Experts previously predicted that mobile applications would generate $188.9 billion in revenue through in-app advertising and app stores. Furthermore, enterprise mobility is projected to be worth $510.39 billion by 2022.
Although many businesses try to go along with this trend, many of them don’t actually know how to develop a successful app. If you aim for success in this landscape, you have to be prepared for intense competition. It all starts with a mobile app development process.
So, just how do people create mobile applications? Let’s take a closer look at these seven key stages.
If you are still at the stage of wanting to make an app but not having an idea, it would help if you determine problems that you can solve. This is usually the first step in making sure that your app will be downloaded and used by your target audience.
Entrepreneurs use applications to solve everyday problems in ways we cannot imagine. Try looking around. Every service and product was made to solve a specific issue. Try to determine problems, list them down, and consider if creating a mobile application can solve them. Then, shortlist the ones that make the most sense and head to the next step.
In this phase, you have to create a strategy on how to turn your idea into a successful application. Ask yourself:
On average, mobile applications can take anywhere between four to six months to develop. It can cost developers around $150,000 – $200,000 to make. By making a strategy early on, you can focus on the important things and allow you to stick within a specified budget and schedule.
By now, you should already be starting on the project. This phase includes preparing a product roadmap wherein you should prioritize requirements for the mobile application, creating delivery milestones, determining if costs and resources are going to be a concern.
This is the stage where you should decide on a minimum viable product. MVPs are versions of the application that have enough features that allow customers to use them earlier and provide feedback for future product enhancements. By doing so, you can avoid the lengthy and unnecessary work of locating bugs and determining if the application is actually usable prior to its official release.
Here, you can also identify the necessary skills in developing your app. Do you plan to release your product on both Android and iOS platforms? Remember that these two use different development technology stacks. Thus, your team should have both Android and iOS developers.
Most importantly, here is where you should name your application! App names are similar to domain names. It has to be unique and eye-catching so users will be intrigued when they see them on the app store.
Aim to deliver an app with a flawless user experience. After all, the success of the application hugely depends on how easy the users are adapting and how they are benefitting from its features. Your goal is to make the app interactive, intuitive, and user-friendly. The interface has to be polished and pleasing to the eye to keep your users engaged.
The first step to any process is to make a plan. Identify what data your app will display to its users. Think of what information it will collect, how the finished product will interact with the audience, and the user’s journeys.
For large enterprises, their mobile solutions usually have users with different privileges and roles. It is important to apply these rules in your application’s information structure. Workflow diagrams will help developers identify all the possible interactions users can have with the application. It will also tell more about the app’s navigation architecture.
Designers usually begin conceptualizing their apps by sketching on paper. After that, they digitize these sketches—which will now turn to wireframes. These conceptual layouts, also known as low-fidelity mockups, aim to give your application’s functions a visual structure.
Wireframes focus more on aesthetics, user experience, and device-specific designs. It is also a fast and cost-effective way of designing layouts for mobile applications. The wireframes also serve as a basis when you’re reviewing the design. Since they are device-specific, they should also show possible interfaces when used in various vehicles including iPads, tablets, and Android and iOS phones.
Your style guide serves as the “living document.” These will show your design standards—from the enterprise’s branding to navigation icons. These guides also have to include the specifics, such as what font family your app will use, its color scheme, and how your brand is reflected.
By deciding on a style guide early on, it allows your team to improve on productivity and focus on the actual development of the app. It wouldn’t be good if your team gets hung up on the small details, after all. It would help to take into account the design guidelines from both Apple and Google to avoid potential massive overhauls later in the process.
Mockups are also known as high-fidelity designs. These will serve as the final renderings of the application’s visuals. Developers will implement the style guide onto the wireframes. This is also the part where more modifications are expected to happen—aesthetics, information architecture, all happen at this stage. Developers often use Adobe Photoshop for this one.
With tools including Figma and Invision, you can turn your mockups into prototypes. These will serve as test products to examine user experience and workflows that should be expected from the finished app. Although prototype development is usually time-consuming, it will give developers a chance to test the product early on. Prototypes can help with determining further alterations to functionality. It also lowers the chances of having disgruntled and unsatisfied users when the app gets launched.
Before you get to the actual programming and development work, you should first define the technicalities, choose a technology stack to use, and set up development milestones. A mobile app project is made up of three parts: back-end technology, application programming interface, and the app front-end.
The back-end includes the database and server objects that are needed to support your app’s functionality. If you are thinking of utilizing an existing server-end platform, you should think of what modifications to do to reach the desired functionality.
The application programming interface is how the app and back-end servers communicate.
This is the part that users will actually use. Mobile applications are usually made of interactive user interfaces and experiences that utilize API and a back-end for managing the data. In cases where the application allows work without an internet connection, it could use local data storage instead.
You are free to use any database and programming language for the back-end servers. Developers should also carefully select a technology stack for each mobile platform. While Android apps are mainly created using Kotlin or Java programming language, iOS apps are built using Swift and Objective-C.
All good app developers have to test their products for quality assurance. The testing phase also ensures that the final product is stable, secure, and usable. Prepare test cases designed to address all the factors and aspects of app testing.
It is in this phase where developers perform test steps, record these results for evaluation, and track fixes made for retesting. A suggested best practice method is getting your QA team involved in the Analysis and Design phases. If they are involved early on in the whole process, they will be more familiar with the application, allowing them to produce more accurate test cases.
To ensure your app is working, it should go through the following testing methods:
Your final product has to match the user experience developed by the designers. Visuals, interactivity, and workflow are what provide first-hand impressions to your users. Ensure that the app is consistent in its color scheme, font styles, style treatments, icon design, padding between data, and navigation.
Users should also test your app’s functionality. Developers are not able to predict all possible behaviors and usages for end users, after all. The functionality should undergo as much testing as possible. You might even catch defects and bugs in instances where two users test the same features but get different results.
This part could also be separated further into system testing where users will test if the app is operating as a whole; and unit testing where users will test if the app’s individual functions are working properly.
Your functional testing should also include comparisons between Android and iOS mobile devices if you plan to release your app on both platforms.
Applications will receive innumerable users throughout the day. This is the part where you should test if your application can handle the load. Make sure the app is performing at its best even when app usage suddenly increases. Here is where you should ask:
The most crucial part of the whole process is testing its security. Your app should be safe to use and invulnerable to breaches. Many businesses employ outside agencies to perform extensive security testing on applications.
If you want your app to have a login feature, these sessions should be tracked both on the device and back-end server. Sessions should also be stopped when users go idle for a prolonged period. If your app features data entry forms, test them to avoid leakage.
Device/Platform testing differs significantly since your app is being tested on multiple devices or simulators. It should work flawlessly with different types of handheld devices. Data shows that new mobile phones are launched every year with new designs, hardware, and firmware, making this step extremely important.
Your app should also work flawlessly on both iOS and Android platforms if you plan to release on both. Most businesses opt to launch their applications on iOS first and only develop on Android when needed.
After going through the initial steps, you are finally ready to launch your app! Before you do that, you will need a developer account on Google Play Store and App Store. You should also prepare metadata that includes your app name, description, category, launch icon, keywords, and screenshots.
It is a straightforward process for Android since Google Play does not implement a review process. You can expect your product to be available in the app store within just a few hours.
For iOS, the review process could take a few days or weeks. The time spent reviewing your app depends on its quality and how closely it follows the iOS developmental guidelines.
Once your application becomes available, you should have personnel monitor usage by utilizing analytics platforms. They will keep track of key performance indicators which are designed to measure the app’s success. Look out for issues like app crashes and apply the necessary fix.
Developing a mobile application is an ongoing process. It will continue even after its initial launch as you receive user feedback to make the necessary updates and fixes. Listen to user comments to help add more features for increased functionality and user engagement.
The steps above are designed to serve as guidelines for developing your application. If you’re ready to embark on a new journey, know that creating the product is easy, but getting people to use it is the hard part.