In the fourth of Andy Long's blogs he discusses Design responsibility and Intellectual Property ownership.

Who will be designing the look and feel of the app?

The User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are two crucial elements of an app’s uptake and stickiness. The user interface, i.e., what’s displayed on screen defines the user’s interaction with app. User experience is how the application is used, i.e., how the app responds to the user’s behaviour, attitudes and responses.

Often customers will supply designs for the application, which is helpful and potentially reduces the overall cost of the project. However often app designs are created by print or web designers who have little or no experience of designing for a mobile experience. This creates challenges as elements of the design may not work too well, for example, items too small, not enough consideration given to the user flow, etc. Often a rework is required which will potentially delay the development process and increase costs.

It’s very useful if a client can provide brand guidelines and assets (e.g., logos, colour palette), but we do recommend having the app designed by a mobile specialist. The Exploding Phone UI/UX team participates at the very beginning of the project and works with the client to develop the app aesthetic. This is then evolved into a fully specified design and used by our developers to create the app. As with all aspects of app functionality we advise our clients to consider regular UI/UX reviews and updates to ensure the app experience continues to accord with user’s expectations.

Who owns the finished product, including the source code?

While this may at first glance appear a redundant comment, it is in fact extremely important to agree who will own the finished product. It used to be common in the app industry for the app developer to try to retain the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), trapping the customer and making it difficult and costly for them to switch supplier. This is no longer the case and all reputable app developers will ensure that management of IPR is clearly defined in the contract and that it is equitable to both parties.

Source code, that is the set of instructions, written by developers, which define all the attributes of the application including its behaviour and appearance, is compiled to create an app binary. The app binary is what is installed and runs on the phone or tablet. If a client wished to change supplier at this stage and didn’t have the source code, the only option the new supplier would have is to recreate the app from scratch (at close to the original cost). Exploding Phone supplies the source code, the only condition we have is that the development must be paid for in full before it can be released.

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