No matter what your needs may be, the chances are that there’s an app for that! Mobile apps have become the most-used software since the launch of the iPhone. A report by Statista estimates that the revenue generated by mobile apps will cross $693 billion by 2021 and will nearly breach the 1 trillion mark by 2023. Additionally, as apps have become increasingly complex since their popularity grew in 2009, many companies have devised effective mobile app development processes to build high-quality apps faster.
The mobile app development process has gone through many phases of evolution since apps first hit the mainstream. This is because mobile apps have come a long way from the basic apps that ran on the early 16-bit versions of the EPOC OS to the powerful versions of AR-driven video games that today’s phones can run without breaking a sweat.
The importance of a solid mobile app development process
A 2018 study by Gartner stated that only one in 10,000 apps would make it in the app world. This holds even today, as the number of apps hitting the app store increases each day. Additionally, Google and Apple consistently remove apps from their app stores that do not meet their requirements, making it difficult for poorly planned and executed apps to stay online in the app store.
Today’s mobile app users are hard to please due to the plethora of options they have at their disposal. Today, creating an app requires more than just technical expertise. Your development team must go beyond their capacity to ensure an outstanding user experience along with world-class levels of security, reliability, agility and responsiveness to ensure high user adoption rates. Accomplishing such levels of quality is not possible without an efficient app development process.
Apps created without an efficient mobile app development process often suffer from the following problems:
- Dysfunctional UI UX design that compels users to abandon your app
- Excessive time and money wasted in fixing random hangs and crashes caused by low code and app quality
- Reduced user confidence due to security vulnerabilities, including malware and backdoors
- Slower app updates as you fall behind on the product roadmap
Apps can also get banned or removed from the app store if they do not follow the guidelines of their target platform.
Mobile app development process – step-by-step guide (also followed at Volumetree)
At Volumetree, we understand the importance of creating a well-defined and effective mobile app development process. With 4+ years of industry experience, we know what it takes to survive in this competitive market. Our mobile app development steps build upon our years of experience creating enterprise-grade apps for our clients. A well-thought-out process of mobile app development (like ours) can increase the chances of project success manifold. Here’s what we do to create amazing apps for our clients:
Initial consultation & defining your product strategy:
A mobility strategy is essential for every business that wants to be ready for a mobile-first, digital future. If you want help with your mobile app development strategy, our tech leads offer a free 30-minute consultation to address the fine points of your requirements.
This consultation will cover any app-specific impact of your overall mobility strategy. Strategizing for mobility includes addressing the following:
- Identifying your target audience (the users of your app)
- Identifying your competition (competitor research)
- Choosing the right platform for your app (iOS/Android or both)
- Establishing clear goals and objectives for your app
Planning and Analysis:
The planning and analysis phase gives you a perfect starting point to define your app. You can start the planning and analysis phase by creating a product roadmap to prioritize your app requirements and divide them into milestones. Our QA teams are involved in this phase to understand your requirements well and begin writing test cases for your project. Here’s what:
Creating an MVP
As an entrepreneur, creating an MVP or a minimum viable product is an excellent way to test the waters before launching a full-fledged version of your app. An MVP is a version of your product with just enough features to be usable. Early customers can then provide feedback about these features to help in future development. If you’d like to know more, we have an excellent blog to give you all the information you need about MPVs. Apps such as Airbnb and Groupon also began as MVPs. They later incorporated early user feedback to transform into the way we know them today.
Finding the right talent or outsourcing development
As an entrepreneur, you can either hire your own team of designers, developers, and testers to create your app or outsource product development. If you are not working with an in-house development team, this phase is perfect for identifying the talent (developers) you need to develop and test your app.
Finding an outsourcing partner
A good outsourcing partner such as Volumetree can help you access a global pool of world-class talent to choose from. Ensure that you protect your intellectual property by signing an NDA before you start working with your outsourcing partner.
Signing an NDA
An NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) is a legal contract between you and your outsourcing partner that outlines all the confidential information that both parties have agreed to share. NDAs restrict revealing this information to third parties. Signing an NDA will protect your intellectual property from being shared with others.
A user interface or UI is where human and machine interactions occur. For a mobile app, the user interface is its look and feel presentation and interactivity. This includes visual interface elements such as buttons, sliders, entry fields, typography, colours, animations, and other visual components.
Your app’s UX or user experience is the user’s overall journey and how it transforms into a product. For an app, this would include the overall experience of finding your app online, installing it and using it for various tasks that the app helps the user perform. The following UI/UX stages will shape your app’s user interface. These include:
Style guides define the branding rules for your app or your organization that help designers and developers maintain visual consistency throughout the development process. These include definitions for items such as colour palettes, buttons, icons, modals, form elements, data tables, and menus. SaaS tools such as Frontify, Fabricator and Styledown help to quickly create effective style guides.
Most apps begin as a sketch when designers draw their initial vision of your product’s UI on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. App wireframes take this a step further by creating digital sketches of different layouts. Often referred to as low-fidelity designs, wireframes help designers and developers finalize the app’s user experience. Wireframing is very helpful in defining the user experience for mobile, tablet, and desktop apps. You can use tools such as Marvel, Figma, Adobe XD and Balsamiq to create wireframes.
Mockups are essentially the final rendition of your app. These are high-fidelity renditions of your app’s user interface, which are created by applying the guidelines defined in the style guide to your low-fidelity wireframes. Popular mockup tools include Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, Photoshop, Axure and Marvel.
Tools such as Axure and Figma can help to transform your mockups into clickable prototypes of your app. You can easily visualize the flow of the app and see how user actions take them from one place to another in the app. You will also understand how the final product will look, which will help speed up your development process.
Once you have finalized the design, you move closer to creating the actual product and start your app development stages. You must choose a tech stack (MEAN, MERN, etc.) for your app and define the development milestones in this step. Following these steps to develop an app will ensure reliability and user satisfaction.
Choosing a tech stack
A technology stack is a set of programming languages, databases, and frameworks that are best suited for the development of your app. Choosing a tech stack is an essential part of the development process and must be finalised with your development team at the outset before you begin development. Most mobile apps have three components—the frontend or the interface, the backend (including the database), server-side components and APIs (APIs are Application Programming Interfaces that facilitate communication between the frontend and the backend).
The front end of the app is also known as the user interface. Your target audience will interact with the frontend of your app. Well-known frontend technologies include Angular, React, Ionic and Vue.
The backend of an app consists of the database and other server-side technologies necessary to support your app’s functionalities. Popular backend technologies include Node.js, Django, Ruby on Rails, amongst others.
DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). In Agile software development, apps need more frequent updates. Companies set up DevOps practices such as Continuous Development, Continuous Testing, and Continuous Integration to facilitate this. These practices ensure the seamless development, testing, integration and deployment of apps with little to no scope for error.
Quality Assurance (testing):
Software quality is essential for the success of any app. If your app is well-tested, your teams will find errors and bugs before your customers run into them and have them fixed in time.
A well-designed, high-quality app that does not hang and crash often is what every customer expects at all times. Essential testing regimens that your team must include are:
- Functional testing: This testing type ensures that all your apps features and functionality works without any problems.
- Platform testing: In the mobile world, the staggering number of devices demands that you test your app on all major hardware platforms. If your target audience mainly uses brand A and screen size Phones, ensure that you consider popular variations and competitor devices.
- Performance testing: Checking battery draw, screen load times, response to hefty user load and network conditions are everyday user scenarios that you must consider during performance testing. Users prefer an app that performs well most of the time instead of those that bomb if the load is high.
- Security testing: In today’s world, security is of the utmost importance to individuals and organisations. Ensuring user privacy, data sanctity and detecting breaches and vulnerability is essential for application security.
- User Experience Testing: Ensuring that your app stays true to your style guide is essential. Your guide will direct the user experience defined in your mockups and visuals; your app must adhere to those design guidelines to ensure brand identity recognition.
Although deployment is often a part of your DevOps regimen, app deployment is an integral part of your application development process. Before you submit your app to the app store, you must ensure that you cover all the app store review guidelines and checklists released by Apple and Google for mobile apps.
Regularly monitor your apps for usage, key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to ensure user satisfaction. Encouraging users to provide app-related feedback will help you in maintaining your app well. Monitoring also ensures that you reduce downtime and know about critical issues early so you can get them fixed before users begin to abandon your app for the competition.
Maintenance and support
App maintenance is as essential as app development. Mobile apps get outdated quickly after their initial release or have a long list of features requested by users. People love apps that constantly release new versions, add requested features, and fix bugs reported by them. Maintaining your app with timely releases, fixing bugs and patches and incorporating user requests is what sets an exceptional app apart from the others.
App development is not a one-off effort. Knowing how to develop an app is easy, but knowing how to create an app that is consistently successful for years to come will differentiate you from the competition. At Volumetree, we look at the long-term impacts of app development and help our customers to create a vision that looks beyond the first few versions. Our solid app development process will help you launch an app that can make it big in the app world!
Do you have questions about transforming your idea into a fantastic app? Let me know in the comments or schedule a 30-minute call to discuss your idea further.