With the number of smartphone users expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2019, the usage of mobile apps is sure to skyrocket in the coming years too. As per a market research study, the app economy will be worth 6.3 trillion by 2021.
On the other hand, having a mobile app has become more or less a necessity for businesses these days. It facilitates brand building, increases awareness, improves customer engagement, promotes revenue growth, just to name a few of its benefits.
To put in a nutshell, having an app opens up new opportunities for business growth. However, most of us lack awareness above the efforts that are needed to convert an app concept into pixels on a screen.
6 Key Stages of Mobile App Development Process
Be it any mobile app development project, dividing the work into steps makes the process less complicated and easier to execute. Moreover, the work can be planned in specific time frames and thereby avoid unnecessary delays in the completion of the project.
The key phases that are involved in any mobile app development project are listed below.
- Idea Generation & Validation
- Designing the App
- Developing the App
- Testing the App
- Launching the App
- App ObjectiveWhat is the aim of your mobile app? Where does it fit in the overall mobility/ digital transformation roadmap for your business? What problem (or problems) will your app solve for your users?
- Target AudienceWho is the target audience? Who are the prospective users?
- App USPWhat features are important? What features would help the app to stand out in the market? What is your app’s core appeal? How will you differentiate?
- Target PlatformsWhat Mobile OS platforms will you build the app for? Will you choose Native or Cross-platform or Hybrid?
- Competitor AnalysisDo the competitors have a similar app? If yes, what features do they offer?
- App InvestmentWhat is the overall app development allocation in terms of time, effort and money?
- Development TimeframeBy when do you want to launch your app?
- App MarketingHow are you going to promote your app?
- App MaintenanceHow are you going to keep your app up-to-date? Who will update the bugs once the app is launched?
Discovery and Market Research
Once an app idea/concept is generated, it is important to put in the efforts to do a proper market study and find out the viability of the project. Sometimes, market research will result in the discovery of new ideas. The research stage is not only meant to discover new ideas but also to come up with the list of requirements needed to fix the scope of your app project.
Having clear answers to the following questions upfront will go a long way in ensuring the success of your app development project.
This stage covers the actual realization and coding of your app. The development stage includes multiple activities such as establishing the development environment (that includes ways to do simple testing), developing various parts of the code, preliminary testing and creating the app that can be installed and tested.
A typical mobile app development app project requires developing code and configuring the environment for three parts- back-end/server technology, APIs and the mobile app front-end.
- Back-End/Server TechnologyDatabase and server-side objects become imperative for supporting functions of your mobile app by connecting to a network. Configurations and changes could be needed to support the desired mobile app functionality if you are using an existing backend platform. The server-side objects developed during this stage must be configured and tested with the other components of the app.
- APIsApplication Programming Interface (API) constitutes pieces of software developed that help interconnecting not only the app and the back-end server/database but also interconnecting app with the OS components and existing software tools/systems in use by your business.
- Mobile App Front-EndThe front-end is what your end-users interact with. Mobile apps often consist of interactive user experiences that make use of the connection with the back-end for managing data via APIs. When an app needs to let users work without network (like in offline mode), the app may require suitable APIs to download and store data locally.
Almost any web programming language and database for the back-end can be used for app development as long as the server technology supports it. For native mobile apps, you can choose a technology stack required by the targeted mobile platform – Android or iOS. Objective-C or Swift programming languages are used for developing iOS apps, while Java and Kotlin are popular for Android app development.
There are quite a few programming languages that are used for developing mobile apps – the key is to pick one that is suited for everything that your app needs to achieve. This depends on the mobile app technology that is chosen and the associated backend technology along with the choices made in the previous stages. The best-suited ones can be arrived at with a step elimination by choice.
Mobile technology evolves fast with new versions of mobile OS platforms being launched every year. Mobile devices are getting better and agility is essential. For mobile apps, this transforms to adhering to timelines and budgets and managing the time-to-market.
The user interface (UI) and experience design (UX) are two crucial factors that determine the success of any mobile application. While UI design provides the visual medium that manifests the app to the user, UX design speaks about multiple aspects of human interaction with the app. Not to mention, the design should be interactive and engaging.
The design stage includes multiple aspects which are discussed below.
- Information Architecture & WorkflowsInformation architecture is the design framework in which the data, interface, and functionality of the app are specified and detailed. Ideally, the technology architecture and the technology stack must be finalized before establishing the design details.
Often, this includes details about the platform and also how the app fits within the platform. For example, a new app that helps the user to maintain a work schedule may depend on the system clock. Workflow or process flow is useful in depicting how the app is used in a step-by-step process.
- WireframesUser interface design in the app development process is termed as a wireframe. It is a pictorial depiction that provides key elements of the UI (fields, buttons, icons, layout, etc.). It provides a visual indication of the app and depicts the salient details like the size of the elements and placement of them. Wireframes are chiefly focused on aesthetics, layout details, and user experience. It does not say anything about color schemes, styles or wireframe to wireframe interactions.