Are you looking to design an app? You are on the right page, we know designing an app is a complex process that can overwhelm anybody. So as usual Webbybutter is at your service and in this article we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to design an app in 2022.
Nowadays, mobile apps are a part of daily life for people around the world. With the surge in the number of smartphone users, the market opportunity is huge and anyone can grasp it.
Why design an app? Well, whether it’s an emergency SOS, finding love, shopping, or just passing the time, we have a mobile application on our smartphone for all such activities. This shows that there are infinite use cases for mobile apps but, it only takes one unique idea to change the scenario. So, do you have such an idea in mind but wondering how hard is it to design an app? We feel you; this blog will guide you with your unique application idea and transform it into reality.
So, without any further delay let’s get into how to design apps for Android and iOS.
But before we glide into how to design and create an app, we will provide you with some information on some useful mobile app designing tools necessary to design a mobile application.
App designing Tools
A design (UI) that appeals to every end-user will require a sophisticated designing tool for developing a proper app design. When you are in process of app development, you will need tools to design mobile app UI in the designing phase. Surely there are many designing tools but each of them has its own pros and cons. Hence, it’s critical that you choose this mobile app design tool carefully.
So, let’s check out some of these mobile app design tools:
✧ Adobe XD
Adobe XD is a powerful designing tool that is useful in creating graphics and designs. It is loaded with assistive features for easy designing of all kinds of mobile apps, tablets, and web apps. So, if you are in search of a complete solution software that is specifically tailored for app designers, your search ends here.
App designers across the world trust this tool to design mobile app UI because it can easily make a switch from idea to prototype. Further, an app designer can design creative experiences for apps and also share or publish them for instant feedback.
In short, one click will provide you with the prototype mode from the design mode. In addition, it has a simple drag and drop of each UI element and wires between different artboards to simplify the process.
Hence, if you are a beginner or willing to play safe, simply pick Adobe XD for designing your app.
✧ Adobe Photoshop
If you are looking for the most popular design tool for designing an app, Adobe Photoshop is likely to pop up first. This tool has been a choice of UI/UX designers for a long time and that is not going to change in the near future.
The best part of Adobe Photoshop is its compatibility with both Windows and iOS. Also, if you are looking to check its features before you start designing an app, it has a 7-day free trial period. This software has tons of options for exporting your pixel-based designs. Hence, you never have to compromise on your high-quality graphic app design.
✧ Adobe Illustrator
This app design software is one of a kind because it can transform any idea into reality. App designers from all over the world prefer Adobe Illustrator to make high-quality illustrations, sketches, logos, and typography, mockups and UI/UX designs.
In addition, Adobe Illustrator is a benchmark tool for vector graphics designs, so, being the industry standard application, every professional app designer must be familiar with it. It may have a stiff learning curve but, if you are a UI/UX or a graphic designer you cannot avoid this app design software. Adobe Illustrator comes with a one-week trial so you can try it out before using it.
A sketch is a popular tool and the first choice for app designers for UI/UX designing. Designers from every corner of this world appreciate its efficiency to create designs. This app design software is Mac-specific and comes with a 1-month trial.
If you are working as a team, this app designer tool is perfect for you. It allows designers to easily collaborate with each other using Sync Cloud. Further, app designers can also share symbols and styles across different documents effortlessly. Sketch provides libraries in case you need to update or share a single document while working in a team.
Fancy using a UI tool? Check out: Sketch vs. Adobe vs. Figma.
If you are looking for modern app design software, InVision is the tool you are looking for. This tool is compatible with the majority of browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari. The design of InVision is done keeping in mind the needs of an app designer.
The InVision is intuitive and easy to use. You don’t need to take any training or course to know how to operate this tool. InVision is useful in creating interactive prototypes and mockup designs in no time. Once you are done with the app design you can easily share it with your team.
Moqup is one of the most powerful app design software available for app designers. Despite providing so many options for designing, the software is easy to use because of its intuitive design. App designers prefer Moqups for creating a dynamic app design quickly. The best thing is that other than Windows and macOS, it is compatible with Android also.
The functions in moqups save app designers time and allow them to focus on the app design. The usage of mockups is not restricted to mobile apps, designers can also use them for websites, web apps, and desktop products as well.
We have gone through the list of excellent tools to design a mobile app, so it’s about time we discuss the stepwise process to design a mobile app.
App Design Process
Here, we will discuss 7 steps of the app designing process that an app designer can follow.
Step #1 Define goals
You have a great idea, so the first step is to define its goal and get clarity on the purpose. In order to do it properly, you need to consider every detail relevant to your app idea. Once you do that, you will understand the complexity of the design structure for your app.
Designing is definitely not a one-person job, so, keeping the team in the loop is critical for the best results. Often designers skip this step and this is one of the reasons the idea gets screened out in early stages. The only way an app designer can skip this step is if the idea is strong and practical enough to sustain. Hence, defining the goals of your mobile app idea is the first step, to begin with.
So before taking up a project the app designer must address the following questions:
Why there is a need to design this app?
Answer to this question can simplify the purpose of the project. Because knowing exactly why you are designing helps explore numerous new possibilities, and also leaves less scope for any deviation.
Why take up this project?
There are many good ideas and plenty of designers. But, what makes you the right designer for the app? Does it match your vision and mission? Will the project improve your portfolio?
We get that these questions are not technical but if your passion doesn’t match the vision of the project it’s going to be a disaster. So, always pick up the projects that you find appealing and worth doing.
What is the ultimate purpose of the app? Is it educational, sharing information, or for entertainment purposes? The answers to this are simple and clear enough from a non-technical perspective. This will not only help with preparing the project outline but also pitch the app design to others.
The million-dollar question, how are you going to make it happen? There is no right answer to this, but you can start by figuring out finance. This will give help in figuring out how much you are willing to invest, how will it generate the revenue, and how is it unique from any existing one? It is important to check out the feasibility of the project.
Here comes the market research section.
Before advancing any further, one should start with market research of the competitors. See what type of app design they have? What are the functions they provide? What features of the app do the users like the most? Figure out all the bugs and issues the competitors faced and are still facing.
- Research Your Niche
Thorough research on demographics such as age, nationalities, economic class, and in some cases, gender helps a let while designing an app. These demographics help in deciding where a designer can innovate and adapt.
Step #2 Specification
Once you are confident about the project, all the technical aspects come into the picture.
Specification to an app is just like the blueprint to a building. Spec is a document that shows us the purpose of the app and how it will achieve the goals. The details and specifications vary from app to app. Sometimes, you may need to be more specific with details, and sometimes just drawing the outline will do so, whatever the case, never skip specification.
While you are designing an app for your client, spec works as the base for an estimation which basically is a contract. This contract includes details such as planning and execution of specifications. If the details are written with utter precision then, there will be minimal scope for any misunderstanding. But, to play it safe you may consider mentioning both functional and non-functional demands.
The best part about this step is that you can write down the specifications on simple software like MS-word. Also, it is the best way to highlight issues such as loopholes, contradictions, and weak points in the app design.
This step is beneficial and we recommend it, especially if you are juggling multiple app design projects at the same time.
Step #3 Wireframe
The wireframe is the first visual of the app’s User Interface. In general, the Wireframes are done by the UX designer but, every team member must be kept in the loop.
Wireframing is designing the structure of the interface and interaction of the app. In Wireframing you design every function of the app. Hence, if your wireframe has a poor use case it will fall apart. Example: apps with overloaded options on a single page.
- Design interface of Every Function
You may have multiple functions or not, in either case, you need to ensure that you have a wireframe for each function.
- Design the interaction
The interactivity of the app is one of the most important factors for a great UI. Hence, after designing the interface, you need to design the interaction between those interfaces. This shows us which button on which screen leads to what function.
- Design the transitions
Now we have the interactive feature in our wireframes and also the number of windows. This means all that is left is designing the transitions. The transitions must be robust, but by chance, if the app is being designed for elderly people with different abilities, it needs to be simple and smooth.
Often while Wireframing, designers get carried away with a blank canvas, but the key is to keep it as simple as possible. The more intuitive the wireframe the better will be the overall UX (User Experience).
The sole purpose of wireframes is to set the transition between windows, functions, and buttons. So, there is no need for extra windows or buttons because designing the right transitions will determine the success of the application.
Step #4 Prototype
Preparing a prototype is a crucial step in mobile app design. A prototype is a mock version to test the functionalities of the app. Further, prototyping is a method of testing, developing, and enhancing the design before the actual implementation.
Prototypes are a combination of specifications and wireframes. It provides a rough glimpse of how the app might appear. Further, it provides a model that is close to the actual product but not the actual product. That means you can modify the functionalities and enhance the features in the future as per the user feedback. This increases the success ratio of a project.
Prototypes are further categorized into 3 categories:
A low-fidelity prototype is basically the testing of the concept of the app i.e. it helps check the basic functionalities of the app.
A medium-fidelity prototype is to check and enhance the functions, windows, and interactions in the app.
A high-fidelity prototype is useful in testing the overall visual design of the app. From fundamental functions to animations or transitions between different windows, every aspect is easily tested and enhanced. High-fidelity prototypes are suitable for developing huge applications because they have many micro functions.
- Visual Design
The majority of people get confused regarding the prototype and visual design. To clarify, prototypes are all about functions while the visual design is about how the mobile app looks like?
So a visual/UI designer is responsible for creating design patterns, colors, font sizes, background images, texture, graphics, animations, images, etc. Visual design plays an important role in the success of apps. Nobody uses the app which is visually dull.
Thus, to excel in this domain the designer must create the design from the user’s perspective. Further, make sure that the design is intuitive and interactive because a user will interact with the app through UI. Hence, to ensure the best outcome, an app’s graphic design must include all three formats of the interface.
Step #5 GUI (Graphic User Interface)
These are graphics that help to represent the data. Here in GUI, users interact with images texts, or videos that the app shows them. GUI is considered the most intuitive format of UI.
- Voice-Controlled Interfaces
Whenever the user interacts with an app using a voice command, the voice-controlled interface comes into play. The best example of this is the music apps and voice assistants in smartphones.
- Gestures Interfaces
Gestures are another way of interaction. A flick of the wrist to show time in smartwatches, click the picture when the user smiles, and all the virtual reality games are perfect examples where gesture interfaces are used.
Let’s see some must-have attributes of a great design.
A user must be able to predict the functionality of any button or element by just looking at it.
- Hierarchy & Readability
Hierarchy is fundamental to the app design rule. Choose the right color and size for the elements according to their importance.
The critical design element in any app gets the biggest size. Also, a bright color improves readability and attracts user attention.
- High Discoverability
A great app UI design always helps a user discover the functions. The user will enjoy using the app if they can navigate easily i.e. spot buttons on the screens.
Step #6 Interface Animation
Interface animation is a critical step in designing an app. The interface animation helps a user know the flow of the app. Nowadays you will find at least one interface animation, that enhances user experience. An app designer can use functions such as click, effects, processing bars, bouncing lists and hover effects to improve usability.
Further, a designer needs to ensure that the platform guidelines are followed i.e. Windows, iOS, or Android. This makes sure that the users are familiar with the app. Further, these guidelines are helpful in sorting problems that arise while designing Interface Animation.
Here are some types of Interface Animation:
- Micro Animations
These animations include buttons, pop-out messages, page loading animations, and notification bells. The ‘Like’ button on Facebook is the best example of such animations.
- Transition Animations
Transition animations are mainly used during a window switch or when content on a window has to be changed.
- Graphic Animations
Graphic animations are useful in highlighting alignment. The navigation arrow in the GPS app is a perfect example of such animation.
Step #7 Testing
Testing is a major part of the mobile app development process. Before you deploy your application, it’s important to test the features and functionalities. A marginal error may turn out to be catastrophic and crash your application.
So from a design perspective, right from the performance to the basic color contrast, every aspect requires thorough testing.
Let’s understand some in-depth testing protocols that are applied to any app.
- Functionality Testing
This testing methodology includes testing each function on the app. End product should match with the specifications. This means a user should easily use the app and its functions.
Functionality Testing involves:
- Testing of Installation and launching
- Testing Signing and logging
- Testing all the buttons and Box Functionality
- Testing push notification Rendering
- Usability Test
Usability Test includes tests the overall usability of the app. At times, the functions and specs are working properly but the app might pose some challenges while using it. For instance, a signup button works perfectly but, users face issues while clicking on it due to its size or location on the screen. Hence, this testing helps eliminate such scenarios.
Usability Testing involves:
- Testing layouts and Design
- Testing Intuitiveness
- Testing Response Time
- Using user feedback after prototyping for improvements
- Compatibility Testing
In general, an app is going to run on different platforms i.e. different OS and mobile devices. So just because an app passes all tests for Android does not mean it will perform well on iOS too. Each platform has different guidelines and an app needs to fit all of them. Even if an app is meant for a particular platform, it needs smooth functioning on various devices.
Compatibility Testing involves:
- Testing of compatibility with OS platforms such as Windows, Android, or iOS
- Testing compatibility with a variety of devices of different sizes and data storage capacity e.g. mobile, tablet
- Testing compatibility with the majority of browsers
- Performance Testing
A mobile app has to go through performance testing with different workloads. Because at times apps slow down if the workload is too much. In the worst-case scenario, it ends up hanging or crashing. Hence, performance testing is necessary to ensure that your app does not crash.
Performance Testing involves:
- Testing of device performance i.e. battery consumption and memory consumption
- Testing Network performance
- Testing Server / API performance
- Security Testing
Apps need security to avoid any breaches or threats. This is because any type of malicious attack or misconduct damages the brand image and potentially ends up in a lawsuit. Hence to avoid such situations, the app requires regular security testing and updates.
Performance Testing involves:
- Testing Code for malware
- Look for Weak Server-side controls
- Testing of Authentication procedures
- Testing permissions
However, if you are looking for the utmost accuracy we suggest you carry out both Manual and Automated testing for your app.
This brings us to the end of the App design process but before we conclude, we will cover the mobile app development process for your better understanding.
Mobile App Development Process
Don’t get confused with the design and app development process. Sure, they go hand in hand but are fundamentally different. In fact, designing is a step in the mobile app development process.
From the above image, you can observe that there are 6 basic steps in the mobile app development process. Let’s explore them in brief,
Step #1 Strategy
- Define app objective
- Competitor assessment
- Platform selection
Step #2 Analysis & Planning
- Product roadmap
- MVP (Minimum viable product)
- Team structure
Step #3 UI/UX design
- Style guide
Step #4 Development
Step #5 Testing
Step #6 Deployment & Support
- Launch app
App Design Tips from Experts Designers of Webbybutter
Tip #1 Follow UIUX Design Guidelines
Guidelines are not restrictions, following them will simplify the app design process and help you create a compatible design for all the devices. Also, from a legal perspective, an app is saved from expensive lawsuits if it follows all the guidelines.
Tip #2 Update Your Knowledge With Emerging Technology And Trends
This step is to make you stand out amongst the highly competitive list of apps. To do that you need to constantly be in touch with New Technologies and Trends because designs get outdated.
Tip #3 Be Open for Suggestions From Your Colleague
Designing is a creative process, so, every individual has a different taste when it comes to design. Therefore, while designing an app it is important to be open to suggestions from your colleague because, the design should be appealing to all, and different suggestions will help you get an insight into what the design of your app must look like.
Final Take on- How To Design An App?
We hope that the details of the 7 different steps in designing an application were sufficient enough for you to get started with your app designing process. But, if you still feel the need for more information worry not, connect with us now and get a design for your mobile app instantly.
What is the main difference between UI and UX Designs?
UI stands for “User Interface” and is all about user interaction with the app. UX stands for “User Experience” and is mainly about how a user feels using your application.
How to Design an app for free?
Although the cost of mobile app design ranges from $2700 to $5000, you can use some free graphic design apps like Figma and Canva to design your app for free.