Designing is an essential part of the mobile app development process. App designing entails not only making the app attractive but also easy to use. UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are the two most important aspects of app designing.
A well-designed app will make sure that every user can enjoy all the features of the app.
In this article, we will discuss a perfect app designing process that will help you build a mobile app with a great design that attracts the targeted audience and increases user engagement, hence boosting the conversion rate for an app.
Important steps in Mobile App Designing Process
Like everything else, the app designing process also starts with an idea. Spending enough time on brainstorming about the concept is a great mobile app design strategy. The idea might be yours, or it might be of a stakeholder. It’s essential to have a look at all the ideas before proceeding. One must understand that during this stage, ‘getting it right’ is not that important.
Also, keeping the idea more open to change is a better strategy than sticking it to the core. It would lead to far-better results as when you start working, things change, and you realize that the original idea might not be that good of a fit under the current set of circumstances.
Depending upon the kind of idea, you can ask a few questions.
- Is the idea cost-effective?
- Will it provide a good ROI?
- Does this idea have a reliable revenue plan?
- Which kind of APIs would we require?
- What are the various obstacles that we will face in implementing this idea?
- How are my competitors faring, have they adopted a similar idea?
- Are we adding something new to the market?
These are a few of the many challenging questions that you will need to ask yourself.
You can think of conducting idea workshops to evolve your ideas. Collaboration amongst different team members helps in executing the concept in a better manner. You should generate the ideas, challenge them through meaningful discussions, and then write them down after finalizing these ideas. Having a well-thought idea will ensure that your app does not fail.
Prepare a Spec sheet
A spec or a specification sheet decides the features of a mobile app. You can consider the spec sheet as a blueprint, and you could either prepare a ‘brief,’ which is a lighter version of the spec sheet or build a detailed spec sheet.
Professional mobile app development companies always ensure to build a spec sheet. They do this because the spec sheet often forms the basis for the contract on which the project’s rates are finalized. The spec sheet acts as a guiding document giving all the parties a rough idea about what needs to be done.
Creating a spec sheet mainly helps in conducting the process of developing, changing, or refining the original idea further. Everyone involved in the project is on the same board with a spec sheet, and as per the requirement, you could also update the spec sheet at a later stage as the project advances.
While preparing the spec sheet, you should try to keep things short and terse; the more you write may make it complex and it increases the chances of misinterpretation. Use plain language and inform the stakeholders what the app is about.
Build a Wireframe
Wireframes are blueprints or schematics of a particular website or application that help the entire team think and communicate about the structure of the software app or website that you are building.
A wireframe lets you and the team decide about the layout of the app. In a wireframe, you can identify which buttons will be kept where and hence it can serve as a blueprint for the app’s visual design.
Usually, the wireframes are prepared after consulting with all the stakeholders, and then tools like Sketch and Omnigraffle are used for digitizing the wireframe.
Wireframes are the first deliberately made design of a project. While building the wireframes, you will identify many loopholes left out during the spec sheet preparation stage. Navigation inconsistencies and non-intuitive flows of the design are identified and eliminated.
Professional tips to build efficient wireframes and a spec sheet will help you prepare for the next stages. When you build a wireframe and also have a spec sheet prepared, you are pretty concerned about the quality of the app. The difference between an idea and a completed app is the execution of the concept, and by building a wireframe and in addition to that a spec sheet, you have taken the necessary first steps towards executing the idea into the app design idea.
Once you have the specs and the wireframe in your hand, the next step is to build a prototype. Building a prototype is to create a skeleton of the app, which will help test your hypothesis and get valuable feedback.
Using tools like Marvel or Invision, it is easy to convert mockups and prototypes; on the other hand, coding the prototype can be done using languages like Java and Swift. The prototype stage is unavoidable for dedicated and more prominent apps where multiple large teams are working on a project. The most important thing to consider while going for a prototype is to get early validation of the app idea. On experimenting with the prototype, you will find out that there are issues with the app’s wireframe, the spec sheet, or even the plan itself.
Hence, a prototype can help you identify issues before you have invested a significant amount of money in building the app. This is when the designers are entrusted with the task of building a prototype first while also signifying the role of UI & UX design in app development.
This is the phase most people associate with the actual process of design. The idea here is to build a visually appealing appearance of the app and build a more consistent and identifiable visual language throughout the app. The designers strive to convey the brand’s story through design.
Proper UI design should be a culmination of all the steps that we have discussed above.
UI design is not just related to the aesthetic appearance of the app. Still, it helps you create a much more coherent and consistent experience by telling an engaging story about the app. With this, the idea is to differentiate the app’s offering from that of its competitors. At this stage, the designers define a series of conventions and rules and apply them to the app. iOS and Android, both have existing agreements and regulations on which the creative UI/UX designers can base their app.
This is the most exciting and confusing phase of the process as there is no right or wrong way to prepare a visual design. This phase has the highest number of tools and approaches, and you could either use Sketch or Photoshop or base your design on the existing UI elements.
You could also experiment with UI kits in subtle and meaningful ways.
Communicating with the development team
Having the developers on-board directly from the initial stages will help you in eliminating impractical design choices. One of the most frustrating things about designing an app is that there is a difference between your imagination and the things that can be materialized. Yes, we understand that you want to add a mind-boggling design, but the idea is of no use if the app developers say that it will add a lot of complexity or the features you think are not feasible.
The development and design teams should work in tandem, not in silos, and a mutual understanding between both the teams will lead to a much better app. For example, the developers can save countless hours and tons of money if they warn against implementing a feature during the wireframing or ideating stage itself.
Important App design tips to follow
Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when it comes to designing a mobile app:
Make it easy to navigate
What is the most important thing about an app that helps in creating that wow-effect? It should be easy to navigate. The tons of features that you inculcate into an app are of no use if it isn’t easy to navigate.
When designing apps, ensure that the navigation drawer of the app is visible to the user. Keep things simple and visible for the user so that they don’t experience cognitive load trying to find out where to go.
Also, make the app finger-friendly, meaning that the buttons should not be too small for people to click using fingers.
Design for simplicity
The concept of minimalism is the latest user-appreciated factor for designs. Make the app look modern, use whitespace liberally, and use familiar symbols and phrases to make the app simple to use.
Do not overwhelm app users with too much information on the screen; instead, keep the User Experience (UX) easy and enjoyable.
Pick colors and fonts mindfully
Life would be so dull without colors, wouldn’t it?. UI/UX designers are no less than artists, and they sometimes get carried away in terms of using color. The choice of fonts and colors will have a massive impact on the design of the app. Understand the rudiments of using shades and fonts that communicate with a human brain; thus, do not mix too many different colors and fonts to maintain a consistent look and feel of the app.
Always try to match the color and font of the brand into the app. This will make the app a seamless extension of the client’s brand.
Think about visual hierarchy and weight
Visual weight is defined as the impact of different on-screen elements as compared to other factors. By using visual weight, you will ensure that your design’s most critical aspects always stand out.
Make sure that the hierarchy that you build is always consistent. This is important because it will help app users get an idea about the orientation of the app.
Keep a sizable difference between fonts so that the users know what is essential.
Using ample amounts of negative space around important stuff is another way of establishing visual hierarchy.
Consistent design is intuitive design; it helps in making the experience more enjoyable for the app users. This makes all the elements in the app look sleek and recognizable through cohesive design. Colors, fonts, beautiful images, and fantastic animations are of no use if the app design is inconsistent.
Design the app for
Visual Consistency: – Here, the fonts, buttons, labels, and colors are consistent across the app.
Functional Consistency: – Controls should function in the same manner across the app. For example, touching the back arrow should always take the user to the previous screen. By having functional consistency, you will improve the product’s predictability, reducing the cognitive load on the app users.
External Consistency: – External consistency propagates design consistency across various products. It helps reuse the user’s knowledge about one product in another product, thus shortening the learning curve.
Collect Feedback on your Design
Before you go ahead and launch the app into the market, taking feedback is essential. Feedback allows Graphic Designers, UI/UX Designers, and Web Designers to improve their work by thinking out of the box wherever required. Constructive feedback can prove to be a pretty powerful tool for practical design. By receiving quality insights from like-minded professionals and clients, you will be able to see things from a different perspective.
You can take feedback in the following manner.
- Send out short surveys to your clients for feedback.
- Use tools that are designed explicitly for feedback
- See in-person how potential users find your app design and its usability.
By having a great feedback loop, you will be able to consistently improve your product and understand what is working and what is not. Once you identify these things, you will be able to go back to your designers and make the necessary improvements.
The Final Pixel
There are many who would look to skip a few steps from the app designing process in order to save time or reduce the cost. It should be understood that the process is complicated, you are putting your project in jeopardy by eliminating any of the steps mentioned earlier. While it is easy to talk about the ‘potential’ of the app and how it would go on to become the next unicorn, it is equally challenging to get down into the nitty-gritty of overlooking every minute aspect of building an app.
The top UI & UX designers well-versed with the mobile app design tactics have made these steps as the basic requirement so that they can ensure the application is designed perfectly. By knowing the steps for designing a mobile app and the important aspects associated with it, you would, in essence, be able to provide better inputs regarding app design to all the stakeholders involved in the project, making you more proficient in your approach.