How to Design a Mobile App in 7 Easy Steps


Are you an aspiring developer wondering about how to design a mobile app? You may need some assistance, because building and designing a mobile app is no small undertaking.

There are so many moving pieces that you will need to think about before you even start. You should make sure that you are giving ample time to both the functional aspects of the app as well as the aesthetic side of things.

Here is a simple tutorial on how to design a mobile app in 7 easy steps:

Step #1: Research the market

Before you start any of the technical side of things, you should make sure that you fully understand the target market of the app. You need to make sure that there is a demographic large enough to warrant the time and effort it takes to create an app in the first place. As you do your research on how to design a mobile app, be sure to get a clear idea of who it is that will be using your app. Once you have created this persona you can use it to inform a lot of other aspects of the app.

Step #2: Decide what you want your app to offer

What features do you want in your app? You need to know this right off the bat. Once you have your ideas together you will be able to create a user flow diagram. This diagram functions as a rough plan of where you want the user to go and what you want them to experience as they use your app.

There is a convention among user flow diagrams that different shapes correspond to different actions. For example, rectangles are used to represent screens, triangles are to show when a user needs to make a decision in the app. For example, tapping a button, logging in, swiping left or right. Arrows will link all of these elements together.

Step #3: Create a wireframe

After you have finished the design of your user flow diagram and are happy with it, it’s time to move onto the next step – the wireframe. A wireframe is a sketch of what you want your app to look like. This is where you will make decisions on button placement, labels, CTA location and more. This is typically done on a computer but you can have your initial sketches on paper before handing them off to someone with the skills needed to create the app.

Step #4: The colour and design elements

For those interested in the design components of how to design a mobile app, this is where most people start to have fun with the app design process. Here is where you will choose a colour scheme for your app and design some of the minute details that make an app unique. You will also need to do some research as you work on this aspect of the app as you don’t want your app to look like any of your competitors.

Whether you know it consciously or not, there are some colours out there that are intrinsically linked to apps. You would have no trouble picking out Facebook blue or Snapchat yellow from a book filled with colours and no branding. You need to make the look and feel of your app its own right from the start.

Step #5: Create a mockup

This is where we start to see the app come to life. Using some design software you will be able to start getting a look at what your app will actually look like on the phone. At this stage, the app should start to look like the real deal. This is where you can make some tweaks to the colours and fonts used in the app. You might start to think that you are almost done, well you’re far from it.

Step #6: Build and test

You will need an app developer to ensure that the functional side of the app works well. Unless programming is well within your wheelhouse, you should make sure that you hire a professional to do the back end operational side of the app. This is not a one-shot deal either. Certain types of apps may require a more customised build to achieve certain objectives, such as integrating a checklist function for mobile forms apps or adding social sharing options for messaging apps.

An app that works perfectly now will need to be updated on an ongoing basis. This is due to changes in various smartphone’s operating systems and even the size of their screen’s changing over time. The app will need to be tested on multiple devices to ensure that there are no compatibility issues when it is being used on iOS and Android.

Step #7: Always look for improvements

Your app will always need to be worked on if you plan to stay relevant and useful to the user. Without compromising the key functionality of the app you should consider ways in which you can improve the user experience and keep them coming back for more. You should consider this an ongoing process that you never truly finish. Keeping an eye on user metrics and any other tools that you have is a great way to make sure that the changes that you make are having the impact that you hope they do.

Dean is a self-professed tech geek with a fondness for computers, video games, and any novelty tech-savvy gadgets.