It’s difficult to talk about web application design in this Making of a Web App series without first describing the application. Other designers have hidden their plans while sharing their process by offering vague design decisions and small, blurry screenshots. The results are less than satisfactory so in this series we’ll share the details of the actual application. Here it is: in Making of a Web app, we are building sales team collaboration software. Here is some context as to why.
1. I have a need for making the most of sales opportunities. This means I can be my own use-case and user which comes in handy when making user-driven design decisions.
2. Others have a need for simple sales team collaboration software. According to an Aberdeen research study, fifty-nine (59) percent of respondents indicated that developing a well defined sales lifecycle is their number one priority. Users I have talked with have tried other lifecycle products and found them too complex, making them too difficult to explain or start using.
3. It’s what I know. I can leverage years of marketing and sales support experience to design a great product. And again, I can make quick design decisions without constantly consulting back to experts. Finally, we can leverage lessons learned from LeadsOnRails. Whether this new application is LeadsOnRails v2.0 or is a seperate app has not yet been decided.
Isn’t the Market Crowded?
There are dozens or hundreds or CRM, sales, lead management, etc. apps out there. Without going into the full business case here I can summarize our difference in one word: simplicity.
Most users simply want to see the big picture while also understanding the specific task they need to complete next. The big picture helps members of sales teams collaborate with one another. The focus on the next task to complete helps ensure business gets done.
Isn’t the ‘Simplicity’ Market Crowded?
There are dozens of applications that claim simplicity. Yet many of those do so by leaving out features that are important to sales teams. We aim to retain simplicity without moving toward generality.
Simplicity Starts with Focus
To design an application with a focus on simplicity, it is important to understand the single activity the application is meant to support. “Sales team collaboration” is the activity that this app will support. There will be lots of tasks that an application can perform. Yet each one of those tasks should be in support of the one activity – “sales team collaboration”.
But What Exactly Does it Do?
Now that we have a high level idea of the application and have narrowed the purpose of our application down to a single phrase, it’s time to determine the simplest set of features required. Let’s get to know our users better first though. That is the subject of the next blog entry.