The days of cell phones with buttons, small screens, and the sole capacity of making a call are long gone. Instead of phones, we could consider present-day smartphones as iPods, Internet cafés, TVs, cameras, and other technologies all compressed into these multi-purpose gadgets.
Our mobile phones’ speed and memory have increased, making it feasible to download many apps without having the smartphone’s functionalities suffer. Mobile apps became home to much of our daily activities, from paying bills to tracking periods.
Mobile applications are great solutions for businesses who wish to make their services readily available to their customers. Moreover, mobile apps are suitable across niches, user interests, and target audiences.
Thus, this article covers the key stages of the mobile application development process, step-by-step, from developing your idea to monitoring the app’s performance post-launch.
#1 Complete Product Discovery Phase
The initial stage in the app development process is product discovery.
Product discovery aims to reduce ambiguity in the development process and set the app-building procedure on the right track.
During this phase, you specify the objectives for your app, target audience, and must-have features, among others. Once done, your product discovery efforts should have answered the following questions:
- Is there a market for your app?
- Is the market big enough?
- Who is your target audience?
- How will the users use your app?
- How does your app help them solve their problem?
- Does your app offer something that users would be willing to pay for?
- What challenges the competitors’ solutions did not meet?
- What will your app do that others can’t?
- How will you monetize your app?
- What is your project budget?
- How will you market the app post-launch?
Collecting data on your market, competitors, and the intended audience will ensure you’re making data-driven decisions that will pay off once the app is launched.
#2 Hire a Reliable Mobile App Dev Agency
Unless you have an in-house team of mobile app developers, you’ll have to outsource your project.
While searching for the perfect agency to hire, make sure to do your homework thoroughly.
Check out the agency’s portfolio, find past customer references, and read through testimonials. Additionally, download some of the apps your top pick agencies have developed to examine the quality of their work.
Moreover, it’s wise – but not necessarily crucial – to collaborate with an app development company with relevant experience in building mobile apps for your industry or target user region.
So, if you’re developing an app for, let’s say, advertising homes for sale, you’ll want a company in the hub of your industry, doing mobile app development in Miami.
During the initial meetings, strive for open communication, and ask about the development process, the team who’ll be working on your projects, and cost predictions.
#3 Map Out Your Development Strategy
Now that you’ve signed the contract with your partner agency, it’s time to blueprint your mobile app development process.
Share your ideas and previous research regarding the app – whom it’s meant to serve, what problems it’s supposed to solve, and what features it should boast.
Your agency’s designers and developers should assist you along the route. The goal of the app strategizing phase is to identify the tech stack, platform, and features that will meet your requirements.
At this stage, you and your team will evaluate the app’s approximate cost and estimate whether the ideated monetization strategy will generate income for you.
For example, the choice of platform, Android vs. iOS, can significantly affect your app’s profits. Namely, with more than 80% of the market, Android is the most widely used platform for mobile apps. Yet, iOS users have greater purchasing power and make more in-app purchases on average than Android users.
Your team can also create a product roadmap to provide you with all the vital info, including the cost and completion dates for each development stage.
#4 Iterate Design Prototypes
The design process starts by focusing on the user experience.
Designers consider your app’s information architecture, the content it will include, and the best way to represent it to the target users. Moreover, the design team will integrate into the prototypes info on what user data will be collected, and what actions the users will be able to perform.
The key emphasis is to ensure high user engagement, full functionality, and intuitive user flow. Creating an intuitive user experience and making your app engaging and user-friendly are the main objectives of the UX/UI design phase.
Simultaneously with prototyping, designers will build a style manual or a design system. This document contains all the details on the overall appearance of your mobile app, such as typefaces, color schemes, animations, etc. Having these design points in a single place is vital for developing a consistent-looking mobile app with easily identifiable branding.
In the final phase of the design stage, your designers create mockups for individual app screens. From this point on, your mobile app development process moves to, well, development.
#5 Let the Professionals Code
Now it’s time for your developers to shine.
The majority of the work in the development phase is done by the agency, with very little assistance from you as their customer. Using the chosen technology stack, your dev team will code your app’s front-end and back-end, transforming ideas and sketches into a real-life app.
How long the development phase will last depends on the app’s complexity. Simpler apps may be finished in less than a month, but for larger, more complex features, development can take twice as long.
Your dev team should also work closely with the QAs. Performing quality assurance tests regularly throughout the development process can save you a lot of nerves, money, and time. Rather than addressing issues just before the launch, integrating quality assurance within the development is considered a wise, preventative approach to finding problems and product limits and solving them before the app is released.
#6 Perform In-Depth QA Testing
Quality assurance is one of the key stages of a successful mobile app development process.
QA testing guarantees that your product meets the quality and performs the functionalitiesas designed. During testing, QA professionals will evaluate your product’s overall user experience, software functionality, performance and stability, potential security concerns, etc.
Besides, the QA team carefully examines each action a user may perform, such as checking if all buttons are clickable or that all pages can load as intended.
Additionally, they will examine how well your mobile application works with various hardware and operating system configurations.
Most mobile app development agencies will allow you the opportunity to demo and test the app before it goes live in the app store. Before launch, your team will conduct final quality control checks, eliminate bugs, and make any necessary design modifications.
#7 Deploy, Maintain, and Optimize
Once your mobile app is ready to go onto the market, publish it on platforms such as Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
But don’t think the job is done – because you’re just getting started.
Your first task is to sit down with your development agency and make arrangements for all post-launch support on their side. This should include future upgrades, app maintenance, bug fixes, etc.
Then, it’s time to market your app among the relevant customer base. Monitor insights and measure the Key Performance Indicators to determine how well your application is performing.
Depending on your app’s idea, some of the KPIs to keep track of are:
- number of active users (daily, monthly)
- churn rate (the percentage of users canceling or deleting your app)
- number of sessions (daily, monthly)
- session time (how much time users spend in your app)
Last but not least, optimize your app’s presence on app stores to target your ideal consumers, rank for relevant, high-volume keywords, and appear at the top of user searches.
Optimize your app’s title and descriptions by integrating keywords you wish to rank for and upload engaging HQ screenshots and videos to spark user interest.