Stages of application design

Design, build, evaluate, and refine your application in stages where possible. In each stage, maintain a primary focus.

  • Stage 1: Understand the product requirements and user goals
  • Stage 2: Develop the concepts and build the workflow
  • Stage 3: Organize the content on the screen
  • Stage 4: Incorporate the visual design
This image shows four stages of application design.

During each stage, design with your users in mind. Incorporate user research methods at each stage. User research helps solve issues with the application throughout the design process and the results help to identify whether the application meets user expectations.

By designing and evaluating the application in stages, you can focus on and evaluate the foundational elements early, reducing the chance of discovering those issues in later stages. For example, if you evaluate the concepts in stage two, you can identify whether you need to iterate the design before moving ahead. If you were building a house, you would not want to be painting the walls (stage four task) when you realize that the door and some of the windows are in the wrong location (stage two task).

Add richness to the application as you progress through the design stages. For example, if you are scheduling tasks and you plan to add icons to some of the screens, you only need to provide placeholders for the icons in the first, second, and possibly the third stages of design. You do not need to design the icons until stage four. It is during stage four that you will focus on incorporating the visual design into the application.


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