‘App design’ is an area of digital design that focuses on the creation of standalone apps. These apps can be designed as either ‘web based’ accessed through the use of an internet browser or ‘offline’ apps run on native operating systems like Android or iOS. This knowledge base article will cover three of the most expansive areas of app design: mobile app design (including both native operating system and browser-based applications), app design for closed networks, and presentation apps.
Commercial app design first became widely available in the early 2000s. The application (or ‘app’) market was dominated by mobile devices running on iOS, Android and Windows with each app being designed for a specific app store. During this early period, app design became symbolic of the explosion of new devices available. These applications could be used for almost anything, from basic utilities like calculators or translation apps to more complicated software designed to play music or video. As technology progressed, it became increasingly common to see apps that could be used on multiple platforms such as web browsers or desktop computers without an app specifically created for each device type.
Today, app design is defined by several different app types. Mobile app design can be split between native OS app creation and browser-based apps, while closed network app design has become increasingly common with the advent of social media sites like Facebook or Instagram that require users to create personal accounts before being able to use them. Presentation apps can be created using any of the previous methods, however, they are usually used tightly controlled and not distributed to the public. These are particularly useful for brands that may want to present information in a visually appealing way at trade shows or other events.
There are many formats of app design available today. These include:
Closed-network applications are most commonly used for social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. They are designed to be used on a specific app store or device type, such as iOS or Android devices respectively. These apps will often have users create a profile with information about their name, age and other personal details before they can access the app’s features.
Bespoke app design is used to create custom business apps for events and trade shows. These can include anything from a company’s logo or brochure information in an app format to interactive presentations on the benefits of choosing their particular services. The main difference between these types of app designs is that they are created with specific users or events in mind.
Presentation apps are often used for business presentations or trade shows rather than as general applications. These can be made with any app design method, however, they are usually created using bespoke app design because of their presentation purpose and not distributed to the public (rather only shared within an individual company). They are often made using app design because they can be used on any type of device, including smartphones and tablets.
Web-based app design is used to create app-like features for websites. These can be anything from embedded forms that allow visitors to input data directly into the app design or videos with interactive elements that link out to external sites.
It is possible to add an application layer to a website to add additional functionality and interactivity. While this doesn’t completely remove the need for a website, it does bring a host of new features.
Apps come in all shapes and sizes. As application design is a continually evolving discipline, the list of app ‘types’ grows almost daily. At the time of writing this article, there were 2.26m apps on the Apple App Store, 3.48m on the Google Play store and almost 1m between the Windows and Amazon app stores. Given the huge number of apps, it is impossible to say what the most common apps are, however in our own experience we judge these to be:
Utility app design is used to create applications that do a specific job. They are often designed for one function and released as separate apps, however, they can also be included in larger app suites or platforms such as Microsoft Office 365. These types of app designs help users complete tasks more efficiently by creating an app rather than relying on multiple different software to complete one task.
Fitness app design is used by app designers to create applications that track user’s exercise routines, diets or other health-related information. They often include an online element for users to upload their data into a central hub, allowing them access even when they are not at home with the app design.
A booking app design is used to create an app that makes it easier for users to book reservations, tickets or other items at their convenience. These types of app designs are popular with eCommerce sites because they can provide additional revenue by allowing users different ways to purchase the same product (such as a standard ticket and a ticket with a meal included).
Ecommerce app designs are used to create applications that allow users to shop online. They can also include additional features such as loyalty schemes or mobile payment apps, however, these types of app design will usually focus on the shopping experience itself. Most retail sites use app design to provide a more app-like experience for customers, allowing users access to the app even when they are not on their desktop computer.
This type of app design is used by designers to create apps that revolve around media consumption such as music or videos. They often include additional features such as social networking app design, allowing users to share their media with friends and other app users.
This type of app design is used by app designers to create applications that revolve around social interaction or sharing information about oneself to others. They often include additional features such as chat apps (such as WhatsApp), photo/video sharing platforms and app designs that allow users to create their own content (such as Instagram).
This type of app design is used by app designers to create applications that teach people new skills or provide them with information. They can be designed for a variety of purposes such as teaching children about the world around them, helping adults learn a new language or teaching people about their health.
This type of app design is used by app designers to create applications that allow users access to financial information such as bank account apps. They can also include additional features such as mobile payment app designs, allowing users the ability to make payments directly from within the app.
If your business would benefit from a fresh approach to digital design, please get in touch and we will be happy to advise on the best route forward. We recommend that a strong brand identity is defined to ensure all online materials are unique, consistent and effective.