The 8 Steps of Mobile App Development

Turn your Mobile App Idea into a Reality

It’s easy enough to think of great mobile app ideas but much harder to implement them. Here we explore what it really takes to design, develop, and promote a high-quality mobile app.

mobile app development

Identify the Purpose

The best mobile app ideas are the ones that solve problems for users, especially those for which there are no other solutions or those that people didn’t even realize were an issue. For example, readers old enough to recall a time before Google Maps will no doubt agree that the app completely transformed how we find our way around. 

Before Maps, getting somewhere unfamiliar required seeking out (sometimes poor) verbal or written directions from other people, awkwardly drawing landmarks on random pieces of paper according to their instructions, or consulting one or more maps. The Maps app provides the means to simply type in where you want to go and let Google do the rest. Now that’s a problem solved. 

Check Out the Competition

Unfortunately for would-be mobile app developers, many great app ideas have already been taken. So, before you run with what you hope will be the next hottest download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, be sure to visit those platforms to see what’s already there. Ask yourself the following questions about potential competitors:

  • Does this app do exactly the same thing as my idea? If not, how are they different? Is it enough of a difference to promote? 
  • How do the pricing models differ? For example, would my app be free while this one requires payment?
  • How does the quality differ? Does this app have significant user experience (UX) issues? Would the quality of development for my idea be better? 
  • Who is the target market for this app? Is it the same as mine?

Think About your OS

Before you go much further with this process, think about which platforms you’d like your mobile app to run on. You can choose native mobile app development, which means developing for a specific operating system (OS) or hybrid development, which enables your app to be used with multiple OS. Keep in mind that you can save time and money by using a framework that allows you to create an app once and deploy it on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

This decision will be driven by budget and other considerations but keep in mind that the more potential users you can give access to your app, the better your ROI will be. 

Formulate Functionality

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. How will your mobile app actually operate? What functionality will it have? What will the screens look like? How will it be designed? Don’t skip this step, as the answers to these questions will guide everything you do from this point forward. You can start by sketching out what you want various screens on your app to look like. 

UX and user interface (UI) are highly important aspects of any app. The UI is what users actually see on their screens – the layout of the fields and buttons, the colors, menus, and what happens when you swipe up, down, left, and right. UI is part of UX, but UX also includes things like the reliability of the mobile app (it does what it’s supposed to do) and its performance. 

Make a Development Plan

You may be anxious to start building your app but you’ll first need to address a couple more considerations: language and methodology. You’ll need to find the right fit for your project. At BairesDev, we choose from among several languages (Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby on Rails, and more) and methodologies (Scrum, Agile, DevOps, Lean, Prototype, XP, and RAD) before beginning any project. 

Other considerations for this stage include a timeline with milestones that you can share with all stakeholders, as well as some initial marketing ideas. 

Build a Prototype

The next step is to create an initial version (prototype) of the mobile app. This is an exciting phase because now you have something to show reviewers, funders, and manufacturers that actually “looks like an app.”

Test, Test, Test

No mobile app development process is complete without testing. Quality assurance (QA) testing involves software experts validating that a product measures up to standards set by a variety of stakeholders, including employers, clients, and users. Effective QA testing can save you time and money, and ultimately increase your company’s reputation, security, and customer loyalty. 

In addition to technical testing, you should have real users take your app for a test drive and offer their feedback. Ideally, these users should be from your target market. For example, if you’ve built an app that helps people identify plants in a certain geographical area, give it to people in that area to test. You can use the information you developed in step #1 to help identify your ideal beta testers. Give testers questions to answer, such as:

  • What do you like best about this app?
  • What do you like least?
  • Did you have any trouble operating it? If so, what was the problem?
  • Do you like the overall look and feel of the app?
  • What would you change about it if you could?

Launch and Market

Finally, you can launch your app. Take the time to review the instructions and requirements in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Once your app is available at these locations, take a moment to savor your accomplishment. Then start marketing. There are numerous ways you can promote your app, including the following:

  • Create a website that describes the app and its benefits. As a bonus, include a video. 
  • Create accounts on all the major social media sites and use them to broadcast your message. 
  • Introduce your app to influencers who can help you get the word out. 
  • Use every opportunity to request reviews and be sure to respond to both the positive and the negative. 

After the Upload

None of the suggestions in step #8 will help you if you don’t provide adequate support to users after you upload your mobile app to the app stores. Be sure to respond to all user requests. If you can’t do so right away, at least send a note letting them know you’ve received their request and are working on the problem. Bring your process full circle by using suggestions to make your app even better and sharing those improvements with the world. 

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