More screens available at Dribble
The idea of an app concept oriented towards media consumption and tracking of such activity was born in my head a few years ago, but given my studies and limited time — not to mention my lack of knowledge in design — , I never managed to really dive deep into it.
Fast forward to late 2017 I started listening to @LayoutFM, “A weekly podcast about design, technology, programming and everything else”; and with it my passion for design resurfaced.
Earlier this year, given the free time I had, I decided to finally give this app concept a real shot and thanks to Kevin’s [@vernalkick] encouragement to do it even if I had never studied design, I went ahead and now I am here with basically a full app concept. Kevin was a huge part of this process, he was kind enough to help me out with multiple feedback notes to make of this what it is right now.
The app’s purpose
I basically wanted to mix two of my passions: filmmaking and digital products, in a way in which it was easy to track the movies and series I watch, as well as info about them and the possibility to acquire them, rent them or even gift them; all inside a single app.
There are a lot of tracking apps, but they all lack a sort of native experience and a cohesive experience between movies and tv content.
Also, keeping a record of the entertainment you consume shouldn’t be boring, and so I tried to make the design as clean and fun as possible so that you don’t feel like using an old tv guide.
The design process
I started by setting the limits of what the app was capable of doing at least in its first iteration, what were some of the features that other apps lacked — at least for me — , and how I visually imagined the app’s feel.
I went ahead and did a wireframe of the app. Later, I sketched some mockups. This was all done with a pen and paper.
Then I dove into Sketch and put my ideas on digital. I remember sending Kevin the first digital mockups and they were only 2 iOS screens and 2 Android ones.
iOS design first:
I designed for iOS in mind first given the fact that it was a bigger challenge for me. I hadn’t been the owner of an iOS device and therefore studying the design language and applying it was something I had to take out of my way as soon as possible. I figured that, since I had a bigger understanding of Android, it would be easier to design for Google’s OS after having the iOS ones.
This was my job now:
After that first batch of feedback from Kevin, I decided that I wanted to dive as deep as possible into this and so I started designing every single screen of the app. It took a lot of effort from me because it was the first time I’d done something this meticulous in design, and also my first time designing a full app. It was tiresome and sometimes frustrating. I like to think that not having studied design doesn’t actually put strict limits, but challenges; and it was only up to me to face them and overcome them in order to finish this project that no one but me was actually in debt with.
After I had all the iOS screens finished, I sent them to Kevin and that was when it all felt real. Kevin’s comments were enlightening and motivating, he acknowledged my good work and also made all the needed suggestions.
Then it was time for Android:
Android was challenging in the sense that most guidelines are very adaptable and so following a pattern that was independent but also coherent regarding the iOS app was hard. I used Google’s Material sketch plugin to design the app and it was flexible in many ways, but also limited in many others.
Yet, having a design system from iOS was a big help and I realized that going from Apple to Android wasn’t that hard, probably because even though I had designed for iOS first, I always had my Android usability in mind.
The biggest obstacles
- Consistency: both in every screen and also in the work put into them as a whole. When you know that you have more than 20 screens to design ahead of you, it’s hard to wrap your head around it, and even more, if you’re working all alone.
- Android consistency: Android has multiple screens and variations from one phone to another, that’s why trying to scale to some devices was a complete pain. Maybe it’s my lack of expertise with it, but still.
- Designing for others: this is when feedback from people like Kevin is so useful. We tend to be pretty subjective towards many things — especially when it’s our own project — and when we get feedback that opens our eyes, it can be tough to give up on an idea that worked perfectly for us in order to make it way better for the rest. In the end, the users are not only you.
- Impostor syndrome: again, since I am not a designer, I was afraid to be an impostor all the time. But I figured that even if I didn’t have the theoretic and technical knowledge, I still could have a design concept as a result of my formation in arts.
- Why am I doing this? No one is paying me for it, this is out of passion and desire to learn. I had to push myself many times not because I didn’t feel passionate about it but because I didn’t — and still don’t — know where this could lead to.
I can rest assured that I did a great work with this project because I poured my whole into it.
When I look at this right now I can see hard work and payoff. Even if this design doesn’t make it in front of many people’s eyes or receives any praise, as a first project it is more than I ever imagined. I, of course, want to make this widely seen, but the concept of popularity online is too weird.
I am not close to being as skilled as the designers out there, but this definitely gives me the confidence to take on new design projects and keep growing and exploring this passion. I have a couple of ideas in my mind and might start working on them pretty soon.