At SWARM, a mobile design and development agency we look for interesting industry specific questions that the community may have quite often. A question I found on Quora asked “Can a graphic designer create a mobile app mockup?” With the design space becoming more specialized, I took an interest in discovering the answer.

The answer is “yes, but…”

When working in the interaction space, specifically mobile, design is no longer about a flat visual experience: design is the emotion, interaction, and usability, all of which define the experience.While a visual designer may be able to create a beautiful interface, the actual product definition and interaction is more valuable.

Most users aren’t going to use an app and say, “Wow, loved that use of negative space”. They’ll instead say, “Wow, this app feels so good, it’s so smooth and cool”. With a mobile app the end-user needs to be able to find their info quickly and logically. When they’re looking for how to find something or achieve a goal, it should be obvious where that action exists. But more importantly, the user should be pushed into that next action. Once they’ve completed it, the user needs to have a suggestion of what to do next. Something like a message should appear to say “Great! Now why don’t you do x”. This helps them feel good AFTER they’ve completed the action/goal, bringing them back into the flow of the app.

Thats all part of the design process, but it’s less about the visual process. Graphic designers generally aren’t taught to think that way, though it doesn’t mean they can’t. I’ve found that in the mobile app space, experience is very significant, and while one designer may cost more than another, the experience they may have to offer will not only save you money, but make you money in the long run.