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It has been estimated that by 2023, smartphone users will reach 4.2 billion. In such a scenario, any business that wants to keep user retention and be in the competitive race investing in a good mobile app design is not a redundant issue. 

But before we get into the details of the mobile app design process, we need to address an important issue, that 90 percent of the users abandon or stop using the app due to its poor design and user experience. Hence, for any business, it is of utmost importance that they take care of the mobile app UI design process to ensure the minimum customer churn rate. 

There are quite a few other things you need to consider when you decide to develop a mobile app. One of them is the monetizing strategy. Did you know 98 percent of the revenue from the app is free? This is because only a fraction of the people is willing to pay to download the app. 

It is not like people will never pay for downloading the app and dismiss the idea of developing a paid app. But the chances are most people would prefer to download apps for free instead of buying them immediately. However, depending on the kind of audience you are catering to and the app's specialty, paid apps can work for your benefit. One edge that paid apps have over the unpaid one is the user will be more engaged with the app. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a person will pay for an app if they are unsure.

 While charging for downloading an app can be an easy and fast way to make money through the app, it reduces the users' pool. However, if you already have a business and an app as an extension of that business, you can still make money without charging for downloading it. Even when developing a new app, you can easily make money with a free download. There are several monetization strategies. One of them is offering in-app purchases. 

But to ensure that your target audience goes into the app, does not leave it within a few seconds, and moves towards an in-app purchase. Hence, it improves your business, and you have to develop an intriguing and exciting app for the user. To do that, you have to follow the app design process steps. 

These steps are of vital importance since they will help you build a successful app. 

Mobile App Design Guidelines:

A successful mobile app design is a pool of activities. It involves a wide range of expertise and planning. In an app design, two critical criteria need to be considered: our UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). The designers are responsible for making the app look attractive, while the developers need to ensure it operates without a hitch.

 Since a considerable population spends time using apps and abandoning them after the first use, mainly when they are free to download apps, it is essential to make time and effort to create the perfect app design. 

The best application design has to follow these guidelines when you bear the above figures and knowledge about app usage:

    1. Starting With a Plan 
    2. Designing and Development 
    3. Testing 
    4. Feedback 
    5. Launching The App

It is important to note that designers are present throughout the entire process of mobile app development. When a designer and developer work in tandem in creating a mobile app, it eventually helps create a quality product, where the desires of the app meet functionality and technicality easily. 

1. Starting With a Plan 

If you are planning to develop a mobile app for the first time, the good place to start is with questions like:

    • Why do you want to develop the app?
    • Why and how will it be beneficial for the users? 
    • Why will the users be interested in using your app instead of the competitors?

If you already have an app and want to enhance it further, identify the pain points that reduce its engagement with the audience. 

You need to set up the goals you want to achieve with the app. Write these queries and the answers down so that when the app development starts, you can come back to them to check how close your app is to your initial plan. 

i. Research your niche and platform 

You have decided that you want to have an app, but knowing your app's niche and the market is vital. Search as much as you can to see the diversity of your market and the audience. It will help you understand what your audience is looking for and help you develop better ideas for the app. 

Also, by knowing your target audience, you can decide on the platform where you want your app to be developed. Several types of platforms cater to the different operating systems and the expertise of the developer and designer. Therefore, you must research the types of platforms available for mobile apps and which would function better for your app.

ii. Research your competitors 

It is quite possible and standard that you will be flooded with information about the apps developed by your competitors, don't get perplexed by it. Instead, take it slow and steady to understand the apps to identify their gaps. Then, you can use these missing points to improve your app and offer a better user experience to the customers. 

iii. Research on monetizing the app

The other aspect but the vital one is to research. Once you have the idea about the kind of app you want to create, it's time to delve a little deeper. It is essential to draw a road map to what you want your app to do and how to make money from it. Then, you can consider how you will put in the in-app purchases, which sections, and which type of ads you want to display in your app. 

During this phase, it is easy to go back to your drawing board and modify your ideas for the app after researching. Understanding what is out there, the gaps, what the audience is looking for, and how you can deliver it to them is crucial in developing a successful app. At this stage, you can easily go back and forth to finalize these ideas for the mobile app. 

2. Designing & Development 

Having an app designed before development is to ensure it offers a polished look to the user while giving a seamless user experience. The success of a mobile app is determined by how well the users and its interactive capacity are using the features. 

A polished UI design will bring in your audience and early adoption of the app the intuitive user experience developed in the app will ensure the users are engaged and do not leave and delete the app. It is especially crucial when you are offering a free download app. 

Several steps can be followed to ensure the enhanced UI and UX of an app. 

i. Wireframe for the app 

The first step in designing the app is to develop a wireframe. It is the visual architecture of the workflow and the app's functioning. You can start blueprinting the app's architecture on a piece of paper, but as time progresses, it will get more detailed and complex. For such an instance where you want to have a detailed outline for a specific workflow and how you want the feature to function, it is best if you use a wireframe tool. 

An app will have multiple features and functions, and for each of them, you need to have a detailed workflow. 

A well-drawn wireframe will give you a comprehensive idea of the pages you will have and how your app will function. 

The tools like Invision, Axure, Pidoco, and iPlotz make the wireframing easy. With these tools, you can also test how your app will perform and see whether the navigation and workflow you have designed make any sense. 

After you have developed the wireframe, the next stage is letting your friends and colleagues test it. Let them check whether the navigation and the structures are intuitive. It is also the best time to check if all the elements and screens make sense to the testers. 

If you find something not working in their feedback, you can quickly readjust the wireframing and test it again. You can keep going back and forth with this phase until you are stratified with what you have in your hand. 

ii. Designing the app 

It's almost like before the D-Day, so keep the mockup drawings and designing as realistic as possible in this stage. But, on the other hand, you mustn't leave out any design aspect at this phase because it will differentiate between having a successful app and a dud. 

One cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make the right decision when selecting the design elements, fonts, color of the app, and letters. 

Many tools in the market allow you to design your app and give you different options. But if you want to create a successful app, it is recommended that you don't rush or skimp with an online app unless you are a graphic designer. Instead, it is best if you seek professional help. 

Even when working with a professional, you have a few more options to choose from. 

› Hire an agency 

If you are without any clue how to design and develop an app, you should hire an app designing and development agency is the best way forward. They can help you build the app from scratch, and if the project is complex, they have the expertise to work on different areas simultaneously to ensure the app functions smoothly. 

But just don't hire any random agency that you find online. Instead, spend some time talking to them, going through their reviews and quotations for the project. The best idea is to select a few and discuss the project with them before hiring one. 

Hiring an agency to develop and design an app can be expensive. Still, if you are looking for customization and creating something unique, the agency will have the resources to make it happen. 

› Designer 1-o-1

The other option you can avail of when getting a designer is to hire a freelancer or a designer instead of an agency. This is particularly beneficial when you have the basic idea of the app designing and developing and a clear vision about the app you want. 

It is less expensive than hiring an agency to develop the app, and also you can easily incorporate your ideas into the design with the designer. 

It would be best to start with your research online, check the portfolios reviews, and ensure their skill and style match your requirements. Additionally, consider exploring job boards, which often feature illustrator jobs, designer jobs and many others related to the expertise you are looking for.

› Running a contest

In hiring an agency and a designer, you need to give them either your money or time and an idea about the app you want. If you are running short on both of them and looking for innovative ideas about your app, running a design contest for the app can be a solution. 

You have to write a brief about the kind of app you want and then some of the specifications and post it online. Then, designers worldwide can take part in it and send you their designs. You can then select the ones you like the most, give your feedback, let them refine it further and choose the best one and reward them as the winner. 

You can then take that design and develop it further. 

› Using an app builder  

This idea is only good if you can't opt for any other option mentioned above. Like web builders, there are app builder tools in the market too. It is cheaper than hiring an agency or a freelance designer and even running content. However, you need to have basic app development and design knowledge and be more hands-on. Despite that, the tools are not equipped to build complex designs or require customization. 

For a simple app, this can be used as a trial version. 

iii. Some Tips On Designing The App 

When you are designing the app, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to ensure its success. 

› Easy Navigation 

Irrespective of how good the app looks, it means nothing unless you offer a seamless navigation experience to the user. For example, the navigation or tab bar must be clear and visible to the user. 

In the urge to be unique, don't design an app that will result in users being unable to find how to navigate the page and the app. Hence, remember to create a familiar design so the user can navigate the app intuitively. 

While designing it, also remember to create an app that is finger-friendly. Too small fonts and the buttons will give a hard time to the users in using the app. 

› Selecting the right fonts and colors 

While the font sizes matter in making it navigation friendly, the font and the color are vital. These are the salient features that will communicate with your user and their impact on them. 

Ensure that you have consistency with your fonts and colors. Don't create a design with too much color that puzzles the eye. Rather keep parity between the fonts and the color and if your brand has a specific color and font theme, stick with that. Your app is an extension of the brand. 

› Keeping it simple 

The modern look keeping whitespaces allows the users to focus on the action you want to take them, whether it is in a mobile or a web app. Once again, part of the simplicity means you have to use familiar phrases and symbols to provide them with the information on the screen to navigate the app easily. If too much happens, the user will abandon the app, feeling overwhelmed. 

› The branding factor 

You need to bring together the designing aspect of the app with the colors, fonts, blank spaces, symbols, phrases, and the way you highlight some features. Only then will the branding factor be influential for the app. 

You have to be consistent will all these elements throughout the app, its functionality, and any other external factors you use with the app and your business. Only when you can give proper weightage and develop a visual hierarchy will your design stand out. It will help your app have a professional look and create a better relationship between the app and the user. 

iv. Collecting feedback 

Since all these were part of developing the mockup design before taking it to the floor, it is time to get tested. To develop a click-through model and let your app design get tested by your friends, families, neighbors, and whoever is interested in seeing and trying it out. 

The rendered click-through testing is an excellent idea to put it under the wringer so the testers can feel the actual app's feel. 

At this stage, remember you are not testing the app's functionality per se. Instead, you test the app's navigation, layout, feel, and look. Therefore, you must heed the criticism and any feedback you get. This is the best time to dig deeper and fix the issues that the samplers point out. 

But also remember it's your vision, so you have to know what will work for the app and what needs to be changed and improved. Once you have jotted down the changes you want to make, take it back to your designer and get it done. 

v. Developing the app 

Now that the designing process is over, you are satisfied with how the app looks, the navigation, layout, and feel. You have to hand it over to the developer (if you hire one) or the team in case you have hired an agency. 

It is now their job to code and makes the app functional. The developers are responsible for making the app work as you have visioned and your designers have drawn it out. 

In all likelihood, the developers will work with you and the designers in close quarters and go back and forth. Therefore, it is natural that design adjustments are made or requested at times for the app to work smoothly. Also, it is not uncommon to run into issues when the development process is underway. However, most gaps and flaws are figured out and fixed during this time. 

Once the app is developed, go back to your gaol, research ideas, and see if it matches what you intended to build. Does it solve the pain points and issues you identified when you thought of developing the app? Does the app offer simplicity while using and keep the user engaged? If the answers to your queries are yes and you are satisfied with the app, it is time to move to the next step. 

3. Testing 

A thorough quality assurance (QA) testing is necessary for a mobile app. The application's performance, stability, security, and usability can be analyzed. For the comprehensive testing of the app, you need to develop test cases that will cover every aspect of the app. 

Typically the testing process of a mobile app should be done under five categories:

i. UI  

The part of the testing is to ensure that the app's visuals, workflows, and interactivity is seamless and as created by the designers before the app's development. The UI is the determining factor in app adoption by the user, so remember that the development team has used the correct color schemes, fonts, hierarchy, icon design, navigation, and padded between data. 

ii. Functionality  

The functionality testing ensures the accuracy and performance of the app. In addition, its functionality determines the app's success because it can change depending on the usage scenario and behavior. For instance, when two different users fill in the payment details on the app, it can work differently based on the data they have put. 

With the help of functionality testing done under as many environments and users as possible, you can identify the glitches in the app and fix them. 

Functionality testing can be done into two parts system testing and unit testing, and both of them must perform without a hitch for the app to succeed. You should also include comparing the app's functionality on the different OS if you are developing for both. 

iii. Performance 

The performance of the app is quantitative and qualitative where it should answer questions like:

    • How long does it take to load?
    • How fast the app responds after the user request?
    • Does it drain the phone battery too much or cause a memory leak?
    • How big is the size of the app and consuming too much space?
    • Does the app slow the functioning of other apps on the mobile device?

The app's performance must be tested with API, backend load, and other concurrent features. In addition, your app should be able to handle usage spikes and a load of other apps on the mobile device. 

iv. Security 

Security is of vital importance and concern for every user and service provider in mobile enterprise apps. To ensure there are no leaks in the app that can lead to data breaches and hacks often, developers and companies hire a third-party professional security testing agency to get the job done. 

However, as part of your QA system, you can take a few measures to check the app's security. For instance, a user's login session must be tracked on the device and backend. The login should be terminated after being idle for a while (e.g., 10 minutes or more. 

The service must be trusted when the app store uses the user credential to log into the app. 

If there is a data entry form in the app, it should be tested so there is no data leakage. 

But if you want to offer robust security, hire a professional to test the app. 

v. Device and platform 

Mobile app testing is very different and complex from web app testing. The simple reason is that new devices are launched every year within the Android OS. Since Android is open-source, it is customized as per the device. Therefore, the OS is updated every month, and the new devices that arrive in the market have new firmware, hardware, and design.

On the other hand, iOS offers a controlled OS and hardware with different iPhones and iPads. 

As a result, businesses often build a mobile app for a single OS and then make it for the other platform when required. However, one should ensure it runs successfully across all the devices. Hence it is important to have a comprehensive testing strategy and use different OS testers to record its performance. 

Once these five tastings are done, and you are happy with the app, it is time to take it further with the testing. 

4. Feedback 

For the one last time with all the testing feedback, it goes back to the drawing board. Check if everything you had intended to offer is there in the app. Also, remember the gaps and the glitches that the testing, work on them, and go for the next round of feedback with the following:

i. Focus Group Testing 

For all your friends, family members, neighbors, and anyone interested in your app, it's time to call them back again. They will be your focus group, and let them have a go at your app the way they want to use it. At this point, it should be fully functional and be visually appealing. 

It is then time to get their feedback, take it to the designers and developers, get it fixed and move to the next step with the final adjustments. 

ii The Beta Version Launch 

This can even be termed a soft launch, where limited early downloaders can avail of the app's initial version. With a beta launch, you will get the opportunity to see how the users react to it and the way it performs in a live environment. 

During the beta version launch, let the users know you would like their feedback and comments on the app. There is no point in launching a beta version if you do not have feedbacks to work on before the actual launch. 

Whatever feedback you get during these two sessions, use it for the last time and improve the app as you deem fit. 

5. Launching The App

It is now time to let go of your baby into the world. Let your app hit the app stores. The launch of the app is a bit different between Android and iOS. 

With Android, you can simply upload the app file to the Google Play store, and people can download and start using it immediately. 

However, with iOS, you have to send the app for review. Once it gets reviewed, you can make it live. But if you have followed all the iOS app development and design guideline, you don't have to worry about not getting through. 

But launching the app is not the end of the road for you. It is just the beginning. 

You have to keep updating and improving the app regularly to ensure your users enjoy it. 

So, while you keep updating and improving the app, it is essential to ensure you spend quality time marketing it. There is no point in creating a ground-breaking mobile app if people don't know about it. Even when Uber and Airbnb was launched as an app, they invested in marketing. 

If you don't take marketing seriously, you would be doing a great disservice to all the hardships and toils of designing and developing the app. 

Final Words 

As a word of caution when you are looking into mobile app design examples, remember not to copy an existing design. There is a very fine line between copying and getting inspired. So, create an app that is unique in its way. Then, use your target audience's niche market and decide on the cases to design the app that will provide value to the users. 

In the end, designing something exclusive is worth all the sleepless nights and resources spent on the app. So don't be afraid to innovate and push the envelope further than expected. 

You are now equipped to design a new app and a step closer to making money out of it with this knowledge. 

Since designing an app is an open-ended space, and though there are some principles, it will always come to creativity when creating something unique. 

Adding to this, it is also essential to keep in mind that when designing an application, irrespective of its complexity, it is vital to maintain the best practices in the mobile app design. This includes creating a future-ready mobile app and being receptive to changes as the OS updates happen. 

As part of the process, keep updating, and at times the update can become less enjoyable for the user. Often it will lead to the abandonment of your app and moving towards your competitor, but don't panic. There is always the testing option, even for updates and getting feedback before launching it. 

Why not use all this knowledge and the unique idea you have for your app and go for the next unicorn app?

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