In this competitive digital world, Mobile apps have the potential to become the game-changers of their fields, it can bring down the well-established brands and can even shoot the new players to the lead. It’s without a question crucial technology if you want to transform your business. Mobile app development has become more or less a necessity for every business these days as it enables brand building, increases awareness, expands customer engagement, promotes revenue growth, and whatnot.
Mobile application development is one of the most popular procedures of software creation and is constantly evolving with the increased popularity of smartphones and tablets. In 2020, mobile apps have generated around $188.9 billion in revenue via app stores and in-app advertising which can be estimated to be worth $510.39 billion by 2022. While many companies are trying to take benefit of this trend, many do not know even the basics of mobile app development to build an effective app successfully.
Since the mobile app development process is not a walk in the park, it involves a thoughtful and step-by-step approach to obtain the desired benefits. Success within the competitive landscape of these growth predictions can become a reality for your company, but only if supported by an accurately refined app development process and suitable mobile app development tools. To put it in a nutshell, having an app unlocks new opportunities for business growth. However, most of us lack awareness of the efforts that are needed to transform an app concept into pixels on a screen.
6 Key Phases Of Mobile App Development Process
If you are planning to build a mobile app, let us dive into the in-depth guide about the mobile app development process. An effective app development lifecycle spans over six key phases, lets understand the mobile app development process by simple steps categorized below:
Phase#1 Strategy and Market Research
The very first stage of the mobile app development process is outlining the strategy for developing your idea into a successful app. As one app’s objectives and intentions may differ from another, there is still an app-specific impact to the mobility strategy to address throughout the mobile app development process. In this phase, you will:
- Identify the app users
- Research the competition
- Establish the app’s goals and purposes
- Choose a mobile platform for your app
Your mobile app strategy helps you to focus on your vision with a clear picture of your app idea.
Phase#2 Analysis and Planning
In this phase, your idea starts taking shape and turns into an actual project. Analysis and planning start with defining use cases and capturing complete functional requirements. After you are well-known with the requirements for your app, prepare a product roadmap that includes prioritizing the mobile app requirements and combining them into delivery milestones. If time, resources, or costs are the concern, then explain your minimum-viable-product (MVP) and prioritize this for the early launch.
The planning stage includes identifying the skills required for your mobile app development process. For example, whether you are developing the iOS apps or you are going with the Android app development process, they both use the different development technology stacks and platforms. If your goal is to develop a mobile app for both iOS and Android mobile platforms then, your mobile development team must comprise iOS developers and Android developers.
Select the most innovative name of your app as Mobile app names are like domain names and have to be exclusive within each app store. Research each app store thoroughly ensuring your app’s name isn’t already in use!
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Phase#3 UI/UX Design
The purpose of an app’s design is to deliver smooth user experiences with an elegant look. The success of a mobile app is determined based on how well users are accepting it and benefiting from its features. The objective of effective mobile app UI/UX design is to build excellent user experiences by making your app interactive, spontaneous, and user-friendly. The design stage comprises multiple features which are discussed below.
Information Architecture & Workflows
The first step of your mobile app design process is to determine the data or information your mobile app will show to the users, the data it will collect, user interactions, and the user journeys within the app. Ideally, the technology architecture and the technology stack must be decided before creating the design details. For companies, enterprise mobile solutions have users with different roles and privileges, and it is important to combine these rules as part of your app’s information architecture.
Mobile app designers often begin app design with sketches on paper. Wireframes are known to be the digital form of sketches, it is a theoretical layout, also referred to as low-fidelity samples, which give visual structure to your app’s functional requirements. With wireframes, the more emphasis is on aesthetics and user experience, not on color patterns and styles. It is a fast and cost-effective approach for designing app layouts and going over them in the design review process. So whether you are developing iOS apps or undertaking Android app development it provides intuitive and device-specific user experiences.
Style guides contribute a very essential part to the mobile app design strategy. Establishing a style guide early on as part of your mobile app development process expands the productivity of your mobile app. Additionally, following a style guide will help keep your app’s look and feel stable. A style guide delivers the details of various app functions, without which building a high-quality app can be less resourceful.
Mockups are the final version of your app’s visual design. Mockups are produced by applying your style guide to the app wireframes. As your app’s design is finalized, expect further modifications to its information architecture, workflow, and aesthetics. Adobe Photoshop is the most popular tool for crafting high-fidelity mockups.
Mockups show your mobile app’s functionality using static designs, however, these can turn into click-thru prototypes with tools like Invision and Figma. Prototypes are extremely beneficial for simulating the user experience and the app’s workflows expected from the completed product. While prototype development procedures can be long, the efforts are well worth it, as they provide early-stage testing of your app’s design and functionality. Prototypes help you to identify modifications to the app’s proposed functionality. Some companies prefer even doing prototypes at a wire-framing stage, particularly when an app’s practical requirements are not well thought out.
Phase#4 App development
Planning remains an essential part of this stage in the mobile app development process. Before actual development efforts start, you will have to keep these things in mind:
- define the technical architecture,
- choice a technology stack, and
- define the development milestones.
A mobile app development process is made up of three basic parts: back-end/server technology, API, and the mobile app front-end.
This section consists of a database and server-side objects essential for supporting functions of your mobile app. If you are using an existing back-end platform, then adjustments may be required for supporting the desired mobile functionality.
An Application Programming Interface (API) is a process of communication between the app and a back-end server/database.
Mobile App Front-End
The front-end is what your end-users will interact with. In most cases, mobile apps contain interactive user experiences that use an API and a back-end for the management of data. In a few cases, when an app needs to allow users to work without internet access, the app can make use of local data storage. You can use any web programming language and database for the back-end. For native mobile apps, you have to select a technology stack necessary by each mobile OS platform. iOS apps can be developed with Objective-C or Swift programming language. Android apps are mostly developed using Java or Kotlin. There are various mobile app development frameworks and technology stack available in the market for building mobile apps, the key is choosing a technology stack that is best suited for your mobile app.
As each development milestone finishes, it gets passed on to the app testing team for authentication.
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Phase#5 Testing & QA
Executing systematic quality assurance (QA) testing during the mobile app development process flow makes applications stable, functional, and secure. To ensure complete QA testing of your app, you must prepare test cases that address all characteristics of app testing.
Test cases are for executing test steps, recording testing results for software quality assessment, and tracking fixes for retesting. A best practice method is involving your QA team in the Analysis and Design phases. The understanding of your app’s functional requirements and purposes will help produce precise test cases.
Your app must go through the following testing procedures, to deliver a quality mobility solution.
User Experience Testing
The main stage in mobile app testing is to make sure that the final implementation matches the user experience. Visuals, workflow, and interactivity of your app are what will provide your end-users the first-hand impression of your app. Make sure that your app matches the original design guidelines.
The precision of your mobile app functionality is vital to its success. The functionality of your app should be tested by as many users as to cover possible testing conditions. The main purpose of functional testing is to make sure that users can use your app’s features and functionality without any issues.
There are many measurable criteria to use for evaluating the performance of your app.
- How well is your app reacting to the user requests?
- How fast is the app loading?
- Is your app draining the phone battery or producing memory leaks?
- Is the size of your app bigger than what it should be?
Even after passing the basic performance criteria, test the app, API, and backend for load by simulating the maximum number of users. Your app should be able to handle the load and execute well even when usage increases.
Security is of greatest concern for enterprise mobile apps. Any possible vulnerability can lead to a hack. Your QA and development teams can take a few simple procedures to make your app secured.
If your app wants users to log in, then log in sessions must be tracked on the device and the backend. User sessions should be terminated by the system when a user has stayed idle for a long time. If your app stores use credentials on the device to make it suitable for them to re-login, then you must ensure using a trusted service.
Device and Platform Testing
On average, every 12 months new mobile devices enter the market with new hardware, firmware, and design, and mobile operating systems are updated every few months. Your mobile app needs to be tested on multiple mobile devices or device simulators to ensure the seamless working of your app for all users. Having an inclusive mobile testing strategy is a must for delivering a quality mobile app.
Phase#6 Deployment and Support
Releasing a native mobile app involves submitting your app to the app stores, App Store for iOS apps, and Google Play Store for Android apps. You will need a developer account with Apple App Store and Google Play Store before launching your mobile app.
An app’s release in the app store requires preparing metadata which includes:
- Your App’s Title
- Launch icon
- App Store Screenshots
Once submitted in the App Store, iOS apps go through a review procedure which may take several weeks depending on the quality of your app and how thoroughly it follows Apple’s iOS development guidelines. If your app requires users to log in, then you will need to provide Apple with a test user account as part of the release process. However, there isn’t any review process with Android apps, and they become live in the app store within a few hours of submission.
After the app becomes available in the app stores, monitor its usage through mobile analytics platforms and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for evaluating your app’s success. Regularly check crash reports or other user-reported issues. Encourage users to provide your company with regular feedback and suggestions for your app. Quick support for end-users and regularly updating the app with improvements will be crucial to keeping users engaged. Unlike web apps where patch releases can be accessible to app users immediately, mobile app updates will have to go through the same submission and review process again. Moreover, with native mobile apps, you have to constantly stay on top of technology advancements and regularly update your app for new mobile devices and OS platforms.
The Mobile Application Development process can be quite devastating and tedious. However, it can be converted to be a tremendously rewarding process if done in the right manner. The process of Mobile Application Development is an ongoing practice and will carry on after the initial launch as you get user feedback and build additional functionality.
If you are planning to build a mobile app for your business, you can offshore a reputable and experienced mobile app development company which will not only help you to create an exclusively designed mobile app and will also ensure a successful launch of your app as well. Promotion of your app is also very important in this competitive digital world, you can execute an app marketing plan to drive app discovery, increase organic installs and increase user engagement, preferably by working with any renowned app marketing agency to reduce cost overheads.