Overtime at Nimble AppGenie, we’ve worked on hundreds of mobile app development projects. Through all of this experience, we’ve noticed that for the clients who don’t know how to code, the mobile app development process looks like a black box. So, if you are considering developing a mobile app for your business, you must know what it takes to build one as per your specific needs.
To get familiar with the mobile app development process, you should know what is SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) or ADLC (Mobile Application Development Lifecycle). These Terms are very common in IT development environments. SDLC is the process of software creation and consists of certain steps. The steps are the same when it comes to ADLC. Both of these terms define how many stages the development team will use to build a mobile app.
Companies are releasing more mobile apps as the number of smartphone users is increasing. In 2020, there are around 2.8 million mobile apps in the play store and the number is only increasing. As there is a trend towards mobile technology, it becomes crucial for you as the business owner to understand the process of efficient mobile app development.
6 Step Application Development Lifecycle
1. Discovery Phase
You may already have thought of your app idea, and that is a good place to start with. Before you directly jump on the mobile app design and development phase, you should research more on your app idea. You should dig for detailed information about your target audience and the competitors. When you’re done with your primary research, you will be able to answer the below-mentioned questions. this way, you’ll know whether you’re on the right path or not.
- What is your goal behind developing the mobile app? Where does it fit in your marketing plans?
- Whom are you targeting this app towards?
- Which mobile app platform do you recommend for the app?
- What is the market competition? What type of apps do competitors have and what features do their apps incorporate?
- What will be the top focused features of your app?
- Which development language or platform will you choose for the app? (If you are not sure, put an eye on our article about the hybrid mobile app framework)
- What is the size of investment that you are planning to put on the mobile app? (If you are seeking Seed funding or Series A funding for your mobile app, read our “guide to your mobile app funding”)
- What is the timeline for the app development?
- Do you have a product roadmap?
- When are you planning to launch your mobile app?
- Is your market plan ready? Or What will be your promotional plans?
Answers to all of these questions will not only help you gain clarity about your app idea again, but it will also enable you to put together an effective product requirement document. If you are yet to perform the discovery phase, you should put together your marketing and IT team to gather all of this information.
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At this point in time, you may already have the expectations about your app aesthetics, including some features that you wish app should have. If you are outsourcing the app development process to a third-party development company, you should have your SOW (Statement of Work) document and NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) signed with them. When you have all of the aforementioned things processed, you can perform the mobile app designing.
Design a wireframe
Every innovative mobile app design starts with sketching and wireframing. At this stage, your goal is to draw your app idea and integrate the features that you will want into the fully functional app. The purpose is to illustrate the app idea that you have. There are many mobile app designing tools available in the market that you can use to create your mobile app’s wireframes.
Creating Final Design and Clickable Prototype
Once, you’ve finalised the wireframes, you should build the final version of your mobile app design (UI/UX). However, it is also crucial for you to build the interaction design prototypes, so that you can showcase your app idea to an investor or your board members. We advise you to prefer incorporating your brand guidelines to your app UI/UX design.
Also, you should create the other supplementary things such as storyboard, project roadmap, and mobile app sitemap. These will be required by the backend development team to understand the app functions and choose the best set of technologies. However, as per the technological limitations, you may have to alter your design.
It requires a significant amount of steps and processes to develop a mobile app. Considering the fact that almost 64 per cent of the companies such as Google and Adobe, outsource their software development process, I recommend the same to you. Here I’m mentioning a guide for you to understand when and why outsourcing IT development process is fruitful and how to do it effectively.
Also read: Finding the right mobile development company
The mobile app development stage includes two subsets:
Frontend – this part of development focuses on the user side of the mobile app. In other words, the development team will be working on the face of the program with which the user will interact. Make sure that the front-end is in-line with the designed prototypes.
Backend – The part of development guarantees that the whole system functions well. Usually, the backend is referred to as the server-side of a mobile app. The backend is responsible for making the app reliable, secure, scalable, and integrable.
Whilst developing the app, it is recommended to adopt a mixture of Agile and Waterfall development methodologies. It will enable you to launch your app in the fastest possible time and adopt the user feedback with frequent app updates.
4. QA or Testing
This phase of the development cycle of mobile apps is often left untouched or given much attention. But, from the development perspective, it is the most crucial part. Testing the application takes place when you’ve completed the development of the app concept, and have perfectly streamlined the front and back end of the application. During the testing phase, you will have to rigorously test the app in several real-world scenarios to sniff out and resolve the technical issues.
Tip: Don’t just assume that a feature would work. Refer to the requirement document or the SoW and test each and every feature.
It has to be understood that this phase of testing the application doesn’t mean that the app will not require further changes and updates in future. There will be the requirement for updates as per the feedback received from end-users. This testing phase is just to ensure that the development is at par with the requirements and expectations.
Before you release your mobile app, you need to have a clear strategy about its promotion and pricing strategy which will impact your App Store Optimisation strategy. At this stage, it will be beneficial if you also involve your marketing team in the development process. Your marketing team will help the development team to optimise the app for app stores, which eventually improve the discoverability of the mobile app.
In the App Store Optimisation (ASO) process, your team will be working on optimising the app title, descriptions, category preferences, etc. The primary task will be to analyse the market and search for keywords which will be used in the title and descriptions. Also, your team will pick some high-quality screenshots of your app. These screenshots will display on your mobile app download screen on the AppStore.
Once, everything is in place and the app has passed the testing phase, it’s time to create some buzz with marketing write-ups and collaboration with influencers. You should promote your release with bulk email marketing and social media marketing. Here, the idea is to gain awareness and to achieve a significant boom in download numbers, which will enable your app to build the needed momentum for sustainable growth.
Okay! You have developed an amazing app and released it on the app stores. But, let me remind you that an app doesn’t operate on the principle of “set and forget”. A mobile app requires consistent care and updates to keep up with the increasing expectations of the users. It has been evident that if an app doesn’t have continuous maintenance, the app will not only lose existing users, but it will also see a decrease in the rankings.
Irrespective of the criticality of maintaining the mobile app, app owners often forget to emphasise on it. Like it or not, your app’s performance and likability depends on many external variables like mobile operating systems and hardware, which are more likely to change over the time. The following are some of the variables that are prone to change with time:
Hardware: Smartphone companies and manufacturers keep innovating and periodically launch new devices with advanced capabilities every year. If your app doesn’t utilise the latest hardware technology, it will get obsolete over time.
OS: Every year both Google and Apple come up with their improved mobile OS. These improvements are often related to design and user experience improvements. Your app needs to be compatible with these latest versions of mobile OS and should utilise their full potential. In 2020, both native as well as hybrid apps have the capability to leverage the OS capabilities.
Programming language and frameworks: Your app will also have to be upgraded as per the updates in programming languages and mobile app development frameworks. Sometime in the future there also can be the time when you will have to change the mobile app frameworks.
UI/UX improvements: With changes in time and technology, the user behaviour also changes. Gone are the days when the mobile designs were only dependent on skeuomorphic designs. For example, there is a trend for dark themes in the mobile app segment, and more and more mobile app owners are implementing it into their apps.
Usage patterns and user feedback: Your user base will mature as your app gets older. With time, you need to improve your mobile app’s UI/UX based on the feedback and usage patterns of your users.
Security enhancements: Data security is a hot topic nowadays. Everyone wants their data to be handled with care, and it is up to you to find security flaws in your mobile app and solve them with a new update.
Mobile app development is a process that often takes the aforementioned steps to derive results. Irrespective of the industry or type of your mobile app, these six steps of application development lifecycle will remain intact, even if you are outsourcing your mobile app development process or doing it in-house.
You can connect us at email@example.com to outsource your mobile app development work. We utilise a mix of agile and waterfall methodologies to ensure we achieve fast-paced and yet high-quality mobile app development.