While the mobile apps with bewitchingly lovely designs may appear to have been conjured up by magic, they needed some designing TLC. But alas, a few quick searches and you are lost in the vastness of “how to become an app designer”. In this post, we will explore the steps that will get you closer to becoming an app designer. Like any other industry, the process isn’t always straightforward. But by reading this guide, at least you have a map.
App owners hope that the first use of their app will be enough to hook users.
A constant scenario where users would download their apps, sign up, few taps and swipes later users lose themselves in your app. They can’t seem to tear themselves away – so engrossed are they that other apps become irrelevant, their Facebook notifications go unread, and they don’t notice the cooling beverage in front of them.
Seriously, though, can an app be created so well?
It’s like a Pipe dream.
But it is possible to hack user behaviour – to create habit-forming apps. If you can create an app that people use consistently – an app that becomes a part of their daily routine – you will have a product worth millions of dollars.
This is exactly what app designers should be shooting for.
App designers are, in the simplest of terms, professionals who create the user interface and experience, which is the look and feel of the mobile app. App designers work with programmers and other mobile app development experts to ensure their vision is brought to life onscreen. App design combines art, science, and technology for a better user experience.
App designers are often called the “architects” of the team because they design the overall structure of apps. A great app designer should be a dreamer and a doer. A dreamer who can imagine the endless possibilities of an app’s features. A doer who can make those dreams come true.
App designers wear many hats. A typical day in the life of an app designer might include:
- Meeting with clients or developers to discuss the needs and objectives of an app
- Sketching rough drafts of screen layouts on paper
- Design user interfaces (UIs)
- Create wireframes and storyboards for clients or product managers
- Determine how users will interact with their apps
- Modifying designs to fit the needs and wants of clients or stakeholders
- Using wireframes and mockups to build out user flows and screen designs
- Creating style guides
- Testing apps and collecting feedback
- Making changes based on that feedback
- Researching current design trends in apps
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to become an app designer, let’s take a step back and examine why app design is so important.
A well-designed app can make end users feel a certain way – happy, peaceful, excited, inspired. But a poorly designed app can feel clunky, confusing and frustrating.
Designing great apps is like being handed a blank canvas with unlimited colours and textures and being told to go crazy. The app design process can be both exciting and challenging, but the first thing designers need to do is understand the target audience. The devil is in the details – every detail of the app should be designed with users in mind. According to Bilue, In order to stand out in the Apple AppStore and Google Play Store, good design and a great UI is a must.
The result? Not only would it makes apps aesthetically pleasing, but it also improves user experience. That means your app will get more downloads and subsequently more reviews, which will lead to more downloads and so on in a positive cycle of growth until you reach viral status!
Takeaway: A well-designed app can be the difference between a company’s success and failure. According to Statista, there are more than 2.22 million apps in Apple’s App Store, and another 3.48 million in Google’s Play store as of Q1 2021, so if you’re thinking of becoming an app owner you’ll need to create something pretty special to stand out from the crowd.
And that’s just one of the reasons why there’s a high demand for app designers. As our lives become more and more dependent on these products, app designers will continue to grow in demand as they help us make sense of the world around us.
Keep reading to find out how you can become an app designer in just 5 steps.
a person’s state of mind or mindset.
Like with most pursuits in life, success in design begins with the right mindset—and that’s where most people go wrong. They think it’s all about talent. But it’s not. It’s about persistence, resilience and hard work.
To be successful, you should also be creative, resourceful, and able to solve complex problems on the fly. You will work with people from all walks of life: technical and non-technical, designers and developers, managers and executives. You will need to be able to communicate clearly with each of them.
You will also have to get comfortable with uncertainty and be willing to take risks without being afraid of failing. You need to be willing to put yourself out there and ask for help, even when you think you don’t know enough. And you will have to be comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them as you go along.
Most importantly, you will have to be able to see things through, even on those days when it feels like nothing is going right or when your work doesn’t seem good enough. You will have bad days and weeks, but the goal is to keep pushing through the creative lows so that you can enjoy the highs too.
Finally, find out what type of app you would like to contribute to building (iOS, Android, Hybrid, etc), and determine where your skills will help you most.
If you want to design apps, master the tools and techniques that app designers use every day.
User research: User research is a method of gathering insights into user pain points and needs that informs design decisions later in the process.
Graphic/Visual Design: Visual design is about expressing your brand’s personality through typography, colour theory, photography, illustration and other elements that make up your app’s visual identity.
How do you employ colour theory? What makes a composition aesthetically pleasing? How do you create balance in your experiences? These are key questions every designer should be able to answer.
User Experience (UX) Design Fundamentals: What makes a positive user experience? How do you determine how people will interact with your designs? UX design is an incredibly broad field and it is less about what the app looks like, but more about how it works – it is foundational for app designers to have a grasp of this knowledge area.
User Interface (UI) Design Fundamentals: UI design includes many of the same elements of UX design but focuses on the specific visual details like buttons and icons that make up user interfaces. Understanding how these elements work together is key for any app designer
Developing Personas: Personas are fictional representations of your target users and customer segments. They help you empathize with the people who use your products and services by creating rich, detailed narratives around them.
Information architecture (IA): IA is a critical part of any app design process because it helps you make sense of a lot of disparate data and content, organizing it in intuitive ways that make it easy for users to find what they need.
Wireframing: This is a key skill for any UX designer because wireframes convey design intent without much visual detail. These early-stage diagrams are used to establish the underlying structure of your mobile app.
Prototyping: Prototypes are used to test early versions of your mobile application before developers write code or start building it out. Prototypes can be created using tools like InVision or Origami Studio if you’d like to learn more about them.
Learn to use the right tools: Many tools can help you in your design process, but you should try to find the one that works best with your style. For example, sketching (which is a very useful and super simple technique) is not for everyone. Some people prefer digital tools to work with, so don’t force yourself to use something that doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Popular tools used by app designers include Sketch, Photoshop, Adobe XD, InVision Studio, Figma, etc.
As a child, remember how much you enjoyed practising your handwriting? Well, it’s time to rediscover the joy of putting pen (or stylus) to paper.
Creativity is one skill that can improve with practice. The more you do, the better you’ll get. Having learned the essential skills required to get started, the next is to apply what you already know. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just try to put your skills into action
Here are a few strategies you should consider:
- Identify an app that you like the design of and reverse engineer it. What can you learn from the way it’s designed? Why does it work so well? How did they use colour, typography and icons to create an easy-to-use user interface?
- Practice by designing your app or redesigning one you don’t like the look of.
- Take on freelance design gigs. This will not only help pay the bills but give you real-world experience and feedback on your designs.
- You should also try to participate in design challenges that are posted on various websites and social media platforms. Design competitions like these will help you test your skills and showcase your work to others in the industry, who can help with feedback and advice.
- Find a small project to work on (FREE). You might want to make an app for your friends, family or local business.
In a visually-oriented field like design, it’s important to have an online presence where you can show off the work you’ve done (and continue to do). The most important thing is to have a website that shows off your portfolio. If you’re just starting and don’t have clients yet, no worries; you can create mockups of apps that don’t exist and/or feature existing apps in your portfolio as long as you cite them.
You can also use sites like Behance, Dribbble, and Coroflot to share your work with the world. Social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook can help spread the word about yourself and your work. It’s all about the visuals, so make sure they’re compelling. You want potential clients or employers to be able to see how talented you are!
This is the part that everyone dreads. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran in the workforce, applying for jobs is just no fun. It’s hard to decide how you can make yourself stand out from the crowd (especially when there are so many other talented people out there). But don’t lose hope! There are certain steps you can take to make your application as strong as possible.
First of all, remember that a resume is not an end-all, be-all. This is not the time to be humble or modest. If you’ve done great things in your career, then say so. Highlight those moments that made a difference and quantify them in terms of percentages and numbers whenever possibly – this will bolster your ability to prove your worth.
Make sure that you have a clear idea of what kind of job you’re applying for. Companies will often use terms like “junior designer” and “senior designer” in their job descriptions, but these terms can mean very different things at different companies (and even within teams at the same company). Do your research and find out what kind of skills are important for the level you want to apply for so that you can make sure you demonstrate the right skills in your application.
Just to reiterate, the path to becoming a mobile app designer is not set in stone and can be moulded by your unique abilities and circumstances. Some people start as non-designers that end up designing for a living; some designers never go to design school, but learn the craft through sheer tenacity and time. Some started as graphic designers, and have managed to become mobile app designers through the right combination of experience and adapting to new tools.
We hope this post has given you some insight into the process of becoming a mobile app designer and provided you with some resources that will help you on your way. If you have any additional questions or suggestions regarding this topic, feel free to comment below!