Whether you’re building an app for consumers or to streamline your business, there are lots of things that you need to take into account before you hit ‘publish’. Indeed, one of the first is finding the right app developer for your project, and then breaking down what you actually want your app to do and include. The process can be time-consuming, but getting the early stages of development right can help you develop an app that people actually want to use.
Below, we’ve rounded up the six essential stages of app development to give you some food for thought. Got any questions? Reach out to the app developers at Zudu for support today.
All good apps start with planning and creating a project plan that outlines exactly what you want to include in your software. The initial market research can help you clarify what place your app will take in the market, who you’ll be competing against, and why users are going to download your app and use it on a day-to-day basis.
Hosting a discovery workshop can help you reduce the risks of financial losses, identify challenges and weaknesses in your product and eliminate them, and ensure you make rational decisions rather than going in head first and hoping for the best. The workshop may take time, but it’s a necessary part of the app development process and could save you thousands of pounds in the long run.
When you work with an app development company, the discovery workshop can also serve as an opportunity for your stakeholders to meet the developers and project managers. You’ll together identify the key goals of your app and document the intended functionality of the software, which will guide the scope, feasibility, and timescale of the project.
At Zudu, we use MoSCoW to outline the solutions we’ll build. Once we’ve finished the initial consultation, we’ll offer a summary report which details the points from our discussion and the next steps.
Architecture and wireframing
Although it can be tempting to jump from the initial discovery workshop straight into product development, it’s important to think about how your app will function first. Architecture and wireframing allow you to see a graphical representation of the system across all user types, establishing a template structure and providing a comprehensive look at the user journeys and in-app interactions.
It’s important to note that wireframes don’t represent the full design of your app, just the key screens and interface elements. This is a pre-prototyping phase that allows your stakeholders and app developers to understand how your app will function, and iron out any sticking points or concerns before initial designs and prototypes are worked on.
Design and prototyping
The next stage in app development is design and prototyping. Your developer will create a visual presentation of your product, and show off what your app could look like. The obvious benefit to prototyping is offering better clarity – if there’s uncertainty in how your app might look or perform, prototypes can be used to help everyone understand the intended flow and functionality.
At this stage, stakeholders can view and interact with the app without investing in the full development cycle. Prototyping can also lead to better collaboration – changes can be turned around much faster than in development. A prototype can also be used as a reference for developers and stakeholders, so that very little about how the app will work or function is left to assumption or interpretation – everyone involved can be on the same page.
By the end of the prototyping stage, your developer should provide you with an interactive, clickable prototype of some app screens, tailored to your requirements and brand guidelines. This will provide a full visual representation of your app and process flows. It won’t be perfect, and won’t be a fully-functioning app, but it should serve as a useful reference point.
Many app developers work to a process called agile app development, which is an iterative approach to software development. It helps developers deliver value to their clients faster and with fewer headaches. Simply put, rather than building the app in its entirety and waiting until it’s finished to show it off to the client, the developer will deliver work in small increments (also known as sprints or development cycles).
Completed tasks within the new build will be clearly stated and the developer will adopt a user acceptance testing process to capture feedback, which will then guide the next sprint as they get closer to project completion.
According to one report, projects that use agile methodologies are 28% more successful than those that do not. The result of agile app development is a superior quality product, higher customer satisfaction, more control, reduced risks, and improved project predictability. Agile development is also more flexible than traditional development cycles and leads to continuous improvement. Team morale (for both developers and stakeholders) is also higher.
Once you’ve been through the cycles of agile development and your app is ready for launch, the next step is quality assurance testing. This stage will help you detect any issues with your app before your customers can spot them – after all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and data shows that app retention rates are continuing to fall, so it’s important to do everything in your power to deliver a great experience from day one.
QA testing leads to reduced complaints and negative reviews and helps you the compatibility of the app with operating systems and devices and tests for things like overloaded servers.
Your app developer should conduct rigorous quality assurance testing throughout development and also prior to launch to ensure the app is bug-free on a range of devices.
At Zudu, for example, we do this by developing test cases within the customer journey that ensure every element of the app is tested individually and from different user perspectives. We also conduct end-to-end testing which guarantees the complete solution performs as expected across all elements of the system. Depending on the size and scope of your app, you may even want to consider beta testing your app to iron out any issues post-launch.
Support and optimisation
The truth is that the hard work doesn’t stop when your app launches on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store: it’s only just begun. Speak to your app developer about the post-launch services they offer to assist your app store debut. These include (but are not limited to) app hosting, analytics, and app store optimisation.
At Zudu, for example, we can help you with app store optimisation and also recommend running some App Store Search Ads to maximise your reach. We’ve also got lots of tips and tricks on pre-launch marketing for your app, and of course can assist with optimisation for new software updates, licence management, helpdesk support, and ongoing tweaks and changes. As Apple and Google continue to tweak and update their operating systems, the chances are that your app will require some bug fixing, code refining, and optimisation to take advantage of new features and keep users coming back to your software time and time again. Consider the launch of your initial app as the start of your app development journey.
Looking for support with app development? Call the Zudu team today on 01382 690080.