Mobile App Design: From Idea to Product Development

3 min.

Design has been called the art of the 21st century, and when it comes to mobile apps, the design of an app can determine its success. Mobile app design is a form of communication, and a means to distinguish prestigious products from ordinary ones.

With the competition on the market being so stiff, app design often becomes one of the most crucial selling points. Good design is the result of clear requirements and the ability of the designer to turn them into attractive, intuitive GUI that distinguishes a hit app from competing products.

Every aspect of design has a marketing purpose, carrying certain information that the designer wants to communicate to the audience based on the purpose of the app. Every element plays a role in the product functioning as a whole and influencing the end user. Design becomes a way to answer user expectations and communicate powerful messages to consumers.

Stages of Designing Mobile Apps from Scratch

Let’s look at the main stages of designing mobile apps and what the major aspects of each stage are.


During the business idea stage, the target audience and the purpose of the app are determined. This is the time to decide on a mobile platform, remembering that they are aimed at different markets, used for different tasks. Android is for bargain-loving consumers who use mobiles devices for leisure. Surface is marketed for business people and professionals for productivity-oriented tasks in corporate environments. Apple is for image-conscious users with interests in entertainment, communication, gaming, etc. Whether a mobile OS (Android, Apple) or desktop OS (Surface) is used and how powerful it is, can also determine platform choice.


If the reaction to the basic vision of the future product is positive, designers create sketches, based on which developers can predict technical and budgetary issues. After a revision, changes are made and once approved, designers continue the creative process.

An example of an initial rough sketch as opposed to the end product is below.

Initial Rough Sketch and End Product Picture
Figure 1: Initial Rough Sketch and End Product

Interaсtion Flow & Wireframe

How different modules of the system are interconnected and interact with each other is vital to the quality of an app, helping to evaluate how the system will look and work as a whole. For this purpose, designers create a set of wireframes of each main screen of each module, with links between its preceding and succeeding elements.

Here is an example of a wireframe, demonstrating four different scenarios when a certain button is pressed.

Basic Wireframe Picture
Figure 2: Basic Wireframe

Following platform guidelines is crucial. Measuring the wireframe’s adherence to guidelines should be done at the earliest stages to avoid iterations that can be time- and cost-effective


Creating mockups includes standardization of app elements, creating a dummy and designing a style guide.

Standardizing elements such as title bars, pop-ups, menus, icons, images, alerts and buttons enables designers and developers to clone them throughout the app for consistency.

When creating mockups, it is important to plan screen and element interactions, animation and transitions during navigation, which are again up for revision and approval.

Compiling a mobile app style guide helps to save time and effort for both designers and developers, serving as a design implementation tool at the development stage. It presupposes finalizing the list of elements, typography, color, texture, behaviors for pressed and released buttons, etc.

What's Next

When the app elements are standardized, mockups are approved and a style guide is revised and accepted, designers and developers can go ahead with product development.

What do you think about the mobile design stages we have mentioned? Is there anything to add? Comment below and do join us next time, when we will talk about mobile design roadblocks, balancing form and content, as well as what to do and not do in mobile design.