Are you in need of an interactive touchscreen experience for your advanced manufacturing business?
If you’re wondering how long it might take to develop, and what might affect development time? This is a question we get asked a lot – especially by clients approaching us who need a touchscreen for a specific event or deadline (such as a new product launch).
Hand on heart, we’d absolutely love to give you an answer here and now. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward, as each interactive touchscreen experience is created to be unique and bespoke to your needs – which means, no development time is exactly the time.
To give you an example, some touchscreen experiences may include more complex features and functionality than others… which means longer development times.
How long does an interactive touchscreen experience take to develop?
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the average development times of the interactive experiences we create. As a typical rule of thumb, we can tell you that a touchscreen experience takes around 8 – 12 weeks from start to finish. However, as we mentioned above, this really depends on the complexity of the experience you’re looking to create – some may need longer.
Other factors can include things such as whether you already have all of the content you need, whether you’re looking for custom-built screens and enclosures, the time we can allow for testing out any issues with your experience, and the number of stakeholders you have involved.
Without having any expectations of how long an interactive touchscreen experience might take to develop, we’ve often been approached well ahead of time by some clients who were looking for the perfect immersive and engaging experience! On the other hand, we’ve also helped create experiences in as little as two months.
Saying that we can only really speak for ourselves and our own experience in touchscreen development. Other agencies may have different processes or lead times, but again, this is just a rough guide.
As touchscreen specialists, we’ve sometimes found ourselves having to be really quite agile when developing an interactive. Take one of our clients, Coty, for example. They had to develop an interactive experience for a series of roadshows, and they only had six weeks to come up with something that included interactive content and games.
Despite the interactive being quite complex, we managed to stick to tight deadlines and deliver a result that exceeded all expectations.
Typical development stages and timescales
As we’ve previously mentioned, the creation process will no doubt differ between different agencies and developers. However, what we can do is give you a good idea of how your interactive experience should begin to take form.
In order to do so, we’ve outlined each of the typical development stages you can expect – and some rough timescales.
1. Content review and sitemap (1 – 3 days)
Once your chosen agency has a good idea of your brief, and the goals you’re setting out to achieve, they should sit down and begin work collecting and reviewing all of your content. This will help them put together a sitemap of the experience (essentially, a map of all the pages and content to be included).
They’ll look closely at key elements (or sections) of your experience, and piece together where your content will fit naturally. They’ll also be figuring out how users will be able to find what they’re looking for – creating an essential narrative structure for your experience.
Another thing to expect at this stage is that they’ll pinpoint other pieces of key information or pages to be included – along with other nuances that shouldn’t be missed from your interactive.
2. Content storyboard and wireframes
Once they’ve gotten past the first stage (and you’ve had a chance to review and approve your content), work should begin on what’s called a greyscale wireframe. This is a skeleton visual of the experience showing suggested page layouts of where content will sit as well as navigation elements and outline the overall structure and flow of the experience. A touchscreen specialist will use this to help focus on the messaging, page structure, navigation and user experience.
You shouldn’t really expect any design at this stage; there’s no point rushing in. Instead, the main focus is on coming up with an optimal experience that the user will enjoy. Remember – good structure leads to good design. This is really all about user experience design (UX) and the user journey.
You may also be presented you with a mood board at this stage. This should include some visuals to help give you a better idea of what they have in mind for the final experience and a great way to start bouncing design ideas around. A mood board is a great way to earmark the ideas you like and pinpoint the ones you don’t.
3. Design (1 – 2 weeks)
Now it’s time for the design stage – things are getting serious! Your agency will take the wireframes and mood board you’ve agreed on, and begin work on a design concept for your interactive touchscreen experience.
This involves looking closely at the overall design and the themes, along with any central visual devices that will help keep things consistent and tie the experience together for the end user. This also incorporates your branding and the visual themes that will help to carry your story.
4. Touchscreen development (4 – 8 weeks)
Once you’ve been presented with the design, and you’re 100% happy with it (with any necessary adjustments made along the way), it’ll be time to begin the most complicated stage of the process – development! This is where your touchscreen agency will begin building your fully operational interactive touchscreen.
As you can probably guess, it’s the most involved and time-intensive stage of the process.
5. Final review and delivery (1 – 2 weeks)
It’s finally time to review and (hopefully) be wowed by your new interactive touchscreen experience! Your input is key here, as you may want your agency to add some extra finishing touches to the experience – and don’t forget testing and any last-minute changes!
Once it’s confirmed that everyone’s happy with your experience, and you’ve fully understood how to work it and how to update the content on your own (if necessary) then it’ll be time to deliver your ready-to-go interactive experience. This may include hardware setup and installation onsite as well as training.
Advice from the touchscreen specialist
If you’re about to approach an interactive agency, we’d recommend doing so at the earliest opportunity if you have a specific deadline (although, if it’s six months away, you should technically have plenty of time). Allow plenty of time for the development – and any tweaks and changes you may need along the way – and plenty of testing.
Our advice is to provide a clear brief and clearly define your goals and what you’re looking to achieve before even approaching an interactive touchscreen specialist. Or if you need a little bit of guidance, initiate the conversation a bit earlier.
Try talking to a couple of different companies, and trust your gut. They should ask you all the right questions to get a good sense of what you’re looking for, whilst making you feel at ease. Above all, they should be interested in how they can help you.
You’ll probably have a different experience depending on who you speak to, but if possible, take a look at some previous examples of their work – and also some client testimonials, to help set your mind at ease.
Hopefully, this blog has given you a better idea of timescales when looking at developing an interactive touchscreen for advanced manufacturing. They are a great investment that will help you explain even complex products and solutions in a simple, visual way – something that’s important for advanced manufacturers in particular.