How I built an app – Part 2: Product roadmap, branding and UI

In part 1 of this series in how I built my app – MeetMate, I told you about how I understood the user needs and began prototyping the initial ideas. In this part i’m going to talk you through how I understood the product roadmap for the app and worked on the branding and early interface ideas.

Understanding the product roadmap

I must admit that part of the reason for doing this was purely for fun, and to see if I could. However it’s important to understand at least vaguely the product roadmap.

This could be in the form of a backlog with extra features (that may or may not have been validated via your discovery period) or ideas for monetisation.

My general game plan was to get a free minimum viable product (MVP) released to test the market and see if it gains traction with users. When/if my design assumptions about the product had been verified then a paid for ‘pro’ version would be considered which would contain more advanced and flexible features.

The important thing for me was that the MVP was actually valuable to users – even in it’s free form.  Would it allow them to actually organise and run a meeting successfully?

This was a really important question as I would not be able to observe the app being used in context properly until I had something working built. ( is good but not THAT good!).

The MVP would be an essential part of the discovery process and a rich source of user feedback for future improvements. As such the app would have a simple ‘Feedback’ link which would direct to a survey for me to collect more data along with Twitter support.

Branding and UI

I now felt I proved the concept and had a working prototype. It was time to give the app an identity and brief a visual designer.

Fortunately I know a very good visual designer Yumi via a previous job. The prototype proved it’s value again during this stage as it offered a tangible artefact to communicate the concept to the designer and give a solid brief.

The key points I covered in the brief were:

  • How the idea came about
  • The problem the app was trying to solve
  • How the prototype ended up in the form it is via the various user feedback
  • Some apps which had a visual design language that I thought would be appropriate
  • Some examples of logos I liked
Yumi designing
Space raiders fuel creativity

A good designer will pay dividends here as they will be able to take your concept and blue sky ideas and turn them into something tangible. A good working knowledge of general UX principles will also help when it comes down to things like usability and interactions.

A good designer will also be able to challenge you on certain decisions, and push your thinking forwards on some of the concepts.

If you don’t have any visual designers in your LinkedIn then try resources like or PeoplePerHour or oDesk. Look for good feedback and a portfolio with projects along the same lines as your own.

Increasingly talented designers are coming out of university and looking to improve their portfolios. You might save some money by going down this route but lack of experience may result in issues down the road when it comes to development.

Other things to think about regarding branding were:

The app design went through several iterations following user testing and backlog refinement until we came up with the final look and feel.

Once the initial screens were complete I also got a copywriter friend to review the screens and ensure the tone of voice was consistent on all the labelling and UI elements.

The outputs we needed to get to in order to brief a developer were:

  • The app logo
  • A style guide
  • Creatives of the key screens and interactions
  • Relevant font files and other assets

Next time: Getting it into development


Meetmate – get a reputation for great meetings

Download on the App Store

Image courtesy Derek Gavey