The ultimate guide to mobile app development

The popularity of mobile apps keeps on growing every day: they give the opportunity to order food and clothes, buy tickets and do many other things in a matter of seconds. This is what people really want: to be able to save time while doing their conventional daily activities.
NCR Commerce PlatformNow, there are more than 6.3 billion smartphone users in the world and each of these users wants to have convenient and up-to-date apps in their gadgets. Moreover, it’s predicted that, by 2023, mobile apps will generate over $935 billion in revenue. This way, there are no reasons to be afraid of launching your app development process: you can be sure that a convenient and easy-to-use app will be relevant for at least the next several years.

This article is aimed to answer the key questions towards the mobile app development process. So, if you don’t know where to start, we are here to help.

App Development Stages

Step 1. Idea and research.

According to TechJury, the average smartphone owner uses 10 apps per day and 30 apps each month. Clearly, if you want to succeed, you need to come up with an idea that will include your app on the list of frequently used apps. That is why your idea must be well developed.

Any project should be started with the detailed research of the market, target audience, and competitors. The better the research, the fewer problems you will face in the future. You should also clearly define the goals you want to achieve. After this, you will be able to create a visual model of your project: mindmap, scheme, etc.

Step 2. Monetization

The way of the app’s monetization should be defined at the stage of planning. There are such types of monetization:

  1. The customers are able to use your app for free, but, in return, you show them ads from advertisers. This is the best way if you don’t know yet whether the users are ready to pay for your app’s functions.
  2. Pay for features. In addition to the main functions of your mobile app, you can also implement some additional features that will be available only on a paid basis. For example, access to a new location in the game, hide advertising, etc.
  1. Pay to download. If your app provides unique and outstanding features, you can easily ensure your users pay for downloading them. Most frequently, the developers of image and video editors use this approach: the users are willing to pay for unique fonts, frames, filters, etc.
  1. Online shopping. People pay for real (clothes, products) and virtual (game characters, in-game currency) goods.
  1. Pay for subscription. After getting acquainted with pay-free functions, the users may want to pay for more advanced features or additional content. This approach is frequently used by services that offer podcasts and media materials.
  1. A user receives bonuses for a certain activity like, for example, watching a video or completing a survey. This way, the advertiser gets an opportunity to spread his/her brand among a wider audience while the users get rewards.

Step 3. Promotion

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, even the most promising project is doomed to fail. That is why you should think about promotion during the planning stage. Besides, if you take care of the promotion at the beginning, you will get a base of potential customers before the app will be released.

Fortunately, there are many ways to promote a mobile app: target advertising, social media, blogs, affiliate programs, etc. To find the way that will work best for your app, create the customer portrait (behavior, needs and other characteristics that characterize the vast majority of your potential customers), study the promotion ways used by your competitors, create your own strategy, and change it depending on the circumstances.

Step 4. Documentation  

So, when you clearly realize all the aspects of your future app, you have everything to create  documentation that will help you find a dedicated team of developers and begin the development process. As usual, it includes such points:

  • Goals of your project.
  • The usefulness of your app; what problems can users solve after they download your app?
  • Core features.
  • Technical requirements for interface, performance, security.
  • UX and UI design peculiarities.
  • Stages of app development.
  • Budget
  • Deadlines

Of course, these points may vary greatly depending on the type of your app and your personal preferences. The detailed description of the app’s functionality, interface, and design will help the developers and designers understand your needs and wishes. By the way, some software development companies offer their help with planning and documentation.

Anyway, as you have the documentation with all the requirements to your future app done, you can start looking for the development team that will bring your project to life.

Step 5. Dedicated development team

At this stage, you need to organize the development process. As usual, the team involved in mobile app development, consists of project manager, developers, UX\UI designer, and a tester.

There are several ways to find a development team. For instance, you can resort to app development outsourcing. You can outsource the whole project or some tasks (prototype development, for example).

However, the most reliable and effective way is to entrust your project to an in-house team or software development company. In this case, the team of skilled developers with broad experience in app development will be interested in your success. In addition, you won’t have to build a team from scratch and will eliminate the possibility of delays. You will also be able to participate in the app development lifecycle and control it.

Step 6. Design and prototype

According to research conducted by eMarketer, “US adults spend more than 4 hours with mobile internet, with 88% of that time within apps”. That is why the convenience of the app’s user interface is of primary importance.

The prototype allows you to see basic logic, structure and functionality of your app. This is not a ready-made product that can be sent to the market, but a comprehensive model that gives you a clear understanding of how your future app will look like.

The UX/UI designer builds the logic of interaction between the pages, screens, data, and other elements, creates the appearance of the future service in accordance with your requirements: selects a color scheme, fonts, draws icons, buttons, push notifications, sliders, etc. After the design has been approved, the developers add basic functionality. As usual, the prototype consists of a few screens. It will work as a base for a full-fledged product and will allow you to detect issues and fix them at the initial stage to improve the user experience.

Step 7. Development

This is the most difficult part of the mobile app development process. It incorporates coding and app architecture development. The developers must know the concept of the project and participate in all processes in order to realize the wishes of the customers. The development process consists of back-end and front-end development.

The front-end developers create a thoughtful client interface and build the platform logic. Back-end developers create a server for storing and exchanging information. They also choose a programming language and hosting for the server and API, and build a database management system.

Depending on your goals and expectations, the development can be implemented in two ways:

  • A separate application is developed for each mobile platform. This method is costly, but reliable: your app’s interface will be convenient, responsive, and user-friendly.

Usually, people choose from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Currently, there are 1.96 million apps available for download in the Apple App Store and more than 2.56 million apps available through the Google Play Store. Apple users have better solvency while Android apps usually reach a larger audience.

  • Cross-platform. Developers use universal code for all platforms, but the operating system still runs it as native. This is the best option in terms of price-to-quality ratio.

Step 8. Testing

After all the development phases are finished, you should test the product before you launch it. Of course, the testing should be carried out after each stage of the development process, but the ready-made product should be thoroughly tested as well: it’s necessary to fix all the remaining bugs before they can be detected by the end users.

Step 9. Upgrades and technical support

After the app’s launch, you will be able to find out which sections are the most popular and which are not very popular, what features can be improved, etc. Carefully study and process all incoming data: it will help refine the application and remove unnecessary functions.

All these will allow you to attract more customers. You should also remember that an app without improvements and constant technical support has no chance to survive on the modern market.

Bottom Line

If you succeed with all the application development steps, nothing will prevent your app from being profitable and popular. Just make sure to create a detailed plan and try to fix all the possible issues on the initial steps.