Mobile apps are playing an increasingly prominent role at the forefront of online business. From ecommerce to content curation, everybody has a new mobile app idea. The process of designing a mobile app is in its formative years, and in most full-service development firms, the mobile application design process is poorly defined. However, at Y Media Labs, our team specializes in mobile application design and development, and we have our own tried and tested application workflow, guaranteeing that your mobile application ideas are truly realized.
Our approach to the app design process can be summarized in this 7-step guide on how to design mobile apps. You can use this simple process as the structure for your project plan, so that you understand the key stages to the YML development and design for mobile workflow.
Step 1: Define your goals
The first stage in any project is to have a clearly defined goal. Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your mobile application? With this target firmly in your line of sight, then go on to question which problems you are solving for your target group. Once you understand the wants and needs of your potential user base, you can look at the competitive landscape and consider how you could surpass the competition. Whether you choose to develop a mind-blowing user interface, or the less noble approach of cloning the lead product and undercutting price, it is essential to have a strategy.
Step 2: Conceptualize your interface
Get out your old friend pen and paper and start drawing. Great mobile applications start with a UI concept, and then work toward development solutions to reach this interface. The simplest way to get moving on this side of the design process is to sketch out how you envision your interface and how your application workflow might develop.
Once you are satisfied with your basic concept, it’s time to pull in the designers and developers to start wireframing. Make sure that you do this in consultation with experts, as they will be able to flag potential hurdles at this stage and start work on finding solutions early on.
At YML, our team is full of experienced mobile application developers who are well versed in the common pitfalls of mobile application development. Pull us into the project at an early stage, and we’ll save you from potentially wasted time and investment in design and development costs for a flawed product.
Step 3: Learn from competitors
Once you have started to conceptualize, it is important to look back to the competition. At this stage you should have a visual representation of what your app might look like. By reflecting on your current design and comparing it to the leading competition, you should critically assess whether you are providing superior value to users in some aspect of your product. Reference your original goal and keep your product’s unique selling point at the forefront of your mind. Ask yourself whether or not you are being true to your original goal, problem and strategy.
Step 4: Make technical specifications
With your goals in mind, and now with a clear view on how your application will come together, you will have to clearly define your technical specifications. If you are not a mobile UX expert or developer, it is essential to get some professional support at this stage. Mobile experts understand the realm of possibilities opened up by innovative mobile technology. You need an expert team that ensures that you are not left building your business’ foundation on outdated technology.
The YML team can help you select your development platform and structures, which will define how users interact with your application. Our developers and designers build static and dynamic applications for all platforms. Simply tell us about your idea, and we will be able to recommend the technical specifications that are right for your business.
Step 5: Create a beta version for testing
Now the real excitement starts as you create the beta version of your application. This is about putting your plan into action and coming up with the first, rough iteration of your design. Try to get this rudimentary form to look aesthetically like the real thing. That way you can focus on getting feedback about functionality rather than just hearing clouded opinion about poor design.
Armed with customer feedback from your initial beta run, you should be in a position to make some final adjustments to your application before launch. If the feedback calls for radical changes to the way your app functions, then you must return to the wireframing and tech spec stages and run through a second round of beta testing before launch.
Step 6: Launching version 1.0
Congratulations, you have a product ready to launch! Once the new version of your product is ready, make sure you send it through ongoing rigorous testing. Work out how your app will be distributed and open up your sales channels for business. Make sure you have proper web analytics tracking in place to record and assess your success.
Step 7: Marketing your app
I know, you’re exhausted from all that development work, but don’t hang up your shirt and tie quite yet, as now the real work begins. Getting traction for your mobile application requires some serious legwork, but it is well worth the while.
Use the knowledge that you have accumulated throughout the development process to inform your marketing strategy. Qualitative testing should have given you some great different angles to take on your marketing communications. Your app undoubtedly means different things to different people, so embrace that and really pin down what kind of messaging and media speaks to your audience.