As our globalized world continues to become more reliant on mobile technology and emerging technologies, it seems as if everyone has an idea that they believe could make the world better. Sometimes better means faster, smarter, or more efficient. However, how many of us truly know what goes into the mobile app development process?

With millions of apps in the Google Play and App Store, it can seem daunting when considering creating your own app. “How will I be able to compete?” you might be asking yourself. With the mobile app development industry continuing to grow, it can at times seem intimidating. But, with the right tools, the barriers to entry might be lower than you think.

In this article, we are going to walk you through the mobile app development process. Hopefully, with a few pro-tips, by the time you are developing your own app, the process will seem simple and easy.

The Process

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First off, developing a good mobile app is not simple or easy. On average, this process can take anywhere from 4-6 months and cost thousands of dollars. In order to make sure you don’t find yourself with a half-built app and a lighter wallet in 6 months, the first thing you need to do is define your goals for your app.

Define your goals

Before you set your fingers to a keyboard and start writing the code for your app, you first need to ask yourself a few questions:

  •      What problem (or problems) will your app solve for your customers?
  •      Which features will it include?
  •      What is your app’s core appeal?

Oftentimes, the amount of features you will be able to include depend upon your budget, so keep that in consideration. Only once you are able to answer these questions in a clear, defined manner are you ready to dive into the mobile app development process.

Wireframing

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Whether you plan to outsource app development or work in house, wireframing your app can be done painlessly with a selection of different tools. At this point, all you are hoping to do is create a solid picture of what your app is going to look like. Use this time to do a couple of things:

  •      Look for opportunities to promote and incorporate your brand.
  •      Focus on the user experience.

By laying out these goals from the very beginning, your end-product will be that much more functional when finished. Also keep in mind and consider the differences in the way people use mobile apps vs. mobile websites.

Back-End Development

Now that you have clearly defined goals and an outline of your mobile app, you are going to focus now on the back-end. This part of the process can be confusing and even turn some off to the app development process in general.

This is a word of encouragement: you can do this! If you don’t have much technical experience, don’t worry about it. We are going to walk you through the entire process and help you understand why you are taking each of the steps along the way.

Define the back-end structure

While wireframing and storyboarding are good for a general outline of your back-end structure, there is more to it than that. They can tell you things you need in your app such as APIs, data diagrams, servers, data integration, and push notifications. But, they often can leave you wanting.

A common way around this that some choose to employ is what is called BaaS (back-end as a service). By using a BaaS service, you are able to overcome the scalability challenges you might have come up against without relying on in-house talent. If you need help finding the right BaaS, check out this article here.

Management of users

Create user authentication early on in the process so that you can manage user accounts. By managing your users, you are able to create for their needs. This will help in future development along with data collecting.

Server side logic

Developing server side logic is a vital step in any mobile app development process. After choosing from multiple different coding languages, start working on writing your code in a way that will work on the server and not the client.

Customization of user experience

For this next step, work with your designers and developers to map out the entire user experience. Before you start working on the front end of things, you should know exactly how the user will interact with your mobile app.

By working on this in the back end, your job when it comes to perfecting the UI and UX later will be much easier. For some ideas on the best in UX/UI, check out this article.

Data integration

Next, work with your team on data integration. By allowing users to incorporate and share from your app to their social media sites, you can spread the word of your app and add functionality.

Push notification services

If the goals for your app can be met through push notification services, definitely include them! Even if it is an alternative option for other functions, including a push notification option helps users decide how they want to interact with your app.

However, one word of advice: try not to use push notifications unnecessarily. Users can be turned off by this. Allow for an opt-in selection for those who might want it.

Front-End Development

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Now that you have laid the groundwork with your back-end development, it’s time for the front-end portion of the mobile app development process. The front end is what users will actually be working with in the app so keeping the user in mind throughout this process is vital to success.

Also take into consideration how each of these areas will affect speed, usability, and functionality. Let’s start first with speed.

Caching and synchronization of data

By creating services that store user data, you are able to improve both the speed and performance of your app. Along with that, by synchronizing user data across platforms, your users can access the app offline and keep up with what they were doing.

While this might seem simple, designers who don’t take into account users without easy access to internet services or wifi are missing out on opportunities to serve these clients.

Mock-ups

Even if you already have a good idea of what your app is going to look like from wireframing, it doesn’t hurt to create mock-ups of what the app will actually look like for users. Mock-ups can clear up the picture of what your app will look like and address any design concerns before distribution.

UI design and improvements

Once you have gone through the mock-ups and wireframes, you need to focus on the user interface. UI can really be a deal breaker for users if everything isn’t smooth, so take this part seriously.

For first-time designers and developers, here are a few tips for creating a fantastic user interface.

  •      Define how people use your interface. Don’t wait for others to tell you how they use your app, instruct them in the best way to do things.
  •      Anticipate mistakes. Your users will make mistakes, and that’s ok. But if those mistakes are avoidable, it’s on you to make sure that mistake doesn’t lead to a lost user.
  •      Make decision making simple. Don’t bog your users down in too much noise. If there is a choice to be made, make the options clear and the path forward simple.
  •      Know your users. Throughout all of this you should be keeping your users in mind. After all, they are who will be using your app.

Testing

Testing is immensely important when creating your app. You should never put anything out into the world until you have tested it one more time than you think you need to. As you are continuously developing your app, test each of the features by themselves and then in the greater scheme of the app.

Unless you are under a time crunch, you can almost never do enough testing. However, once the testing is done, it’s time to let the users discover what happens next. All you can do is test your heart out and hope it was enough.

Deployment

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The final piece of the puzzle is unleashing your mobile app to the world. There are many ways to do this and only you will know the best way to show the world your creation, but there are some last minute things to keep in mind before the final deployment.

  •      Name the app. While obvious, you should be strategic about this. Spend some time doing keyword and market research before you decide to name the app. You never know what might happen.
  •      Create a website. Once you have settled on a name, make sure you have that website and URL. You don’t need to create a full, multipage website, but having a link to download your app and a concise, on-brand message for those curious will do wonders.
  •      Turn on analytics. Now that you have done all of this hard work, don’t forget to track user behavior and turn on your analytics. These will be your lifeblood moving forward.

And now you are ready to go. Are you excited? You should be! Your app now can join the world and who knows, it might just change your life.

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