Mobile App Development Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
February 9, 2021
6 Min Read
It’s safe to say that mobile apps are the stars of the show these days. With annual revenue getting dangerously close to 200 billion US dollars, the market is only set to get bigger in the nearest future. Now, if you’re serious about developing your application for phones and tablets, your creative process will have to be in order.
To launch a successful app, it’s important to be aware of current trends, be flexible with the workflow, and meet deadlines. Analysis, planning, coming up with a strategy, figuring out the right design for the app, testing, deployment – that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide. That’s right: I’ll help you to better understand the mobile app development and update process so that you can shock the market with a perfect app!
#1: Strategy + Research
It all starts with an idea, and you’ll need a working strategy that will turn that bright idea into a full-fledged app. That involves figuring out exactly what kind of an app you want to create, and who’s going to be the target audience. Without that, you’ll just be swimming blindfolded, with no clear goals and means to achieve them. Once the target audience identified take some time to check out what the competitors are all about.
And as soon as you figured out what the market has to offer, think about where your app will fit in that roster. Finally, select the right platform (iOS or Android) for the app. This is important: on average, mobile applications take up to six months to create. The development process won’t be cheap, by the way: 150-200K US dollars is what most apps cost in production. So, yes, without a good strategy, you’ll risk wasting a lot of time, energy, and money!
#2: Analysis + Planning
Finding the right people for the job, setting deadlines for the team, and controlling the development process is the next step. Without a proper roadmap for the project, it will all fall apart eventually. Pre-documentation helps to avoid that by allowing you to “fine-tune” the strategy to fit the current state of the project. Handling challenges and setting up new goals – that’s what it’s all about.
As I just mentioned, choosing the platform for the app is critical. The thing is – iOS and Android are very different from each other. Take your time and think really long and hard about this. And if you decide that the app should be released on both platforms, then you’ll need two separate teams, and that can cost a lot.
#3: Focusing on the Design
What’s the #1 task (or, rather, purpose) of any software’s design? Functionality and ease of use! It has to be straightforward, intuitive, and provide a flawless experience for the user. According to statistics, apps with an interactive, eye-grabbing design are more popular among the average users than applications with more functions but a poor user interface. That’s exactly why UI/UX design is vital in creating mobile apps.
The colors, the fonts, the menus – it all matters. Unless you’ve got the best designers in the world on your side, it’s gonna take a lot of attempts until you get that flawless design. Use wireframes – they’re like digital sketches that take little time to create but help to speed up the development process. With wireframes, you can work on perfecting the user experience. Mockups are the next step, and Photoshop is one of the greatest tools for working with them.
A mockup is a near-final design that you “put on” the wireframe. And before releasing the app, you’ll be working with prototypes. These help to nail the user experience by testing the design, the functionality, and everything else in between. Sometimes, it might be wise to create a prototype while you’re still working with the wireframe. This strategy is being used by many IT companies in Singapore, as it helps to see the final design at an early stage.
Alright, now it’s time to move on to the development stage. At this stage, you should take care of three things: back-ends, APIs, and the front-end. To speed up the process, back-end/server technologies are a must. Now, while most default back-end platforms are quite flexible and versatile, you might have to modify it a bit to better fit your project. An API will help you do that, along with communicating with the server and the database.
And what about the front-end, you might ask? This term is used to describe what the actual users see when they install and start using the app. Remember: there are different “technology stacks” for different platforms. Say, for Android, Java, and Kotlin are the way to go, while iOS apps are usually produced on Swift or Objective-C. The good news is – there are dozens of standalone libraries available on the market that greatly reduce the development cost.
No app should be released unless it was properly tested. Quality assurance slash software testing is a very important stage, and it takes a lot of time and effort to see it through. Most app creators outsource QA and let third-party specialists handle it. They’ll test user experience, functionality, performance, security, and help you catch all the bugs and flaws in the system.
If you’re on a really low budget, you’ll have to take care of testing on your own. But, again, I highly recommend hiring a team of professionals that will ensure your app is ready to hit the market. There’s nothing worse than releasing an app that you’ve been working on for so long only to receive negative reviews due to bad testing.
#6: Releasing your App
To deploy your precious new app, submit it to stores like Google Play (for Android) and App Store (for the iOS platform). A quick note: to be able to do that, you’ll need a developer account on one of these stores. The app won’t become available the second you do that, of course. First of all, the stores will require some metadata, including a name for the app, a description, a category, some keywords, an icon, and some screenshots.
Next, the experts working at the online stores will take some time (a couple of weeks tops) to test it. This is mostly true for the App Store – Google Play takes very little time to “accept” new apps. That’s pretty much it! I’m confident that this short guide will help you to better understand the development process and to see your mobile app to the top!