In 2017, there were nearly 180 billion mobile apps downloaded worldwide. That equates to more than 23 apps for every man, woman, and child on the planet.
It is obvious that mobile apps are hugely popular. And if your business doesn’t have an app, it may be lagging behind the competition.
But developing an app just for the sake of having one isn’t good business sense. You need to design something that people are going to want to use.
So read on as we take a look at 10 steps for designing your own mobile application.
1. Find a Purpose
Before you can even think about designing your app, you need to figure out why you’re making it.
There are a number of things you need to take into consideration: the first is who is going to be using your app. The second is a problem that those potential users currently have. And the third is how you can solve that problem.
Put yourself in the shoes of your clients or customers. What is their biggest problem with using your company, and what would remove that problem? Answer those questions and you’ve found a purpose for your app.
2. Work out the Functionality
The next step is to work out roughly how your app is going to work.
This doesn’t have to be anything too high tech at this point. You can draw it out on the back of an envelope if needs be. Sketch out the flow of how a user will navigate through the app.
You should also decide on all of the functions that your app is going to perform, as you’ll need to be able to build these further down the line.
3. Look at What’s Already Out There
Once you’ve got a rough design figured out, it’s time to take a look at your competitors’ apps.
The reason you shouldn’t do this first is that once you’ve seen their apps, your own design is going to be influenced by them. By doing your own rough design first, you might come up with a killer feature that none of your competitors have included. And you’re also far more likely to design an app that isn’t just a direct copy of someone else’s.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t add to your own design if you spot a great feature that you hadn’t considered.
4. Focus Your Features and UX
Now you’ve nailed down the concept, it’s time to start honing your user experience.
Think carefully about the features that you listed earlier, and how best to implement them. Look at other popular apps from outside your niche to see if you can learn anything from their UX. Remember that you want the experience to be as simple and intuitive as possible; your app shouldn’t need to come with a manual.
5. Build a Wireframe
When you’ve got as far as you can with your offline design, it’s time to start building a prototype.
The easiest way to do this is to build a wireframe. This is a mock-up of your app in which you can link actions and connect different screens to mimic what you finished app will do.
Building a wireframe is a cheap and easy way to test out your app without actually having to build a true working prototype.
Once you’ve got your wireframe built, it’s time to test it.
The best way to do this is to let other people try it without any input from you. You’re not going to be there looking over the shoulder of everyone who downloads your app telling them what to click, so don’t do this when you’re testing.
Ask for feedback on what they found confusing or difficult to figure out. And don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions for improvements or additional features that you may not have thought of.
7. Revise Your Wireframe
Listen to your feedback, and take it on board.
Then revisit your wireframe and try to solve the problems that your testers discovered. Once you think you’ve got a revised wireframe that works, test it again.
You may have to repeat this stage several times until you are confident that you are ready to move to the next stage.
8. Choose a Platform and Build It
When you’re sure that your design is as good as it can be, it’s time to build it for real.
You’ll need to decide what platforms you intend to make it for. Android has by far the largest market share worldwide, but iOS is often used by a more affluent demographic, so it depends on where you are aiming your app. You could also just bite the bullet and make an app for both platforms.
Unless you already have strong programming skills, coding the app itself is something that you might want to leave to a professional.
9. Test It Again
When your working app has been built, it’s time to test it again.
A live app will behave differently to a wireframe so you can’t just assume that once it’s built it’s finished. Repeat the same process of testing and tweaking until you have an app that you’re really proud of. It’s far better to take longer to get it out there if it means it’s the best quality.
10. Launch Your Mobile Application
The final stage of the mobile app development lifecycle is to launch your app.
Getting it up on the relevant app stores is simple enough, but you also need to make sure that people know it is out there. So you’ll need to plug it as much as possible on your website, via social media, or even through an email campaign.
And remember, you can always update your app, so make sure you listen to user feedback.
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