Week 1: Introduction to App Design

What is an app?

App is and abbreviated form of the word application. An application is a software program designed to perform a specific function for the user or for another application program.

There are three types of apps

  • Web Apps – Stored on a remote server and is delivered over the internet through a browser interface.
  • Hybrid Apps – Combines elements of both native and web apps. Often mentioned in the context of mobile computing.
  • Native Apps – Developed for use on a specific platform or device.  Doesn’t need a web browser to run and potentially it doesn’t need an internet connection. It’s single platform, so for example either ios or android.

Web Apps, Hybrid and Native

Web Apps


  • Quick option for making existing content available on mobile.
  • Only needs to be built once and can would be useable for every device.


  • User experience inferior
  • Performance inferior
  • Its an app world – a mobile website would limit the users ability to deeply engage with a brand. Because people spend most of their time in apps while on their phone instead of browsing.



  • Gives space on a users phone to bridge gaps between native apps and a mobile website.
  • Useful for internal teams that have web skills


  • Low/no bandwidth an issue – people can’t use the app without a good internet connection.
  • No unique mobile functions



  • UI and UX smooth and engaging
  • Device capabilities optimised
  • Faster load times compared to web apps
  • Robust performance in online and offline mode
  • Better discoverability
  • Superior security compared to HTML5


  • Required development for each mobile platform.
  • It’s expensive!

What sort of apps are there?

  • Games
  • Business
  • Education
  • Lifestyle
  • Entertainment
  • Utilities
  • Travel
  • Books
  • Health & Fitness
  • Music
  • Productivity
  • Food & Drink
  • Sports
  • Photos & Video
  • Finance
  • News
  • Reference
  • Social Media
  • Medical
  • Navigation

What do web designers need to know?

  1. Users expect familiar user interface (UI) controls
  2. Touch input – Gestures change everything\
  3. Resolution (High res is taking over)
  4. Time (users want information as quickly as possible)
  5. Real estate is tiny (functionality)
  6. Context is everything
  7. Wire framing is essential

This should give you an overview of what an app is, what types of apps there are, different categorises of apps and simple rules to keep in mind when designing an app. This lecture pod has given me some small ideas on how to go about designing my own app.