by Erik Loehfelm,

I posted this on another blog a few years ago, but they are still relevant! We use these printable sketch templates for brainstorming. Combine these freebies with a stencil kit from UI Stencils ( and you’ve got all the tools for the next Angry Birds in your hands :) Enjoy!

Omnigraffle iPhone sketch-board
PDF iPhone sketch-board
Photoshop iPhone sketch-board
EPS iPhone sketch-board
PNG iPhone sketch-board

by Erik Loehfelm,

In the final consideration of your Application Definition Statement, it’s time to revisit the list of features and tasks and apply them to your previously defined user. Many of your features that were considered for the initial idea, no longer seem as practical as they once did when brainstorming the concept. Your application’s focus begins to take shape. A good example of an Application Definition Statement for the sample zoo app could be:

“A tool for children visiting the zoo, to discover facts about the animals, and play interactive games.”

By clearly stating your application’s target audience and main features in this way, you will have a guiding principle to build your application upon. When considering functionality as you move forward, always ask yourself the question ‘does this new concept answer to my Application Definition Statement?’ If it does, you should feel confident including it. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider this new functionality for another application. Stay focused!

by Erik Loehfelm,

In the creation of your Application Definition Statement, you’ll want to spend time considering your users. What are the distinguishing features of your intended audience? What is most important to them? How will they use your application in a physical context? In the zoo example we may ask whether our users:

  • are children exploring the zoo with a class
  • are parents guiding their children through the experience at the zoo
  • intend to use features of the application at home or prior to arriving at the zoo
  • have children with them on a zoo visit
  • love to learn about and see animals

Focus on the user of your application is critical to its success and forms the cornerstone of user-centered design theory.

by Erik Loehfelm,

Start creating your Application Definition Statement by listing all of the main functions or activities that are key to your idea. Consider how these activities can be broken into specific tasks or features of your application. For example, let’s imagine the idea is an application that allows people to explore the animals and habitats of your local zoo. With this concept in mind, consider some of the tasks a person would enjoy with this mobile experience, such as:

  • finding their way around the zoo
  • learning about the animals
  • learning about the animals’ habitats
  • playing interactive games
  • learning about zoo memberships
  • purchasing merchandise
  • taking and sharing photos and videos
  • best paths to follow in the zoo to see the animals
  • feeding time schedules
  • show schedules
by Erik Loehfelm,

The term ‘elevator pitch’ is used to describe a brief and focused conversation about a business idea; one which could take place in the short time it takes to ride in an elevator. The strength of an elevator pitch is in it’s focus to communicate the idea. For our app designs, we typically create something similar.

In Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines, they describe a simple, but important tool in the design of iOS apps; an application definition statement.

“An application definition statement is a concise, concrete declaration of an app’s main purpose and its intended audience.” 1

Begin your design process by asking yourself questions such as this:

Who will use this application? Why will they want to use it? How will they use it? In what physical context will they use it in? What aspect of this application will delight and engage the user? What are the main features or functions of this experience?

1 – Apple, iOS Human Interface Guidelines, Feb 2012

by Erik Loehfelm,

An interesting exercise in User-Centered Design (UCD) is to place yourself as a target for an application that you would use. Identify a want or need that you would consider valuable that is not currently met by apps that you own. Capture your ideas but stay focused on one need. For example: I need to study the sounds of bird songs for a biology exam. This simple idea should start to trigger interesting visuals in your mind. Do you see yourself studying while walking? Are you sitting in the library? Can you include others in the study effort? Do I see a visual of the bird along with the audio of the bird’s song? Can I answer audibly? Do I have to choose from a list of choices?

By putting yourself in the role of a user with a topic that interests you, you will begin to understand the process involved in building empathy for a user’s situation and the potential solutions.

by Erik Loehfelm,

Remember buying a vinyl record or even a CD, ripping off the plastic and having an immediate glimpse into the back-story of the music project… all while holding something in the palm of your hands?

With a move to streaming music and digital downloads, we’ve lost some of the connection and back-story we used to get from vinyl and CD albums. It seems like the only time we can really connect with an artist these days is by going to a concert or through social media – and even those methods seem impersonal and often contrived.

The good news is, artists and music labels are now beginning to embrace mobile technology to develop powerful new ways to connect with their fans that will even surpass the original experience of the album cover.

To that end, Universal Mind has partnered with Sony Music, Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC to create Jimi Hendrix – The Complete Experience, the first of many immersive digital experiences to come for the music industry and beyond. This particular app showcases pivotal moments in Jimi’s life and career, streams his music that revolutionized the world and offers an interactive approach to story-telling unlike anything we have seen before. (Some are even calling it an “appumentary”)

Our own back-story around this app started with a survey of the music space and seeing what kinds of tools are being employed to connect artists and fans. We noticed that with streaming music and digital downloads, the artist-fan connection had devolved into a relationship that was almost entirely transactional – the experiential piece was missing. Pay $0.99 and get a track – and then you’re done. It was clear that having some other vehicle in this space to drive a connection and a relationship was ripe for the picking.

We built out our own way to do this, starting at the drawing board (literally) with hundreds of sketches — talking through page navigation, incorporating a “swiping” motion from page to page and chapter to chapter – really setting out to create a platform that would resemble something like a digital coffee table book… but with deeper interaction.

By creating digital immersive tools in this landscape, we are fostering an environment that allows artists to have more than just a transactional relationship with their fans. Artists can now curate, share and express themselves to their fans in a way that was never possible before.

We’re already seeing quite a bit of momentum around this approach. For example, Pink Floyd and Sting both released apps to the AppStore this week. Sting said in a recent interview with Billboard Magazine:

“I think the app is the new model. People are going to stop buying CDs. People are going to stop selling and making them, so I am looking for different ways to get music to people, and the application at the moment seems to be the favorite.”

We anticipate that as more artists and labels embrace this new medium, we’ll see an increase in digital music downloads and an explosion in new types of artist content, maybe even a new fan club paradigm with advanced and/or exclusive access to media or artist driven content. We look forward to adding these types of rich features in the future that allow increasingly deeper interaction between artists and fans.