The Internet has democratized the digital space like never before and users are empowered with great choices to choose from. There are umpteen numbers of businesses and service providers delivering the same stuff as you do. If you really want to outperform competition and make your app propel in its user experience, you need to understand the ins and outs of user experience designing.
To achieve great user experience designs, it is crucial for mobile app designers and developers to know contemporary UX design practices. Wireframes and prototypes are handy tools that help designers to rehearse their designs and build UX designs that are on par with international design standards.
Prototyping is an indispensable part of UX designing. It refers to creating digital models using simple sketching tools before starting with the actual hands-on designing process. This chapter will focus on the multiple steps involved in prototyping.
There are a lot of wireframing and prototyping tools in the market that are free and easy to use. Any business that wants to build great apps without UX gaps should do intensive prototyping exercises to ease their UX design processes. Let’s discuss in this article on how to leverage such open-source prototyping tools and resources and build amazing user experiences.
Listed below is a 9-step guide to unleash the fullest potential of prototyping:
- Brainstorm design ideas
- Create user journey maps
- Build user experience information architecture
- Do a UX audit
- Create paper prototypes
- Design simple wireframes
- Create user personas
- Develop high-fidelity prototypes
- Create intuitive user interfaces
Let’s take a walkthrough of each step in detail:
#1 Brainstorm design ideas
It is always good to sit as a team and brainstorm ideas. Especially, when it comes to user experience designing, brainstorming helps to approach design as collective teamwork and get diversified views and dimensions from team members with different perceptions. Involve everybody working on the project and take each of their ideas. Throw an ice-breaking question to trigger interest and evoke curiosity. Discuss design challenges in detail and try to sketch them schematically. Against each challenge and problem item, write the solution statement. Compel everyone to take part in the solution-deriving process, because you never know that a good idea can come from anyone.
#2 Create user journey maps
User journey map refers to the process of creating a flowchart with the sequence of customer actions right from opening your app, seeing the first screen, navigating through multiple features, achieving the goal, and exiting your app. This helps to address your user experience challenges visually and take a short route in the user journey to achieve the user goal. When you create user journey maps like these, you get to know the hiccups and hindrances in the customer journeys which make it difficult for the user to achieve their goals.
#3 Build user experience information architecture
The next step to creating user journey maps is to build information architecture. You need to create an information architecture for your mobile app that directs the app designers and developers on how to structure the content, design elements, and other features. Sitemaps help to structure website content with an information hierarchy. Similarly, build an information hierarchy for your mobile apps too. Well-structured information architecture clears the clutter and makes it seamless for the users to consume the content in a desirable way.
#4 Do a UX audit
If you already own a mobile app, audit your mobile app’s interfaces in terms of usability and convenience. If you are building an app from the scratch, download similar apps developed by your peers and do a thorough user experience audit.
These pointers should help you audit your mobile app user experience:
- Check if your app design is helping to achieve the goal easily.
- Use analytics to review and compare your goals versus UX design.
- Do a heuristic evaluation and derive key takeaways.
#5 Create paper prototypes
Paper prototypes are amazing tools to create low-cost analog user experience models to get a preview of the real UX design. More than being fun and economical, paper prototypes help reduce iterations in the later parts of the app development.
What do you need to create paper prototypes?
- Basic sketching skills.
- Pencil, color pens, and color papers.
- Cardboards, sticky notes, board pins, highlighters.
- Stencils of basic shapes, compass, and simple drawing tools.
How to create a paper prototype in simple steps?
- Draw the mobile app screens one after the other in accordance with the user journey maps.
- Make sure that you create your screen sketches based on the structure you derived in the information architecture.
- Draw simple layouts, buttons, arrows, and symbols to represent user flows, navigation, and other features.
#6 Design simple wireframes
Wireframing is the next step to paper prototypes. This can be described as the digital equivalents to the simple design you created on papers in the previous steps. Wireframe tools let you drop and drag basic design elements and layouts. Wireframes are mostly simple black and white representations of the mobile app UX design. There are a lot of free wireframing tools and top UI/UX design tools available on the Internet. Create a wireframe for your mobile app such that it should be an enhanced version of the paper prototype you created in the last step. Such wireframes provide you with great opportunities to learn, unlearn, and relearn how to achieve winning user experience for your mobile app.
#7 Create user personas
User personas refer to archetypical representations of your potential users. You need to create user personas with characteristic features and behavior patterns matching that of your target audience. If you want to move away from theoretical learning of UX concepts and get a practical demonstration, you need to take user personas more seriously. It is an interesting tool to understand your customers and create customized user experience models tailored to their characteristic patterns. What follows in the next chapter is a detailed analysis of different steps involved in creating user personas in real-time to elevate your user experience.
#8 Develop high-fidelity prototypes
The next step is to create high-fidelity prototypes. These are nothing but enhanced versions of black and white wireframes, where the user experience is designed functionally and colorfully with options to click, navigate, and scroll. You need to ensure that in your mobile app UX designing process, these high-fidelity prototypes must complement the incremental enhancement practiced and carried out until previous steps. This makes it easy to design and develop easily with better clarity and focus on user experience.
#9 Create intuitive user interfaces
Here is the most important and crucial step of all. If you have followed all the above steps it is evident that you have put so much effort into understanding the experience that your customers demand. What follows is the most tricky part where most of the designers fail. You really need to take great attention to translate all your effort made until now into the design.
Your design should reflect your understanding of user experience, only then you can survive the test of the time in the competitive market. Create an intuitive user interface (UI) designs that score very high in the UX metric. Only when UX and UI go hand-in-hand and complement each other, your mobile app is going to be loved by your customers.
So, what’s next?
Following these prototyping steps help designers to easily identify problems and capability gaps in the UX design and deliver high-quality outcomes. It needs meticulous attention for an app developer to practice these guidelines and principles right from brainstorming design ideas to creating intuitive UI designs.
Such thoughtfully created and designed apps deliver smoother and hassle-free user experiences to their customers.
These steps are only teasers and real-time prototyping is more than flowery designs and gimmicks. In the next chapter, we will discuss how to create storyboards and user personas. User personas play a vital role in the user experience design. Follow this space to know how to create intuitive user interfaces for your mobile apps by creating real-time user personas.
Mobile apps have become part and parcel of day-to-day lives and routines. It is researched that 52% of apps are uninstalled on the same day of installation because of poor and difficult user experiences. So, to build great apps, it goes without saying that you need to design great UX.
Make the best use of prototyping tools and platforms to create stunning mobile app experiences for your users. For a free consultation on how to pick the best prototyping tools for designers, get in touch with us. Siam Computing has a proven track record of creating mobile apps for multiple industries. Our apps are built on the latest technologies and platforms. A team of enthusiastic folks that include user experience designers, UI developers, illustrators, marketplace analysts, app technology specialists, strategists, and marketers work together to make our apps stand out in the market and speak for themselves.
Mobile app development is not only about coding and testing. It also requires strategies and analysis. Read along this blog to learn more. Subscribe to our newsletters and stay updated.