How to design the obvious?

What is obvious? You may think your app design and content are exactly that; obvious. It’s usually not.
Everything about your app became more obvious, once you know what the target users answers.
But until you have got feedback from the target users, it’s in the best case a qualified guess.
Designing the obvious is about including target users in both the strategic planning, MVP focused prototyping and BETA development process.
It’s the process of establishing an external iterative feedback loop designed for user-centric innovation management and user-driven app development.
It’s less about guessing or asking friends, family and fools (The 3 Fs). They will never be totally neutral, they want you to succeed:

  • Friends: Because they believe in you, not necessary the product or startup.
  • Family: Because they believe in you, not necessary the product or startup.
  • Fools: Because they don’t recognize the risk in the product or startup.

It’s about identifying and start designing what features that are obvious providing excellent value for the customers and end-users.

Early app concept-testing is extremely underrated

Think first, build later. It’s difficult to think exactly like your target users; ask them!
The Value-Centric concept development is a process of ideation and creativity.
Early concept-testing by target customers and users is crucial to enhance the later process of prototyping and refining your strategies.
Early external evaluation of prototypes give sound insights before building your BETA version.
This way it’s possible to get early Proof-Of-Concept validation before using time and money on actual MVP focused app development.

Strategic app planning; identifying user value

User-centric innovations and user-driven feature planning are combined powerful tools.
Here are some core app planning aspects of user value and UI & UX quality to explore and assess:

  • First thing first; your app has to be found. Social Media Marketing is the key (SMM strategy)
  • Your app must stand out with Unique Value Propositions among the masses of apps (Brand identity & position)
  • Your app should be easy to test out, without rigid sign-in procedures (Excellent UX)
  • The app has to fulfill what it promise (Useful UX)
  • Design not for users, but for the tasks they need to fulfill your promise (Excellent UX)
  • Design innovative features that differentiate the app itself (Mixing radical & incremental innovations)
  • Easily guide users in an engaging way (Intuitiv UI, excellent UX)
  • Quickly turn new users into intermediates (Intuitiv UI, excellent UX)
  • When the users are impressed doing something, it must be easy to share the passion (Viral & engagement features UX)
  • When the users exit the app, the design should say “thank you for using me” (Retention features UX)
  • When your users start the app again, the design should remember which task to do next (Retention features UX)
  • When ending a session, the users should feeling empowered, productive, smarter and happier (Trustful UX)
  • If the app is totally Free, it has to be more useful and deliver higher user value alignment than similar Free apps
  • If the users have paid for it, it has to more useful and deliver higher user value alignment and price value than similar apps
    After launch, stick to your app vision, purpose and unique value propositions, that worked to get the users hooked in the first place.


Identify and defining Personas

Another best practice for app development is to design personas, to learn about target users as a process to pursue designing the obvious. What are personas?
A Persona is a representation of a user, typically based off user research and incorporating user goals, needs, and interests.
Cooper categorizes personas into three types. Each has its own pros and cons.

Marketing Personas

Marketing Personas focus on demographic information, buying motivations and concerns, shopping or buying preferences, branding & marketing message, media habits and such.
They are typically described as a range (I.e.: 24 to 35 years old, live in Norway, EU or USA), and explain customer behavior but do not get to the why behind it.
Marketing personas are good for determining what types of customers will be receptive to certain products or messages, or for evaluating potential ROI of a product.
What they are not good for is for defining a product or service, what it is, how it will work, and how it will be used; or for prioritizing features in a product or service.


Proto-personas are used when there is no money or time to create true research based personas.
Proto-Personas are based on secondary research and the team’s educated guess of who they should be designing for.
According to Cooper, using a proto-persona to drive design decisions is still better than having no persona at all, though of course they should be validated with research!

Design Personas

Design Personas focus on user goals (and UX objectives), current behavior,
and pain points as opposed to their buying or media preferences and behaviors.
They are based on field research (I.e. Interviews or web surveys) and real people.
They tell a story and describe why people do what they do in attempt to help everyone involved in designing and building, pursue the obvious.
Design Personas are good for communicating research insights and user goals, understanding and focusing on certain types of users, and avoiding the self-referential design.

Templates for Personas development and Feature Planning

Templates are provided to streamline the process of designing the obvious including personas development and feature prioritization.
The results of the excercise will empower your app Feature Plan and Action Plan.
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