Mobile App Design – Everything for Beginner or Expert
The digital revolution is evolving and amidst a drastic change at the moment. Transiting from desktop-first to mobile-first approach, the industry is in a crucial and interesting phase. The exponential rise in mobile devices, smartphones, and powerful computing modules in the handsets is fueling this revolution. This sharp shift is pushing the need for a modern, powerful, and seamless mobile experience.
What makes smartphones smart and useful are the apps and the OS ecosystem. While the popular Android and iOS ecosystems are quite exquisite and advanced, mobile apps contribute greatly towards their popularity and success.
Bringing some statistics into the mix, there are thousands of apps available on Apple’s App-store and Google’s Play store. And there are millions of active mobile users on each of these platforms, with each of these users actively using somewhere between 10-20 apps installed on their devices. So, someone looking to break a leg on these enormous ecosystems with their apps needs to focus on more than just scripting the code.
Before jumping into designing and creating a mobile app, the business/ or you as an individual need to lay out a strategy and do your research.
Brainstorming and business research
Reiterating the fact that there are thousands (probably even millions) of apps available on the app marketplaces. Many of them are identical, offering similar features and experience, yet only a few get the attention of the users. Moreover, some applications have amazing features, design, and implementation, but don’t perform well on the user’s expectations.
So, before anything, you need to do your research and gather insights about your audience. You need to accumulate information about usage patterns, expectations, business opportunities, and demand. And most importantly, the competition in the space.
Transitioning into the app development phase
Even after you have identified your opportunities, competition, and marketing strategy, it is not the right time to jump into app development. As there are critical decisions and steps to follow if you are targeting success.
- Translating business strategies into use cases
What may seem like a simple business situation, could be a cluster of numerous technical use cases and scenarios. Even for a simple counter app, one could have multiple use cases like count up and down, support multiple counters, cascaded counters (by category), different color schemes, maintaining data cache, etc. So, defining the use cases for different business strategies is a crucial step in the app development phase.
- Choosing the platform and tech space
For those who have used different devices and ecosystems, and paid attention to some technical aspects, not all apps are supported or available on all devices for a manufacturer, let alone different companies or ecosystems.
Let’s take a graphic-intensive gaming app on Android, which could run seamlessly on a flagship phone, but not even designed for a budget range device.
- Picking the tools and building capabilities
When you are building your first mobile app, your first question might be, ‘how to make an app?’. And the answer to that is to follow industry best practices. There are numerous software suites and development tools that can help developers and designs at different phases of development. From designing wireframes and design templates to building functional prototypes and testing, you have a tool for all. Most of these tools can be integrated into software development cycles as well as business strategizing.
Designers and developers can also use specialized tools to simplify their implementation processes and brainstorming sessions.
- Defining the framework and guidelines
When building an app that can cause disruption and aiming to get the attention of the audience, you might be focused on getting the best results. But this shouldn’t mean that you don’t define the scope or limitations of your app. Without these or defined sprints, building an app or bringing it to the users can be a challenge.
You can always plan for improvement sprints and add new complex features as per demand. But it is always a good practice to plan the development framework, technologies, design, features, etc. based on business research, available resources, and capabilities.
- Identifying the components, activities, and technological nitty-gritty
An app usually involves components like the user interface, business modules, OS interfacing modules, data interaction layers, etc. and each of these components interacts with the mobile device and each other to generate the required results. Each of these components, the data flow diagrams, their dependencies, and architecture should be laid out before jumping to the actual implementation. This not only helps identify possible roadblocks and technical roadmap but also simplifies the implementation phase and modularizes the entire app. So, there’s no straightforward answer to ‘how to create an app’. But there are some industry best practices and processes to help you create the app you want.
Follow the core UI principles for your app’s design
For any app, the UI and the seamless experience is one of the primary factors that influence a user’s interaction with an app. If an app has poor navigability or an unappealing presentation, the users could be reluctant to use the app or give a chance. On the other hand, just creating an app with an extraordinary UI, but lacks the basic features and functions wouldn’t earn you an audience either.
There are too many options and ideas floating around for UI and designs. So, while you explore your options and mobile app design ideas, make sure to stay in touch with the core principles.
- Clear and consistent
When designing an app, your user must get a sense of it in the first view. If your design isn’t self-explanatory and one has to put in a lot of effort just to find its functions and basic features, you might want to take a step back and reconsider.
Let’s say, you made a calculator app, and instead of a basic calculator interface, you fill it up with loads of animation and advanced options, it could be overwhelming.
So, keep the things clear, user-friendly, and consistent, rather than making your user struggle through it.
- Keep it simple and familiar
No one likes a change or being put in an uncomfortable space. When people see a mobile app, they expect something that makes their lives easier and easy to work with. Unless your end goal is to create a puzzle, make your app simple and involuntary.
- Use elegant color schemes and friendly text
Color schemes are a critical part of the UI, and missing out on following the right schemes and contrasts could screw up the entire design of your app. Moreover, select color combinations that do not compromise the readability or usability of your app.
Also, don’t forget that some users might use your app in the daylight (in bright spaces) or in low-lit rooms (or at night in dark). So, ensure that you set the right contrast and that could be used as per need.
Considering costs, resources, and investments
Building an app is a considerable investment of time, money, and intellectual resources. And, if you are planning to take over a sizable app development project, it means a proportional investment in terms of business and market research, fair costing for development and testing of the app, and the final showdown with the release and maintenance of the app for the users.
Therefore, when building an app or hiring an app creator company, you might want to analyze and deliberate the cost constraints, design standards, marketing strategies, and scope of the project. Also, set out the boundaries and plan alpha-beta versions to test the marketability before putting your feet down.
If you ask any individual developer, business, or an app development enthusiast about building an app, you would get similar answers – There is no magic formula’. Rather, it is a series of cautious decisions and planning to create an app that stands out and delivers value to its users. It doesn’t matter if it is a productivity app, a simple game, a delivery app, or an extremely complex business-specific product. The core principles and best practices for designing and building a mobile app stand true, irrespective of the scale, platform, or complexity of the app.
On a conclusive note, you can’t become an expert in app development in a day, and neither stay a beginner for a lifetime. All you need is the efforts and follow the basics to tread through to journey from a beginner to an expert.
Rahul Ghundiyal is CEO of RNG SEO. He has been working on SEO since 2013 and working within limits makes him feel good. He also has personal blog Techssocial where he shares informative articles to read. You can connect him on LinkedIn or Follow on twitter