Research in academia expands the collective knowledge of a particular field of study. Research in design (almost always) yields a result – be it a logo, a website, or an app – that is intended for an audience to use. As I am both a practitioner and an instructor of interactive design, app development allowed me to pull together the threads of academic research and design research into a common initiative.

My foray into app design was an organic choice, because I had my own pool of clients to tap into: my students. When I initially began, I did not find many professor-built apps for specific classes. Most, if not all, ed-tech apps were built by startups or established corporations, and were built for children as early learning resources. Consequently, I decided to build one app for every course in the Graphic & Interactive Design curriculum at Youngstown State University… all 18 of them.




A frequently heard refrain heard in the design industry is that “designers should design” and “developers should develop.” However, given the high marketplace demand for app technology, the ability to both design and develop becomes a hot commodity.

I’m a designer, not a developer; so naturally I started with the browser-based “What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get” app builders that allow you to create by adding, arranging, and manipulating visual elements, rather than by writing code. These app builders are great for people that have little to no design or development experience. Some of them I had success with, but the pricing models discourage using the builders beyond just conceptualization. Still, new builders, frameworks, and tools are coming out every day that continue to change the dynamic between design and development.

My webinar will shed light on many of the available app builders that are great for educators who want to design apps for their classrooms, but do not necessarily have the time or desire to learn how to design and develop an app from the ground up. I will share conceptualization, design, and development techniques with the use of TryMyUI usability testing tools. Building an app for your individual classroom audience is critical to success, and using the right tools the right way will help get your apps from concept to App Store in a quicker period of time.

Register for the upcoming webinar “Designing Mobile Learning Apps for Education” on September 24, 11am to 11:45am PDT.

By Robert J Thompson

RJ Thompson is a practicing graphic designer, educator, and entrepreneur teaching graphic, web, and interactive design at Youngstown State University. RJ has presented on design, entrepreneurship, research in design as catalyst for economic development, and research in custom-built online learning management systems. Outside of academia, RJ is the Director of Youngstown Design Works, a student-run graphic & interactive design agency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We’re excited to announce that TryMyUI has rebranded: Introducing Trymata, the complete digital experience insights platform!

Announcement image - TryMyUI rebrands to Trymata

Read our official announcement »