Across the globe, enterprises like businesses, institutions and organisations are becoming highly dependent on mobile applications for their day to day functions and transactions. This has resulted in the emergence of thousands of mobile application development services that work with business heads and team leads to create applications that align with the latter’s needs. Despite the sheer volume of organisations that use customised apps to conduct their activities and connect with their target audience, the returns that they get from the mobile apps might not be as expected. One of the primary reasons for this could be the failure of the application to meet the business expectations after it is released to the market. This shortcoming can be prevented to a great extent in the early design stages of the app by paying attention to some crucial measures. To retain and even surpass the expected performance of the application that is foreseen during its ideation, one needs to follow specific steps during the app development life cycle impeccably. The following are six critical mobile application design stages that will aid in your app’s success.
1. Define the scope of your mobile application
The first step that you need to take after conceiving the idea of the mobile application is to enumerate its purpose, goals, features, target audience, functions and other details that will give a bird’s-eye view of the app. By defining the scope of the app this way, the baseline of the outcome is laid, which will guide you back to the crux of the app when you explore several options at different points of its development life cycle.
2. Conduct elaborate market research
After defining the scope of the app, you need to deploy a team to conduct active market and user research that will help determine the value of the app to the users and its success once it is released. This is integral to the design process as UI/UX designers utilise data received from the market research to formulate the best app design that accounts for the users’ preferences, compatibility, aesthetics and functionality. It also helps you study the competing mobile apps in your domain, assisting you in designing an app that is unique and different from other apps in the market. User and market research will give you insights into the lacuna in the market and the users’ needs. You can enhance your app by adapting it to fulfil the demands in the market, thereby ensuring the success of your organisation.
3. Create an IA and workflow during the UX design process
The creation of Information Architecture or IA is a significant step during the initiation of UX design. The IA acts as a blueprint that provides complete information about the application’s functioning, navigation points, features, and user interaction pathways. It visually represents what the application encompasses, enabling the designers to easily add new features and elements to the app at its later stages by using the IA as the foundation. Based on the IA, the workflow of the app is developed to give a precise picture of the steps and procedures that need to be taken systematically to achieve the desired design.
4. Build Wireframes
The designers’ vision of the application is first materialised through wireframes. While the initial wireframe setup can be done as sketches on paper, it is later represented digitally. The best wireframes are modelled after the belief ‘the simpler, the better.’ They concisely tell you the flow of the app in terms of the user’s interaction with it, the structure of the app’s interface and all the other functional elements associated with the front end of the mobile application. Wireframes place user experience over aesthetics. They represent the functions of the app and the interactions of the users from the time they open the application till they exit it.
5. Adhere to the parent company’s Style Guide while engaging in the UI design process
During the UI design process, one of the most effective practices that will ensure a better response to your application is following the style guide of the brand that is the parent company of the app. The absence of a well-formulated style guide written during the initial stages of the app’s design can be detrimental to the success of the application. The parameters and custom elements for a new style guide specific to the app must be defined before initiating the UI design process. The style guide acts as a rule book that contains the standards that the app must follow. It is a document that records all the UI design elements used in the application, from font designs to the colour schemes used. A brand may have different style guides for various projects, but an overarching theme, especially in its UI design elements that align with the brand design, will help in achieving a uniform brand identity across all its applications and tools.
6. Build Mockups and Prototypes
A mockup is a site of the nexus between the wireframes and the predetermined style guides. They digitally represent the nascent outcome of the amalgamation of what the application does and how it looks. The mockups will help you get a primary glimpse of the way your app will turn out. Very often, this stage will lead to many additions, deletions and corrections in the app’s IA, workflow and UI design. Once the mockups become as close as possible to the desired application, it is time to build the app’s prototypes. The prototypes will give a tangible understanding of the final application by exhibiting its functionalities. Do not wait to perfect the mockups before creating a prototype – as soon as the basic design is completed, start building the prototype at the earliest because it helps in delivering clarity to the design implementation in the final application. The prototypes will also help you get a head start on testing the feasibility of the application.
By following these stages, one can ensure a strong design foundation for the mobile application, which will contribute to its success. The developers can finally start coding to develop the application based on this secure design.