How to Develop a Mobile App: A Step-by-Step Guide
While an online presence is an important part of successful business development for many companies today, it’s easy for a brand to get lost among a huge number of competitors.
Therefore, companies search for viable ways to make their brand more noticeable and attractive to current and potential customers. One of the options is to build a custom mobile application.
Custom-developed mobile solutions help businesses provide a more personalized user experience, retain existing customers, and make the brand image more consistent and understandable.
However, if a company has no clear vision of how its mobile app should look and what services it should provide, the development might result in the app inefficiency and waste of money and resources.
In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to start developing a mobile application in an effective and efficient manner.
Every software development process starts with an app idea. Most of the time, when businesses consider creating a custom mobile solution, they already have some vision of how the app should look and what operations it should perform.
Before meeting a mobile development team, it’s a good idea to outline the main product concepts. This will help make the product idea more precise, and it’ll be much easier to present it to the development team.
Here are some points to focus on:
- Mobile app objective. It helps companies decide what they need the mobile solution for and how it’s going to improve their workflow processes. This can include improving customer service, streamlining inner business operations, enhancing supplier search and management, and much more.
- Target audience. The next important question to answer is who the potential users of the digital solution are. They can be in-house staff, retail customers, B2B clients, and many others.
- Mobile app features. Mobile features are super-important as they determine the app’s functionality, its budget, and the resources required to build an app.
Market research is closely related to outlining the project idea. Therefore, it’s worth starting to do it before making an appointment with the development team.
At this stage, businesses investigate if their mobile app will be in demand in the market and what their competitors offer. For this, businesses can:
- Profoundly research the global market and its current offerings to determine the mobile app solutions similar to the developed one
- Explore how the developed product differs from its competitors, what target-audience needs it covers better, and what its general value for the market is
Market research isn’t a one-time activity. It can be performed during the app development process and after the requested solution is created. For example, while the mobile app is being developed, the company can request to quickly build the MVP product and test the target audience’s responses. Or it can perform a SWOT analysis of its competitors’ digital solutions in the post-production time to better understand how to improve the existing app and what features to add.
In an effort to create the most competitive and performant mobile apps, some businesses may go too far with the features they want to add.
While every new feature increases the development cost, it doesn’t mean it’ll improve the app’s efficiency.
To define what features are essential to the app and which ones can be added in the last turn, many companies often start with developing a Minium Viable Product (MVP).
An MVP represents a basic form of the digital product with the most important functions that can be quickly released to the market.
By presenting the product to the end-users at early development stages, businesses can gather valuable feedback from their customers.
As a result, they can quickly implement the app improvements and better adjust the developed solution to the user requirements.
Here are some questions that can help better choose the basic features for an MVP:
- What business goals will it help you reach?
- What will be your mobile app functionality?
- Who will use your app: a regular user, administrator, or tech support?
- Why should people want to use your app?
- Who will be your target audience?
Prototyping is an integral part of the app development process when designers and stakeholders create mock-ups and wireframes to show how a future app should function and look.
This adds more clarity to mobile app design and shows how the app screens are connected to each other. Also, with prototypes, it’s easy to understand if the app navigation is simple and intuitive to use and if the user flow is clear and logically built.
When creating prototypes, designers pay much attention to the app aesthetics and select the latest color palettes, design elements, and much more.
When it comes to mobile app UI/UX design, there are some general rules designers follow to make a mobile app consistent and smooth.
iOS or Android?
The selection of the platform where the built solution will run on is also an important point that should be considered at the very start of mobile app development.
That’s because the platform determines the development stack of tools and programming languages the app will be created with.
The two main platforms for mobile app development are iOS and Android. Both deserve companies’ attention as they attract different categories of users.
Here are some quick facts about the iOS and Android platforms that should be considered:
- Android. A dominating platform in the market with over 3 bln active users. The main benefits of the Android app development market are smartphones at any price, more customization options, an up-to-date file system, 100+ available languages, monthly security updates, etc. Android development stack usually includes such tools and programming languages as Android Studio, Android Debug Bridge, Eclipse, Native Development Kit, Java, Kotlin, Python, C/C++, and many others.
- iOS. iOS is the second most popular mobile platform that has over 1 bln users worldwide. The iOS app market is more quality-driven, it has better retail support, its apps have no bloatware, it offers biometric authentication, and more. The main iOS development tools and programming languages include Xcode, AppCode, CocoaPods, Transporter, Swift, and others.
Native or Hybrid?
When a company considers building a mobile app for two platforms – Android and iOS, it has to decide which software development approach to opt for – Native or Hybrid.
Both approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages and will determine further app development and maintenance.
The key difference between a native and a hybrid app is in the languages they are built with, the budget, and the purpose of the project.
Native apps are considered to be faster and more reliable when it comes to UX.
Hybrid apps are beneficial in terms of providing a single code base, cost, and time efficiency.
Mobile app development always requires substantial investments. If a developed solution can produce some income, it will help companies recover their costs faster.
Therefore, businesses should decide what monetization options are better to include into their mobile apps.
There are several monetization options to choose from:
- Freemium apps (free to download, but advanced features require purchasing);
- Premium apps (imply purchasing the app from the store);
- In-app purchases or ads;
- Sponsorships (this option becomes possible once you reach a particular user base volume).
The mobile app launch is a critical period during which a real test of the final product’s success happens. Therefore, it’s highly important to prepare the ground for the app’s smooth release.
At this stage, companies can try to attract as much audience as possible before the app launch.
For example, they can create an official app page and keep providing some information about app features, planned updates, previews, design solutions, etc. This will help collect user feedback, learn what features their users don’t really need, and do some redesign in case some features are confusing.
Also, it’s important to remember that the majority of mobile apps are found through organic search. This way, businesses can pre-plan their app store optimization: provide an app description, keywords, screenshots, and a preview video. All these steps will help launch the product to the market without a hitch.
Building a custom mobile app is an effective way for businesses to make their brand stand out among competitors, reach wider audiences, and increase their revenue and market share.
On the other hand, the app development process requires much investment, resources, time, and expertise. Therefore, companies should carefully plan the development steps to ensure their mobile app’s success from the start and avoid any unforeseen expenses.
If you’re also planning to develop a custom mobile solution, we hope this article will help you better prepare for the interview with your development team.
Meanwhile, if you are still searching for mobile software developers then consider the mobile development specialists from Scand.
Our mobile app developers have over 20 years of experience in building various projects for iOS and Android mobile platforms as well as cross-platform solutions of different complexity.