Don’t assume anything. Something that works wonderfully in a daydream may turn out to be complete rubbish when imported into reality. Always test your ideas!

The making of App Space:
  1. The idea
  2. The prototype <-you are here
  3. The Default Space[coming soon]
  4. The Visual Style [coming soon]
  5. The Gallery [coming soon]
  6. Conclusion [coming soon]

 
With an exciting idea in mind, the first we set out to do was to make sure it was technically possible. This is the first and very unassuming version of App Space:

image 168x300 The Making of App Space | The Prototype

Screenshot of version 0.0001…

The pink rectangle represents the widget area, the icon represents a clickable object, and there are also a couple of buttons below.

The Prototype

Once we got this awfully basic prototype working, the next step was to seriously test our basic concept. Is it actually fun to launch apps this way?



In the lingo of The Mechanics of Inspiration, a prototype is also called a Premake. Click the pictures to read more about the principle of Premake:


premake The Making of App Space | The Prototypejoy sketch vs finished The Making of App Space | The Prototype
All together The Making of App Space | The Prototype

The App Space prototype

This was our first real, working version. We actually used a piece from my initial drawing – the one that gave me the idea in the first place. We gave this proof of concept to some friends. They all thought it was very cool (which was good), but also had some comments and criticism (which was even better!)

We were happy to confirm that the idea was as cool as we thought it would be – and more! But we also learned a great deal. For example, we realized the image needs to be relatively bright and contrasted, otherwise it becomes hard to use in bright daylight. This is something we couldn’t have guessed without actually using it, so it was great to know that in advance. This is something we couldn’t have known without actually using the thing on an actual phone and in real-life situations.

If you have an android phone, go ahead and try App Space now. It’s free!

promotion The Making of App Space | The Prototype

Get it on Google Play

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Takeaways

A few notes to think about while prototyping your app:

  • Don’t assume anything. Something that works wonderfully in a daydream may turn out to be complete rubbish when imported into reality. Always test your ideas!
  • Work FAST!It’s essential to do the prototype with as little work as possible, for several very good reasons:
    • You don’t get distracted with details and aesthetics. You judge it purely on what’s important, which is usability and concept.
    • The more time you spend shaping your idea, the more emotionally attached you get – and the less objective. Since the whole idea is to test the concept, falling in love with it would be a bad move.
    • The prototype is going to be full of mistakes to learn from. Don’t invest too much effort in your mistakes – make them real quickly, and then invest your valuable time in fixing them!
  • Use shortcuts. Cannibalize your own work, steal other people’s work, stick it all together and attach it with a duct tape. All is fair in love and premake!
  • Don’t shy away from criticism. Show your ugly, clumsy prototype to others and get some external feedback. Remember – the idea is your brain’s child, so your own opinion of it is not to be taken too seriously.
  • Do take NO for an answer. If the prototype fails, do yourself a favor and drop the project – or else, go back and seriously re-think the concept.



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Comments
  1. Meni Besso says:

    Doron,
    Thanks for sharing your work here,
    I think that premakes are extremely useful when it comes to mobile apps, We work a lot on the premakes in Pixibots (maybe too much sometimes) and I have to say that it works! we often find major design flaws and change a lot of things.

    I have only one comment, In your case the premake is pretty straight forward but in larger projects you really need to think about the content of the premake in order to test the right stuff and yet not build the whole project…

    • doronmeir says:

      Absolutely, I agree. On larger projects I tend to build several premakes and then combine them with placeholders to construct the premake of the whole thing.

      Also, if the fun lies in the content then obviously you need to include it in your premake. If the fun comes mostly from the game mechanics (for example), then I think you would actually do better to ignore the content, push in some placeholders, and get to testing the mechanics as soon as you can.

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