Fundamentals and principles of mobile application development
Every year, the popularity of mobile applications only grows – with a few taps with a finger, we order food and clothes, buy tickets and make an appointment with a doctor. If you are already thinking about a mobile application, now is the time to create one – a convenient, fast and contactless service will come in handy over the next few years.
In the article, we talk about the main stages and principles of application development – from analytics and testing to market entry.
The main stages of mobile application development
It is important to start any project with detailed planning, studying your own business, audience and competitors. The better the research, the fewer problems and improvements there will be in the future.
During the research, determine the goals of the business, study the audience and communication channels, analyze competitors – this will help determine the correct positioning. Analytics typically include executive and client interviews, focus groups, and peer review.
Such preparation will help to collect all the requirements and package them into understandable visual models: business process diagrams, mind map, user paths, in order to determine the basis for development and go to the prototype.
An app is another way to increase profits, so think about a monetization scheme while on the shore to take it into account when creating an interface.
Leading questions will help you decide on monetization:
- What problem does the service solve?
- What opportunities are people willing to pay for?
- How much time do you have to monetize? Can you wait to build your customer base?
What are the ways to monetize:
- Advertising. The audience uses the product for free, but in return, you show them ads from advertisers.
- Paid features. In addition to the main functions of the application, additional features are implemented that are available only after payment. For example, access to a new location in the game or hide the profile and advertising in the dating service.
- Paid download. In this case, payment is received at the first contact, but to begin with, a high demand is created: your offer should be unique and useful. This option is often used by the creators of corporate platforms and programs for photo and video processing.
- Purchases. People pay for real and virtual goods – clothes and equipment for themselves or game characters, currency within the game or other features.
- Subscription. After exploring free content, you can subscribe to additional content to receive more information. This approach is used by platforms with podcasts, media and narrow-profile materials.
- Reward for actions. A person receives bonuses for certain activities: watching a video, following the rules or taking a survey. As a result, all parties benefit: the advertiser talks about his brand, the developers get a bonus, and the users get rewards.
Without a marketing strategy, even the most promising project will sink into oblivion. Take care of the promotion at the beginning, so that by the time of implementation the application is already on the buyer’s wishlist.
You can advertise using targeted advertising, native materials in the media and blogs, affiliate programs and viral techniques. Describe a portrait of your audience, study ways to promote competitors, draw up your own strategy and change it depending on the circumstances.
After analyzing and working out the development strategy, the stage begins at which the technical documentation is studied and the terms of reference are prepared.
It usually contains:
- Project objectives.
- User stories and a person’s journey map – describe what tasks people will solve using the service, and how they will do it.
- Mandatory functions.
- Technical requirements for interface, performance, user role, security.
- Implementation of functionality: UX and UI design.
- Development stages.
- Time required for all work.
Describing interface requirements helps designers and developers understand exactly what the client wants and how it can be accomplished. The more detailed the technical assignment, the higher the chance of getting what you really need and avoiding endless edits.
Most often, development studios help with the preparation of technical specifications. For example, we always check the technical specification for compliance with the platform requirements and develop it from scratch if you do not have enough time for it or if there are any difficulties.
Typically, a dedicated project team includes: a tester, a UX \ UI designer, mobile developers – the number depends on the scale of the project – and a project manager who organizes the work of the team.
We never involve external specialists for work, because we choose to work with time-tested people and closely communicate within the team. This approach has a big plus – each employee is focused on the final product and is interested in doing their job well.
Design and prototype creation
At this stage, the UX / UI designer builds the logic of interaction between the pages of the registration and authorization screens, filling in data, personal account, shopping cart, payment for purchases and order tracking. Develops the appearance of the future service in accordance with the terms of reference and corporate identity: selects a color scheme, fonts, renders icons, buttons, push notifications, sliders, etc.
After agreeing on the design, the designer prepares a prototype (if this was not done at the stage of preparation of the technical specification) – it reproduces the basic logic, structure and functionality.
Typically, the prototype is created in the form of screens at each stage of the user journey. This is not a finished product yet, but it helps to build the foundation and test its functionality in order to fix bugs and improve the user experience at the initial stage.
One of the labor-intensive stages includes coding, architecture development and is divided into Back-end and Front-end development. Mobile developers must know the concept of the project, its uniqueness and be involved in all processes in order to assess the viability of the idea and realize the wishes of the customer.
At this stage, Front-end programmers develop a well thought out and tested client interface and platform logic.
Back-end developers create a server for storing and exchanging information. Experts choose a programming language for writing code and hosting for the server and API, build a database management system. The better the options are selected, the faster the application will run.
Development can be done in several ways:
- Native. A separate application is being developed for each mobile platform. This method is the most expensive, but reliable: you will receive full support from the stores, and the interface will work quickly and look as organic as possible.
- Cross-platform. Developers use universal code for all platforms, but the operating system still runs it as native. The most optimal option in terms of “price-quality”.
Read more about the pros and cons of native and cross-platform development in this article.
Some companies make testing a separate stage and thoroughly check the application only before release.
We think that testing an application should be carried out at every stage of development – when each part of the functionality is ready. It is better to spend more time fixing bugs before release than getting negative reviews on the page every hour after publication in the store. Therefore, we test each page as often as possible.
Before launching, it is important to carefully study the rules of the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and prepare page screenshots, marketing plan and description. After downloading, the stores check all the information, the relevance of the project and give a conclusion: will they publish the application or not. If everything went well, you can download it in a few days.
Publishing can be difficult, so it’s really important to read all of the store policies. Project managers do not leave clients with all this alone: they help with the publication of the application and advise on all issues related to registering accounts in stores, requirements for materials and their formats.
Refinement and technical support
After launch, you will be able to analyze which sections are the most popular and which are not very popular, how many people have completed targeted actions, and which pages should be improved. Carefully study and process all incoming data: they will help to refine the application and remove unnecessary functions. The analytics process is almost endless, so you need technical support to fix and promptly solve current problems, optimize the application and refine it.