Create a web application using an excel sheet, now!

by Mellonie Francis Thu May 28

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The Problem 

About 6 months ago, I began posting regularly on a number of social media channels. I was posting so much content for Instagram and Facebook and Mellonie Francis Linkedin, it was becoming overwhelming. One day I realized I could use the same piece of content in different social media channels, but just needed to re-caption the content so it appealed on Facebook and Instagram and Linkedin. It was an ‘uh-huh’ moment, like this video can also work on Instagram but I just need to recaption it to make it Instagram like.  

I started using a ‘pyramid’ content strategy where I would use one photo or video, and re-caption the content for different social media channels. Wow, I could post on my business LinkedIn, personal LinkedIn, Facebook personal with minimal effort!  

I created an excel sheet where I would take a picture of the content I would be posting, then have a number of rows underneath to write captions for each different social media channels. Like so:  

However, like all excel sheets, it became difficult for all my team to collaborate. We then moved to google sheets which were a little better, however, the uploading of images/videos was not as smooth as we would have liked. 

I started looking for a content calendar tool that would enable me to have different captions for the same content. After researching for hours, I found solutions like Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer but they didn’t allow me to change the caption depending on the social channel. Being a software house and digital marketing agency, we have the luxury of being able to build digital products or online solutions where one does not exist so I decided to create a content planner tool that would enable different captions for different social media channels. 

I am taking you through my journey to share with you the process of developing a digital product. 

Regardless of how excellent or functional, my idea was,  the process of wireframing, going back and forth with developers, and bringing the idea to life is always challenging. Although I’m a seasoned founder having developed several products, the ability to bring an idea to digital products is always a challenging process. 

Moodboard

When looking for inspiration, I looked at Trello Boards and wanted my app to have a drag and drop feature similar to Trello. I also imagined Hootsuite and how easily it enables you to visualize streams and added these two product functions and look and feel to my Moodboard.

Hand Sketching 

I provided my mood board and the excel spreadsheet to my UI UX designer who drew hand sketches of my web app. I also sketched with him until we were both on the same page 

Wireframing 

Then my UI UX designer started drafting up low-fidelity wireframes. In this step, we forget about the aesthetic and focus on layout and functionality. The wireframe is a two-dimensional skeleton of what your future web or mobile app will look like. It needs to show content prioritization, space distribution, and how the application will work.

I didn’t consider the design aesthetics for now. The colors, themes, fonts, and images were taken care of later. Important aspects like filters, dragging and dropping content, simple UI, reminders, and automation were dealt with first. I prepared a list and included all the things I actually needed in the app. It makes the process much more manageable.

The Back and Forth

After going back and forth with the designers, we then came up with more refined versions of the wireframes, a bit more functional and simpler.

This wireframe was very close to what I needed as it shows how simple the app is, it has a drag and drop functionality where we can easily see the plan and analytics of the content, dates with times show the content planned with captions and channels it will be posted on.

Final High Fidelity Design (Ready For Development)

After the wireframes were done, we moved on to high-fidelity design with clear user stories for development. Adding colour instantly upgrades your work from simple text boxes to a live product.

So, from a single rough sketch on a paper, we ended up with a fully functional web app that lets me plan my content in advance, lets my team edit it and add captions, have it ready-to-post for multiple channels and gives me the analytics to help me have an in-depth analysis on what type of content is doing well for me. 

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