The Beginner’s Guide to App Design & Development

The Beginner’s Guide to App Design & Development
Maksym Babych

Written by:
Maksym Babych

May 12, 2021
An illustration of a person looking at a wireframe to design an app.

The app-building process consists of various critical steps like wireframing, MVP development, designing, development, testing, marketing and many others. Although all of these require tremendous focus, app design will be our focus for now.

Your app's overall design is extremely crucial to pay attention to. As the appearance of the app makes the first impression on your user, it's absolutely necessary to plan each aspect carefully.

Statistics suggest that 8-10 people would pay more for a better customer experience. And user experience is an integral part of the app design.

A good app design not only harnesses potential leads for you but also skyrockets your business revenue. Yes, the app design cost might be more than you expect, but it will all be worth it in the long run.

Now let’s understand app design in a bit more detail.


Table of Contents

What is App Design?

The Beginner's Guide to App Design

App Design Tools


What is App Design?

The way an app looks and the way it works all falls underneath app design. Let's dig into the technical components that the design of an app includes.

User Experience (UX)

User experience eases the usage of the app for the users. Here are some crucial aspects of it:

  1. Easy-to-use navigation
  2. Organized structure
  3. Proper labeling
  4. Creative content
  5. Easy to learn and remember the design
  6. Time-saving design

User experience is all about making the app smoother for usage. This can be achieved by keeping all the necessary elements in the app easy to access, interactive and unique.

One of the best examples of this is an app about recipes. The app provides an awesome user experience that helps the users cook a dish as per the recipe and allows them to buy ingredients required for the recipe.

The app has plain language, product personalization, animated interactions and other details that make it worth the use.

User Interface (UI)

The UI of an app is another crucial component of the app design. It includes all the aspects that are more aesthetically pleasing to your users. Here are some of them:

  1. Color scheme
  2. Icon placements
  3. Layout
  4. Buttons placement
  5. Text style and font
  6. Images and videos

All of these elements need to be carefully placed or added into the app to make sure that the user interface looks engaging.

It's critical to pay attention to the app’s color scheme as colors trigger the user’s mind differently. For instance, most of the food apps have red color in their logo or user interface.

Why? This is because the red color increases the metabolism level of a person, which generates hunger.

On the other hand, most health apps and fitness apps have their app user interface in blue, green or pink colors. Having the UI be a blue color ensures peacefulness which is needed while looking for health-related services.


The Beginner's Guide to App Design

As you know about the basic categories of app design, let us understand the step-by-step of designing your first app.

The app design process basically begins with the research part.

Research Stage

The research stage includes absolute brainstorming related to every aspect of designing the app. The first step to which is:

1. Understanding the Idea

The pillar step to designing and various other stages of the app building process is understanding the idea.

It's necessary for you to convey your idea to the app builder. It will not only help them comprehend what you exactly need from the app, but will also help them formulate a strategy.

Moreover, the stage of understanding the app idea needs to address some critical questions such as:

  • What are the issues of the users, and how will the app solve them?
  • What is the purpose of the app?
  • Is the app idea a perfect fit for the market?

Till the time you don’t have crystal clear answers to these questions, you should not get into the app designing process. For instance, if you end up creating an app that does not have a market, your investment and hard work will go down the drain.

Hence, understanding the idea is a must. And for doing so, you can conduct:

  • Interviews with the person who has the idea.
  • Conduct independent research via social media, surveys and present them to understand better.
A survey results report template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

2. Understanding of Market Landscape

Once you have a crystal clear picture of the app idea, it's time to understand the market landscape. This could include studying the apps that are already available in the market.

With a clear and comprehensive understanding of the market, you will be able to gather valuable insights about how to design an app.

You don’t want your app to fail, right? Hence, it will be best to keep it out of the box. And to do that, you need to get a much better overview of the market. Conduct research about what your audience knows and wants.

As they are the end-users of the app, you need to probe them to know what they need. Here are the questions that you need to probe:

  • What app do they use for XYZ (industry sector like ecommerce, entertainment, OTT, etc.)?
  • What do they like about the app?
  • How can it be improved further?
  • Would they like to switch to another app if the app was improved?

Based on the answers to these questions, you can devise a plan to further improve the app and its features.

3. Researching Competitors

Let’s be frank here – no one can provide you with better knowledge than your competitor. Therefore, it's imperative to find out what your competitors are up to.

If you are planning on making an ecommerce app, take a look at how companies like Amazon are building their apps. Amazon has come a long way in improvising its phone app, providing you with a great way to learn from it.

A competitive analysis template available in Visme.
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Although it's a bit tough to consider Amazon a cut-throat competitor, you can still learn a lot about app design from them.

The placement of CTAs, the use of optimized images, the navigation of the content via filters, and many other aspects make Amazon stand out from other ecommerce apps. You need to analyze all these features along with:

  • Integrations in the app
  • Screen wait and load time
  • Login options
  • Checkout process
  • Color scheme

But keep in mind that there may be many others depending on your industry. Knowing about your competitors will surely give you an edge in the market.

UX Design

Here comes the hidden hero of the app design, the UX.

The way a user interacts with the app comes under user experience. There are countless elements that play a pillar role in enhancing the user experience like:

  • Seamless navigation
  • Interactive animations
  • Information design
  • High-quality images
  • Less number of levels in the structure

And others! All these need to be carefully planned and executed to make sure that the user experiences less friction while using the app.

A product roadmap template available in Visme.
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Let’s study how you can create the best UX for your app.

Creation of Information Architecture

What if you see images of the products and no text? It would be so hectic to understand the content on the app, right? Well, this is the reason the information architecture (IA) of the app is so necessary.

The information architecture of the app is the way content is organized in the app. The placement of text, images, videos, etc., needs to be absolutely perfect in order to enhance the user experience. The core motive behind the information architecture of the app is:

  • To make the app easy to navigate and understand
  • To make the app navigation learnable
  • To make it fit for scalability

Here are some of the patterns of information architecture:

  1. Hub and Spoke: This app IA is best for apps that have multiple features, each with a dedicated purpose. It is a default pattern for iPhone apps.
  2. Nested Doll: This pattern is useful for apps that have an index page followed by pages with more information on the content. It is best for news apps.
  3. Hierarchy: It is a model where an index page has links to various other pages of the app. It is best for apps like eCommerce.
  4. Filtered View: This view allows you to filter the content of the app based on the filters provided. It is best for searching for content on a bulky website. Amazon and other eCommerce websites are excellent examples of this.

No matter which one you choose to implement in your app, it is necessary to plan the UX design process. Here are some critical steps to do that:

  • Gather all the elements of the IA like meta elements, images, text, videos, files, and others and prioritize them as per requirement.
  • Keep the UX design simple. You should keep the links on the app interface to less than 10. As your phone has a small screen, make sure you keep the content to the point and keep the levels of the app structure to a minimum.
  • Create a wireframe. It's necessary to build a wireframe of the app as it will help you visualize the app design on paper. This will not only help you optimize the app for speed by keeping all the UX elements on the screen but will also help in planning the cost of the app.
  • Prioritize and gather feedback. Plan the layout of the app and keep all the necessary elements easily accessible. For instance, if you are making an eCommerce app, make sure that the ”Buy Now” is just under the product. It should not be at the end of the page. Keep all the filters in the region where the users frequently tap on the screen. Moreover, gather feedback from the users by asking them to use the initial MVP of the app.


The last step of the previous section describes gathering feedback from the users. Here is where the prototype comes into play.

A prototype is the sample version of the final product that helps in:

  • Testing the app design idea
  • Gathering feedback from the users
  • Eliminating the guesswork
  • Saving time and cost that might be involved in making a wrong product

A prototype needs to be interactive, precise, and capable of interacting well with the end-users.

You can create either low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototypes (clickable or coded) to test the UX design of the app. For instance, take a look at the prototype that Twitter launched, twttr.

3. UI Design

UI Design includes the way the app looks. It includes various elements like:

  • Icons
  • Buttons
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Carousel
  • Dropdowns
  • Checkboxes
  • Colors
  • Input fields
  • Notifications

And many more! You need to plan a lot while designing the user interface design as it will be the first line of action for you. As per statistics, a well-designed UI can help boost conversion rates by up to 200%. Hence, align your priorities accordingly.

Identify the Color Scheme

Based on the type of app you are building, it is necessary to decide on an engaging color scheme. Colors greatly affect the way humans perceive something. Hence, it is necessary to study color psychology while designing the app interface.

A color psychology guide infographic.
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

For instance, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut have red as their primary color. Why? Well, the presence of the color red increases the metabolism of the body, thus triggering appetite.

Similarly, most medical apps have green or blue colors as they represent trust, wisdom and loyalty. This is what medical professionals need their patients to have.

Hence, whichever app you are designing, it's crucial to decide on a color scheme for garnering leads.

Creation of UI Kit

A UI kit is a set of necessary files that include pre-built UI elements like icons, buttons, fonts, HTML files, CSS files, and others. These help in saving the time of the designer as they do not have to create anything from scratch.

It's a good idea to create a UI kit for your app design process as your app will have multiple screens that will need the same elements on all of them. It is important to create a list of UI elements as it will help you maintain consistency across the app.

For instance, if you're making an ecommerce app, you may need to create a set of checkboxes, icons, buttons, etc., beforehand. As there will be multiple product pages, it will be more user-friendly if buttons across all the screens are the same. Moreover, it will also save your time and effort.

Implementation UI in App Design Prototypes

This is by far the most essential step as all your hard work will be tested here. Along with UX elements, you must embed all the UI elements in the prototype. The purpose is the same, testing the functionality and usability of the app.

It is imperative to include all the UI app design elements like the color scheme, images, videos, icons, etc., to see how the users react to the app design. With all the elements included in the prototype, you will be able to gather valuable insights about what the app lacks and what it is good at.

Based on this, you can make further improvements to the app.


App Design Tools

The query of what is mobile app design must be pretty clear to you by now, right? As your "what" is now clear, it is time to know about the "how." How can you make an awesome app design?

A software project plan template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

There are many design tools online that you can leverage to create cutting-edge apps. Here are some of them:

  • Visme: A classic way to make infographics, presentations, videos, charts and more! Apart from all of these basic features, it is also proficient in helping you with the graphics of app design.
  • Canva: A melting pot of graphics, illustrations, sounds and pictures.
  • Sketch: An awesome tool for wireframing and prototyping on MacBook.
  • Adobe Experience Design (XD): The windows version of Sketch.
  • Marvel: A tool for wireframing, prototyping and collaborating with your design team.
  • Figma: An all-in-one tool for wireframing, mockups and prototypes.


Get Started With Your Own App Design

The app design process is a bit lengthy as it has countless things to take care of. But, if it is undertaken sequentially by considering all the necessary elements, it will pay off for a long time. Be sure to get started with a tool like Visme for your graphics, initial wireframing and more.

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    About the Author

    Maksym Babych is the founder and CEO of, a product development company for startups at early stages.

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