Design for thumbs and fingers Don’t rely on help or instructions Leverage common nav flows Design for all device types

The design phase in app development, a step by step guide including best practices

You probably have an app in mind that you want to build, a rough idea of its key functions and how it will support your business.

In case you still need some guidance to define your app, have a look at our blogpost “How to pick your mobile opportunity and criteria that shape your product concept” here.

The next step after this definition is the design phase, which will make or break your mobile project.

Isn’t product design always a “make or break” step? Yes, but with mobile apps it’s even more important. Users are accustomed to outstanding, beautiful and useful mobile apps (mail, social media, games etc.) and are thus even quicker to lose patience with poor design or functionality. Additionally, mobile design is more challenging because it’s all about removing complexity, anticipating needs and cleverly allowing users to explore deeper into the app on their own without guidance.

In designing your mobile app these are steps to take and Best Practices from our experience:

Wire frame & paper-prototype
  • Design for thumbs and fingers
  • Don’t rely on help or instructions
  • Leverage common navigation flows
  • Design for all device types
User feedback and testing
  • Use live focus groups to test concept
  • Use user surveys to prioritize functions
Content creation and formatting
  • Design complete content model
  • Think through content management
  • Create a complete test set
User interface design
  • Use single color palette and graphic style
  • Rethink navigation flow
  • Focus on fit and finish
Second round of user testing
  • You will be surprised by people’s likes
  • You will be surprised by people’s dislikes
Final design documentation
  • Write out key algorithms
  • Specify APIs & data model
  • Don’t go overboard

If you follow this approach and keep in mind some of the best practices, this process yields a design that is well defined through user feedback and testing and developers have good guidelines to begin to code against. 

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