4 Stages to Your Perfect App Design

This content is a guest post from Purrweb.

Keeping up with technological progress is part of the everyday routine for people engaged in the IT industry. New tools, technologies, and engines have a significant impact on the way experts approach the process of creating websites or apps. Visit the website of any development company and you will see that they are striving to master new technologies as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Although design practices are constantly improving, there are unshakable laws that any designer must follow if they aim to deliver a high-quality product. These postulates form a procedure, which is commonly called ‘design thinking’. It consists of 4 stages that you need to go through in order to get the perfect design for your app.

Stage 1: Empathize to identify the problem

When it comes to design, a good app differs from a bad one by the amount of time spent studying the problem and the target audience.

The designer should run a series of interviews to create an image of the future app user. It is required to find out user needs, goals, motivation, and the reason for launching the app. In general, that is what ‘empathizing’ means. This information will be crucial when building application interfaces and screens.

It is advisable to conduct all these interviews in person, as it helps designers to better associate themselves with users. This is a key point. Often the designers’ idea of how an app should look and function is very different from what a customer really needs.

Ultimately, there are several questions that need to be answered after this stage is completed:

1. Who is the application for?
2. What problems will the application solve?
3. How exactly will users interact with the app?

Stage 2: Create ideas

Once you’ve analyzed the user needs, you can start generating ideas. For the best result, it is recommended to combine the efforts of a few designers and arrange a brainstorming session. Having a user-centered problem statement, the team of specialists should work out all possible ways to solve the problem.

There are several basic techniques. One example is the worst possible idea. The team offers the most inappropriate options for how to solve the identified problem. This technique is used at the very beginning of a brainstorming session in order to warm up and get ready for a creative process.

Working solutions may not appear immediately. But, the process itself allows designers to go through the maximum number of different ideas, including bad ones, in order to ultimately identify the necessary solution or resources that are needed to solve the problem.

Stage 3: Develop a prototype

Even if you have generated a few basic ideas, it is still too early to start fully implementing them, as they may be useless. Instead, you should create design prototypes, sketches, and wireframes. This stage is somewhat similar to the Lean Startup methodology and MVP development. The only exception is that specialists can validate their design ideas even without involving third parties. Often, this happens within a department or company.

Don’t waste your time discussing button sizes, color schemes, or the number of screens. Now, it is crucial to verify that the previously generated ideas can be implemented and can solve the identified problem(s).

The scale of development varies. This can be either a working prototype or sketches drawn in pencil that schematically demonstrate the app screens and user flow. Ultimately, you need to find out if the problem has been resolved. If not, then define at which stage of the user flow the flop occurred.

The remaining ideas are also analyzed in terms of whether they can be implemented with the available resources and deadlines.

The prototype that has passed all stages of research must be introduced to the users. Before that, it is advisable to make sure that your prototype works and includes the necessary elements like interfaces, screens, and so on. By user testing such a prototype, designers validate all solutions that have been applied earlier.

The main principle of this stage is that it can occur many times. The entire design thinking process is not linear. At the testing stage, designers receive new data that can be applied. More often than not, this data allows you to go back to the two previous stages — empathizing and creating ideas. In the first case, test results provide designers with new knowledge about users that can drastically change the approach to empathizing and defining the problem. Thereby, the entire process returns to the first stage. In the second case, user feedback serves as an incentive for designers to come up with new ideas, and the whole process returns to the second stage.

This is how an iterative model works. The cycle is repeated until the final design is close to ideal. This is a key point in the design thinking process.

Final words

In general, the process underlying the design thinking method is a universal formula that allows you to deliver the best result in the end. Specific tech stack, tools, and methods of their application differ depending on the size of the company’s budget, type of application under development, and other variables. The only universal paradigm that always works is the 4 stages of design thinking.