Mobile apps have been one of the most significant sources of revenue generation, especially during the years 2019 and 2020. The growth trends show that these mobile apps and associated businesses are generating substantial amounts of profit.
That’s why startup to enterprise-level organizations, individual professionals, and self-employed online entrepreneurs are opting for mobile app development, considering it an ideal way to scale their business operations digitally.
If you are up on the same subject, here is a 6-step mobile app development guide starting from the ideation process to launching the app.
1. Idea evaluation
Idea generation and valuation is the first part of the pre-development process. To make a successful and profitable app, you need a strong, unique idea that fills one or the other gap in society.
However, if you already have a brand that sells products or services, or solves a specific problem in your target ecosystem, you might only have to come up with the core objectives behind developing a mobile app.
There are several ways to get ideas for your new mobile app. Go to the community forums and see what problems you can solve. Similarly, conduct a quick survey or poll and find out about people’s primary pain points in a specific industry.
Firstly, choose a specific niche, like apparel or skincare or fitness. Then write down your goals behind mobile app development and check how many people are actually looking for a solution that you have to offer.
2. Strategy and Planning
After you have a strong app idea, it’s time for research, planning, and creating a strategy to carry out the process efficiently.
In this step, do thorough market research for your mobile app. Google Play Store and Apple Store are two major platforms for apps. This step is relevant and primary for new entrepreneurs as well as established businesses.
After research, conduct a feasibility study and create a business plan for your app. Put the cost of mobile app development, the profit your app will generate, the marketing efforts you’d have to make, and other key members who would be involved in the app development project.
For the feasibility study, check whether your suggested app development idea is affordable, legal, and technically doable.
Moving on from research, it’s time to decide what platforms you’ll host your application on. For some background, Android and iOS are major operating systems and you can choose to develop an app for either or both of these.
Android is the biggest mobile market, yet Apple is growing in the competition too. Though, I would suggest you opt for cross-platform mobile app development so you can get a wider user base, more downloads, and ultimately better conversion rates.
Once you have decided on the platform for your mobile app, It is time to practically start with the app development process. To initiate, you can either hire an in-house team of developers or outsource your app development project to an agency that has been doing it for years and has a solid portfolio.
Hiring an in-house development team will give you maximum control over your project but recruitment costs, time and efforts associated with the process can actually hurt you in the long run.
As for hiring an app development company, clients are usually assigned, dedicated project managers and developers. The key benefits of outsourcing such projects include effective communication, fast deliverables, quality apps and quick improvement processes.
3. UI and UX Designs
One of the key elements that make any app successful is its visual appeal. Before developing an app, designers shape the initial diagrams that represent the future user interfaces of the applications. These rough sketches and screen diagrams are called wireframes and represent how the app pages will look on different screens.
After wireframing process, designers create prototypes for mobile applications. These are dynamic, high-fidelity motion graphics that represent how a product would work. Apps need intuitive user interfaces and unified user experiences which are both possible when wireframing and prototyping are done right.
There are software programs that help with wireframing and prototyping processes. Adobe XD, Balsamiq, JustInMind, Axure and LucidChart are popular examples of premium – yet best wireframing tools. These wireframing programs cost between $5 – 19 and are best at what they are made for.
If you have intermediate knowledge of app development and user interfaces, you can wireframe your app yourself on free wireframe tools like Lunacy, Figma, and Canva.
Wireframing and prototyping usually take one to two weeks depending on the originality of app idea and the complexity of features.
4. Main App Development
We can break the technical side of mobile app development into three important factors: front-end, back-end, and APIs.
This is the server hosting part where a developer defines and codes the major functionality of a mobile app. Now there are two options that developers usually have. They either code an application from scratch or they replicate the code of an existing app, then modify it to meet the specific functional requirements.
This part of the app stores manages, processes, and exchanges data with defined access points. For example, if you have an eCommerce app where your user feeds the login details, this is where those login credentials are saved. If your app will support offline mode, the mobile app will use local data storage for saving and managing data.
In Android, developers use Java or Kotlin programming language to code the back-end. For iOS, developers use Objective-C and Swift. For cross-platform, or say hybrid mobile app development, there are technologies like Flutter that allow a single codebase for app development for both digital channels.
As the name suggests, this is the front face of the mobile application that the user interacts with. On the front-end, the user sees the predesigned UI and UX graphics, combines them with related technology, and ensures the smooth functioning of the app.
Application Programming Interface (API) is an intermediary that allows communication between the front-end and the back-end of the mobile app. Further, it allows a mobile app to exchange data with other third-party apps.
After these three technical aspects are done and delivered, developers forward the app project for the next milestones: testing, maintenance, and updates.
Complete technical app development (coding from scratch) can take about three to twelve months. However, for enterprise-level apps, games, eCommerce stores, and marketplaces, the timeline can stretch up to eighteen months.
Testing and quality checks are highly critical aspects of post app development stage.
Many app development agencies now involve their QA personnel in the mobile app development process from the planning and design stage. This is done to ensure the app is error-free right from the beginning and any issues identified during the design and development stages are usually improved in real-time.
Another, more conventional way of app testing is to involve testers and quality assurance personnel after the complete technical development.
During this stage, testers make solid measures to examine a mobile app for its:
• Functionality and features
• User interface and experience
• Errors and bugs
• Security and data leaks
With these performance benchmarks, app development companies do have additional quality standards that ensure their resulting digital product is top-notch and digital error-free.
For cross-platform mobile applications, there is an added step of device and platform testing. As the name suggests, the testers assess whether the particular hybrid app performs similarly on major operating systems or not. If not, they move ahead to add more features. If no, the developers improve the program and make the app more adaptive for other platforms.
One good way to independently test the app is to distribute it in your circle for feedback. While this step can’t replace professional testing by any means, this is one good way to collect improvement opinions for a more robust user experience.
Most development companies provide app testing, support, maintenance as part of their contracts. This is a highly recommended option, but you can also choose to hire a different team for app testing.
App testing should usually take between six to twelve weeks depending on the complexity of the mobile app.
After technical mobile app development, testing, and quality assurance, it’s time to deploy the application on the app store.
Android apps are launched on the Google Play Store while iOS apps go to the Apple store. Hybrid mobile applications can be launched on both of the stores.
Before the app can go live for download, you will have to submit it for review and publication. During this approval process, the app store usually tests the mobile app for viruses and bugs, transparency of information, security, category accuracy, and so on.
You need a developer account on the respective store to launch an application. Developer accounts on Google Play are 25 USD while Apple store fees are 99 USD for individual developers and 299 USD for enterprise-level membership.
For your app idea to become successful, you’ll have to market your app in social and professional circles depending on the purpose of your app. You can choose to market the app before launching, or start promotional activities once the app is ready for download.
While right development, strict testing, and continual marketing are important, it is also necessary to keep your mobile app upgraded and highly adaptive to market trends and consumer needs. Keep introducing an update or two and balancing the budget, consider integrating in with advanced technologies like VR and blockchain.
While planning, strategizing, designing, development, testing and launching are important parts of mobile app development in NYC, the process doesn’t end here. It is a continuous cycle that requires regular maintenance, support, testing, and updates.
Also, for your app to become profitable in the future, you’ll have to respond to customer reviews on app stores, improve your customer experience, ensure the performance and security features, and boost your marketing efforts.