great talking to you and I definitely learned some new things about the InVision app, and like I said just keep us posted.
Ryan: Yeah, thanks. I’ve enjoyed being here.