Oct 20, 2021

How to choose the best mobile app designing agency?

How to choose the best mobile app designing agency?

If you want to build a mobile app, then an important first step is to choose the best app design agency for your mobile app. 

So read on for a non-technical overview of the different types of mobile apps, the general app design process, and some general tips on choosing mobile app design agencies. 

We live in a digital world – and smartphones are now increasingly a big part of our lives. So any business wanting to succeed cannot outright ignore having a mobile app.

But knowing if you need an agency to design your mobile app, and finding a good one are two different things. 

Here is a quick walkthrough of the basics that you need to know before you set out on the quest to have your mobile application designed and built.

What kind of app do you need?

The types of applications for mobile phones are not limited. The first step is to understand which one matches your requirements. 

Here are the types of mobile apps – each one has its own advantages. 

Native apps

These apps are built-in specific programming languages and for specific devices. It could be either iOS or Android – so users can only access them from dedicated app stores.

Advantages

  1. Performance: They deliver fast and responsive performance because they are built for specific platforms.
  2. Security: It results in security for the end users because it does not rely on different platforms.
  3. Better experience: They prioritize the UX. They adhere to the guidelines specified for a single operating system that results in the ultimate user experience.

As of 2021, Android commands a 72.44% market share worldwide, while iOS stands at 26.75% (which is expected to increase in coming years). 

They both are the major players in the mobile operating system market in North America – 46% for Android and 53.66% for iOS in June 2021. 

Google’s Android and Apple iOS have 98% of the global market share for operating systems. Android’s market share will reach 87% in 2022, forecasts suggest.  

So depending on your target market, and the cost, you’ll also need to consider which platform you prefer.

Here are some features of the two platforms:

FEATURES ANDROID  iOS 
Device compatibility Any device Only Apple devices
Display Physical & touchscreen  Touchscreen only
Testing Fast and accurate Fast but not accurate
Playstore  No strict verification  Stricter guidelines
Cost Low High

Single-page app 

Single page apps (SPA) don’t require a page refresh and work within the browser. 

Page refresh means no reloading is required. The page gets automatically updated based on user interactions. 

Gmail is the best example of a single-page app. When you navigate from the homepage to the inbox, there is nothing that differs except the content. Whenever you click on any of the tabs in such apps, a simple loading sign appears and you automatically get a view of the updated content you want. 

Advantages:

  1. Speed: Once a user clicks on a navigation link, they don’t have to wait for the server to respond. It only has to load the page at the first request which reduces the load time – this reduces the time taken for client-server communication. 
  2. Efficient caching: SPAs send a single request through which they save all the transmitted data and make it available for further use. In case of poor connectivity, this is especially useful as it can be accessed easily. And all the inputs added in offline mode get synchronized in the app once the network resumes.
  3. Bandwidth consumption: SPAs consume very little bandwidth, i.e. data transferring capacity of a computer network across a given path because there is no need for continuous loading/reloading of the information. It is great for building dynamic platforms.

Cross-platform app 

These apps are compatible with several operating systems, be it Android or iOS. 

Developers build these applications using technologies like HTML and CSS and can launch your software quickly on various platforms.

Advantages:

  1. Easy to code: Developers have to write code once and that can be used across different platforms.
  2. Budget-friendly: Used to create low-cost apps with stable and easy-to-use features.
  3. Seamless experience: Since such apps are compatible with multiple operating systems, that makes them easy to maintain, install and use. The updates can be synchronized across all the platforms which save money and time.

Hybrid apps 

Such apps combine elements of both native & web apps. 

What makes them different from Cross-Platform Apps is that they are developed for single platforms like native apps. When coded, it will be done using the same technologies like HTML/CSS but to view them, each platform uses different tools. 

Every platform (iOS/Android) has something called Web View Control which allows displaying web pages on devices. This is what is used for viewing Hybrid Apps – iOS uses UI Webview and Android uses Webview. 

Advantages:

  1. Easy development: They are faster to develop. Code is written in HTML and Javascript and can be run across multiple platforms.
  2. Simple maintenance: In these apps, there is no need to create new versions of the platform with every update. A similar version can be accessed for further use. This makes it simple to maintain.
  3. Excellent UX: It is a blend of web and native apps. You get a beautiful experience across every operating system. Load time is also minimal. It also adapts to every device’s screen size.

Progressive web apps (PWAs)

PWA is a boosted web app that can run without internet connectivity.

This is a type of application software delivered through the web and built using common web technologies – like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

These types of applications blend improved user retention and performance. They work on any platform including desktop and mobile devices and are built in less time. They are also very secure, fast, and lightweight.

Advantages:

  1. Fits any screen: They have a responsive design. Its content is readable and is accessible across all devices.
  2. Any browser: There are no limitations on the type of browsers on which they work, they run on every browser. 
  3. Any device: Whether you are using keyboard, mouse, or touch screens, these apps are easy to use. It’s very easy to switch between input devices while using them. 

Web apps

As the name suggests, web apps use web-based technologies and web browsers to perform tasks. 

They use a combination of web-based programming languages to handle, store and retrieve information, and to present this information to users. 

This allows users to interact with the platform using online forms, content management systems, shopping carts, and more. Additionally, the applications allow employees to make documents, share data, collaborate on several projects, and work on common documents with their peers regardless of location or device.

Popular examples of such applications include Google Apps and Microsoft 365.

Advantages:

  1. Compatibility: Users use similar versions of such apps which results in minimizing the compatibility issues.
  2. Less cost & time: There is less support and maintenance required in such apps which results in reducing the cost and time for building such apps.
  3. Platform independent: They can be used in several platforms like Windows, Linux, iOS.

What kind of help do you need?

If you’re new to the mobile app designing process and don’t have the resources and expertise on hand, then you may need a partner to handhold you through the entire process. 

Or if you have some experience then you might only need help in specific parts of the product design process – like designing the UI, or the UX, or the product Prototype.

Whichever your need is, you’ll have to identify the type of partner you need and their level of involvement before you can proceed.

To help identify your specific need, here is a broad overview of the mobile app design process.

Consultation and initiation of design

This involves coming up with a concrete concept. Before your mobile app can be designed, your design agency will need to sit down with you and identify your needs – and the possible solutions that can fit. 

Initially, market research, competitor analysis, analysis of your business problem are some of the common steps product design agencies undertake. Once this discovery of facts is finished, agencies initiate the design process. These are the general elements they design first.

  • Information Hierarchy

It means organizing data into an easy-to-understand form. It aims at structuring content in such a way so that your users can access it with ease. It is seen in websites, web and mobile applications, printed materials, and social media software. 

In UX, Information Hierarchy or Information Architecture means creating content that needs to be in the app – titles, elements, audio and video files, texts, and documents. Good information architecture is always simple and facilitates ease of use for the end-users. 

  • Customer Journey

This briefly includes a visual timeline of user actions which is the number of steps a user takes in the app to achieve a goal – including every interaction with the app. It involves mapping the user personas, collecting relevant data, and performing optimization.

User personas are created with a combination of market research and data analytics. It identifies touchpoints such as ad impressions, user interactions with the app, etc. The optimization phase involves data being collected to determine pain points and satisfaction of the user’s journey with the application. 

  • Wireframing 

Wireframing is the blueprint of a design that shows a visual of potentially how an actual mobile app will look. It determines the structure of the page, layout, information architecture, user flow, and expected user behaviors. 

Wireframing also represents the product styling, concept, colors, and graphics that will be used in the app. 

In the final stage, the UX flow is analyzed where all the pages are connected to predict the path a user will take when using the product. After that comes the final testing phase which catches and resolves any mistakes. 

Designing your mobile app

Now that your abstract idea is a viable concept – it’s time to turn it into an actual product. A successful design incorporates three key elements.

  • User interface design

A user interface or UI is a point where humans and machines interact. This includes visual elements like display screens, button styles, content layout, etc. It is a way a user interacts with an application or a website. 

A good UI is important because it promotes conversion – directing users to end goals you have in mind. It makes the app simple to use, efficient, and user-optimized. It is a seamless blend of visuals, user interaction, and information architecture. 

To draw visitors’ attention and keep them engaged and coming back to your app, a user interface should be intuitive – the way a user expects it to be. It makes your potential customers get a clear picture of what you are offering on your app.

  • User experience

An optimum experience should be rooted in functionality. User experience or UX is how a user feels while using a product or service. It includes ease of usage, smooth navigation, and content relevance in the application.

A great UX is a crucial aspect of an app. This is because a negative user experience, like bad information architecture or poor UI, can drive users away from your app, while at the same time degrading the value of your product.

The past experiences of the users, properties of a system, and usage environment are the major factors affecting UX. A good UX should make it easy to find what one is looking for in the product. Otherwise, your UX will come across as inefficient, difficult, and cumbersome.

  • Prototyping

Prototyping is the initial or first version of a product to be taken to user testing. Usable preliminary versions of the product enable testing and iteration and help lower costs. 

In the context of design, a prototype ensures that the design team has understood what is needed and provides specifications for a workable version of the product.

In the mobile app design process, prototypes mimic the product’s look and feel, which helps test how people will use and react to the UI/UX design. 

It is important in the designing process because it can refine your app design, helping you maximize your app’s usability. It also allows ample time to make changes in the app before its development which saves both cost and time.

6 tips to help

Now that you know what you are looking for, here are some general tips you should keep in mind while choosing an agency to design your mobile app.

Tips for choosing the best mobile app design agency

  • Check out their expertise & experience: Only a design company with vast experience and specific expertise can add value to your idea.
  • Ask for their portfolio & client collaborations: The product portfolio & ratings, plus feedback by the clients back up their quality of work and expertise.
  • Check pricing & features: Ask about the pricing models, quality assurances, iterations, and testing.
  • Check references & reviews: The company’s credibility and market position is reflected in their client reviews on reputed sources like Clutch and GoodFirms.
  • Communicate your requirements: Establish a communication channel where you can expect updates and collaborate with the design team.
  • Evaluate customer relationship experience: Observe their focus on client satisfaction/success.

General tips on what to look for in mobile app designs

  • Simplicity: Clear, uncluttered screens with clear CTAs improve the customer experience and will promote user retention.
  • Customized features: Your app should focus on your audience. Personalize it to target them. It improves efficiency and ultimately, your bottom line.
  • Mobile-ready design: Apps should be created with the “mobile-first” principle in mind. Your app should perform well on and be responsive to every screen size and shape.
  • Intuitive navigation: Always prefer simple and smooth navigation. It’s easier for your users and it adds value to your product.

What we covered 

Now that you know what the different types of mobile apps are, what the general design process for mobile apps looks like, and some general tips on choosing mobile app design agencies, you’re ready to start your hunt. 

Mobile app design is a vast and dynamic topic, so reading this blog doesn’t make you an expert, but you now have a bird’s eye view of the basics. So, all the best in building your app!


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