We recently got the chance to catch up with Megan Knox of the Peak Systems team, makers of Diptic PDQ, to field our questions about what went into the popularly designed photo sharing app for iOS.
UI Palette: What were your goals in creating the iOS 7 version of your app?
Diptic PDQ: We’re always studying how our users interact with Diptic. When we noticed that a chunk of our users create their Diptic collages very quickly, using only a few of the hundreds of frames and features, we decided to make a collage app especially for them. Our goal was to create a super streamlined app that helps people create photo collages fast.
UIP: What are some of your design principles or philosophies that shine through your app, Diptic PDQ?
Diptic PDQ: We really wanted the design of this app to be user-centered, based on what we’ve learned of how people use Diptic and the way they take and share photos with their phones. One of the greatest things about the iPhone as a camera is the speed and convenience, so we wanted an app that would be fast and simple to use on the go. At the same time, a big part of what people love about Diptic is the ability to share their photos creatively to create something interesting and personal, so it was important to us to keep that freedom of expression.
Our guiding vision for the design became the idea of presenting a powerful but limited set of options in the simplest way possible. A diptic is made up of photos and layouts, so you can see all the photos you want to use, and all the layouts you might want to try, together on one screen and you can quickly try out lots of different combinations and options until you’re happy with the result.
UIP: What tools / engines / languages did you use to build the app?
Diptic PDQ: We built the app using Apple’s iOS 7 SDK (Obj-C), including the frameworks: AssetsLibrary, CoreGraphics, CoreImage, Foundation, GLKit, MobileCoreServices, OpenGLES, QuartzCore, SystemConfiguration, UIKit. We are using the built-in sharing options that Apple provides, which allows for a consistent interface on the platform and will automatically enable new sharing options as Apple adds them or the user adds apps that support the Open In functionality. Our designers use Balsamiq for quick mock-ups of the app experience and Adobe Illustrator to create more high fidelity designs.
UIP: Did you run into any unique challenges while building Diptic PDQ?
Diptic PDQ: Not really, but we did have a tough time deciding on an app name!
UIP: What methods are you using to seek new users?
Diptic PDQ: We use a variety of methods to attract new users. In addition to seeking reviews from blogs and publications, we are very engaged on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (where people often post their Diptics). We also try to stay connected with the mobile photography community and are one of the platinum sponsors in the Mobile Photography Awards.
UIP: Are you planning on using any of the new “Globalization” features of iOS 7?
Diptic PDQ: Yes, at some point we would like to.
UIP: Which new-user acquisition strategies have served you well so far?
Diptic PDQ: We were fortunate enough to have Apple promote Diptic PDQ in iTunes. When it first launched, Diptic PDQ appeared in the Best New Apps, Optimized for iOS 7 list, and the “Frame It” category.
UIP: What’s one UX mistake you’ve made, and fixed? Any general advice for designers on improving UX?
Diptic PDQ: A classic mistake we’ve made, a trap that’s so easy to fall into, is to focus on individual features at the expense of a great overall experience. Once you have a product that’s doing well, you want to keep making it better, and the first instinct is to find more things for the product to do. But each cool new feature adds a new layer of complexity that some people will be really excited about, and others won’t care about. When you’re working with a platform as constrained as a mobile app, there’s not a lot of room for unwanted extras. So it’s important to keep a clear, focused goal at the heart of your design, and be sure that everything you’re adding truly contributes to that goal.