Every day thousands of mobile apps are published on Google Play and Apple App Stores. With over 1.5 million apps each on both platforms, we can say mobile App development is increasing at a high speed. We’ll take you through the mobile app development process and show you how you can turn your idea into an app. But before we get into it, let’s answer the question “what are mobile apps”.
What are mobile apps?
According to Techopedia. A mobile application, most commonly referred to as an app, is an application software designed to run on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet computer. Mobile Apps help to provide solutions that people can easily access on their mobile devices for ease of access and optimized services.
Each app is unique and their functions are different but their development process is the same, and just like everything made, or created, the typical app development process starts with an Idea and ends with a deployment stage.
APP DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
This mobile app development process will definitely start from an idea and you want to make sure that your idea is workable. By workable we mean to let it solves a problem. When you are thinking of your app, think of things in terms of problems and potential solutions. An innovative Idea will yield a favourable result when turned into an app. Most times people are not sure if their app will be workable, but expert advice always clears that up.
RESEARCH AND STRATEGY STAGE
Next is to Refine that idea into a concept for an app. Make sure your initial research and analysis process includes actual demographics, motivations, behaviour patterns and goals of your user persona. Carrying out research is important in the app development process because you will most likely spend a lot of time and money in developing your app, so you need to confirm the validity of the app before starting the development process.
The first thing to do is to search for apps that are solving the same or similar problem with your app idea. And if they are apps similar to your idea, it not all bad, it means that your app will not be the first on the market, but you can see it as an opportunity to create a better app than your competitors. And it is done by identifying your competitors’ weaknesses and exploiting their weaknesses when building your app, also check the number of installs, reviews and company history of your competition. Also, you can also find out how those apps educated and brought new market segment to their product.
Next step is to understand the market space for your app, i.e. people who will pay to use your solution and then ask yourself some very important questions
- Do they need it?
- Is there a market you are targeting?
- Is my idea new or someone has already done it?
In developing your strategy the most important factor is the end user [never forget that], the end users should be the primary reason for developing your app, so center your market research and strategy on your end users
The most important stage of the strategy process is to develop an MVP for your app. MVP is the core value of your app, knowing what your app will become one day and what it needs for it to be successful, we do this by implementing a 5-day sprint called the Product Discovery Workshop. The Product Discovery workshop helps product owners understand their product in technical detail while giving them insight into the user flows and journey through the app, the User Interface and User Experience [UI/UX] which is critical for a successful app.
By the end of this stage, you would have gotten a good idea on how the customer will use the product and the first stage release of your app.
Wire-framing is a schematic or blueprint, (you won’t build a house without knowing what it would look like right?) well, that’s what wire-framing is, it is a visual guide that represents the structural framework of your app. It can be done by sketching your ideas, some people use whiteboards or pencil and paper at the initial stage because it is easier and cheaper to erase marks than rewrite code. [you don’t want to rewrite code, trust me].
TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY ASSESSMENT STAGE
App development is not just design and buttons, there are thousands of lines of code that have to be written to create an app. The back end of the app is the foundation on which the user experience will stand on, you should take this seriously. And that’s why we take the time to understand what every app project needs, and how we can apply our expertise to meet those technical needs, we start by engaging in a Project Planning meeting, where we analyze the best methods and technology required for the project, we get to decide based on research data available and the functionalities we are envisaging whether the app should build on Android or IOS.
You need to know if the back-end systems your developers have in place will support the app’s functionality, this means you must understand at least some technical details of the project or find a good app development agency or experienced developer to lead your team so you can know if your application is workable technically. You will definitely need to seek consultation from experts, and you can get one at Sprinthub mobile
Also, you need to know an app, depending on the device it’s meant for (smartphone, tablet, etc.) and the platform (iOS, Android, etc.), will have different requirements, it is important to know from the beginning what functionality isn’t workable. Brainstorm a little, ask questions for experts and review the results with what is obtainable in the industry.
This is where you bring your idea to reality through an interface that you and your users can experience and interact with the app. At this stage the user experience (UX) designer architects the interaction between design elements, while the user interface (UI) designer builds the look and feel of your app.
At sprinthub mobile, our team of expert designers and developers work together in providing user-centred designs for ease of functionality and navigation with an ease and an amazing experience for the user as the key focus throughout the design phase.
A mobile app prototype is a working and interactive model of the end product. It expresses the design and navigation of the app to maximize the efficiency of the development process. Prototypes help bring ideas to reality so that development teams and product owners can test, plan and direct the outcome of the final product.
When building a prototype, you must consider building a rapid prototype. A rapid prototype as the name implies is carrying out a prototype of your work quickly,
Building a rapid prototype for your app will give you a clear idea of how your app will work and how your users will interact with your app and do it in record time. So, build a prototype that gets the concept of your app into a user’s hands as quickly as possible to see how it works, and to get reviews on your app.
Use rough and simple wire-frames for this phase, this will help you see if you are taking things in the right direction, try as much as possible to include all your stakeholders in this process, allowing them to touch the prototype will give you feedback on the user experience level so you can implement it into your work. Here at Sprinthub mobile, we can build a rapid prototype in a 5-day sprint. And moreover, the prototype will give different stakeholders the first look at your app and will help you validate the information you’ve gathered which is also important in fundraising and investor engagement.
Once the design is completed, and a prototype is tested and reviewed to remove or add features, the development stage begins. However, if there is no proper integration of the design and the development process, it could affect the quality of the app. Most times this happens because product owners work with designers and developers separately, I highly recommend you stick with a full stack mobile development company or a full team of developers [if you can find them and get them to work together]
Although a working prototype that validates the functionality, and a solid technical assessment of the project will help the development process gain stability and cut out randomness, the development stage still goes through a set of stages.
In the initial stage, the developer develops and tests the core functionality which is the basic function of the app to check for bugs.
Much of the functionality proposed is present in the second stage. The app has ideally gone through a light testing phase, to check if the core functionality of the app is in place and bug fixing is done to a large extent on the app, though some issues could still come up at this stage.
Finally, the developer releases the app to a small group of external users for more testing and identify issues or bugs present in the app.
After the developer fixes the bugs, the app will move to the next phase called the deployment phase where it’s ready for release.
In mobile app development, it’s a good idea to carry out testing for your app early and often. Doing this will keep your issues solving at a minimal rather than risking total app failure. The farther into the development cycle you go, the most difficult and time consuming it becomes to fix bugs, and so at Sprinthub Mobile, we have developed a model for testing and fixing bugs in quickly in such a way that whatever does not work will not fit into the code reducing our error rate drastically. Our Quality Assurance Engineers have the skill set to spot errors early in the code base and propose fixes immediately, this helps us save time and resources so we can charge clients less than is obtainable in the general market.
There are different testing to consider at this stage.
- Functional Testing: the Quality Assurance engineer carry out test to ensure that the features work as described in the requirement
- Usability Testing: Testing to ensure the feature is user-friendly and not too complicated for users to use and comprehend, it is helpful to bring in a new user who is not part of the development process to carry out the testing
- Performance Testing: Your app might work perfectly but ensure that your app does not load for long periods of time or misbehave.
- Device specific testing: Because there are tens of thousands of devices and operating system combinations in the world, try out your app on numerous screen sizes and OS versions, there are also tools that can help automate this, such as Google’s Firebase.
- Fit and finish testing: The design phase does not just stop when you get to the development stage, Designers should review each feature and ensure that the developers carry out the vision of the designers as described in the design, another advantage of using a full stack mobile development company
- User acceptance testing: Testing performed by either the app owner or future app users, bring in people that will probably use your app, users you are building this app for and get lots of feedback throughout the process.
- Regression testing: Regression testing is the process of testing changes to software to make sure that the older programming still works with new changes because of future updates.
Application testing is vast, so make sure your team covers all the facets. The Quality Assurance engineer should also test the app for usability, compatibility, security, interface checks, stress, and performance.
Once your application passes the user acceptance test, you know your solution “works.” You should also make your app available for a beta trial, either through the enrollment of previously identified people or an open solicitation for participants.
The feedback you receive from beta users will help you find out if the app’s functions are operating well in the real world.
At this stage, your app is ready to be deployed. You can go formal and pick a date for the launch. Also, when launching your site, you should know the policies guiding the different application store(Google play store or IOS app store).
Once you have passed the deployment stage, it means that your app has been successfully launched on the app store and it is ready for users to download and use, but don’t rest yet, for this is not the end, it’s actually the beginning of creating a successful app, App development doesn’t end at the launch stage.
As your application gets in the hands of users, feedback will pour in, and you will need to incorporate that feedback into future upgrade versions of the app, this means you must have an upgrade/maintenance plan. Every app will need updates and new features. Typically, as soon as the first version of the app or the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is released, the development cycle begins anew. Make sure you have the resources to maintain your product, Apart from the money invested in building a digital product, keep in mind it’s a long-term commitment and you must be ready to follow through.
If you have any question or you need a Full-stack app development company to develop your app, you can book a call with us and we will get in touch with you.