Mobile App Prototyping for Designers with Xcode Storyboards

Opener

We’ve used a number of tools to prototype apps over the years to go from initial concept to interactive prototype. Most of them were decent enough, but they were all lacking in some way which kept us looking for better options. Many do not support scrolling, some have chunky screen transitions, and most have awkward UI that is frustrating to work with. We eventually decided not to spend time learning tools that are limited to prototyping and instead to invest in becoming proficient at using Xcode, the de-facto tool for iOS development. Xcode prototypes are easy to get started on, are as simple or as complex as you need, and are a great stepping stone to building the final product. (more…)

iPad App Case Study: CanaDream Club

This year, MindSea created an iPad app for CanaDream, one of Canada’s largest Recreational Vehicle rental companies. We’d like to share some insights into our process for designing the app to meet CanaDream’s goals, for the interest of other developers and potential clients.

The Project

CanaDream has spent years creating a cross-country network of partners who can offer discounts to their customers through the CanaDream Club. But they were missing a way to make it quick and simple for their Club Members to take a suggested tour or find their partners’ hotels, campgrounds, and attractions while on the road. Having to book over the phone or ahead of time online made it harder for renters to “indulge their spontaneity,” in the words of their marketing and communications director, Kerry Worth.

The challenge of the project Kerry brought to MindSea was to make it as fluid as possible to search through CanaDream’s numerous suggested tours and their Club Partners’ hundreds of discount offers. The app would have to replicate the functionality and branding of their website, while being simple and intuitive to use on an iPad.

CanaDreamAttractions

Our Strategy

In keeping with our user-centred design approach, we focused on key use cases throughout development, designing the app around RV renters’ needs and limitations. Through close consultation with Kerry, we created a set of features that combine to make the app useful and accessible:

CanaDreamTour

• A map displays CanaDream’s suggested trip routes, can provide directions to the accommodations and attractions, and shows the user’s location using GPS.

CanaDreamDetail

• Within the app, users can view current information, pricing and availability for nearby Club Partner attractions — and go straight to booking with them. This integrates with the existing system on CanaDream’s website, letting you save and review booking vouchers.

• An account login/logout system facilitates the booking process and protects user data on the rented iPads.

The Results

CanaDream has received great feedback from customers about the app. According to Kerry, “we get a lot of positive comments about the interface… it has a real “wow” factor…. It’s just a very elegant, slick presentation.” The iPad rental program provides a unique way for CanaDream to stand out in their industry and provide a better service.

For her part, Kerry appreciated our hands-on approach to design. We actively worked with her throughout the process, explaining what tradeoffs of budget and functionality came with one decision or another. During development, she was kept in the loop through Basecamp project management software, weekly conference calls, and video demos explaining significant new features. She told us she felt comfortable about the state of the app throughout: “Whether I was getting this video, or the phone call, or looking at Basecamp, I knew exactly where things were at.”

The satisfaction was mutual. We’re grateful to have clients like CanaDream that understand their customers and want to provide a better experience for them. And we’re pleased as ever to be able to create useful tools that make people’s lives easier and more fun.

iPhone Presentation – Maritime Development Conference

We had a great time presenting at the Maritime Development Conference in Moncton on Friday. As promised we have have uploaded the sample code and slide deck from our talk on iPhone development. The version we used in the presentation and the updated version that deals with asynchronous URL connections, error handling, memory management, and some more Core Animation features is included.

Let us know if you have any questions. info@mindsea.com

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