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How to Master the App Design Process

How Does the App Design Process Work?

App design is a significant part of the development process. After all, it includes what users see and how they interact with the app. But where do you start on app design? And what can you do for your app to stay relevant in design? This article will guide you through the app design process and list some UI/UX principles. Plus, we'll give you insights into the upcoming and continuing UI and UX design trends. But before we get there, let's dig a little deeper into the relevance of proper app design.

What is the difference between UX and UI?

These terms are often mixed up and used interchangeably. Yet, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) refer to different concepts!

The User Interface is the general look and feel of a mobile or web app. UI focuses on features, buttons, and functions being intuitive. Moreover, a good UI is one that users can navigate instinctively with small or no external help. UI is about user appeal with intuitive elements and natural designs.

User Experience, on the other hand, aims at user retention. UX focuses on the user's journey —i.e., the visualization of a user's path to achieving a goal within the app. Successful UX design is simple and user-friendly. UX is about how the user feels about your app and how seamless the user flow is. Plus, it's about how easy it is for them to complete their goals within the app.

What is Easy Navigation, and Why does it Matter?

Although we'll touch on this again, this is a great time to mention easy navigation. This element highlights the relevance of proper app design. UI and UX revolve around creating an environment to ease the app's management for users. This concept covers symbols, buttons, fonts, colors, styles, and other features. These should look smooth and be user-friendly. Plus, they'll also need to follow your company brand's guidelines.

We think you know where we're going with all this. Easy navigation means users can use your app without a hitch which, in turn, will make them want to use it again. So this is a vital aspect to remember when designing your app. We have covered the relevance of proper app design. Now, let's get to the meat of the issue: where do we start with app design?

How to Master the App Design Process

What are the Principles of UX/UI Design?

Now you've got all info needed to start designing your app. But, before that, it'd be helpful to lay out some essential UX/UI design principles. These will help during the design process. Plus, these tips can help you understand what works. Below, we'll expand on the touched points. Yet, we'll also cover other topics.

1. Focus on Emotions

You should focus on creating a unique experience for your users. This background encloses engaging stories that reach users' emotions. With it, you're more likely to develop a connection with both your app and brand.

2. Color Patterns

Letting your creativity loose is okay as far as your color palette goes. But, users usually associate colors with specific functions or buttons. Thus, ensure consistency throughout your app and your brand. Don't underestimate the power of color psychology! Pick your color palette carefully. Further, consider any hidden meaning it may have and what you wish to communicate. Do you have existing brand guidelines on colors and fonts? Follow them in your app to achieve a consistent and professional design.

3. Easy Navigation

We know you're probably tired of reading about this. But we cannot stress enough how vital easy navigation is in app design! An easy and familiar navigation system will make the user experience enjoyable. Also, it will improve engagement and retention.

Ease of navigation doesn't necessarily mean simplicity. Even so, it will often help you do the trick. People should navigate your app easily, and getting from A o B should be easy for all users. This clarity doesn't mean you should have extra features. Pay attention to which elements have value for users instead of being a hindrance.

4. Hierarchy and Consistency 

Having a clear visual hierarchy will make it easier for users to navigate your app. Hence, you should be consistent to ensure users aren't confused in the process. As mentioned, consistency is king in your color palette and visual hierarchy. Its relevance applies to all visual and functional consistency elements. This consistency will not only give a professional look to your app. Also, it will help users connect with your brand more reliably.

What is the Mobile App Design Process?

This section will cover what you must consider when starting your app design. Also, we'll go through each step of the app design process.

1. Specification

The first thing to consider to start your app design is what exactly you are designing. Are we talking about a Native Mobile App or a Web App? If a Web App, what type? Is it a single or multi-page one? An animated Web App? Or a Progressive Web App? All these have different needs and features you must keep in mind. If mobile, are you designing for Android or iOS? You might be able to save time on development using Cross-Platform Development frameworks. But you should be aware of the differences between these two Operating Systems.

2. Definition

Knowing why you're designing the app is also crucial when starting on app design. It would help if you asked yourself questions to understand your future path better. What do you want your app to do? What problem will your app solve? And, most important: what makes your app set itself apart from its competitors?

3. Sketching

Now that you know what you are designing and why we can start creating a design plan. You should use the information above to outline your project. Further, consider how your monetization strategy will fit your app's design.

4. Research

The plan you sketched out is empty-ish without research to back it up. You will need to research both your target market and your competitors. Who are your users? Why should they use your app? This step is crucial to find out what your potential users want. Also, it's an advantage to set yourself apart from competitors. Looking at reviews from similar apps is a great way to research these aspects simultaneously.

5. Wireframing

A wireframe is a two-dimensional outline of your app. It covers everything from structure and layout to user flow and intended behaviors. Creating a wireframe helps keep the product user-oriented and clarifies your app's features. It's also a quick and cheap way to see a blueprint of your design and how it will work.

There are plenty of wireframing tools available, such as Axure and iPlotz. There's also InVision, where you can create click-through models to test navigation. You might find problems with your design plan at this stage. Yet, you can quickly fix them before delving into the actual design, saving you time and money.

6. Routing

We've finally made it! It's time to get started on your app design. You'll go into precise details like the font and colors you use here. How should you go about it? Well, different routes for app designing depend on resources and preferences.

The first choice is to have an in-house designer or design team. In this case, they'll work along the other app creation areas. Another scenario is outsourcing this part of your project and working directly with a designer. This choice can be the best if you know what you're after.

You could also use an app builder. This option can help you save money, whereas it limits what you can do. Also, it means a time investment on your part. Finally, you can hire an agency to take care of it. They can develop your whole app, which, of course, includes the design.

7. Feedback

As with any other development endeavor, you should always test your work. Also, you should get feedback from design experts and potential users. Once you have a rendered mockup, you can have friends, family, members of your team, or even users take it for a ride. Their feedback will help you fix issues and improve the app's design. 

Remember that you are designing the app for a specific audience. Listening to users' voices on your product is vital if you want it to succeed. Once fully developed, you can test your app with a focus group or pitch a beta version. Testing and feedback continue after launch! Pay attention to users' comments in the following stages to find ways to improve your design.

How to Master the App Design Process

UI/UX Trends for 2022

1. Dark Mode

The dark mode first made waves in 2019, but it's still going strong. Many websites and apps allow users to toggle between light and dark modes. Use this feature to your advantage! In the beginning, the dark mode was thought for nighttime use. But its contrasting colors can improve visibility for visually impaired users. Moreover, dark mode reduces power usage in OLED screens and makes your app stand out. All this makes this feature a win-win.

2. Accessibility

Accessibility is not only essential as it gives more people access to apps. Also, it might even expose you to lawsuits! There is a myriad of features you can add to provide accessibility. Some are contrasting colors, text-increasing options, ALT texts, and video captions.

Nonetheless, accessibility is not the same as inclusivity. Accessibility means ensuring that as many people as possible can use your app. Meanwhile, an inclusive design considers diversity. This aspect includes language, gender, race, and sociocultural background. An excellent example of this is inclusive emojis. Like with dark mode, this is not a new concept. But it is gaining more traction to avoid leaving minorities behind.

3. Mobile-First

Another trend that is here to stay is making apps mobile-first. Most internet users go online via mobile devices, so it's no such shock. These apps are first designed for mobile devices and then, if needed, adapted for the web. Being mobile-first goes the extra mile in user experience and also customer service.

4. 3D and Animations

3D and animations will continue to grow and gain popularity. These used to come at the cost of loading speed and data consumption, but 5G is reducing these issues. About 3D, three-dimensional illustrations are more informative and interactive. Plus, plenty of software is available to add this feature to your app easier. Also, in animation, graphics, and icons are fundamental. This cartoon-style animation evokes the users' inner child. And as you might have guessed, it highlights the emotions discussed earlier.

5. Illustrations 

Illustrations have gained traction in web and app design for a while. What sets this wave apart is that illustrations represent not only products. Also, they're focusing on the culture of the people behind it.

6. 90s Spirit

The 90s are back! And this time, it's not just in connection to clothing. They have extended into app design. Some promising 90s features are traditional typographies and glitchy transitions.

7. Neumorphism

Neumorphism took off in 2020 and continues to progress today. This trend integrates realistic designs such as glows, shadows, and highlights. As a result, it gives a floating effect to the elements on your app.

Why is App Design so Important?

We've already mentioned that an app's design is what the user sees and interacts with it. Thus, design plays a considerable role in user acquisition and retention. It's the first way to convince users of the app's functionality. Apps that are more appealing and easier to navigate provide better experiences. Therefore, these have a better chance of success. And on that note, it's vital to note the difference between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX).


The topic of app design has a lot of things to expand on. The most crucial aspect is that you should always appreciate the power of proper app design. You may have an app that includes incredible features. But users will most likely look for alternatives if it isn’t easy to navigate or visually appealing. We hope this article has given you an idea of where to start on app design and valuable tips on UI and UX design! But, most of all, we hope it has impressed the significance of app design on you.