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Planning and Prototyping your First Windows Store App - Day 4


Part 4

In this tutorial we are going to see how to start planning for your Windows Store application with some of the basic design principles and prototyping the app before we start developing the application. Before we proceed with this tutorial have a look at the previous articles on this series to get fair idea and to have a follow up of the tutorial. Properly planning the application with the exact resources is half way we have succeeded with the application development which is exactly in any development stage we will be doing in our regular projects. Similarly let us see how we can plan and properly Prototype the requirement before we step into the development of our application.    [more]

Planning Your Windows Store Application:

While planning the application first we need to think about the base requirements and the features that makes the end user more attractive to navigate and get the flow of the application. Also as a quick start list all the things that are should be part of the application that the users will be looking for. Let us take an example of an application which is of managing the expenses of the monthly spending's.

Step 1 – Target your Audience

Windows Store Application should be selected based on the end users real need on using this application which provides a greater support to the developer. Not all the applications in the Windows Store reach the larger audience rather the real need of solving a end users requirement will always going to be a big hit for the app developer. So lets take the above example of Managing the expenses of the spending’s that are done on a monthly basis. Lets take a simple note pad and figure out the list of things that are required to develop this application.

  • Get user information on the amount entered is a Income or Expense
  • Get User information on the amount entered is debit or credit
  • Find out the nearest Bank Branches and let the user select the appropriate bank and branch or provide the user to enter the details manually.
  • Get description and comments on the purchase made if its expense or the source of income if it’s a Income.
  • Categorize the purchases made based on the month
  • Report the details using a nice chart or graphical view
  • List out options to export the data and send as a mail or store to local environment.
  • Provide options to list the category of Expenses.
  • Provide options to list the amount available in bank as balances

Once we have listed out the requirement I would recommend to select a few of the points that really suits the end users needs and focus on that initially for the first version of the app development instead of all the requirements which makes things complicated. In the above scenario lets narrow down and get a scenario which best suits the application as

  • Gather user information of Income or Expenses
  • List down the month expenses
  • Export the expenses to Excel or other medium for Emailing

Listing these requirements and explaining to one end user who is not aware of the requirement can understand things clearly then we are half way through the process of developing our application.

Step 2 – List out all User Activities to Support

This step is one of the critical step where we are going to decide which user activity to be supported in the application which we are going to develop. Basically make a flow which provides the developers around to get a clear idea on the flow, which is that a good designed application will have the flow that will easy to learn and have fewer interactions. To start with first

  • Create a flow like which comes first, what comes next?
  • How should users navigate and move through the screens – basically use a storyboard to make the flow
  • Create a quick prototype for your application.

Let us take our example and list out the user interaction flow as pointed below.

  • Create a list of interactions with Income or Expense
  • Create a flow by providing user to navigate to the detail listing view of the transactions
  • List out the transaction based on the month as a report
  • Provide options to share the transactions

Step 3 – Target Windows Store features

In this step we will target some of the Windows Store features that best suits the application or also target using some of the third party tools that can be used with the application. Get a complete idea on each of the feature controls that are available with the Windows Store SDK to get clear idea on how to use the control and feature which makes it easier to select the best of the features in your application.

  • Using Application Bar in your application.
  • Using Notifications in your application.
  • Using Tiles in your application.
  • Using App Tiles and Secondary Tiles in your application.
  • Using Camera and Extra Storage Devices in your application.
  • Using Geolocation in your application
  • Using Accelerometers in your application

So let us take our example and see how we can use the features that best suits the application which we are going to develop for the Windows Store as below.

  • Use Application Bar for navigation and list out option to Expenses Listing and Budgeting.
  • Use Tiles and Notification to show the end user a summary of Expenses made and Balance available.
  • Use Notification to show the end user, if its time to add expenses and budgeting.

Step 4 – Designing a good UI experience

User Experience is the one which gives the application a good feedback from the end users, UI should be taken into priority by first Prototyping the application and have a few look around with the team or with the mentors to get some inputs from the end user perspective. Mostly we create application which can be organized into a Hierarchical or grouping format, so basically choosing the grouping will help us to decide which page to create and which view to use to showcase our data. We have multiple templates that are available with Visual Studio 2012 IDE (Have a look at the post to see the different Templates available with VS 2012 - Learn Windows Store App Development in 31 Days – Part 2 – Selecting a right Template and Language for your Windows Store App )

Step 5 – Creating a good Impression

“First Impression is always a Best Impression” this is how in real time each of the application gets succeeded in the market, So to create a best Impression for the applications consider using the below features to make a better application

  • Splash Screen
  • Tiles and Notification
  • Background Image
  • Sample data for First Launch
  • About Screen with Support

Step 6 – Monetizing the Application

If in our application we have plans to Monetize and do some advertising, plan it according while designing the user interface with the respective pages. Windows Store supports free apps and free-in apps where Trial Period is used to even though the price is made free. We need to take care on providing the Trail version duration, and also with a upgrade option from moving the user from Trial Mode to Full Purchase model based on the purchase from with in the application or through the Windows Store.

Considering all the above design principles and following the same will end result with a good product to the end users and also completes the Windows Store Certification without any failures.

Hope this tutorial will be useful to you, If interested please don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and GooglePlus for updates. Also subscribe to F5debug Newsletter to get all the updates delivered directly to your inbox. We won’t spam or share your email address as we respect your privacy.

About Author: Karthikeyan Anbarasan, Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in ASP.NET/IIS Architecture. He is the Founder and Chief Editor of the www.f5debug.net website and has authored books on Windows Phone and Business Intelligence(SSIS). He is also a Passionate Speaker and a Blogger on Microsoft Technologies.

You can Join Me On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn

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