Are you working for an app development company or you are considering building a mobile app for your business? Mobile apps account for more than half the time people spend on digital media. If you want your company to cut an edge in the marketing and sales industry, then you should consider developing a few mobile apps. However, developing a successful app is not as easy as it sounds. It’s a process that requires extensive pre-planning, attention, patience and needs one to be extremely thorough with the basic concepts of app building. Would you want your mobile app to fit the market niche and your marketing goals perfectly? If you want to make it in such a way that it will stand out in function, in design, in use and attract the customers’ attention, then understanding the mobile app development process is unavoidable.
Mobile app development lifecycle
1. Research and pre-planning the app
Are you aware that preplanning is the most critical phase in mobile app development? A lot of time goes into researching your market niche as well as that of your competitors. You need to establish whether;
- The app you want to develop already exists in the market or not. If it doesn’t, how you can make it.
- You need to define the target market and how the app will benefit them.
- The features the app will have, the problems it will solve and the target market.
- You need to establish the app’s overall development budget and time.
- The platform that will benefit from the app and how you would like the customers to use the app
- Competitor’s apps and the features they have.
- Marketing strategies
Put together your app development team in order to brainstorm together and carry out a substantial research. Ensure that you lay down the necessary ground work for the next phases.
2. Mental prototyping
In order to discover how your app will evolve, you need to define the concept of your app in visual terms. This is the first visual representation of the ideas you collected during phase 1 and doing that will help uncover usability issues. You need to;
- Determine the feasibility of the app idea along with the developing cost and time estimates.
- Prepare a detailed scope of work.
- Do a mental prototyping and draw the ideas of the app in the form of sketches on a whiteboard.
- Take the feedback of a few people to get a perspective of their view of the idea.
This stage will help you figure out the loopholes in the idea early enough allowing you to look for a solution to tackle them before progressing. Remember, imagination breeds innovation.
3. Assess the technical feasibility of the idea
At this phase, you need to analyze and ensure that the backend systems will support the app’s functionality. To assess whether your app is technically feasible, you need to;
- Access public data by sourcing public APIs or building your own abstract layer.
- You need to determine the devices and platforms such as Windows, Android, iOS that you are building your App for or where you want your app to run on. This is because building an app shall have different requirements depending on its platform or its format.
- Refine the definition of the project and develop a go-to marketing strategy.
4. Create and test your prototype
At this phase, you need to define the touch and know how it works by creating a prototype using common use cases in order to see how the app works. To test your prototype you need;
- Build an interactive wireframe using basic prototyping tools that will give you an opportunity to evaluate design concepts and gather feedback.
- Test and evaluate your prototype by asking for honest opinion from random people in relation to ease of use and the overall functionality.
- Allow stakeholders to touch the prototype and provide feedback that you can implement into your work.
This phase will help you evaluate whether things are going in the right direction and enable you to make the necessary corrections. Your goal should be to finalize the app design concept and create a high fidelity prototype that will guide you through the actual app development process.
5. Design and develop the mobile app
Before coding, one must design the App. At this stage, you need a user interface (UI) designer who will create the look and feel of your app and a user experience (UX) designer who will create the interaction architecture of the design elements of your app. This phase involves a number of multiple steps, processes and reviews that are wrapped up with an end-result. It includes a visual direction that informs the developers of the intended final product. At this step you need to;
- Set up developer accounts for the app stores that you plan to use to distribute your app.
- Read through the app store guidelines in order to keep your app safe from getting rejected during the review process.
6. Develop the app
Now it’s time to build the app since the app design is ready. At this point, you need to test your app in a number of real-world scenarios in order to correct any technical flaws. Chose an agile methodology as the development approach since it;
- Provides transparency and collaboration
- Allows you to make changes
- Adds new features
- Evolves with changing trends
- Has rapid iteration benefits that are needed for adapting to change.
Test every feature keenly by evaluating planning documents and original design documents. Once you are confident that your app is working correctly in all scenarios and that you are pleased with the usability of the interface and the appearance you can proceed to the next step.
7. Test the mobile app
Congratulations for building your Mobile App successfully! Now it’s time to test it. You can test it through;
- Asking some of your target audience to test it and provide feedback or approval to help you see if your solution works – UAT testing
- Making your App available for beta users to test it through solicitation for participants or through enrollment of groups that you identified previously – Beta testing
The feedback you get from the users will help you figure out whether your app operates well or not.
8. Launch your app
It’s time to launch your mobile app now. Once your have developed your app successfully, you can submit it to App stores for approval. The launching process depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. However, you can launch it by creating some buzz using attractive articles or write-ups.
Are you confident that you can develop your mobile app now? By following the outlined steps, you will get a clear understanding of the things you are required to do in order to develop a successful app. However, you should note that the app development cycle doesn’t end at the launching stage. Every app requires regular updating and adding of new features with time. The mobile app development process is continuous. Stay informed!