Mobile Design

Mobile App Design Process – The Ultimate Guide

Any business needs a mobile app. Why? In 2020, the number of mobile app downloads reached 218 billion. Users are ready to download and use them, but they expect that a mobile application will help them enjoy all benefits of the product or service. Therefore, it is vitally important to invest in the app design process to make sure the experience of your customer exceeds their expectations. 

The mobile app design process helps to create a proper foundation for app development. It helps define how the app should look, what features it should have, and how it should interact with the users.

The app designing process has some more questions to answer:

  • How can we use the results of UX research for creating an application?

  • How does the feature list change after the competitors’ research?

  • Why do we need to fill in the brief and work with it during app development?

What is a mobile application?

A mobile application, also known as a mobile app, is a type of software run on mobile or tablet. Mobile applications are developed primarily for the most popular platforms, Android and iOS. There are cross-platform apps that require only one client to be installed on any platform, and there are apps with different clients for different platforms.

Mobile apps are used in different industries: from entertainment to finance. For example, in 2020, banking app revenue reached $3.6 billion. Yet, banking and finance are not the most popular app category, and the revenue in this sphere is not the highest.

According to the latest Statista research, messages and social networks are the most popular categories. And, of course, they generate the biggest revenue.

Regardless of the mobile app type, there’s always a question: how to design an app that will meet all the clients’ demands and help interact with the users most efficiently? Fortunately, the design process is the same for all apps, and our guidelines will help you move through it step by step.

Mobile App Design Process 

We need to remember one thing: the best mobile app design results from a time-consuming and effort-demanding preparatory process. Each stage is equally important to the final result, so we recommend you not to miss any of them.

Here’s a brief guide on every step that you need to make to succeed. 

Discovery stage

It is one of the most important stages of the whole design process. In the discovery stage, it’s necessary to fill in the client brief by asking questions about the company and its main business goals. 

Additionally, the app design process should always include the client brief analysis. It helps define the client’s needs, business goals, market specifics, and product requirements. The client brief reveals all basic information about where the business is now, where it is planning to move, and what goals to reach.

Thus, collect this information to understand the vision of the final result. 

UX research

Mobile app UX design always starts with detailed UX research. It helps get all information needed for app designing: from defining the target audience to analyzing the competitors. For any business, it is vitally important to get a full view of the data to make the most effective interface decisions. This will help to create a product with the ultimate user experience flow. At the same time, the clients will get the product that solves their problems and meets their needs.

Competitors analysis 

The next step is defining and analyzing direct and indirect competitors. When working on application designs, you will be able to use their strong and weak points.

To keep all collected information organized, we recommend you create a competitors matrix. Define the distinctive features of their product and put this data into the matrix. It is needed to understand how the products differ and what the user may miss and need from your product. At this stage, we can revise the product’s feature list and update it with new ideas.

Persona archetypes

We have already basically defined the target audience for the product, but it’s important to understand the types of characters who potentially can become our users a little bit better. We can do that at the stage of creating persona archetypes.

Describe groups of users along with their expectations, hesitations, experience, needs. It will help catch the behavior patterns of your prospective clients, as well as their pains, expectations, and needs.

It will help change our attitude to the product and give a chance to look at it from the client’s point of view. 

The results of this analysis will help you to conduct a validation process of the target persona for your product and develop final portraits of the target audience. 

Report

The reports help us bring all app design ideas to life. Reports start with the description of the essence of the product, its objectives, business goals. It is important to add information about the validated segments of the audience, the goals of the users, their problems, and their pains. 

Additionally, add details on the results of the competitor analysis, and focus on the information that we will use in the future.

The report regularly ends with a list of recommendations based on the results of UX research. These recommendations include a list of features that are nice to add to the app. For each feature, provide a strong argumentation on why this feature is important for the product. 

Later on, these recommendations can be used to fix the logic of the steps or update the feature list.

Customer journey map

All the steps mentioned above help us customize and update a customer journey map of the product. 

We use information from the discovery stage to create a journey that will cover all steps of the client. When working on the customer journey map, we should keep in mind what our clients may like and what may frustrate them. At this stage, we can create customer stories and customer scenarios. 

If you update the customer journey map, remember to update the feature list as well.

User flow

UX design process is impossible without a well-developed user flow. 

The user flow stage is important to understand and develop the process of user interaction with a certain set of screens to perform certain actions. During this stage, we create a block scheme of actions that cover the start of the journey (first interaction of the product) to the end of the journey (performing required action). 

User flow is helpful when you need to minimize customer journey, simplify some stages or even omit them. If you ignore the development of the user flow, there are chances that your app will have too many spare screens and steps that will overcomplicate the journey. At this stage, we can improve the experience of the user. It will help to make the product more valuable to the customers.

For the businesses, creating user flow has an additional benefit: it helps cut costs on the development stage. 

App flow

Creating an app flow helps us understand every detail an app has and how they work together. 

At this stage, we not only show app UX, but also demonstrate the functionality of the product, the consequences of the key functions and screens, the actions that trigger different screens, the events that happen when the user makes a certain action.

The app flow stage is important to cut functionality and simplify the product. At the same time, it’s important to preserve all features that are vital for the product.

Wireframes

We create a screens scheme for the app with high or low fidelity wireframes at the wireframing stage.

Wireframes help to set a hierarchy of information for the design. Also, they help define where different elements can be placed, depending on how users perceive the information.

Clickable prototypes

After we have created a scheme for the app, we can prepare clickable prototypes. It helps to check the screens map and all transitions between them. 

The clickable prototypes stage is the best way to test the whole interface before starting the development of the design. It is faster and cheaper to fix all the mistakes at this stage as the UI or development stages have not started yet.

Usability testing

Only after testing the prototype within the team can we start usability testing within other teams or conduct lab testings or other usability tests.

We recommend you test prototypes among colleagues or friends. Even this simple approach will help to detect mistakes and problems and fix some critical issues with the logic of the product before moving to the UI stage. 

UI Design Stage

The UI design process is as important as UX. Start by creating mood boards to transmit certain emotions that the user should feel when using the app.

Also, at this stage we define the visual style of the app that will cover the needs of the client.

Remember that if the product has certain identics, it’s necessary to implement it in the moodboard creation. 

Design concept

When working on a design concept, we recommend preparing several variants in different color schemes. Define the general style, direction, visual characteristics of the interface. When we agree on the style, we implement it for the next pages.

Clickable prototypes

In many cases, this step helps to make sure that the design is ready for development. With its help, you can test the application and see how exactly it works. It perfectly demonstrates all the transmissions between the pages and helps with testing UI and UX together. And, of course, a clickable prototype is better for presentation as it gives a full vision of the product.

Preparation for the development

To prepare a project for development, create style guides for all elements as instructions for the developers. It is obligatory if you have an interactive element in your design. For the developers, it is important to see all states of interactive elements, animations, and interactions.

Perhaps, you will need to prepare some extract assets like icons for the Apple store or marketing materials (emails or additional graphics elements for social media).

Mobile App Design Tips & Useful tools

How to design a mobile app that will be effective for your business? Follow these tips and recommendations: all of them are designed to help you create UX designs that work.

Create engaging onboarding

Onboarding helps improve the user experience from the very first moment a customer uses an app. Demonstrate the value of your product on the first screens of the app. To create an efficient onboarding, check out our guide with examples of user onboarding design best practices.

Be consistent with everything you do

Maintain consistency to simplify all user processes. Make sure that UX-copy is clear and corresponds to the actions your users must perform. Use the same buttons for the same actions, stick to chosen fonts and colors. All components that look identically must also have identical functionality.

Minimize efforts

Your customers expect that your app will be easy to navigate. Make sure you’ve managed to reach this. Also, they expect that they don’t need to input too much information. Simplify all forms you have within the app. Check whether the size of the font is readable. 

Company experience 

What we enjoy about mobile app design is that it’s always challenging and helps us aim for the extraordinary. Any market has certain best practices and requirements. Moreover, depending on the market, the customers’ expectations can also vary. Therefore, it is always better to entrust the design development process to professionals.

Biloba case study 

Biloba is a healthcare application that helps to connect parents with doctors faster and more efficiently. 

Main challenge

Biloba approached us with the necessity to redesign their app to reach business goals. 

Our solution 

Before we started to work on the problems, we analyzed a client brief to define business goals, needs and requirements, and expectations. Next, we moved to the stage of the competitor research. By analyzing direct and indirect competitors, we defined the main features that had to be added to the app. 

After making a UX audit of the existing page, we defined the main problems with logic and produced a list of recommendations to improve interface and usability. 

We created a new feature list based on the results of the analysis. 

Next, we moved to the UI stage and created a mood board featuring a new style and prepared a new concept for some stages with an updated interface.

After approving new styles and concepts, we created the design of all other screens, assets, and prepared this information for the developers.

Results

Biloba is now enjoying a new design for the mobile app, that helps to deliver the best experience to the users.

Conclusion

A properly organized mobile app design process can make the success of the whole project. Invest your time in preparatory steps, including the analysis of your target audience and competitor research. Revise your feature list to make sure that you provide your customers with everything they need.

Remember that everything starts with the UX. Test the usability of your application by all available means. Conduct user testings, ask your colleagues to leave feedback on the UX of the project.

Only after careful examination of the UX can you move to the UI stage. It’s vitally important to create an interface that is attractive and effective. 

The mobile app design process is complicated, indeed. And if you have any hesitations that you can manage it on your own, feel free to ask us for help. Arounda has impressive expertise in managing processes that lead to perfect results. We will help you fill in the brief, define business goals, and find approaches to reach these goals with the help of design. We will work carefully on your UX: using industry best practices and our own experience. UI is also on us, as we know how to create beautiful designs that blow the market with their features.

Call us any time you are ready to start the app design process. We’re waiting for your decision!

Vladislav Gavriluk
WRITTEN BY
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
Vladislav Gavriluk
WRITTEN BY
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
Got a project? Let’s talk

Not ready for estimate? Book a FREE one hour consultation with one of our experts to discover the right solution.

More interesting

All articles

Hungry for more?

Sign up to our newsletter to get weekly updates on the trends, case studies and tools