Making ‘roundup’ an easy-to-use, process-led application

roundup screenshot

In the latest installment of our ongoing series featuring Windows Phone design consultations we bring you independent developer Russell Archer, creator of the clever location-sharing app ‘roundup’.Russell developed this Windows Phone exclusive app on his own to solve one of life’s daily problems: “rounding up” family and friends when out on excursions through the use of a shared map. (Note: The image shown is based on the updated app design.)

Individuals using as app like roundup can easily find one another using the navigation directions enabled via the Nokia HERE APIs.

As a developer, Russell focuses on solving problems and the processes involved, and while he “tried to put design at the heart of the application,” he knows he might not have done it as well as he could. As such, Russell was keen to have a designer’s view of the app, along with some hints and tips for how to improve it.

“I want it to be slick and usable by a wide range of people,” Russell said.

This fall, Russell met with Dave Crawford, design lead at Microsoft, to learn about how he could improve the app, and ensure that the user interface is as clear as possible for his users.

Watch this short video to see the design consultation between Dave and Russell:

Moving from the panorama to a process-led layout

“His concept is so straightforward and so simple, it would have served a much simpler UI,” said Dave. “We talked about how moving away from the panorama would be a better idea for him. It would streamline the process and make it a lot smoother.”

“The main takeaway here is that all apps don’t have to revolve around panorama controls. Russell had used one because he thought that it made sense, however it actually made the app more confusing to use,” Dave said.

Dave recommended that Russell work to redesign the app to do two simple tasks: broadcast your location to others; and follow someone else’s location.

“By making the app work more like a wizard flow also allowed there to be a definite ‘end’ to the process, something that he was lacking in the panorama approach,” Dave noted.

Other recommendations for ‘roundup’

  • Rather than showing an interactive map, the app should fix the user’s location at a certain point with the map taking as much space as possible; and then when a user taps on the location, show a full-screen map.
  • Provide the user with a clear “call to action” such as inviting someone to meet you at a certain point on the map while still using a full-screen view.
  • Make more use of the app name and its distinctive logo within the app itself, to reinforce the branding.

“He had some really good tangible ideas about simplifying the app, really focusing in on some of the key product areas and branding,” said Russell. “The scales really fell from my eyes when he talked me through some of these concepts.”

Enhance your own Windows Phone apps

Are you ready to enhance your Windows Phone app? Start with this video that shows you the best Tips &Tricks from Dave Crawford when it comes designing apps for Windows Phone:

You can learn more about branding and usability through color both from Dave’s presentation (above) and from these sites: kuler.adobe.com and colorlovers.com.

Additional guidance for designing great apps is available in the Windows Phone Dev Center within their Design Library. You can also find sources of inspiration in Nokia Developer’s Design Gallery.

Design consultations are available as rewards from Nokia’s DVLUP program, including an introductory one-hour consultation with the experts from Toledo Design.

For more information about Russell Archer and his work, please visit his website.