A Step-by-Step Beginners Guide to Mobile App Development
If you’re in the business of buying or selling a product, it’s necessary to have an app through which your customers can connect with your services. These days, there’s an app for nearly everything, which is hardly surprising when you consider that 2.7 billion people across the world use a smartphone, according to Statista.
The importance of developing a quality app is further emphasized by a study carried out by Smart Insights, which reveals how the average American checks their smartphone once every 12 minutes. We use our smartphones at home, school, work, on the streets, in bed, during travel, and while we’re eating. There’s a good chance that you’re reading this blog on a smartphone!
The shift from desktop web search to mobile browsing – and app installs by extension – has caused the industry to grow at an alarming rate. According to another trend posted by Statistica, the mobile app development industry is expected to generate a whopping $189 billion in revenue by 2020, that’s more than the GDP of entire countries!
In this blog, we’ll offer a step-by-step beginners guide to mobile app development for individuals and businesses alike.
How to Build a Mobile App?
Behind every successful product – no matter who it’s designed for, who created it, or what it does – is a well thought out strategy. The same rule applies to mobile app development. A successful mobile app strategy is the result of a creative effort of translating the customers’ demands into an app that effortlessly accomplishes a specific task.
The goal here is simple: enable the users to do something as effectively and quickly as possible. Without proper research, creating a well-designed strategy that facilitates the development process across each stage is impossible. This is especially true if the developers are targeting an entirely unexplored or niche market.
Another important consideration is deciding whether to go for internal or external development. If you don’t consider yourself a tech whiz, building an app via an internal or external team makes much more sense. You could be an expert in your field or industry, but that doesn’t equate to the same level of skills within the technical domain.
Going for internal development means hiring a qualified internal team that will develop and maintain the app for you. External development means outsourcing the entire development process to software developers.
Internal development is best suited for companies that already have numerous app development projects under their belt or plan on taking many in the future. Such businesses benefit the most from in-house teams dedicated to the development, maintenance, and upgrade of multiple mobile apps.
While the first option is more convenient, it’s considerably more expensive and requires a significant chunk of time to be dedicated to hiring and training employees. Organizations also have to create the right infrastructure in terms of workstation, software, and hardware. There’s also the matter of paying salaries to permanent employees.
External development, on the other hand, is when you outsource the entire development process. Out of all of the outsourcing options, nearshore mobile app development is the best solution. It leverages talent from nearby countries to provide quality solutions services while also taking advantage of low development costs.
Mobile App Development Tools
A major part of mobile app development is coding and is a prerequisite to creating a native mobile app from scratch. In this method, you’ll have to develop various apps for different platforms which require specific expertise in coding and by extension, programming languages. Let’s take a look at the top programming languages used for mobile app development.
HTML5 has also been adopted by a number of desktop and mobile browsers because of its robust cross-platform support capabilities. High responsiveness and support are two reasons why mobile apps created in HTML5 record very low instances of bugs and errors. The programming language is also used to develop games and supports both audio and video functionality.
C Plus Plus is a general purpose, object-oriented programming language with a low-level memory-manipulative feature. C++ inherits its syntax from C and is considered an extension of the language. Anyone that’s worked with C won’t find difficulty with C++ since they both have almost the same features except C++ is far more comprehensive.
C++ is a powerful tool that has found widespread acceptance across multiples sectors including manufacturing, banking, finance, and more. For this reason – and more – the language continues to thrive and find success even within the mobile app development market. Programmers use it for its unified debugging features and smooth functionality. C++ is good for creating apps on Andriod, iOS, and Windows as well as creating popular tools such as Photoshop, Paypal, Google Chrome, and more.
Java is undoubtedly one of the most popular and relied-upon programming languages for Android app developers and is currently the most searched language across search engines. Java was originally developed by Sun Microsystems which later got taken over by Oracle. The programming language can be run in two ways – in a virtual machine or a browser.
Java may not be very useful when it comes to developing iOS apps but has a special value when it comes to reusing code, updating, and developing cross-platform applications. The language is also used in the development of server apps, embedded space, web apps, scientific apps, big data technology, websites, and games. Popular applications that use Java include names such as NASA WorldWind, ThinkFree cloud office, Ultra Mixer, and Blue-Ray Disc.
Bringing the App to Life
Now it’s time to talk about the design and usability of the app – two factors that determine whether the app becomes an instant favorite or gets deleted from the smartphone. There are a number of things to consider when designing an app that resonates well with the users. One common feature that’s shared by almost any great mobile app is its ease of use.
A simple design can often be the most complex task to accomplish. Nonetheless, it should be a matter of top priority. To achieve this, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you want your app to appear?
- What task is your app meant to accomplish?
- What solutions does your app offer?
- How does your app grab the user’s interest?
- How does your app stand out from the competition in terms of design?
Once you’ve gotten a fair idea of how the app looks, work alongside the creative team to determine whether the design guidelines coincide with the goal of the app. Choose a style that gives your app a unique look and sets it apart from similar mobile apps in the market.
An important design consideration to keep in mind is to reduce the cognitive load and keep it to a minimum. The users’ brain has a limit to how much information it can process so don’t subject it to overload. By this, we mean that the app’s interface should be simple enough to be understood at first glance.
This issue represents an area of design that’s often overlooked and one that can prove to be the biggest reason why your app gets abandoned. To eliminate such a risk, design and test multiple ideas until you land on the right one. Then, follow the process of gathering feedback, refining areas that need improvement, and repeating the process. The last thing you’d want is to launch an app that ends up confusing users.
Developing the App
Once the design phase ends, it’s time to get down to building the actual application itself. Start with a prototype to see whether the app functions as intended. Build the required flow and ensure that it serves its intended function. Once the prototype passes the test, move on to the next phase of the development process.
As the mobile app starts taking shape, be ready to make adjustments along the line. The further it passes down the development stage, the more complex and challenging it gets to implement required changes. That’s why designing an application architecture that’s flexible while still allowing for scalability is a valuable feature.
During the development process, there are a few mistakes you need to avoid to prevent any delays in the release date. Some of these mistakes are listed below.
Being Lax About Security
Unfortunately, today’s digital world is plagued by high-profile security and data breaches. As such, you’ll need to dedicate a good amount of time and resource into buffing your app’s security. It’s a given that hackers and other cybercriminals will work tirelessly to break your app, especially if it has anything to do with micro-transactions.
Is the application’s security framework impenetrable? Have SSL, AES, and TLS encryption technology been used to keep your app protected from external attacks? These are considerations to keep in mind.
Ignoring Scalability Concerns
Mobile apps are built with specific users in mind; however, it’s always beneficial to create the actual architecture that caters to a global audience. You never know how successful or well-received your application can be and having to scale it later without the necessary architecture to accommodate expansion and growth can prove to be an impossible task.
Test, Test, and then Test Some More
If there’s one inescapable aspect of creating robust mobile apps, it’s testing. To be honest, developing a mobile app from scratch involves countless hours of hard work and effort and the last thing you or your developers want is to welcome a barrage of negative ratings and reviews.
You need to create a solid mobile app testing strategy. But what exactly does that entail? Well, the quality assurance testing phase should align with your goals, the user experience, industry best practices, and the business goals. It should also take into account various other aspects such as battery usage, data requirements, memory usage, app speed, and so on.
Bugs are also one of the main reasons why users end up not using the app or simply deleting it. Be persistent in testing the app in various ways and at every possible opportunity. In addition to these points, consider the range of your target audience. This involves taking into account users’ personas and testing the app to determine whether it’s useful for users across the entire spectrum.
You’ll have to consider different languages, age groups, technical issues, problems related to accessibility, and so on. The tests should be data-driven and include new test cases as well as the modification of older ones as the app evolves. Another feature of a great app is that it takes into consideration every possible method of user engagement.
This involves taking into account both the usual and unusual cases. For instance, what happens if the user closes the app by mistake, does it re-open on the main screen or offer an option to return? What happens if the user swipes the screen with two fingers? It’s crucial to consider and test every possible scenario to develop a robust application.
Once the app is finally ready to be launched, begin with alpha and beta testing. This way, expert users will be comfortable with the product before it becomes available to the masses. Post-launch app testing follows two main methods: automated and manual testing.
Automated mobile app testing is best used during the development process; however, it’s quite expensive and if the budget is an issue for you, then you can always resort to manual testing. The following three tests are necessary to carry out:
- Performance Testing: A crucial component of the quality assurance process that’s needed to gauge the app’s functionality in terms of power management, scalability, memory use, and more.
- Usability Testing: At this stage, the app’s core functionalities are analyzed. Usability testing involves compatibility testing, UI testing, ADA compliance testing, and external factor testing.
- Security and Compliance Testing: This is required if you’re creating a healthcare-related app, in which case, your app will need to be in compliance with industry regulations such as HITRUST, ISO, HIPAA, etc.
Launch, Learn and Optimize
Once your mobile app finally hits the store, it’s time to gather information, carry out interviews, collect feedback, and further optimize the app. You’ll also need a solid post-launch plan that includes the following steps:
- Gathering user feedback: Ultimately, the user is king. Pay close attention to what the users are saying about the app as well as the first impressions. At this stage, work to increase the ratings and reviews which are the most valuable sources of user feedback and determine what your next step should be.
- Gather app data: Sales, user satisfaction levels, churn rate, daily active users, revenue, monthly active users, number of installs, and average use duration are all data metrics that provide a better understanding of how the app is accepted and utilized by the audience.
- Leverage analytical tools: Modern analytical tools enable developers to monitor how well their app is doing and better understand the numbers which improve the decision-making process.
- Market the app: Utilize every available channel to let everyone know about your newly launched mobile app. Strategies such as SEO, social media advertisement, and other forms of marketing.
According to Techcrunch, the average smartphone user makes use of 30 apps each month which makes it all the more important to stand out from the competition. If you follow the guidelines posted in this blog, you’ll stand a good chance of developing and creating a solid mobile application. However, creating an app requires a lot of resources and manpower, something not every organization possesses.
EX² Outcoding is a nearshore software development agency in Costa Rica that also provides quality mobile app development services. They’ve worked with major names in the tech industry and have numerous successful projects under their belt. Contact us today for more information.