I have this idea for the "best app in the world". I know what it's going to do, the need it's going to fill, a high to mid-level idea of the code, and who i'm going to target. Now i'm ready to begin: I grab my pen, paper, thinking-cap, can-do-attitude, set the clock to GO-TIME--This app is gonna be awesome!......2 hours later, all i have on my paper is a big rectangle...

One would think that the mockup would be the easy part, but drawing a "simple & sleek" design harder than it sounds. Are there any techniques/advice that you can give on mocking up an app? Any references or rules-of-thumb guidelines you can provide would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


One would think that the mock up would be the easy part, but drawing a "simple & sleek" design harder than it sounds.

Well there's your problem.

A mock up is not sleek or simple. It's non-functional and that means it doesn't do anything.

Before you begin you need to decide what type of mock up you are going to create?

  • A throwaway mock up to just feel out an idea.
  • An evolving mock up that you will keep making changes too until you get it right.
  • An incremental mock up where you keep filling in the pieces until it's a fully finished app.

Each of those have their pros/cons but which one you pick helps decide which tools you use. A throwaway mock up can just be some photoshopped images. It shows what you want, but it's useless and you throw it away (good for business meetings).

An evolving mock up requires more work to create some kind of base for the app. Either native code or HTML5, but the idea is that you can make changes to the mock up to fix design issues. The only limitation is it'll never turn in the actual app. It's just a mock up.

The incremental mock up is harder. You're mocking up the groundwork that will eventually be the app itself.

Why Should You Do A Mock Up?

  • It's good to flush out your idea and fix holes that might exist.
  • It can improve the quality of the final app.
  • It can reduce the time and cost to develop the app.

Disadvantages Of Doing A Mock Up?

  • It can be distracting from the original idea. Let's face it. No one does a perfect mock up, and when it's done it'll be different from the idea. You risk losing the idea.
  • You'll get confused between working on a mock up and actually developing the app. Often when people start working on something they start wanting to see it finished, and changing direction from mock up to developing app is a risk in doing a mock up.
  • You'll become overly attached to the mock up. Spending too much time working on it until you've simply run out of time.
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