Every day, thousands of mobile apps appear on Google Play and the Apple App Store. Social networks, instant messengers, games, and many others – are all made by professionals using the same development algorithm. And today, we will break it down into understandable steps to show you the inner workings of mobile development. It includes six stages: idea formation, strategy development, design work, development itself, market-entry, and situation monitoring.
As trivial as it may sound, a good app starts with a good idea. If you do not have it, think about the problems in the world and possible ways to solve them. Iterate until you find a suitable gap in the market, and then look for the best way to fill it. This is half the battle.
The key to the answer may be understanding why this problem exists, and there is still no application to solve it. Dive into the topic, gather data, and discuss it with the team. And, if you have enough development resources, get down to business.
The customer, as a rule, has an idea for a product and a vision of what functions it contains, what tasks it solves and who will be in demand. However, this is not enough to get started; a comprehensive analysis of the potential of the application is needed, followed by the systematization of the data.
Primary information for idea formation:
- Segment the target audience;
- Identify popular models of user interaction with similar services;
- Study the competitiveness of the product;
- Formulate a unique selling proposition;
- Build hypotheses that explain the motives of the behavior of visitors;
- Form criteria for a minimum viable product.
Collecting and systematizing information that precedes the development process is a critical stage. High-quality product analytics greatly facilitates the product’s adaptation to the target audience’s needs, ultimately reducing the cost and time spent implementing a mobile application.
The next step after the birth of the idea is to draw up a plan for working on the project. It is easiest to start with a competitor analysis. Find similar mobile apps in the market and analyze the following factors:
- Several downloads – if the application is downloaded, someone needs it.
- Ratings and reviews will help to foresee weaknesses and adapt the characteristics that users like to fit your product.
Analysis of competitors
Be prepared to face the same challenges as your closest competitors. At the same time, try to understand how they won the audience’s recognition.
Thanks to the analysis of competitors, you kill two birds with one stone. First, learn from the mistakes of others, and for free, without spending too much time and feeling your inferiority. Secondly, you understand what you must do to survive in the mobile development market. What exactly does the user want to see on their smartphone? Is there a free niche for your application? The answers to these questions will help you balance your capabilities and the market’s needs. Well, if your idea is so unique that there are no similar applications in nature yet, see how pioneering developers from other fields presented themselves to the audience.
If you are not developing mobile applications solely for fun, then you are probably interested in getting a good profit from the product. In-app purchases, paying for a subscription or premium version, placing ads, and selling data- these monetization methods can be used even if you are not distributing the application for free. To choose the best option, look at your competitors’ earnings and decide when you will start monetizing. If you wake up too late, you risk falling into difficult times.
This stage of mobile development is connected with understanding any developer’s main challenge. You will have to promote your application to get people to know about it and start using it. Hundreds of high-quality mobile applications gather dust on virtual shelves because their developers did not have a marketing strategy or budget for their implementation. And only B2B applications made for internal use by customer company employees can do without it.
Product roadmap and MVP
The strategic planning phase concludes with a roadmap for your mobile app that captures its ideal path from the minimum viable product (MVP) to the top of the store. Please make a list of milestones and prioritize them according to your priorities. Consider the application’s functionality, the audience’s possible wishes, and the following updates from them. But you will think about them when you get feedback from the first users of MVP. For now, you can focus on other things.
The internal architecture depends on the functionality of the mobile application and the chosen method of processing and storing data. Usually, we make two lists – the characteristics that the application should have and the key visual elements. They become the foundation for all future architectural work.
Then we draw screens on a board or paper and place the necessary elements and data on them. Even though the same part can appear on multiple screens, it must have a “home.” At this stage, any changes can be made to the project.
They define how the user interacts with the application. Consider all the options of his behavior to understand how many touches he will need to complete a particular action, and the number of these touches should be proportional to the complexity of the action. If it turns out that the interface is not intuitive for the user, you have to return to the previous step and change the wireframes. At the same time, after any change, all user scripts are rechecked in case we, having simplified one action, have complicated another.
The easiest way to test how good is your design is to try it on future users. Send them a link after clicking on which they can “poke” the rendered wireframes. We are not talking about functionality, only about checking navigation. Listen to the comments, go back one or two or three steps, fix the problem, and test. Again and again.
Style guides are building materials for finishing the “interior” of a mobile application and increasing its usability. Without a well-thought-out style guide, design elements will change colors and float across the screen, confusing the user. The mobile app style guide should be as detailed as possible and based on the audience’s characteristics.
Rendering is the process of drawing wireframes digitally according to a style guide. The designer must adhere to the guidelines but not follow them blindly. Only in this way the visual component of the mobile application will look holistic.
Take the time to send your digitally rendered screens to the same users you sent the wireframes to. This is a tipping point, after which any changes become incredibly costly.
It’s time to involve developers who qualitatively implement a well-thought-out and repeatedly tested design. What can go wrong? For example, you ordered a plan from one company and development from another. Or they have an internal split. Therefore, we recommend working with a professional team that deals with mobile development from idea to result.
We recommend the company Passion4Tech for reliable and well-working web software and mobile apps. It takes full responsibility from planning to designing, testing, and deploying its products. Passion4Tech offers the fulfillment of all aspects of the web software and mobile app development process.
- Web Software Development
- Mobile App Development
- UX/UI & Graphic Design
- Dev Ops
- Quality Assurance & Testing
- Product and Project Integration Management
You can find more information here: https://passion4.tech/web-software-mobile-app-development/.
Let’s go back to the development of mobile apps. This process consists of several stages.
To plan a sprint, list tasks with specific criteria for evaluating the result. This will help developers estimate the time spent on each of them and evenly distribute responsibilities within the team.
Development of the app
At the development stage, the team brings to life the ideas of designers and their own. The QA team (quality control department) or the project manager checks the result. The latter also distributes tasks among the developers, ensuring that the team is evenly loaded throughout the sprint.
Developers must clearly understand the concept of the application and its distinctive features. Nothing motivates like ambitious goals, but one must not forget about reality in pursuing them. You may have to come to terms with the fact that some functions will remain unrealized.
Application developers should not test the application.
The type of testing is chosen based on the tested characteristic of the application:
- Functionality – must correspond to the declared. It’s good if the contractor has a QA team and a test plan with a list of all the features of the application and its desired behavior. But if there is none, you need to take care of it and hire specially trained specialists. Usability – the interface of a mobile application should be intuitive and friendly. Problems with these qualities will be best told to you by those who see the product for the first time.
- Performance – no one will use an application that loads the home screen for more than 10 seconds. And although performance is usually tested at a later stage of development, response time should be monitored now.
- Design – here, the designers will have to get back to work and ensure that the developers implement every detail of the visual style by the style guide. By the way, this is another good reason to work with companies engaged in development and design.
- Regression Testing – used to check the already tested code for errors fixed earlier or resulting from these corrections. Here the QA team comes to the rescue with checklists of changes made to the code in each sprint.
- Platform Testing – There are countless combinations of mobile devices and operating systems installed on them. See how the application works on smartphones with different screen sizes and resolutions and run it on various OS versions.
- User Acceptance Testing – Conducted by future application users and shows if the product is ready to market. Gather feedback and prepare to launch only if your app has passed all previous reviews with flying colors.
At the end of each sprint, discuss the results with stakeholders. Learn from the difficulties you have encountered and try to avoid them again. Mark successful solutions and use them in the future. There can’t be two similar projects, so developers are constantly upgrading their skills, including project planning skills.
Before presenting your mobile application to the world, take care of two things: a reliable API server and compliance with the rules of the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Most mobile applications need a backend server that communicates with them. If the server is overloaded or not responding, the application will not work. The good news is that thanks to cloud technologies, the server configuration can be changed depending on the size of the user base.
Publishing an app on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store is time-consuming. You will have to make sure that the application meets the requirements of the store, fill out several forms for each of them, prepare screenshots and marketing materials, write description text … and Apple will also carefully review the application itself for several days and may even require changes, but also refuse to publish because of the “meaninglessness” of the application. No, we do not exclude the possibility that the store will accept your application without any questions, and in a few days, it will be available for download. We warn of possible difficulties with a probability of 99%.
The development of a mobile application does not end with its publication in the stores. Even moderately popular apps have a history of updates behind them. There are plenty of reasons for bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features. Monitoring the following aspects will help you choose the right one for you.
There are quite a few libraries for tracking app crashes. They store information about what the user did during the boom, what device it happened on, and much more – in general, everything that will help developers solve the problem. In addition, the function of sending a crash report can be built into the application itself. You have to sort them.
Modern mobile application analytics systems collect information about the audience of your application (distribution of users by gender, age, location, language, etc.) and the characteristics of interaction with it (the time the application was entered, the time spent in the application, the number of screens viewed, etc. .). Some even create heat maps that show which buttons users click the most. Use this data as a guide for the future: invest in refining those areas where the concentration of audience actions is the highest.
The two previous methods cannot measure this indicator, but it is necessary to monitor it. How often this or that action happened and how long it lasted are questions that will help optimize the application. This is a red flag if the most straightforward action takes longer than expected.
Store ratings and reviews are critical, especially for new apps. Always respond to commenters: thanks for the kind words, and try to help those who have difficulties using your application.
The purpose of monitoring is to understand what to do next. Use statistics and feedback to identify shortages and remove them.