The App Design Process: Bringing Your Ideas to Market
Design is more than pretty colors and flashy animation—it’s the how and why of the app development process, deeply ingrained throughout the entire project. UI/UX designers work to create both a well-designed user experience and a beautiful interface. UI/UX designers and software developers work together to deliver your concept into a full-fledged, go-to-market digital product so your app is ready for launch.
Developing code can seem like a concrete step, but how do you get your app’s design from concept to code? In this article, we’ll detail what you’ll need to do to transform ideas into user experiences, inject design theory and best practices, and deliver an app to market that delights the end user and meets your product goals.
Stages in the App Design Process
At its core, app design is about defining strategy, reviewing designs with increasing detail and interactivity, and working with experts who immerse themselves in your project—aligning your goals and the product’s user experience at every stage. Designers apply elements such as color, fonts, icons, illustration, animation, navigation, and brand design, through a proven process that makes it easy for you to achieve your goals:
- Strategy: Meeting Your App’s Business Objectives Through Design
- Wireframing: Illustrating How Your App Will Work
- High-Fidelity Designs: Previewing Your App
- Launch & Marketing: Bringing Your App to Users
Read on for more details on each stage and how app design brings your ideas to fruition.
1. Strategy: Meeting Your App’s Business Objectives Through Design
The strategy provides the plan to meet the business objectives of your app through design. Understanding your business, goals, and the desired end product is our very first objective and what guides our success, so our designers immerse ourselves in these areas. In discovery sessions, we work with you to identify your product vision and objectives. Through detailed research, discussion, and strategic analysis, we begin to define and visualize the end product.
Defining user experience requirements takes precedence from the very beginning of the app design process. To create the best design for your app, our designers work to fully understand what the end-to-end user experience should look like. To do this, we ask questions like these:
- What is the problem your app will solve?
- What functions will your app provide?
- Who are your app’s target users?
- What are users going to achieve through the app?
- What are their pain points?
- What motivates your users?
- What is important to them?
- How can we best serve users through design?
- Are there other products in this market space we should look at?
- Do you have brand or style guidelines already in place?
We also research the competitive landscape to unearth how your app is situated in the market during this stage. And, through audience analysis, we research the goals of potential users in that context.
Using information gathered from discovery sessions, competitor and audience analysis, and other relevant research, we are ready to start designing wireframes to validate the app’s information architecture and user flows, as discussed in the next stage.
2. Wireframing: Illustrating How Your App Will Work
The term “wireframe” has a long history, originating from design in car modeling, stop-motion animation, and sculpture to then being referenced in computer-aided design and CGI animation. Similarly, the wireframe serves as a visual guide to the user journey in app design, illustrating how your app will work.
Why is wireframing important? Think about it this way: If you were building a house, you wouldn’t want to invest time and money before understanding the blueprint. In the same way, a wireframe makes sense to design early in the process before investing time, money, and coding into the final product.
Fidelity is another essential aspect of the design process. Like the term “wireframe,” the term “fidelity” is drawn from other historical uses—in this case, the music scene, where it refers to audio quality. With wireframes in app design, fidelity represents the amount of detail shown. As we design your app, there is a spectrum of detail that begins to take more and more shape in terms of the level of clarity and interactivity.
We develop sketches and low-fidelity wireframes, which we will typically share with clients. These wireframes validate the app’s information architecture and user flows before getting into actual designs.
For example, here’s a low-fidelity wireframe of a music app we developed:
Clients review the low-fidelity wireframes, and we learn what high-level changes need to be made before moving to the next stage—high-fidelity wireframing. We then begin to consider UI elements—the color palette, visual hierarchy, and more that will start to come to life in your app design.
3. High-Fidelity Designs: Previewing Your App
High-fidelity designs are an effective preview of your app, rendering details in full color. At this stage, we take the wireframes and bring them to life with a fully branded design.
Using the same app as above as an illustration, you can see the difference as we’ve moved from low-fidelity to high-fidelity:
High-fidelity designs and, when needed, working prototypes, offer many advantages as the last step on the design detail spectrum. They provide an immersive experience that helps everyone truly grasp your app and provide a refined level of feedback to establish final agreement before coding begins. Seeing details in full color alongside architecture and flow, we can also improve the user experience.
Here’s a summary of the purpose these high-fidelity designs serve:
- Render details in full color and branding
- Enable clients and other stakeholders like investors to grasp your app’s true appeal
- Provide a vehicle for comprehensive and precise feedback
- Establish a final consensus on deliverables before coding begins
- Enable assessment and improvement of user experience
After a few rounds of revisions, we’ll create a digital style guide that we will hand off to developers who will build the app.
For example, here are some snapshots from the style guide for the music app:
4. Launch & Marketing: Bringing Your App to Users
To download or not to download—that is the question. And with so many choices, delivering code isn’t enough to make a digital product successful. You want your app to be seen, which makes the launch and marketing stage equally crucial to all the others from a designer’s point of view. You can go beyond making a great first impression by marketing your app to attract, engage, and exceed your users’ expectations.
While the strategies for marketing your app may vary, selling your app visually is a vital component of marketing it. App store landing pages feature your icon, screenshots, and video previews.
The landing pages for our music app, for example, appeal to potential users by providing an attractive and informative visual summary of the app’s design and key features:
Concluding Thoughts: Design to the Finish Line
Building a successful digital product requires more than development skills—design is a crucial consideration for any app project. At InspiringApps, our design skills elevate us from what other development agencies can provide.
Central to our promise is our finish line, every time guarantee. InspiringApps pours our expertise into your app design and development from start to launch. As evidenced by our award-winning apps and our design-centric team, our app design process is integral to bringing your app to market. We guarantee your project will reach the finish line.
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Austin has been ranked #1 in “America’s Best Places To Start A Business,” according to CNBC. This is largely due to the significant amount of resources available state-wide. Resources for Austin entrepreneurs abound, with phenomenal resources such as Austin Startup Week, BIGAustin, and Austin Women in Technology. Austin-based nonprofit, PeopleFund, posits that more than 99% of companies in Travis County are considered small businesses—so entrepreneurs in Austin are in good company and at a great vantage point to find phenomenal support systems. We posted a list of resources for entrepreneurs in Boulder and Denver, and since we also have team members in Austin, we felt a similar list could be useful for our friends in Texas. This post will touch on the same four areas of assistance for entrepreneurs in Austin: Legal Resources: As an Austin entrepreneur starting out on your business journey, you can benefit greatly from hiring an attorney as well as learning fundamental laws that impact entrepreneurs, such as intellectual property. Financial Resources: There are many active organizations that dedicate themselves to providing you with helpful resources to assist you in building the startup of your dreams. Networking Resources: Networking opportunities prove to be invaluable to getting acquainted with fellow entrepreneurs and immersing yourself in the tech world. Educational Resources: Austin entrepreneurs can utilize these resources to empower themselves and innovate for the future. Whether you are just starting out or are in the midst of your business journey, these resources will provide excellent value for every stage of entrepreneurship. Legal Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs RWR Legal: Entrepreneurial Law With offices in both Austin and San Antonio, RWR Legal focuses on entrepreneurial and investment areas of the law. The firm specializes in intellectual property, real estate law, and corporate services, among other legal needs of startups. As they put it: “We are passionate about building businesses—our own and our clients’—to help innovators achieve success.” Legal Garage: Business Law Legal Garage offers similar services to entrepreneurs. They cover areas of law, including filing confidentiality agreements, trademark licenses, and website terms and conditions. The company wants to ensure that entrepreneurs can find the legal services and resources they need at an affordable price point. Lawyer Referral Service: Lawyer & Community Resources Although not specific to entrepreneurs, the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas also offers a way to find the right lawyer for your business. They have an online form for an immediate referral, or you can contact them to ask questions if you need clarification on the type of legal help you need. CooleyGO: Legal Assistance Finally, as noted in our blog post about resources for entrepreneurs in Denver and Boulder, CooleyGO is a valuable online resource that can help you to identify and create all the key legal documents you need to get a business started. Whether you want to incorporate or want to protect IP with a non-disclosure agreement, you’ll find their free, easy-to-use document generator indispensable. They also create and curate outstanding content on everything from creating a board of directors to selling your company. Financial Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs CTAN Austin: Helping Startups Get on Their Feet Financial concerns weigh heavily on many startups. The most active angel organization in the US, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), helps young startups get on their financial feet. The group helps entrepreneurs secure early-stage investment. CTAN also offers mentorship opportunities and business resources. CTAN operates through a dedicated group of local business people who dedicate their time to helping entrepreneurs but also has a full-time executive director and an investment associate. BiGAUSTIN: Assisting Austin Entrepreneurs With Financial Options BiGAUSTIN is another excellent resource that has a quarter century of experience supporting local small businesses. A micro-lender, BiGAUSTIN helps entrepreneurs find the right loans and financing options for their startups. The nonprofit organization understands the unique financial needs of entrepreneurs during each step of building a company. Likewise, BiG houses Women’s BiZ Inc., a group specifically geared to support the female leaders of Central Texas. Accion: Providing Loan Advice & Assistance Similar to BiGAUSTIN, Accion assists entrepreneurs and small businesses with loans. Just fill out their hassle-free online application that outlines your business goals and the type and amount of financing your young company needs. Need help determining what kind of loan or the amount you need? Accion provides one-on-one advice and solutions. SCORE Austin: Answering All Your Business Questions SCORE Austin, an organization that offers free counsel in multiple cities, assists local entrepreneurs in confidently tackling financial questions. They do everything from pairing you with a mentor in the business world to helping you enroll in workshops on a variety of topics to providing free financial resources. SCORE relies on a dedicated group of local business people who volunteer their time and experience to help those just getting started. Mentoring is free and entirely confidential. 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Capital Factory: Entrepreneurial Co-Working Space Capital Factory is a prime co-working office space home to many entrepreneurs and startups. Beyond offering desk space, they sponsor numerous community events, many free of charge. Whether you have just started down the entrepreneurial path or want to expand your startup, Capital Factory provides valuable workshops and networking opportunities to help your business excel. Expansive is another shared workspace and is a personal InspiringApps favorite. Expansive is just as it sounds—an expansive and thriving workspace. Networking Austin, BuiltIn: Local Professionals Club Networking Austin is a club of local professionals from various industries and companies worth checking out. Membership is broader than just entrepreneurs, but the events offered can still help you build your business and make quality connections. BuiltIn Austin is a tech-oriented meet-up to meet new people and build relationships LinkedIn Local Austin Networking has a strong membership and is a great way to expand your network. Austin Technology Council is a fantastic group with which to network, engage, and share ideas. Educational Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs Austin Technology Incubator (ATI): Bootcamps for Startups Austin Technology Incubator invests itself in the tech solutions of the future. Part of the University of Texas at Austin, the ATI enjoys access to university affiliations as well as corporate partners. You can attend a diverse set of boot camps and workshops with ATI, such as their “Health Care Startup Boot Camp” or “The Art of Combining Social Purpose with Profit.” The City of Austin also has a Small Business Program that offers “business training, educational events, and coaching to empower entrepreneurs.” Events cover topics from how to hire the right employees to understanding business loans. Their website also includes a comprehensive list of outside resources for entrepreneurs. Utilizing Your Resources as an Austin Entrepreneur As you continue to grow your business and face new challenges, we hope you keep some of these resources in mind for future use. No matter what stage you find yourself on the entrepreneurial path, these legal, financial, educational, and networking organizations are great places to turn to for guidance and assistance. We encourage you to utilize these resources as a starting point to connect with other techies, immerse yourself in knowledge, and attend leading events. At InspiringApps, we believe shared collaboration is the key to creating immersive and transformative solutions. Looking to dig deeper? We created this free eBook on app development from a business perspective geared to help innovative entrepreneurs like you succeed.
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