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What is this “Graphic Design” Stuff, Anyway?

Keith Shields May 12, 2015

Picture this: you’re sitting at your desk, pondering the functionality of your app idea for the hundred-thousandth time.  How are all these awesome features that you’ve got scattered around your mind going to work together? How will your app be jam-packed with great stuff but not prove to be overwhelming to your end user? Thinking too much about the best way forward in getting your crazy ideas transformed into a flawlessly functioning app can cause you to lose sleep…that’s for sure. The good news, though, is that it doesn’t have to.

Odds are, if you’ve contacted about getting your app made at some point in the past, you’ve heard us talk about how completing the graphic design for your app is the best way to move forward with your project. You can sit around and “think” about the features your app will have all day long; however, only when you see the app coming to life in front of your eyes, and see exactly what it will look like, will your brain truly be able to decide whether or not you need those “nice-to-have” features or if some of the more optional things can wait.

Designli offers a complete graphic design package for $3,500. This means we’ll design every screen of your app – no matter how complex the app is and how many individual screens that entails – for that fixed price. This also includes unlimited revisions; if you don’t like the way the look of your app is turning out, just let us know and we’ll go back to the drawing board. Does this sound too good to be true? We are our client’s fixed-price creative experts, and offering upfront and transparent pricing is the best way for us to  maintain this quality relationship.

Enough of the sales pitch, though. What does “graphic design of my app” really mean, anyway? The purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on what exactly graphic design is and what it looks like for a mobile app project. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Our tried and true steps for getting an app from idea to complete design are outlined below[/inlinetweet], along with some samples of what you can expect at each stage.

Step 1) Get to know you, the customer.

All of our graphic design projects start with a kick-off phone call. It’s all about getting to know you, the customer, to determine what your app should look like. We ask questions from the highly philosophical (“What should people ‘feel’ when they first open your app?”) to the direct (“Are there any existing apps out there that you absolutely love the look of?”) to try and determine how we can best impress you with our talents.

What we find is interesting in itself. Some folks don’t care about the design and just want an app that just “works” from a development perspective (which we can absolutely do, too). Others care immensely about design and are keen on working with us every step of the way to make sure every button is placed perfectly on the screen and every graphical element was thoroughly thought through. We love all types of clients, so don’t be shy about telling us what you really want!

This is also when we find out whether or not you already have existing branding, or an existing logo, that you’d like us to include within the designs of your app. If not, we sometimes use services like to help you think through potential color schemes that you’d like the app to follow. The more information the better, here, and we’re super interested in learning about what exactly you’re looking for with your app design.

Step 2) Distill the core purpose of your app, then create a complete features list.

You probably wish your app could do a thousand and one things. If you were forced to strip everything from your app except for one core feature, what would that feature be? What is the core purpose of your app? Determining this one thing will help us stay focused during the design stage, and decide what feature will be highlighted and “brought to the front” across the screens of the application.

From there, we will assemble complete documentation on every single feature that the app will have. This is an extensive process, as our documents often lay out every individual screen and what will be contained on each of those screens. This document not only makes sure every feature of the app is thoroughly though through, but also gets our entire team on the same page and will be our bible when completing the design of the app.

Step 3) Sweet, sweet wireframes.

This is when the real excitement begins. You’ll start to see some tangible visuals associated with your idea. Depending on the project, this is sometimes in the form of digital wireframes designed in a program like Photoshop, or pencil sketches straight from the desks of our design team. See below for an example of sketches from one of our past projects! This app is called “RememberTogether,” and is intended for group scrapbooking. Create a digital scrapbook based on an event or memory – like Grandpa’s 80th birthday – and you can invite your friends and loved ones to contribute to their own unique page in that same digital scrapbook.



 Our goal when wireframing out your concept is to help you see what the potential layout of your app could look like. It will show individual screens that the app will have, and how they may flow together. It also shows potential button / asset placement on the screen itself, so you can start to think about how the app will be visually organized.

Once the wireframes are signed off by you, we move onwards to the best step of them all.

Step 4) Initial designs.

Prepare to be “wow’ed!” When clients see the first versions of the full design of their app, there is a 99% that they are knocked flat on their back. Even if you don’t, though, that’s not a problem – since our graphic design package is fixed price and all-inclusive, you can ask for as many revisions as you’d like.

The initial design delivery comes in steps. First, we’ll show you a sample of a screen or two of your app, with the colors and designs implemented that were discussed earlier in our wireframes and in our call(s).


Only once you sign off on the colors and art style used in the first few screens will we go ahead and design the remainder of the screens for your app.

Pictured here is the full design of the RememberTogether app; remember, this app was designed prior to the release of iOS 7.0, so it doesn’t utilize the “flat,” minimalistic design that apps have adopted since. As you can see, though, it’s still a prime example of the true talent possessed by our design team.




As you can see, the fully designed screens closely follow the wireframes that were signed off by the client in the wireframing stage (Step 3).

Step 5) Continuous feedback, edits, and iterations until YOU are satisfied.

Now that the designs are in your hands, we will work side by side with you to tweak anything you don’t like the look of, change anything you’re uncertain about, or otherwise nitpick the designs up until the point that you’re 100% satisfied. This is why our clients love the fixed-price approach that we take with both designing and developing their apps!

To ease the back-and-forth communication that is required to make all necessary edits to your app design, we may utilize services like Marqueed that help you annotate specific areas of the design that you would like to change. This speeds up the communication process and eliminates any uncertainties that may crop up with what exactly you’re asking us to edit.

Sound exhausting? Although we will keep at it until you are completely satisfied, we’ve found that this entire design process typically falls within a timeframe of 2 to 4 weeks. Outliers, of course, happen – but our fast turn-around times on your feedback often leads to this process taking no time at all.

That just about sums it up! Are you interested in moving forward with the graphic design for your mobile app or website project? Feel free to give us a holler using the contact form at the bottom of our website, and we’ll be sure to email you back right away.

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