Just as important as creating an app is creating the foundation you’ll use to build it upon. This step may seem unnecessary, especially under pressing deadlines, but the app development process will go much more smoothly if you establish an underlying infrastructure in advance. Plus, once you have an app development architecture in place, you can use it for a variety of app development projects.
This critical component is especially important for outsourced teams where the same “blueprint” may be used for multiple projects for a wide range of companies in different industries. The app development architecture of such services is a big part of the value we provide. Below, we identify several guidelines for building an app development structure that will serve as a powerful foundation for your present and future projects.
App Architecture Benefits
Millions of apps are available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, so there is plenty of competition. Therefore, creating a robust, functional app with a seamless user interface (UI) shouldn’t just be a goal. To win in this market, it’s a business necessity. The following chart demonstrates the wide variety of apps that consumers are interested in:
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App development is complex, time-consuming, and expensive, so an app in any of these categories that doesn’t stand out is a waste of resources and effort. Additionally, when creators ignore app development architecture, the resulting apps are typically difficult to maintain, prone to errors, and hard to test, leading to negative user reviews and fewer downloads. Or, if a poorly designed app is for a business, employees may not use it, resulting in lost productivity.
So, while ignoring architecture may seem to shorten total app development time, doing so can actually lengthen the process because these issues will have to be addressed later. Apps with solid architecture have the following characteristics:
- Reliability – able to perform expected functions under a variety of conditions
- Flexibility – able to change in ways that don’t disrupt other elements
- Expandability – able to withstand the addition of new functions
- Testability – able to easily undergo testing to confirm these characteristics
- Clarity – able to be easily reviewed by other developers
App Architecture Basics
App architecture is typically composed of three primary layers: presentation, business, and data:
- Presentation. This layer is the one that users see, including themes, fonts, colors, and other design elements. During the creation process, developers must determine the right client type that is compliant with the chosen infrastructure. Another important component here is ensuring robust data validation so the app is protected from invalid input.
- Business. This layer performs logging, caching, validation, security, and exception management.
- Data. This layer is responsible for ensuring seamless and secure data transactions. It should be designed to expand as business requirements change. All data access functionalities are included in this layer.
Before you develop your app development architecture, there are several factors to consider:
- Device Types. It’s important to know what kinds of devices the app will be used on so you have an idea of the hardware and software requirements involved. In particular, take note of such details as screen size and resolution, memory and storage space, CPU characteristics, and the availability of a development framework.
- Bandwidth. The level of connection users have is also important and you’ll need to determine whether they have continuous or intermittent access, as well as whether 5G is available in their area. Design your app to be able to function even in worst-case scenarios.
- UI. You can be creative with the UI but you should never invest on it so much to the point where it interferes with overall functionality. Generally, a simple UI is best.
- Navigation. Navigation must be intuitive, so users don’t give up on the app out of frustration. This component is part of UI but also a factor on its own. Consider the users, the purpose of the app, and the context in which it will be accessed to determine the best navigation design. Possible navigation methods include stacked navigation bar, tab controller, modal controller, single view, gesture-based, scroll views, or search-driven.
There are some additional pieces of information you should collect before starting to design your app development architecture. For example, things like UI and navigation should closely follow user preferences. The best way to determine them is through audience analysis, which can happen prior to planning or any time throughout the development process. Through this analysis, you can learn which platform, devices, design, and format would work best.
Closely related to audience analysis is user experience (UX). To design an app that aligns closely with what users expect, you’ll need to find out what they want by asking them. UX is different from UI in that it includes not just how users interface with your app but also how they feel about that interaction and how it fits in with their overall experience with the entity (such as a retail business) with which the app is associated.
Based on audience analysis and UX requirements, you can determine what functions the app should have. For example, should users only be able to consume content, or should they be able to contribute as well? Should there be a social component? Offline capabilities? And so on.
These considerations will help you develop an app architecture that creates a solid foundation for your apps, supports good programming practices, and saves time and money down the road.
Start With a Solid Foundation
With demanding clients and tight deadlines, the last thing you want is to develop an app that requires an investment of more time or money after it’s completed. One of the best things you can do to prevent this scenario is create a sound app development architecture at the start of your project.