The Mobile App Development Process: Strategies for Beginners
With 3.5 million apps in Google Play Store and 3.1 million apps in Apple App Store, making your mobile app stand out in terms of function, use, and design is important to attract users’ attention. To be able to create an exceptional app, it is crucial to get mobile app development right the first time and determine how your app will fit both your niche and marketing goals.
Here is an overview of the mobile app development lifecycle, along with some tips that will help you complete app development successfully:
Planning and Research
If you already have a few good mobile app ideas for your business, that is a good start. But before designing and developing your app, you should first conduct thorough planning and research. You will need to consider the following:
- What you want your app to accomplish and where it fits into your mobile marketing plans
- Target audience
- How you want your customers to use your app
- What platform(s) you will use
- What competitors’ apps are lacking
- Complete app development budget
- Which aspects of the project will be performed in-house and which will be outsourced to a mobile app development company
- Timeline for development and launch
- Mobile testing strategy
- Marketing strategy
Consolidate as much information as you can to pave the way for a smoother mobile app development process.
At this stage, you will prepare a visual representation of your app ideas. Out of those ideas, choose what you want to use and create rough sketches of your chosen idea on a sketchpad, whiteboard, or template tiles. When sketching, look for opportunities to incorporate your brand, focus on user experience, and consider the differences between how people use mobile apps and mobile websites.
Also, make sure to get feedback from relevant people (such as the development team) to know their perspective on your idea. Consulting a mobile app development company will also help you assess the feasibility of your idea and determine the possible loopholes and solutions.
Technical Feasibility Assessment
Having an understanding of the app’s visual aspect is not enough; you also need to assess whether the back-end systems can support the app’s functionality. A basic assessment of the app’s technical feasibility includes the following:
- Getting access to the data by sourcing public APIs or building an abstraction layer
- Determining what devices you are building the app for
- Modifying aspects of the project if needed and establishing go-to-market strategy
You will not be able to define the touch experience unless you test the app and see how it works and flows. For that to happen, you need to build a rapid prototype to get the app concept into the users’ hand as quickly as possible. In this phase, you should use rough (not exhaustive) wireframes. Include the stakeholders and allow them to test the prototype so that you can get their feedback and integrate it into your work. Your goal here is to finalize your app design concept and create a high-fidelity prototype that will guide you throughout the mobile app development process.
An important reminder here is to design your app for user experience. To do so, a UX designer can create the interaction architecture of the design elements while a UI designer can create the look and feel of your app. The designing phase in itself is a multi-step process with its own review stages, which results in visual directions and blueprints that inform your developers of the envisioned final product, as well as the feel, flow, and move of the interaction.
App Development - Agile Methodology
Once the app design is ready, it is time to build the app itself. Agile methodology is considered the best approach to complete app development due to the importance of collaboration, transparency, and rapid iteration to adapt to change, which are all critical to succeeding in the ever-evolving mobile market. Agile methodology is an alternative to traditional sequential development, comprising of several iterative and incremental methodologies.
At this stage, review your original design and planning documents and go through every feature. Do not assume something works in the final concept just because it worked during the development phase. You will need to implement user acceptance testing (UAT) before finally launching your app, which means you will put your app in the hands of a few people from your target audience. Once the app has passed this mobile testing strategy, you can say that it works.
One particular type of UAT that is necessary for this phase is beta testing. You can make your app available for this mobile testing strategy either through an open solicitation for participants or the enrollment of previously identified groups. Make sure to get beta testers’ feedback to determine whether or not your app’s functions will operate well in a real-world environment.
A good practice is to observe users as they test the app because they may have questions and insights that are not obvious to those involved in developing the app. You can even use mobile UX testing tools that will give you real-time feedback and analytics. And make sure to test for cross-platform compatibility of images, graphics, and user experience.
Once your app is complete and ready to submit, you can already pick a day for a formal launch. At this point, announce to everyone who showed interest in your app before launch. Promote your app’s official release with write-ups, email blasts, and mentions (with links) on all your social networks.
But take note that the development process does not end with the launch. Every app requires regular updates and new features during the mobile app development life cycle, which begins anew as soon as the first version of an app is released to the market. Make sure you have the resources needed for maintaining your app. If you are working with a mobile app development company, secure continued access to your outsourced development team through a managed service agreement or similar partnership after the launch.
Once you understand the key processes involved in the mobile app development life cycle, you will be fully prepared to develop an app with the functions and features you need on a budget and timeline you can manage comfortably.