App Design Process


Much like the evolution of mankind, apps too, have had their own rendition of evolution. Through time, technology and trend, apps have allowed for the progression of not only their look and feel, but also their sense of functionality and the production process, with only the heart of the process really staying the same.

We can break down the design process into a variety of steps and imperative processes. But ultimately, the process must start with an initial concept – the idea that gives the green light on production. However, each concept must come with a grain of salt. Not all brilliant ideas may be viable, and it’s important to look at all the variables such as – originality vs simplification, financial probability, and technical viability. Not only that, but concepts need to be adaptable in order to have the ability to evolve and achieve further success.

Once the concept has ticked off all the necessary requirements, the next part of the process is to create a Spec (Specification document). A Spec is a design must, coming in the form of briefs or breakdowns. The document essentially defines what the app is, what it aims to achieve, and what it shall accomplish. Specs allow the designer to look at the app from another angle and see where they can improve, what can be altered and developed further to improve the app overall.

After the Specifications have been identified, we can move forward into producing the bones  of the app, or the ‘wireframes’. Wireframes help us understand the structure of the app, as they identify the things that may have been missed or overlooked in the concept and Specification process. The wireframes are the first steps in the visual design process – a place where we can see the app in its most basic visual form and isolate the specific platform requirements needed before producing the prototype.

The prototype is the raw product, it’s a place where we can test the functionality with enough wiggle room for alteration and adjustment. Even if the prototype fails, the designer can still go back and isolate the issue. Whether or not the issue come from the start of the process in the concept development, or even down at the wireframe level, prototypes help unveil what may have been missed. From here, the designer can decide whether they want to wave their white flag, or march on ahead.

Even in the world of apps, users can still be superficial. Engaging visual design matters, as it is essentially what ‘sells’ the app. Now, thats not to say we should completely disregard the entire process leading up to the visual design of the app. The visual design of an app can also be beneficial to the designer as well. Not only does the design highlight the brand, but its the use of visual elements that can guide users, help streamline its functionality, and ensure that the overall experience is pleasant.

Once each process is down on lock, the designer can hit the accelerator on the development process. Design and development go hand in hand. Working with others who are discipline specific to certain elements of production can not only help isolate issues, but open the designers eyes to unseen avenues, and vice versa. Collaboration is key.

App design, or even design in general, is not a perfectly smooth road we can just coast along until we’ve reached our destination. The road is winding and curving, and it’s constantly being built as we drive along. Of course, even the most perfect roads have blemishes and we learn to avoid them or just look for another route altogether. All roads change eventually. What started off as one straight road, may morph into a bridge opening up to new possibilities. App design is much like design, where the end product may not necessarily look like the concept you started off with, but should, as a result, have the potential to become so much more.


Photo Credit: Crave App. [Image] (2 December 2015). Retrieved 23 February 2017, from


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