Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You’re somewhere in the world doing something mundane – out to dinner, walking down the sidewalk, playing the drums on your steering wheel – when a sudden moment of inspiration washes over you, and you see the solution to a major problem with infinite clarity.
Your first thought is, “Wow, this would make a great website.” But then it dawns on you, “OR this would make a Killer APP.”
Next thing you know, you’re being interviewed by Diane Sawyer, talking about this moment where your culture changing idea just hit you. “I don’t know Diane, I was just driving and it just… came to me”.
You imagine calling your family, demanding they pick up the copy of Wired with you on the cover.
You see yourself popping the cork on the bubbly when the enormous stat counter reads 10 BILLION Downloads and your thousand person team screams with excitement.
You smirk at the idea that your high school rival uses your app daily, and you feign humility when they pretend they’re your best friend at the next reunion.
There’s only one problem.
You don’t know the first thing about designing a mobile app.
Here Are Your Options:
1.) You use one of those “design your own app” apps.
There are plenty of programs that let you “design” your own app. Many use drag and drop functionality to assemble pages.
Simple enough, but let’s be real, most of these platforms can’t do what you want it to do.
They try to do a little bit of everything for everyone. Many only have a basic functionality and they’re incapable of delivering that “unique” experience is necessary for breakout apps.
Also, many of these DIY app programs are designed specifically to get you into their premium offer (which gives more tools, but still not a lot of extra customization)
TheNextWeb says about DIY app programs
“…we’re pitched mobile app publication tools every week and the majority are overwhelmingly disappointing.”
The best of these DIY app building programs is AppMachine which is currently in Beta. They charge only after your app has been published, so you know they’re not just in it for the money.
While they’re a great option and offer a lot of cool features – Without really designing your app first, you can end up adding unnecessary functionality that hurts your app in the long run.
2.) You hire a separate designers & developers
The reason I emphasize separate is because design and development are really two different practices.
This is a huge argument within design/development communities, but my personal opinion is that to get the best design & functionality you should work with a team, not an individual.
Generally speaking, when a single person both designs & codes, your idea might have a difficult time making it to the real world the way you’ve envisioned it.
The truth is, when that person focuses on what the app looks like & what it does, as you’re talking describing your idea, they’re building it in their mind with compromises in mind.
Again, this is just my opinion, but I believe that talking about what you want it to look like with a designer results in a better “front end” user experience. And talking about what you want it to do with a developer makes for stronger functionality.
Of course, hiring a team is more expensive. But if that’s the cost to make your “killer app” the way you truly envisioned it, isn’t that cost worth it?
3.) You design the app, then hire a developer to build it.
If you want your app idea to come to life as you envisioned it, this option will save you the most money and headaches.
Yes, it’s true that it will take a little more time, but imagine how much easier it’s going to be throughout the entire creation process.
Instead of saying to a developer “well, I kind of want this section to do this, and it’s got to look like this, and when you pull down over here, this has to look like that…” You get to take your prototype and say “Build This”.
Even if you eventually work with a professional designer, you’ll provide a solid foundation to improve upon.
Not only that, you’ll have a better understanding of the tools and processes they’re using allowing you to have more informed input and speak their language.
Of course, DIY mobile app design is the entire focus of this site, so we’re really passionate about that third option. That’s why we’ve created the design kits to teach you mobile design with practical applications. So let’s talk a little more about why learning mobile design matters.
Why the DIY Design Route Matters
When you think of your users interacting with your app, you probably envision happy faces using a slick, enjoyable interface they can’t help but smile at.
When you had your epiphany, you probably didn’t envision your users saying “UGH” every time they looked at your app.
I believe the most common complaints from mobile app users are the result of uninvolved clients getting pitched a standard set of protocols by overworked developers, telling their client, “this is a great way for your app to market itself”.
Irrelevant push notifications, too many emails, and begging for followers; all products of an developer in need of positive growth numbers.
The developer’s not evil though. They’re just trying to make you happy while performing the job of at least 4 different people.
Taking Ownership of Your Design:The Thrill of Being Involved
When you’re hands on designing the interface, you’re the first user so you’re less likely to do things that would tick yourself off. That being the case, you’re also very selective about which elements you add in that will tick your users off, because there are always necessary evils.
What this sort of slow hand approach does is really helps you to understand not just what you’re including in the final design, but why every aspect of your design is where it is.
Being able to present this to developers and marketers will cut your costs significantly.
As a professional in the creative industry, I can honestly tell you that the most amount of headaches, banging your head against the wall going back in fourth in creative hell man-hours come from turning what’s in the client’s head into a functional concept.
Beyond all that though, learning how to design your own app puts you in a totally different category from your typical mobile app client.
With a functional prototype, you’re better equipped to approach investors and partners, meaning you have a better chance spending someone else’s money to get your concept developed, rather than draining your life savings for a product you don’t love.
Plus, you get to learn new skills.
Fall In Love With Your Ideas
This is really what it comes down to, doesn’t it?
If you’re serious about putting your ideas into the world, and you’re not willing to sink a boatload of money to hiring designers, developers, and marketers, why wouldn’t you just take your idea into your own hands?
Why put your vision into someone else’s hands, knowing they can only guess at the images in your head, when you can take those ideas and bring them into the world exactly the way you envisioned them?
Imagine how thrilling it is to watch your friends play with your prototype for the first time, “Wait, YOU made this? No way! This is awesome”
They’re not just playing with any app, they’re playing with a part of your imagination.
Imagination that you took the time to manifest into the real world, in a way only you could envision.
From personal experience I can say there’s nothing more thrilling than watching people enjoy an app that you have had a key role in creating.
What are you waiting for?
The first step is always the scariest. Fortunately we’re here to help. If you want to get started with your journey into mobile app design, just enter your email below and we’ll send you the quick start guide to designing your first mobile app, absolutely free.
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