App Design

One way to ensure your app gets built is to follow a plan… and build to that plan. Apple’s provided a great resource for giving your ideas a bit of shape, called the App Design Workbook, which you can get here:

To focus on the process, I’ve stripped out the coding slides from the workbook, which you can download here:

If you’re going through the design process, I’d recommend using that version of the App Design Workbook.

App Design Journal, an alternative to the workbook

For those of you working with younger students, or perhaps you just prefer to keep it simple, you can use the App Design Journal, which you can get here:

Like the App Design Workbook, this gives you some templates to fill out when you’re trying to figure out what it is you’re going to build.


Once we’ve developed our idea, the next step is to prototype our feature, and there are loads of ways to do that. One way is with Keynote prototypes. I’ve tweaked Apple’s iOSTemplates-UIElements keynote file to put commonly used slides and elements in the same space, and even added a new element or two. You can download this from here:

If you’d prefer to work with Apple’s original, you can download the original, non-doctored iOS UI Elements from here: 

There are many ways to approach this process, but the Inclusive App Design Activity on Apple Teacher is a great walk-through of the process you can try on your own (or with your students, if you’re a teacher):

Human Interface Guidelines

This link gets a section all to itself, because it is such a treasure trove of information.

Whether you’re building for Apple platforms or not, there are so many great pieces of advice for how our apps can be designed optimally for the people for whom we’ve built these apps. I recommend the Foundations and Patterns sections as great places to start and learn about some things you might not have even considered important, when designing your apps!

Inspirational Videos


In the App Design Journal, our final phase (before returning to brainstorm, plan, or prototype) is when we evaluate people’s response to our prototype.

In the App Design Workbook the step has been broken into more granular pieces: Test, Validate, and Iterate.

Define - Prototype - Test - Validate - Iterate

This is where we come up with specific actions or steps we want our users to take with our prototypes to validate our ideas and our implementations.

Both resources, the journal and the workbook, give you some great templates for building our the script you want to give to people who are testing your prototype, observing their experience, and then figuring out where you need to apply the lessons you’ve learned.