Some people think that a well designed UI/UX requires an expensive, experienced, large team of people to design. A team of people that knows the ins and outs of good UI/UX design but for a hefty price. Well, that’s not true. Let me tell you how we made a beautiful UI for our app, Rally, for under $2000.

Six months ago, this was (some of) Rally.

First login iteration.
First create nest iteration. Things have changed since this, but it laid the foundation.

Make or Break

UI can (and probably will) make or break your app. The app could be an incredible idea with lots of potential but with an outdated or overly complicated UX, it stands virtually no chance. At Rally, we have a lot of different screens. Over 40 to be more exact and, truthfully, that is a lot. It’s something we’ve been reminded about time and time again.

When I say screen, I mean what every single design looks like when the user taps interacts with any feature in the app. Essentially the flow of every feature.

This may sound concerning to some people when they first hear it and in some cases it should be, but we knew Rally wasn’t the simplest app and we took it as a challenge. If we could come up with a UI that provided users with a UX they enjoyed and weren’t confused by, we knew this could actually work.

Our design process

To design Rally, I laid out five sheets of empty iPhone outlines I printed from Google images. I also laid out prints of my favorite aspects of other apps to get some inspiration. Now, I’m not artist, but that is definitely not an excuse to go out and hire a team of people that will charge you over 10k for one weeks worth of work. Drawing your own UI not only helps you understand your app, but also develop the entire concept of it! It helped us create some of the cool features we ended up implementing when as you’re drawing you say things like “wouldn’t it be cool if the user could send back some context with his location?” Boom! A cool new feature is born.

Once you have a basic flow drawn out, this is the part when it’s ok to get some outside help. We looked on dribbble to find someone who was way better at Photoshop then us and knew the correct dimensions for iOS to bring our designs to life. When you are looking for a freelancer, look for someone who has experience making other iphone apps simply because (s)he thought it would be fun. Our designer had redesigned several other well known apps which we thought looked fantastic. We reached out to him, agreed on a price and we were in business.

Quick note: don’t forget about icon design as well. Many people searching through the App Store DO judge a book by its cover. A nice icon is what gets taps in the store!

While you work with a designer, it’s critical to be using an online design tool where you can comment directly on the screens the designer is creating for you. I highly recommend a tool like Invision for this. Not only can you provide feedback, but you can also send out your wireframes for others to test out on their phones as if it were a real app. It was invaluable to our entire design experience and not overly expensive on tight budget like ours.

It’s quite a feeling to see your own designs not only in your hands, but the hands of others. It’s a real feeling of “wow I did that” and it’s what shapes the entire user experience. We now have a fully thought out, simple, refined way to highlight each feature of the app that we’re proud to say we designed ourselves. You can do the same thing! Don’t believe the large teams of people that say you need them! With focus, drive and help from friends, you can have a beautiful product designed in no time.


@therallyapp / @apr214

Founder @therallyapp. @LehighU CS graduate. Passionate about startups and always working on the next idea.

Founder @therallyapp. @LehighU CS graduate. Passionate about startups and always working on the next idea.