At Betty Blocks, we value design thinking in combination with no-code application development. It allows for both faster and more effective innovation, while always keeping the customer or end user as the focus. In our previous blog post, we shared how implementing a design thinking strategy using no-code software can make application development faster, but how does it enable you to build apps more effectively?
To recap, design thinking is a strategic 6-step approach to problem solving. You begin by empathizing with potential users by doing as much research as possible to understand your audience, their needs, and how your app fits in with a specific market. Step two is to define a problem using the information you gathered about customer needs. Next is to ideate, or brainstorm solutions. When you have generated a number of possibilities, you can choose the best one, two, or even three to develop a prototype. By testing the prototype with potential users, you can gain a sense of how well it is working, and where it may need improvements. Finally, after improving the prototype based on testing, you can implement by launching your app to the market.
How Can Design Thinking Help Build Better Applications?
Design thinking follows 3 central principles: The need to empathize with your users in order to understand the problem, to explore solutions, and to materialize your ideas through continuous testing and implementation. These ideas are also important guidelines in application development.
Empathize With Your Users
Customer centricity is increasingly the driving force moving industry trends forward. This certainly extends to application development, where success depends on user satisfaction. Investing time up front to understand your users and identify their needs pays off big time because it keeps the user at the center of every part of your development process moving forward. This paves the way for success by guaranteeing your app will rate high on usability, and placing the customer at the core of your strategy.
Ideation allows you the freedom to think big and unleash the wildest and most ambitious ideas you have for your application. Of course, when developing your actual prototype(s) the goal is to start small, keep it simple, and take it one step at a time, but one of the benefits of design thinking is that it gives you a space to reach your long-term dreams or future ambitions. By starting with adaptable prototypes that have room to grow, you can proceed to testing and implementation with flexibility.
Test, Re-Test, and Test Some More
Iteration leads to improvement. Once you begin to test the viability of your prototypes, you will see the areas that still need polishing. With design thinking, the idea is that you never have to throw out a prototype entirely, but rather focus on keeping the aspects that do work and only make adjustments to the features that need improvement. With continuous user testing, you can also gain insight into how to achieve success with your app once you reach the launch phase.
By starting with a design thinking approach from the beginning of your app development process, you can ensure not only a faster but also a more effective delivery. Following the steps of design thinking opens the door for better innovation, more flexibility, and facilitates each of our 5 tips for building a successful app without becoming a coding wizard.
5 Tips for Building a Successful App Without Coding
- Know your users. Before you even get started, it is crucial to have a picture in mind of your target audience. Also, remember that your app serves a greater purpose of increasing efficiency or ease for the user. Your app is going to meet the needs of a specific group of people, so the more you know about your audience the better you can serve these needs. Keeping your users in mind throughout every step of development will ensure that your app not only meets your intended users’ needs, but also that it performs well in usability testing and has a functional and pleasing design.
- Have a strategy in mind. Business goals and opportunities should be planned first and foremost, even before you begin developing the app itself. Having a strong sense of your users and their needs will allow you to develop a strategy that accommodates the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the end-user. Your customers are changing more frequently, and it’s important to adapt to, and with, them. Customer experience is central to business success, so your strategy should also reach beyond the development stage of your app to include all aspects of the user’s journey, from usability testing to implementation.
- Keep it simple. In the early stages, focus on one central problem that your application will solve. The best approach is to build a minimum viable product (MVP), launch it, and gather feedback from users to fix any issues in your app and expand from there. In the beginning, less is more!
- Take it one step at a time. As you build from ground 0, the road to your finished product may seem overwhelming. Focus on a step-by-step approach to create building blocks to your end result in order to get you started, and set reachable target goals. Remember that you need to start somewhere!
- Be agile. Understand that you might have to go back and revisit previous steps throughout the development process, and that’s okay. Similarly, your carefully laid plans will likely need tweaking, and that’s also okay. The important thing is to iterate flexibly and respond actively to feedback about how you can improve.
One of the greatest strengths of a design thinking approach is that it is cyclical: You can always revisit previous steps and make changes as you go along. In this way, it is not necessary to get stuck trying to achieve perfection before progressing to the next stage, because you can always assess what works and use that as a point to build from. This supports faster iteration and will support you along the path to developing the most successful app possible, by allowing you to maintain a customer focus at all times, and operate within your strategy with agility by thinking simply and scaling up step-by-step.Betty Blocks’ no-code app development platform makes this possible, and you can see for yourself by scheduling a free demo. Interested in learning even more about applying design thinking to no-code app development? Join us on April 20th for the first ever no-code event, Betty Blocks On Stage.