By Andy Feng on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015
Hello everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day! Happy Hump Day! Today’s app, POP, is a special treat to all my fellow designers and app developers out there. POP is an acronym for “Prototyping on Paper”, which pretty much explains exactly what the app is used for.
The POP app is designed to take photos/screenshots and quickly stitch them together to create a fluid, transitionable user interface prototype. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick-and-dirty scribble you jotted down on the back of a napkin or a polished, perfectly photoshopped selection of UI screenshots, POP will quickly bring your designs to life, giving you practical preview on how each design element will look and feel when put together.
Most great designers know that having a nice looking UI is only part of the equation, that the real challenge comes from delivering a great user experience. Creating a fluid, engaging, and memorable user experience is no easy task, often requiring copious amounts of time, energy, and real user feedback to nail down and is integral to the success or failure of a product or company.
This aspect of design is called UX, also known as user experience design. In most startups today, UX and UI go hand-in-hand and are usually entrusted to the same person. This is not to say that UI and UX are interchangeable and that they mean the same thing. In simplest terms; UI is how your app looks, UX is how people use it, how they “feel” when interacting with the product.
Designing an exceptional and intuitive UX is often extremely difficult yet can be approached in a very straightforward way. Come to think if it, the approach to designing a good UX can be summed up in a single word… Simplify.
Simplify the experience. Make it easy to use. If a certain function currently requires three taps to execute, think about how you can simplify that to just one tap, or better yet, zero taps! Successfully streamline and simplify how users interact with your product in every way possible and you’ll end up with the best possible user experience. It’s that simple.
Ok, so enough with the design lesson already… Let’s get back to today’s app, POP. The ability to rapidly prototype your designs empowers the designer to be able to “experience” the design without having to build the whole thing out. It allows us to test not just the UI but also the UX! This is where the magic happens.
Ever wonder why hardware is so much harder to get right than software? One of the reasons: It takes significantly more time to prototype and test out products made of atoms as opposed to bits! Hardware designers aren't afforded the same luxury that their software counterparts have with tools like POP.
This is a big reason as to why although 3D printing is much less affordable compared to traditional fabrication techniques, there’s still a huge demand for reliable 3D printing products. Where 3D printing currently lacks in affordability and scalability, it more than makes up for in speed and efficiency to prototype testable designs. That’s the game changer.
Thankfully for us software designers, when it comes to rapid prototyping, we have an array of reliable solutions, one of which is today’s app, POP (popapp.in). Other notable products and services in the same playing field include Marvel (marvelapp.com), Invision (invisionapp.com), and newcomer Atomic (atomic.io). All these companies are competing to solve the same problem; to make it easier for creators to quickly test out their ideas.
While all these companies deliver exceptional products, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, I chose to feature the relatively unknown POP app today because in the end, I’ve genuinely found it to be the easiest to use out of all the others. And because of that, I use POP the most...
Remember what I said before about simplifying things for the user? This is just another example of where although a certain app might not be as flashy, feature-packed, or powerful as some of the others, it wins out in the end simply due to great UX. And by great I really mean simple.. as in simple to use... because I’m lazy… and I’m guessing most other users are too. Why tap twice when I can tap once? Ain’ nobody got time for that!!?