Integrating Mobile Device Applications into
Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University,
Epinal Way, Loughborough, United Kingdom, LE11 3TU
Abstract: The concept of smart device apps is a global phenomenon that has transformed the electronics industry in recent years. The industry is now worth billions and is extremely profitable if the app is right. Apps are transforming how people organise themselves and work. Apps can be found that perform some of the most niche tasks and industry specific apps are on the increase. This study examines how apps can become tools to the practicing product designer by analysing the design process. Surveys were sent out to both student and professional designers. It is acknowledged that there are no apps dedicated specifically to product designers and most designers were not making use of their smart device as a design tool. It was also learnt that tablet market penetration (UK) is set to increase to 35% by 2015 which could mean there will be an increased need for apps as design tools. This work uncovered many different ideas for apps which could specifically be useful in the product design process. This could mean that when the market is ready, there is a lot of potential for apps to be used as design practice tools.
Keywords: Design Thinking, Design Education, App, Smartphone, Smart device, Creative, Design.
CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Tom PAGE, Integrating Mobile Device Applications into Designers’ Workflows, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 22 (2), pp. 195-204, 2013.
The past decade has seen the rapid development of small programs known as ‘Apps’ that run on smart devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs. In recent years, smartphone’s and tablet computers have surged in popularity and an app has now become more than a colloquialism for a computer application and a revolutionary industry worth billions. Smart devices are portable electronic computers that host an operating system (OS) environment, in the same way in which Windows runs on a computer. A current example would be the Apple iPad that hosts the iOS operating system that now operable on an estimated 316 million devices (Stat Spotting, 2012). In April 2012, the social media company Facebook announced the purchase of the app Instagram for $1billion (£630million) (BBC, 2012).
The value proposition for the ‘App’ business model is the fact that almost any task can be emulated on a device at a low production cost. The consumer gets the added value of functionality and expandability to increase their products service-life. The developer has the benefit of a large user-base and none of the overheads of manufacturing their own device and OS vendor also gets a percentage of the App’s retail price, which makes the ongoing development of the operating system worthwhile. This research considers on the end user as a designer. The app revolution has opened up plenty of opportunities for designers to capitalise financially with their creative ideas but how can apps themselves help designers, design?
The aim of this work is to identify if apps are currently being used in a student/professional designers workflow and to explore the possibilities of how professional and student product designers could integrate smart device apps into their design workflow. It serves as an investigation into the potential opportunities by collecting the opinions of others.
In order to fulfil this aim the following objectives have been identified.
- To review relevant media on the emerging subject of mobile application design.
- To divide the product design process into individual activities and explore the ‘essence’ of each one.
- To define the product design process for the context of this research using the most up to date design thinking methods and categorise them under the four D’s (Design Council, 2005).
- To acquire an industry perspective on the current relevance of smart device apps as professional design tools and possible future integration into their design workflows.
- To acquire a student perspective on the current relevance and potential use of smart device apps as design education tools at degree level.
- To suggest how a smart device app could replicate or improve on that activity in the product design process.
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