How to create an app: 10 stages of mobile app development

Umar Javed
Umar Javed

January 14, 2021

How to create an app: 10 stages of mobile app development

The world is becoming mobile, more so each day. In such a rapidly evolving tech world, ‘How to create an app’ is a milestone question. Industries and business areas not related to mobile in some manner are scarce. Consequently, businesses are seeking new opportunities for growth. One of the modern era options to increase the number of sales, and attract a large, diverse user base, is a mobile application.

The graph below shows the increasing number of app downloads globally. This goes on to confirm that the future is mobile.

To survive and thrive in this competitive app market,  the key is to focus on real problems. The solution to these problems often comes in the form of a bespoke mobile application. So all you have to do is begin by finding appropriate problems, fresh ideas & new perspectives around you.

To create something beyond expectations, it is essential that you never stop revisiting the basics and asking yourself the questions fundamental to literally creating anything. For instance, in this case: find the answers to why do you want to create a mobile app? Do you want to jump on the bandwagon or did you uncover a specific & genuine problem that you feel an app can solve? The answers to such questions can predict whether your application will be successful or not.

If you’re new to building an app for your product or business, you could be facing certain challenges. Therefore, we decided to call in the mobile experts across VentureDive, and list down ten steps that will help you get started with creating your first mobile application.

Steps of mobile application development process

1. Validate your idea

Merely having a ‘great idea’ is not profitable – you have to make the best out of it. A popular application always depends on two things: either it’s a solution to a new problem, or it’s an improvement/alteration of an existing solution. 

Look around yourself, find the real issues to get the winsome ideas. Try to involve creativity in the idea to give it wings. If your application has an engaging UI, is easy to navigate, and is extremely intuitive and helpful for your users, they will be bound to use your app over any other. So, the first and foremost thing is to work on the idea and strengthen your base.

Research is king

Conducting thorough market research is the way to go about it. This includes competitor research and more importantly, user/customer research. There are two parts of identifying your target audience: ‘who’ and ‘how many’. Next, identify your most notable competitors, analyze their product offerings, compare their product, release & market strategies. Try to come up with something they are missing.

2. Design your app

  • Wireframes:
    This step involves creating mock-ups of your app to understand and map out the user flow and how the app should be functioning. This is called building an information architecture – a scheme reflecting all possible user actions. A wireframe is a preliminary template that you can edit and correct at the early stages. Consider it a rough draft of how your app should look & work like. We find this resource can help you better understand wireframing and the processes that go into it.
  • UI/UX
    When wireframes are drafted, transform them into an interactive prototype using the latest design tools and technologies, such as Figma. This will be a final design prototype using the color pallets, supported design elements, icons, graphs, or any other design elements. It will also demonstrate the navigation of the application that will further increase the efficiency of the mobile application developers. It is important that we stress the importance of UI/UX design and the impact it can have on your business.

3. Construct the back-end

This step is all about building the app architecture, for which you should choose the platforms, set of tools, technology stack, programming language, and services. ‘How to make an app’ is a question that in most part assumes building a back-end or an app structure. There are two primary ways to develop a back-end: SaaS as the back-end – e.g. Firebase, AWS Mobile Hub, CloudKit, etc. or a custom developed back-end. We prefer the latter since it makes it easier for you to scale your mobile app in the future by either adding new features and/or growing in the number of users. Adding more functions or customizing it would be easier with its own back-end system.

4. Identify the mobile development approach: native, web, or hybrid

Selecting the right approach for developing an app is very important. Different businesses follow different approaches for mobile app development, based on time, budget, and technological considerations:

  • Native: Native apps enable the best user experience but require significant time and skill to be developed. These apps are, in essence, platform-specific and require expertise along with knowledge. The development of native apps is costly as well as time taking but it delivers the highest user experience amongst all the approaches.
  • Web:Web apps develop much faster and are the low-cost option to go for. Another plus? They can run on multiple platforms as well.  These are built using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript code. However, when compared to native apps, web apps are considerably less powerful.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid or cross-platform is the latest approach to develop an app. This approach is a combination of prebuilt native containers and on-the-fly web coding, that helps to achieve the best of both worlds. Herein, the job of the developer is to enhance the web code with native language to create unique features and access native APIs that are yet unavailable through JavaScript.

5. Write your code & bring it all together

This is the most crucial stage when the development team sits down and writes the code. Developers complete the tasks under the guidance & direction of a project manager. 

Writing a clean code & following industry standards helps create a scalable, flexible, and testable application. Different static code analysis tools are used to analyze the code quality and measures are taken to ensure the highest quality of the code.

6. Test your application

As a next step, the quality assurance engineers test the application. This includes testing for code & UI/UX bugs, followed by their resolution. Software testing plays a major role in the mobile app development process – it helps to improve and clean the final product. All the bugs should be squashed during this process.

7. Integrate an appropriate analytics tool

Why is this important? An appropriate analytics gives you a detailed picture of the size, demographics & interests of your users, as well as how they interact with your app.

Some mobile analytics tools that we’ve used and can vouch for, are:

  • Apple’s App Store & Google’s Play Store Analytics
  • Firebase Analytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Preemptive

With data sciences, including predictive analytics, quickly gaining traction in mobile apps, it can make your apps highly marketable.

8. Deploy your app

Deploying an app requires a plan, schedule and control of the movement of releases to test and live environments. This is where Deployment Management comes into play; the major goal of it is to protect the  integrity of the live or production environment and release the correct components.

You can launch the beta version of the application and hand it over to the audience or testers. They can then review the application and share their feedback for any improvements or augmentations.

9. Capture the metrics

There has been a significant rise in the number of mobile users in this decade. Consequently, the need to collect accurate metrics is becoming increasingly important. Unfortunately, many of the methods used to measure the app’s performance are taken from web analytics.

Major input metrics that should be considered:

  • Funnel analysis to identify why users fail to complete desired actions like in-app purchases or ad clicks
  • Social sharing to monitor the aspects of your app are capturing the attention of your users
  • Correlating demographic data with user behavior
  • Tracking time and location to get insight into the contexts in which your app is used
  • Closely observing user behavior to track changes & augment your app accordingly

10. Upgrade your app with improvements & new features

As you capture the metrics, it’s also important to get valuable insights into evolving user interests over time, and innovating to upgrade your app with improvements and engaging features to meet consumer demands. A mobile app without innovative features loses its usability in the long run. This will help enhance its visibility, expose it to a wider, more diverse user base, and help boost downloads of your app. You have to ensure that you keep updating your app to meet new guidelines offered by various platforms. Remember: don’t let your apps stagnate.

Wrap up

These are some of the steps that can help you develop your very first mobile application. Using these, you can develop an app and ensure that it’s successful in the long run. Of course, these steps will vary for each and every one of you, but the general process follows a similar pattern. 

VentureDive is actively working on multiple mobile development projects. Our global clientele has trusted us with crafting the most engaging, aesthetic & functional mobile apps for their products & solutions. Our experts stick to these basic principles throughout the mobile development process. Therefore, each of these steps are tried and tested, and can reap you results with long-term success. 

Feeling a bit anxious about taking the first step? A discovery workshop can help you get started with confidence. Our domain experts shall work with you to create an app perfectly tailored to meet your needs. 

Pumped up to start working on your app? Perfect!

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