Are you a non-tech entrepreneur with a great idea for a mobile app but don’t know where to start? With millions of apps available for download, creating an app that looks great and offers an excellent user experience is essential.
As a mobile app UI/UX designer and developer with years of experience, I have helped many startups bring their app ideas to life and succeed in the app store. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll take you through the essential steps of designing a mobile app to meet and exceed user expectations.
From ideation to launch, I will cover everything you need to know to design an app that users will love. So, if you’re curious to learn how to design an app that stands out in the app store, keep reading.
This article will provide a step-by-step guide to designing an app, with examples and statistics to support each step.
12 Essential Steps For Designing Apps For Your Startup
Step 1: Define the purpose and target audience of your app
Before you begin designing your app, defining its purpose and target audience is essential. Your app’s purpose should solve a problem or fulfill your target audience’s needs.
For example, if you’re creating a fitness app, your purpose might be to help users track their workouts and monitor their progress. Your target audience should be specific, and you should consider their age, gender, interests, and behaviors.
According to Statista, the most popular mobile app in the Apple app store category worldwide in 2022 was games at 12.8%, followed by business and education apps at 10.35% and 9.35%, respectively. These statistics highlight the importance of defining your app’s purpose and target audience to stand out in a crowded market.
Step 2: Conduct market research
Once you have defined your app’s purpose and target audience, it’s time to conduct market research. Market research involves analyzing your competitors and identifying gaps in the market. Market research lets you determine your app’s features, how it looks, and what pricing model to use.
According to Statista, in Q3 2022, over 3.55 million were available on the Google Play Store and over 1.6 million on the Apple App Store. With such a vast number of apps available, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research to ensure that your app stands out and meets the needs of your target audience.
You can start by analyzing your competitors’ features to conduct effective market research. Look at what they offer and how they are pricing their products. Identify any gaps in the market that you could fill with your app.
For example, if you’re designing a food delivery app, you might analyze competitors like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub to see what features they offer and what pricing models they use. You might also identify gaps in the market, like a lack of options for healthy food delivery or late-night delivery.
Step 3: Define the Features and Functionality of the App
Defining the features and functionality of your app is a crucial step in the mobile app development process.
A well-designed and user-friendly app can lead to high engagement, retention, and positive reviews, increasing downloads and revenue.
According to a report by Qualitest, 88% of users stop using an app if they encounter bugs or glitches. This statistic emphasizes the importance of defining the features and functionality of your app before launching it.
To ensure that your app meets the needs of your target audience, it’s essential to conduct thorough market research and identify your app’s essential and non-essential features. Prioritizing the essential features and ensuring their seamless functionality can lead to a better user experience, higher engagement, and positive reviews.
In addition, defining the features and functionality of your app can also help you allocate your resources efficiently. By focusing on essential features and gradually adding non-essential features, you can avoid overloading your app with unnecessary features, resulting in a smoother and more efficient app development process.
Step 4: Create a user flow and wireframe
After finalizing the app features, create a user flow and wireframe. A user flow visualizes how users navigate your app, while a wireframe is a blueprint of your app’s design. Creating a user flow and wireframe helps you identify any usability issues or flaws early in the design process.
For example, if you’re designing a shopping app, your user flow might include the steps a user takes to search for products, add them to their cart, and checkout. Your wireframe would then show the layout of each screen, including the placement of buttons, text, and images.
Step 5: Design your app’s interface and user experience
Once you have created a user flow and wireframe, it’s time to design your app’s interface and user experience. The design of your app should be visually appealing and easy to use. Consider the color scheme, typography, imagery, and interactive elements to create an engaging user experience.
For example, if you’re designing a meditation app, you might use calming colors like blue and green, calming imagery like nature scenes or abstract patterns, and easy-to-read typography.
You might also incorporate features like audio-guided meditations and progress tracking to enhance the user experience.
Step 6: Develop the App Prototype
Now that you have a wireframe developing a prototype is next. A prototype is a basic model of your app that allows you to see how it works in real time. Creating a prototype is essential to ensure that all the design elements work well together and that the app is user-friendly.
Many tools are available to help you create a prototype, such as InVision, Figma, or Adobe XD. These tools allow you to create interactive app mockups and test it out before development begins. You can also use these tools to share your prototype with stakeholders and gather feedback.
Once you have developed your prototype, test it with real users for feedback. This feedback will be invaluable as you move forward with app development.
Example: One of the most famous prototypes in the tech industry is the first iPhone prototype that Steve Jobs and his team developed. They created prototypes more like iPad and had ethernet and serial ports to test out the size and shape of the phone and how users would interact with it.
Step 7: Design the User Interface (UI)
Now it’s time to design the user interface (UI). The UI is what users see and interact with when they use your app. It includes everything from the layout and typography to the color scheme and icons.
When designing the UI, it’s important to keep the user experience in mind. You want to create an interface that is intuitive and easy to use. This means designing with a user-centric approach and focusing on usability.
There are many design elements to consider when designing the UI, such as:
- Layout: The layout should be consistent throughout the app, with clear navigation and hierarchy.
- Typography: The typography should be easily read and consistent throughout the app.
- Color scheme: The color scheme should be visually appealing and reinforce the brand identity.
- Icons: The icons should be easily recognizable and intuitive.
Example: The Nike Training Club app is an excellent example of a well-designed UI. The app has a clear layout, easy navigation, and a consistent color scheme. The typography is easy to read, and the icons are intuitive.
Step 8: Design the User Experience (UX)
Designing the user experience (UX) is as important as designing the UI. The UX is about how users interact with your app and how they feel. A good UX design can distinguish between an app used regularly and one deleted after a few uses.
When designing the UX, focusing on user needs and behavior is important. You want to create a seamless and intuitive experience with clear calls to action and feedback.
There are many elements to consider when designing the UX, such as:
- User flows: User flows map out the steps a user takes to complete a task within the app. These flows should be intuitive and easy to follow.
- Navigation: Navigation should be clear and easy to use, with consistent placement and hierarchy.
- Feedback: Users should receive clear feedback when interacting with the app, such as confirmation messages or error notifications.
- Calls to action: Calls to action should be clear and prominent, encouraging users to take action within the app.
Example: The Airbnb app is an excellent example of a well-designed UX. The app has clear user flows, easy navigation and prominent calls to action. Users receive clear feedback when they complete a task, such as booking a reservation.
Step 9: Test and Refine the Prototype
Now that you have a prototype, it’s time to test it. Testing is a critical step in the app design process as it helps you to identify any issues with the app’s usability and functionality. This step helps you to refine the app and ensure that it is easy to use and meets the needs of your target users.
Start by testing the app with a small group of users. This can be done through usability testing or user research. Usability testing involves asking users to perform tasks on the app and recording their interactions. User research involves asking users to provide feedback on the app’s design, functionality, and usability.
Based on user feedback, refine the prototype to improve the usability and functionality of the app. This may involve changing the app’s design, layout, or features. Repeat this process until you have a prototype that meets the needs of your target users and is easy to use.
Example: Airbnb is a great example of an extensively tested mobile app before its release. The app was tested with a small group of users, who provided feedback on the app’s design, functionality, and usability. Based on this feedback, the app was refined and improved, resulting in a final version that is easy to use and meets the needs of its target users.
Step 10: Test the App
Before launching it, testing it thoroughly to ensure it functions properly is important. This includes testing all features, links, and buttons to ensure they work correctly and checking for bugs or errors that may impact the user experience.
Various types of testing can be done, including functional, usability, and security. Functional testing involves testing the app’s functionality, while usability testing involves testing the user experience to ensure it is easy to use and navigate. Security testing is also important to ensure the app is secure and can protect user data.
Testing the app on various devices and operating systems is important to ensure compatibility. Also, consider beta testing the app with a small group of users to gather feedback and make any necessary improvements before launching the app to the public.
Step 11: Launch the App
Once the app has been developed and tested, launching it publicly is time. This involves submitting it to the app store or marketplace and making it available for download.
When launching the app, it is important to have a strong marketing strategy to promote and attract users. This can include social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and app store optimization (ASO).
ASO involves optimizing the app store listing to increase visibility and downloads. This includes optimizing the app name, description, screenshots, and keywords to ensure the app appears in relevant search results.
Step 12: Monitor and Update the App
After launching the app, monitoring its performance and gathering user feedback are important. This can help identify any issues or areas for improvement and inform future updates and new features.
Regularly updating the app with new features, bug fixes, and improvements can also help keep users engaged and attract new users. It is important to have a clear roadmap and strategy for future updates and improvements.
Designing and launching a mobile app can be complex and challenging, but following these steps and best practices can increase your chances of success. It is important to focus on user experience and behavior and have a clear strategy and plan for developing, testing, and launching the app.
Remember, the key to success is always to put the user first and continually iterate and improve the app based on user feedback and behavior. With the right approach and mindset, you can create a mobile app that not only meets the needs of your target audience but also stands out in a crowded marketplace.
Alain Glaeser, a seasoned software developer with 7 years of experience, has helped countless mobile app and SaaS startups build and scale their products. He has an excellent track record of developing software downloaded by millions, playing a vital role in helping founders secure multi-million dollar funding. Alain's expertise in building tech startups has proven invaluable to a non-technical entrepreneurs seeking to expand their knowledge base and gain a competitive edge in the industry.Read all of Alain Glaeser's articles