As mobile app UI designers, we are always trying to create interfaces that are intuitive and leave a lasting impression. Ideally we want our interface to be clear for future users and easily guide them to fulfill the final goal.
Technically creating an app design is a tough process of sharing, discussing, testing and proofing. While the most convincing results might be collected after the product goes live. Or make your product look alive.
1. Think in terms of screens
Start with the basics. Every mobile application consists of a set of screens and interactions, initiated by the user or by the inner runtime process. If you map out all the content and user flow, you end up with the list of all possible screens. This way you can use a prototyping tool to construct interactive app model.
2. Add fixed zones
Fixed zones is a teeny-tiny detail that adds life to your prototypes when you work with long mockups as they are transformed into scrollable screens on the device.
To make your page look realistic set fixed zones for navigation bar or tab bar. Thus when you scroll the page of the prototype these zones remain still. It is especially handy when you work with “Purchase” button on the product page.
3. Add standard animations to show the transitions between screens
Linking hotspots and screens is the core part of prototyping process. It allows to improve the understanding of the prototype by the customer, experience the behaviour of future application, make your prototype look and feel natural and lifelike.
Most of the prototyping tools allow adding standard transitions animations to browse between screens. This gives you loads of advantages, as you may:
- think over all the transition animations on the early stage of prototyping;
- run sufficient UI test with the potential users and find bottlenecks;
- present your clear prototype to developers without explaining in words all the app transitions and animations.
4.Work on extra animations
Wherever it’s possible add animated elements to your prototypes: dropdowns, loading processes, notifications, stand by mode. Instead of trying to explain these in words and emails to your clients or developers team, use GIF animations. This way you can pull the audience through the animated features. There are loads of tools to create animations like Adobe Photoshop or After Effects. Adding animated screens to the prototype is also possible with some tools, e.g. Mockup.io, Concept inbox, Marvel, Notism.io.
5. Keep your prototype structure clear (keep it in order)
When working over a big project one of the the key points is to keep you project clearly structured and in the tight order. It is really handy to use folders within one app prototype. You may group all the mockups for certain app state in a single folders. Or use folders for mockups versioning. This step drastically simplifies everyday work with extensive prototypes. One more tip – use tags to mark each mockup state (approved, in work, etc.)
6. Test your prototypes
One of the main advantages of interactive prototypes – you may test them in real life context with real people: colleagues, customers, friends or even within professional communities. To collect beneficial feedback all you need is to share your project. Interactive prototype sharing services, such as Mockup.io or Protoshare allow to invite others for further collaboration on the project or even simulate your prototype on the real device.
Most of the prototyping services also allow commenting on the mockups. Thus everyone in the project is aware of the opinion of other team members.
7. Start all over again
You have an opportunity to improve the future product by improving your prototype based on customers’ feedback. Your interactive app model is here to add all the changes and improvements quickly and save your client’s time and money. Since the prototype is tested and approved before the coding starts.