Designing Buildable Apps

Jeff Watkins & Caitlin Steele

⏱ 60 minute session
16:00-17:00, Thursday, 23rd May 2024
Ever since Steve Jobs walked on stage at MacWorld, San Francisco in 2007, great design has set iOS and its Apps apart from other platforms. Every iOS developer longs to win a coveted Apple Design Award. The best iOS apps are made by a partnership between innovative designers and skilful engineers. But just what does it take to design a buildable app? An app which looks good, feels good, and withstands regular maintenance?

This talk explores the collaborative visual and architectural design of mobile apps — with an emphasis on iOS apps — to discover the secrets of what makes an app “buildable”. We’ll cover how to:

  • Start with domain objects instead of calls-to-action to ensure engagement from product and engineering.
  • Design an intra-app navigation system which is flexible and meets your long-term needs.
  • Make trade-offs between custom and standard UI components to ensure your app is distinctive and maintainable long-term.

While designers and engineers would often rather “tear it all down and start again”, that’s seldom an option. We’ll focus on how to use these techniques within an existing app’s development lifecycle.

🏷 app design
🏷 collaboration
🏷 best practices

Jeff Watkins

Jeff has been building software for more than three decades and is currently an engineering manager for ClassPass. He is a ten year veteran of Apple and has 13 years of iOS development experience. He’s worked on core iOS frameworks and apps delivered via the App Store, but it’s not his fault Game Center had either green felt or “those bubbles”. His focus now is on coaching folks through career & life transitions and mentoring developers.

Caitlin Steele

Caitlin is a Senior Design Manager at Atlassian, working across native apps for Trello, Confluence, and Jira. She developed Trello’s mobile strategy, building out their first dedicated mobile design team, and grew lululemon’s mobile org by 300% over two years. Caitlin was employee number three at Masterclass where she wore many hats including building their initial responsive web app. She prioritizes cross-discipline collaboration, having worked as a product designer, front-end developer, product manager, and design leader.