The PowerApps Pyramid
Since its release roughly 3 years ago, the usage of PowerApps has steadily increased. PowerApps makes it easier than ever for Citizen Developers to create mobile applications with less code and more power. But as Voltaire said, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
In my work as a consultant, I’ve mentored many businesses on how to use PowerApps. I’ve witnessed well-intentioned PowerApp creators wind up with slow, buggy and difficult to maintain apps. With a little bit of planning and structure, you can avoid this fate. That’s why I came up with the PowerApps Pyramid.
What is the PowerApps Pyramid?
The PowerApps Pyramid is a framework that you can reference to make sure your PowerApps are following good application design principles. There are three main pillars to consider when developing an application. These pillars stand true regardless if you building a traditional application or a PowerApps app. You can remember these pillars with the acronym PUB.
The first piece or “foundation” of the PowerApps Pyramid is performance. While performance isn’t the most fun and exciting thing to talk about, it is vital to a well designed PowerApp. What do I mean by Performance? Performance is the “behind the scenes” of your app. How long does it take to load your app? How long does it take to add, edit and delete data?
In case you are doubting the important of performance in your app, let me share a study with you. Several app users were surveyed and asked to choose from a list of stressful situations from least stressful to most stressful. These situations range from waiting in line to solving a math problem. The results as you see below are pretty eye opening:
Experiencing mobile delays (aka Performance) is the second most stressful situation that people could think of! More stressful than watching a horror movie or standing at the edge of a cliff. What do a lot of people do when they’re stressed? They avoid the stressful situation or in this case, they avoid using your PowerApp!
To learn more about the PowerApps loading process and for some tips on optimizing your apps check out this great blog post that Microsoft put out: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/canvas-apps/performance-tips
The next pillar in the PowerApps Pyramid is User Experience. User Experience can mean a lot of different things depending on who you are asking. I’m using the term User Experience to describe the usability and functionality of your app. When considering the User Experience for your PowerApp, ask yourself if your app is Easy to Use, Accessible, Efficient, Effective and Engaging.
A good rule of thumb is if you have to train your users to use your app then the User Experience could probably use some improvement. The layout should be consistent and easy to follow.
An often forgotten aspect when building apps is accessibility. The PowerApps App Checker provides a built-in Accessibility checker to make sure your apps are compliant with accessibility standards. There’s also a PowerApps accessibility white paper that is good to reference: https://thriveproduct.blob.core.windows.net/thrivedocs/PowerApps%20Accessibility%20Standards%20and%20Guidelines.pdf
At the top of the PowerApps Pyramid is Branding. If your PowerApp is performant and user friendly, the icing on the cake is to have a visually appealing look and feel.
When thinking about branding, you want to make sure that you offer a consistent and brand compliant look and feel. Most companies have a “brand standard” document which lists the company logo, brand standard colors with hex codes and typography. You’ll want to reference this document and use the brand colors, images and typography in your PowerApp
So the next time you’re building a PowerApp just remember PUB. By keeping these guiding principles in mind you’ll be on your way to building better business applications.
Keep an eye out for more blog posts and videos where I’ll share specific tips to help with Performance, User Experience and Branding. If you’re going to be at Microsoft Ignite in November, be sure to attend my session “PowerApps Makeover: Basic to Beautiful” and “Top 3 Tips for Beautiful PowerApps“. I will cover the PowerApps Pyramid and share specific tips to help take your PowerApps to the next level.