Mobile application design can appear extremely vague and pose a lot of queries to the businesses that consider requesting it. “What are the steps? What are the artifacts? How many people will be included, and what will my role be in it?
In this article, I answer all these questions and more as I clarify what lies behind each of the three main stages of mobile app design.
1. Business analysis
At the 1st stage of any mobile application development project, you need to define the target platform (iOS or Android or both), the development method, and the functional necessity. Although this may sound too techy for a start, I can’t pressure enough how heavily further steps depend on the decisions you make at this level. To get a load off your mind and make a determined and confident choice, I recommend performing this step together with a professional business analyst, who has a focus on mobile design.
To decide on the platform, you will need to determine your target audience and evaluate their platform preferences that depend on geography and income. For example, if you focus on an average US user, you will be able to win the audience with just an iOS version. But if you want your application to go global, you won’t succeed without an application version for Android, which is overwhelmingly popular in Europe.
Once you define the platform(s) you want to reach, you should consider the development approach. Your options here are:
Native development - UX and UI design of the application is tailored to the platform’s original guidelines, it looks and feels exactly like any factory application for that platform. This development option entails high implementation costs, but ensures high user satisfaction.
Hybrid development - UX and UI design is similar on different platforms and thus may feel unnatural to some users at first. Execution costs are almost 2x lower than with native development.
Cross-platform development – UX and UI design provides a near-native look and experience on either platform. This choice requires about 70% of the native development budget.
Defining functional needs is the core objective of business analysis. The requirements help build a detailed concept of your future application and describe all the tasks it will manage in the form of a project specification. Without this doc, the UX designers won’t be able to even start their work.
2. UX design
When you’ve defined the functional requirements of your future application, your vendor of choice can proceed with the actual design action. The 1st stage is user experience design that is normally performed by a UX expert in co-operation with a business analyst.
The team works to create fictional profiles of your mobile app’s future users (aka personas) and their conversation patterns with the app (aka user scenarios). Although it depends on the operation of your application, mobile app design usually needs 5-7 personas with at least 2 different user scenarios created for each.
Both personas and scenarios help a UX designer understand what goals users will want to achieve while using your application. This understanding, in its turn, allows the designer to give the detailed form of wireframes, either hand-drawn or digital, into conversation flows between a user and the mobile application.
The finished UX wireframes – round forty mockups on average – go through rigorous, multi-round UX testing. Aimed at gaining early feedback, testing makes it feasible to eliminate UX issues, even as they may be still cheaper to fix. I also highly suggest you (or somebody from the project team to your side) to take part on this testing to see the first results for yourself.
3. UI design prototyping
UX wireframes – which usually seem like monochromatic schemes – are the base for the work of user interface designers. By merging your company’s brand book, platform-specific guidelines (the major ones being Google’s Material Design and/or Apple’s Human Interface), and latest mobile design trends, they transform the lo-fi wireframes into a colorful, hi-fi digital prototype. If you already have a web app with a similar functionality pack, UI designers make sure the mobile applications look is consistent with that of the web app.
Once the prototype is completed, the UI team contacts you and asks for your review. Make sure to share all your ideas and doubts at this point. Even if some major fixes or upgrades end up being costly, they will still be at least 2 times inexpensive at this stage than they will be later, in the shape code.
Only after your project team approves the final version of the UI prototypes, the design is complete, and you can securely proceed to develop.
Don’t let hesitations slow your design task down
Although I’ve included the most common alternatives and actions involved in the mobile application design process, every project has its very own specifics that can pose more questions and require more choices from your side. If you feel like these decisions cause uncertainty that holds you back from launching your mobile app development project, don’t hesitate to reach out to our mobile application development services in the Chennai team for a consultation.