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Article: The Complete Guide to A Successful Mobile App Design

The Complete Guide to A Successful Mobile App Design

Developing a mobile app design can be quite challenging for most designers.
Here is a complete guide on how you can make a successful one. Let's find out!
Created by Daniel Landaeta |

Today, the smartphone has become the most important device in the world. You utilize some apps to support various activities, from simple and trivial to complex things. When accessing the app, you realize that it has an interactive and intuitive design. Users can operate properly without much issue. It is the result of mobile app design that follows the guide.

Designing an app is different from programming, but both are related. When you decide to create a mobile app, design and functionality are placed at the top priority. A simple example can be seen from the operating system on your computer. Microsoft develops a user interface for Windows that looks iconic. When the company alters the design significantly, some major change brings more issues regarding practically. This situation is similar when you use apps on a smartphone. Design must support functions, features, and practicality that will guide users to utilize the full capability.

Furthermore, you want to make a mobile app, and the proper guide is necessary, particularly for the beginner. This kind of guide will ensure the designer starts from the right point until an app is ready to deploy. Some steps include technical aspects but are mostly related to the way you create the design. The next section will explain more about mobile app design.


Understanding mobile app design

Developing an app involves two parties, a designer for design and a programmer to write the code. The core tech will rely on programming to make features, buttons, and everything work properly. On the other hand, the designer has the responsibility to ensure the mobile app is accessible and guides users to utilize it. Mobile app design is the reason why you see eye-catching color, font, icons, and widgets. With an interesting appearance, more users will install and utilize an app. More importantly, they access all features without much hassle. When users feel comfortable and easy, developing stage and design is a success because implementing the right guide.

It sounds simple thing to design, and most people think this kind of task can be done by everyone. However, you must understand that designers put much effort into designing many aspects regarding users. They consider attitude, personality, needs, social, and behavior. You can check an app for communication and install the most popular. It has a simple design with a single color as the main characteristic. The designer focuses on simplicity because most users want to access quickly and make the response as soon as possible. With a simple interface, the size is small but more practical. On the contrary, mobile apps for a game or any entertainment purpose will have a fancy appearance with more color. Developers apply this approach related to mobile app design because users spend more time in this app. That’s why the guide has a critical role.

Created by Anastasia Kolarzh |


User experience and interface

Guide to design mobile app will include the understanding user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Both contribute a significant role in this task. Color, icon, and font are things you see directly when accessing some apps. They are part of the interface that designers have done. Of course, they work early and vigorously, including some consideration before the programming stage is started. You may say that designing an app can be done separately. 

An attractive icon has the capability to please the eye in the mobile app design. Some people like something that looks fancy and flashy on the design. One issue is the experience that users will receive when they utilize this app. They want to utilize it quickly and easily. If an app cannot make the proper navigation, you can imagine what users will do. Easy to use is the core of user experience. In fact, rating from users mostly comes from this aspect. They might care about design and interface, but experiencing the utmost access is the ultimate thing they look for from mobile apps. 

It does not mean UI is less important than UX. Both work side by side that becomes the foundation when developing mobile apps. For reference, you may check from some top apps that have been around a few years. The first version of the design had more color and text. After several updates, the developer decides to reduce them into a simplified version. Icon and menu become simpler that easier to see and use. The design still maintains the main purpose without losing integrity, even better. From the user’s perspective, this situation brings more benefits when interacting directly. With a single touch, an app can work as it should be efficiently. Therefore, interface and experience influence mobile app design significantly.

Created by Juliette Lagache |


Selecting platforms

The next task on mobile app design is you must select platforms for mobile apps. It is also included in this guide. As you know, android and iOS dominate the market even there is no place for third place. When talking about smartphones, most people will think about the device with platform either android or iOS. 

In general, you design from the most familiar one. Beginners will pick android due to support from Google and open source, including the availability of a guide to support. Play Store for this platform has many apps for various purposes. In fact, some of them are from less known developers and companies. They make their best effort to attract more users with the most interesting app with many benefits. 

You may consider several factors to help and guide in this situation. Check the following list for more information.

1. Users

You need to define users that will use this app design. The mobile app design will start from the most popular with a large proportion. Developers can find the guide easily and be affordable. The answer is definitely android that become the right choice for many designers and developers. Moreover, you can get more references from some prominent and major players. Platform iOS is also preferable, and the design guide is relatively official from a reliable source. You need to analyze the majority of users in this platform meticulously, such as personality, way of thinking, social, and more things. 

2. Support and resources

A designer can work at the office and complete a mobile design app for the company. He or she will receive support such as tools, accounts, network, guide, and more resources. In this situation, the platform has been decided, and the task must be done. If you work to design independently, there is more freedom to pick. You may start from everything that is already at your disposal, including the guide you have. 

3. License

Android is open source that many developers and third parties are able to modify when they start mobile app design. It does not receive restriction design though the end-product will be the proprietary app. At least, the license is less affordable so that people can make many apps easily. It is also the best starting point for beginners who are just interested in this field. For iOS from apple, you need to spend more to obtain a license to design but still worth and valuable. The guide in this platform is usually more profound and slightly complicated according to the license.

The general guide for designing a mobile app is much similar for both platforms. After that, you focus on the specific one and start to understand the differences. With more experience, you may make a single design for an app that works on several platforms simultaneously. In the future, there is a chance that the new one will emerge. Of course, you already grasp the basic way how to design a mobile app comprehensively. The thing you do is adapt to the latest trend and technology.

Created by Al Razi Siam |


Tools you should use

For tools, you may find some options, and a few of them are from popular companies. Today, Sketch and Adobe XD are both the top choice if you're looking for software to design an app that works on a smartphone. On the other hand, you cannot forget the most popular design software at all, adobe Photoshop. This one has been around since the old day, particularly for people who work on multimedia, design graphic, entertainment, and communication. They even make a design without the guide.

If you do not have much experience in this field related to mobile app design, using Photoshop seems to be the right starting point. It still has many features that let designers create an attractive image. Moreover, adobe provides some updates and offers which you cannot ignore. In fact, the first tool for a designer is commonly this software at all regarding purposes. Users may create a digital image, photo editing, web design, booklet, promotion, and advertising. You transform your idea about the mobile app and show what it looks like. Furthermore, adobe, as the principal company, also shares the guide freely. 

The next option is for mobile app design sketches. From its name, you should expect the features and capabilities that this software can deliver. In fact, most designers often put this one as the de-facto standard. From such exclamation, the guide is easy to find for users at any level. You are called a mobile app designer after having proficiencies when using Sketch. You can explore millions of web pages to obtain the design, including tutorials and more guides from various sources. Sketch has several benefits that competitors cannot match. 

As an alternative, Adobe XD is dedicated to being on par with a sketch. This company is known for many tools that help users to develop mobile app designs. It is relatively new on the market as the response from adobe to fulfill this niche. You may receive more benefits such as integrating some aspects, design, and features into other software in this company. 

You may put adobe Photoshop just for the stepping-stone. It is not a tool for designing a mobile app, and features do not have something to develop workflow. The main purpose is only image manipulation, even though implementation is quite vast in several fields. Sketch and Adobe XD have pros and cons. If you work on iOS and mac os environments, the sketch is preferable. For cross-platform app, Adobe XD is definitely the winner. The good news is you can find many tools, including some free ones, to make the design as simple as possible. As usual, this is only the right option for beginners. Of course, the professional may obtain insight and inspiration from unexpected sources.

Created by Alan love |


Operating system guidelines

You must realize that most tasks related to mobile app design are not technical jobs. To ensure the process is efficient, teams and designers must follow guidelines. The following list will show and explain some things you should consider properly.

1. Goal

You determine the goal as the basis for both reference and foundation. It maintains the strict guide that leads you to the right design to achieve the purpose. If you work alone, this matter should be less complicated depending on the recent situation. On the contrary, you are part of the developer team for the same mission. Designers do not have more versatility and freedom, but they have the right to voice their opinion. Their perspective is very valuable, and it is better if everything is explained clearly. Random sketch to grasp the basic mobile app will be much appreciated.

2. Users

Smartphone spreads with exponential growth in many countries. More users will come, and there is potential for the new app development. Some companies decide to provide mobile service due to this condition. A designer should understand the target as users who will install and user. This aspect is strongly related to UI and UX.

3. Platform

There is something called respecting the platform. You pick two smartphones from a different platforms, android and iOS. Check carefully and access several main features. Android has a set of settings that can be easy to identify. Even though users still maintain the old version, basic configurations such as icon, font, network, security, sound, and many things are the same. After users install an app, design and pattern are expected to as they expect. This opinion is also applicable for iOS. Users with high-level familiarity will recognize how an app should work under this platform. You cannot betray the common sense that must be ready and available.

4. Simplicity

The guide for designing a mobile app includes simplicity. This one is also important that plays a major role in future development. The first version was mostly rough with a strict rule. As a beginner, you follow a guide and still hesitate regarding some aspects. It is a normal situation because the developer team has prepared everything. In general, the expectation must be excellent such as millions of users within the first year. They can achieve this target after designers get rid of unnecessary parts. With simple navigation and menu, users are capable of utilizing the full feature on the mobile app. The next year after the first release, the new update is announced with more refines regarding simplicity. 

An app for smartphones shares the same virtue related to operating systems and software. You can explore when the first computer was introduced. Designers who work for developing software have extensive experience that can be applied to the latest technology. You just consider some aspects that have been explained and implemented smoothly. There is always room for improvement, including creativity to overcome the latest issue. Therefore, the guide is generally beneficial at all.

Created by Natasha Sivina |


App flow and wireframes

The reason to pick sketch or Adobe XD is because it's a wireframe and based on app flow. You can take a reference from website development. Some menus, navigation, and contents must be in the right place. Visitors will access them to get what they want. The mobile app is relatively similar because users do not want to spend too much time just scrolling and tapping without getting the result. Usually, there is a guide such as how to use it, but it must be concise and practical. This is where wireframe has a significant play. You arrange everything to integrate into the app flow. For example, the homepage has some menus that lead to quick access. Buttons are placed in the area with the utmost accessibility. 

Creating app flow will save time and effort before creating prototypes and the programming stage. You need to understand how an app will work and behave. Another way to make this thing is by pen and paper. During the meeting, the team leader provider the whiteboard to share some ideas and make a rough sketch. This part is content on the guide when you design a new mobile app.

Created by Dung Le |


Some prototypes

You already have a plan, concept, wireframe, goal, and a rough sketch. The next stage of designing a mobile app will be prototypes. For your information, the product is expected to be an intangible object, which means only accessible through a digital device, tablet, and smartphone. In that case, there is no limit to how many design prototypes as long as you follow the right guide. You should remember the main mission, target, and purpose. In general, two or three options are viable in this term. You may modify font, layout, even color but still maintain the general sketch. 

Mobile app designers will work until this stage. They also receive design reviews from others regarding the latest prototypes. If something is not satisfied, they alter and modify, including adding the late features. As you know, an expected demand might appear along the way, which is an extra step on the guide. If such a situation occurs during the designing stage, there is no issue with modifying the design as soon as possible. It will avoid the problem when the mobile app enters the programming stage. Designers often do not involve except for minor explanations so that the programmers know what to do. 

Created by Vladislav Nikonov |


Review and improvement

The majority of people expect the mobile app design is the one they want the most after following the guide. They have added changes when prototypes are released. After that, an app will start the testing phase to ensure all features and navigation does not have issues. In this period, designers have the responsibility to be ready when the review is done. They can add more updates and changes design immediately before an official release. The developer must act quickly and provide more information, including the guide for reference.

Created by Çağlar Cebeci |



From what has been explained above about mobile app design, you understand the basic guide on how to design a mobile app. Most works are not from the technical aspect, such as operating tools. This part is still necessary but less important than preparing a concept, idea, wireframe, and sketch. You also do not forget to show the prototypes so that people know what to expect after designing is finished. This is what you should do regarding mobile design apps. 

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