How to Build an App: The Process Behind App Development
With the rapid growth of digitisation and smartphone usage, and the ever-changing consumer behaviour, businesses need to invest in mobile strategy. Mobile apps provide businesses with the opportunity to engage their customers, grow revenue and build assets.
App development can be an extremely challenging and lengthy process that, at times, involve too many functions for one person to complete effectively.The bottom line is, it’s hard to make a good app.Click To Tweet The best approach when building an app is to employ a professional app development team or firm who showcase a range of expertise. When choosing a developer firm, it is important to consider their reputation, reviews and portfolio. But bear in mind, when it comes to app development cheaper is not always better, and this is generally reflected in the quality of the app.
So what goes into building a successful app? When working with an external development team, it is important to understand what is involved in the app building process. Outlined below are 8 key stages of app development.
Stage 1: Pre-Development
First and foremost, before beginning the development process, it is important to have:
- An understanding of your target market,
- Early stage wireframes that demonstrate the visual architecture of your app, and
- A dedicated project budget.
A recent survey by Clutch revealed that the cost of mobile app development ranges between $30,000 to $700,000, with a calculated median cost of $171,450. If budget is a concern, it may be worthwhile looking into an app development platform rather than a custom development approach.
It is imperative that you conduct extensive research and competitor analysis before beginning the development process. If apps with a similar idea already exist, what do they lack? Make sure to read competitor reviews; what do users like/dislike about the apps? This information is extremely useful for finding a gap in the marketplace and creating an advantage.
Before entering the next stage, make sure the following questions have been considered:
- What exactly do you want your app to do?
- How are you going to make your app appeal to users?
- What problem is the app going to solve?
It is recommended to start small when developing an app; what are the minimum requirements to test and prove the concept in the market? Once the first version of the app is developed and launched, you can create new app features and updates based on user feedback.
Stage 2: Project Scoping
During the early stages, it is important to conduct several consultations with the development team in order to properly scope the project and outline expectations. This stage of the process will also help determine whether the project is charged on a time-based model or for a flat fee. If the project is charged on a time-based model, it is extremely important to have clear deliverables outlined from the start.
Stage 3: Wireframing
Wireframing refers to the visual architecture of the app; what will go on each page and how it all links together. Wireframing is a crucial step for visualising and defining the scope of an app and its functionality. This app ‘blueprint’ allows the development team to understand and interpret what you are after.
Stage 4: Design
The design process begins once wireframing is complete. Designing the user interface is crucial for engaging and navigating app users. During this stage, interactive app mockups are created to demonstrate what the app will look like and how it will function. This is where important design elements such as logos, colours, styling and fonts will be fleshed out. At this point, your app should be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It is important to seek feedback during this stage on the app’s appearance and usability.
Stage 5: Development
The development team will now set up the back-end of the app. It is important to stay well-informed of any progress during this stage. Any iterations made can increase project costs, so regular communication is essential to manage this.
Another effective way to mitigate risk during app development is to utilise an app development platform; where apps are created using predefined modules, minimising project costs (both financial and time).
Stage 6: Beta Testing
After development, it is important to test the app for functionality, performance and optimisation. Once a version of the app is completed, beta testing (or user testing) can commence. This is a crucial element of app development, therefore it is important to check that any contract with a development team includes beta testing.
During this stage, the app is examined under various conditions to ensure it is bug-free and that users are comfortable with the interface. Android beta testing is a somewhat simple process, the app file is uploaded onto any android device and tested live. iOS, on the other hand, prefers to test in a controlled environment. Consequently, iOS requires the use of the platform TestFlight in order to test the app.
Stage 7: App Launch
The app is finally finished, tested and ready to launch! It is important to understand that publishing an app to the marketplace is a process that may take a couple of weeks. This is due to the fact that each iOS app is manually reviewed before the app can go live. Apple may also request changes to the app during this time. On the other hand, apps can be added to the Android Google Play store instantly and might not be reviewed straight away.
However, in order to publish and sell the app, developer accounts will need to be created for the respective app marketplace(s). These accounts can be registered as an individual or company, and are charged as a yearly fee.
Stage 8: Post-Launch
After launching the app, it is important to gather user feedback. This will help guide any future app updates, as well as ensuring app functionality and usability.
It is also important to utilise analytics in order to track app performance. Inbuilt app analytics allows businesses to track downloads, user engagement and retention. This usage behaviour will help provide insight into how to improve the app and enhance the user experience.
Have you found the right app development platform to execute your mobile strategy?
At Liquid State, we understand the importance of implementing enterprise mobile app software as a part of corporate strategy. Our platform empowers businesses to build code-free, native cross-platform apps for a variety of business functions. To find out what Liquid State can do for your business, get in touch with us today.