What All it Takes to Build a Mobile App: A Detailed Mobile App Development Process Guide

Statista estimates that mobile app revenue will reach around $613 billion by 2025. No wonder all businesses are going guns blazing towards mobile apps. The need to accelerate growth, enable convenience, nourish customer relationships, improve branding, and maybe even go mobile-first, led to businesses requiring native mobile apps. However, developing one wasn’t going to be a cakewalk!

Developing a quality mobile app requires immense planning. Defining goals, testing, and launching your app takes a ton of man-hours. A curated and meticulous development cycle will help you realize a user-friendly and bug free app within your budget, time, and scope; that goes on to deliver maximum value. Let’s take a deeper insight into what this development process looks like.

Different Stages of Mobile App Development

Market Research and Competitor Analysis: An extensive round of research about the industry could reveal opportunities, risks, and bottlenecks. Knowing them helps to strategize and navigate the struggle more seamlessly. Learn about the demand and supply from your target persona through qualitative research. The findings will help you make informed decisions.

What all it takes to build a mobile app

Survey the landscape for competitors that offer similar apps. Then identify critical differentiators (feature list) that position your app ahead of theirs. Draw up a business case to gain the trust of stakeholders – why it makes sense, how it will impact your business, and what value you stand to get. Do enough research in the early stages to ensure your app isn’t uninstalled in a flash!

A unique value proposition gives your app a competitive edge in the market. Not having an original idea or enough clarity about the market variables sets up your app to fail. Furthermore, do a considerable amount of research around the regulatory framework, compliance, and other guidelines as per the nature of your app.
• Define your target audience, their specific problems, needs, and requirements
• Build a demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioral profile of prospective users
• Brainstorm around how your app addresses particular customer needs and gaps in the market
• Learn what the competitors do, their drawbacks, and what you can do to outdo them
• Knowing the market dynamics helps to develop a user-centric mobile app

Discovery and Planning: Lay out your objectives, the corresponding solution drivers, a rough budget, number of resources, scope, and risk levels. Plan it, draft a flexible roadmap, and roll out a strategy for every milestone you wish to accomplish. Extensive analysis and scheduling in the early stages help prepare for unforeseen circumstances and avoid pitfalls.
Define and document your goals, establish the main features, the right tech stack for your project, and create a Software Requirements Specifications (SRS) document. List out all the core features and functionalities. Will it have an eCommerce cart, a forum, push notifications, GPS capability, monetization potential, booking integration, gamification, and other functions.

Keep your objectives Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART). Map everything out in sprints and use a tool to allocate work through a project management tool. This methodology gives enough visibility and helps to keep track of the progress on the frontend and backend tasks.
• Explain the business context, central purpose, strategy, and pivotal advantages
• Identify the right set of tools, other vital enablers, and blockers, if any
• Finalize the approximate time, costs, scope, and priority of each function in the mobile app
• Compile, solidify, and centralize the information for all the users in the project

How much time does it takes to build a mobile app

Wireframe and Design: Come up with an intuitive design that creates a frictionless experience on the app. The app must appeal to users and be user-friendly to make the whole interaction as smooth and intuitive as possible. The attractiveness and ease of use make the mobile app more engaging. The easier it is to use the app, the higher the retention time of users.

Come up with a wireframe. This will serve as a skeletal and decide the look and feel of the app. It would be best if you had a broad idea about how users can navigate between the different areas of the app. This phase will also factor in the right color tones, menu, animations, transitions, images, logos, and other visual elements to make the app journey more immersive.

The wireframe will show a general yet orderly structure of the app layout. You’ll get to illustrate different text fields, buttons, and pop-ups easily. A quality wireframe centered on concrete analysis serves as the schematic for the mobile app, lowers complexity, and reduces time & effort in revising it later. Use wireframing tools like Justinmind, Balsamiq, Mockingbot, Axure, Lucidchart, etc.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Test the waters and develop something that serves as an interim app but simultaneously shows the fundamental set of features. The MVP allows you to collect feedback, make corresponding changes, upgrade, and launch the best version of the app. Instead of creating a full-fledged app, limit the same to functional aspects, usability, and fewer cosmetic features.

A prototype serves as a beta app, allows you to run it past various decision-makers and target audiences, and pool their feedback before perfecting it to build a mobile app that is more reliable. You essentially go from Proof of concept (PoC) to Prototype to MVP. The MVP will help you evaluate whether or not the actual app will capture the true value.
• A PoC works best when you are uncertain or have to deal with high-risk features
• The prototype, as a rough version, allows a quick and affordable way to test your app
• The prototype is more economical than an MVP but only provides for a low-fidelity experience
• It may require several iterations before you arrive at the app that best serves your vision

Development: You can either build a native app or develop a cross-platform app. A cross-platform app is cost-effective, requires a shorter development cycle, and offers a single code for multiple platforms, besides being easy to maintain. A native app ensures faster performance, excellent UX, and direct access to the APIs.

Establish an appropriate development environment, put together different parts of the code, develop the mobile app, and make it available for testing. This would require you to connect and configure the backend, made up of database and server-side logic with the frontend, consisting of design, caching, synchronization, and more, through an Application Programming Interface (API).

Android app development would require Java, Kotlin, or Python knowledge. You may also need to look into Android Studio & Android Developer Tools and Android Software Development Kit (SDK). An iOS app development would require Objective-C or Swift and familiarity with the Apple Xcode development environment and iOS Software Development Kit (SDK). A cross-platform app would require an understanding of Xamarin, NativeScript, or Node.js.

Testing and Quality Analysis: After developing the app, it’s time to test it out for bugs and other issues. You will need to perform functional, usability, User Interface (UI), compatibility, performance, security, and certification testing. Performance testing will involve Load Testing, Stability Testing, Volume Testing, Concurrency testing, and Stress Testing.

Testing & market research while building a mobile app

The usability testing will check for overall satisfaction, effectiveness, and efficiency. The compatibility testing will include OS Configuration, Database Configuration, Device Configuration, and Network Configuration. Certification testing checks to ensure your app meets the standards, terms, and guidelines of iOS and Google Play store.

In this stage, we’ll conduct a code review to check if we have used the most efficient coding style and practices to develop the app. The automated process will check for duplicates, errors, coverage, security issues and make it available for review. Post the manual fix; the cleaned-out code is now good to go. Use tools like Appium, Reflector, LoadUI, Litmus, NeoLoad, Veracode, and more.

Deployment: It’s time to take your mobile app live. Follow the rules, guidelines, and other Android and iOS app store protocols to secure your official release. These app stores have policies, and post-application, they’ll review your app to ensure it meets their criteria. If it does, they’ll revert within a week or two. On Google, create your app and accept the Developer Program Policies first.

Then, set up your app on the app dashboard, inspect app versions, prepare, review and roll out a release, declare permissions for your app, prepare your app for review, and publish your app. On iOS, create an iOS profile and distribution certificate, create an app store record, archive & upload your app, configure your mobile app’s metadata and other details, and submit your app for review.

Mobile App Development: Post Launch Measures

Track metrics and KPIs: Monitor the number of downloads to see how well your app is growing. Check the number of Daily Active Users (DAU) to understand the degree of interest in your mobile app. Additionally, check the Daily session per DAU to determine the number of times a daily user opens your application in a day. Furthermore, check for retention rate and average session length.

On the other side, you also want to check for Churn Rate. This will tell you the rate at which users uninstall your mobile app. Performance-wise, you want to check for App load time, App latency, and app crashes. Use tools like Scoro, Datapine, and Tableau to monitor, analyze, and make data-driven decisions to improve your app.

Collect User Feedback for improvement: Post-launch you’ll either send out surveys or display them on the app to collect user feedback. This gives you insights into what the audience thinks and allows you to customize the app accordingly. Their preferences and likings are what will ultimately shape the app to perfection and sustain your reputation in the market.

Furthermore, conduct a focus group session with relevant users in your target persona. Get them to go around every facet of the app. Aggregate the feedback, utilize it to amend the app, and arrive at the final version. Where possible, use eye-tracking tools to identify areas of the app that excite and intrigue users the most.

Also, keep tracking the app store. Generally, the ratings and reviews section under your app will feature user comments. Most users submit their recommendations in such places without any nudge from your end. All you got to do is have someone monitor this from time to time. The sooner you learn and fix it, the better the app behaves.

Maintenance and Support: An application that comes with an in-built chat, form, or ticketing system will allow users to submit their grievances fast, allowing your technical support team to spring into action and fix the bug immediately. But to facilitate this, you would need a dedicated support team that is round-the-clock to address upgrades, glitches, crashes, hacks, or any other issue.

If your internal IT team doesn’t have the firepower to keep your app live and running smoothly or if you want a boost, then relying on a certified app development company with expert developers will be the best bet. Either way, don’t ignore immediate support. According to a survey by Qualitest, 88% of users will abandon a mobile app that shows bugs and glitches.

The above data shows why fixing a bug ASAP is crucial to how well users perceive your app. Customer loyalty or lifetime value comes down to their user experience. If they encounter problems or any annoyance, no matter how trivial, be prepared to lose an interested user forever. In an ideal scenario, you want a team that is available 24/7.

Conclusion – Build a mobile app seamlessly

Developing a mobile app is complex, and businesses often run into roadblocks, which extend timelines and result in budget overruns. Risking it out with an inexperienced team will delay your time to market. Understand that developing a mobile app takes comprehensive planning, systematic strategy, selection of the right tools and technology, continuous improvements, and the right team.

You need to entrust the app development to a certified company or if you’re looking to hire remote mobile app developers for your app, then get in touch with one of our talent experts at BorderlessMind. The right company with sound knowledge and expertise on how to build a mobile app will help you optimize the processes without compromising quality. In turn, you realize an app, in sync with your needs, within the prescribed budget, in reasonable mobile app development time that delivers all the value goals.

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