Producing a mobile app can be costly, frustrating, and tedious. It takes three teams (design, engineering, and quality assurance) to take an app from concept to available in the app store. And even still, the chances of success are slim as 20% of all apps are opened only once. While there are a laundry list of reasons for poorly performing apps, a large one is the disconnect between designers and developers. Atlanta’s own Principle wants to solve this problem by helping you create amazing prototypes and design better apps.
Founded by Atlanta-native Daniel Hooper, Principle is the result of his experiences in software engineering. Having worked at Percepto as a Designer/Developer, at Voalte as Lead Mobile Developer, and most recently at Apple as a Software Engineer, Hooper has seen firsthand the back and forth process of app production. “The problem is that the images the designers produce can leave things open to interpretation and do not describe animations or how it feels to use the app,” he explains. “For example, engineering may finish implementing a design and show it to the designers. Usually after seeing their design working, designers realize engineering misunderstood the design images, or they get an even better idea. This triggers a new design->engineering->QA loop, which can take weeks on some teams. Even in small agile teams, it is difficult to articulate interactive designs without a tool to express them.”
After years of working in Cupertino at Apple, Hooper decided to leave the corporate world and return to his hometown to create Principle. “Despite living in the Bay Area for two years, I never felt at home,” he laments. “I realized was there just for the job, but I had no life. I moved back to Atlanta and continued working for Apple remotely. After a while, I decided now was as good a time as any to work on my own projects, so I left Apple to pursue that. I spent a month or so brainstorming possible projects after leaving Apple,” recalls Hooper. “The idea for a design tool sprang from my experience working with designers at Apple. The hand off from design to engineering was always frustrating because it was never clear what the designers wanted. I wanted to make a tool that designers felt at home in, something that would be a natural fit to how they already work and think.”
How does it work? “Principle enables designers to create interactive and animated prototypes of their app designs. Creating interactive prototypes in Principle is as simple as moving layers, much like in Photoshop or Sketch,” says Hooper. “Drag in images created in your favorite design tool and Principle will automatically notice changes. Prototypes can be run on desktop or mobile and are 100% native for smooth animation. Principle allows designers to make rich working prototypes without involving the engineering and quality assurance teams, and radically minimizes wasted effort, leading to better designs and simpler communication.”
Principle is still in beta as Hooper is still putting the finishing touches on it. But, he has big aspirations for his new tool. “My hope is that with better design tools, designers will design better apps and have less friction with engineering,” he says. If you’d like to help out, you can join the beta here. Follow Principle on Twitter @principleapp.