7 Steps To Build A Mobile App: From Ideation to Launch
How many times do you use a mobile app in a day? Whether you're hailing a ride or ordering restaurant meals to enjoy at home, the possibilities with apps are limitless. With over 5.7 million apps on both the Google Play Store and App Store, mobile apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. In fact, the average American has about 80 downloaded apps on their phone. Customer-centric businesses understand the need for an interactive mobile application to address customer needs. Many perceive mobile apps as an opportunity for customers to purchase their products and services and increase their brand awareness.
Now, more than ever, mobile applications aren't merely optional add-ons; they are fundamental software applications that can transform a modern business. In the ever-evolving landscape, having an interactive mobile application to help you stand out among competitors is invaluable. This involves everything from constant maintenance to the addition of new features. For instance, the growth of artificial intelligence in recent years has sparked the inclusion of AI features in many business apps, making it easier for customers to satisfy their needs efficiently. The journey of developing, and deploying an interactive mobile app is an intricate process.
Here’s a guide on how to navigate the development of your interactive mobile app from ideation to launch:
How To Develop A Mobile App
App developers undergo a series of processes before launching a finished product to customers. Developing an interactive mobile app goes beyond writing lines of code or designing appealing visuals. It's a holistic approach that intertwines understanding user behavior, leveraging the latest technologies, and constantly iterating based on real-world feedback. Let's take a look at the 7 main steps on how to develop an app.
Define SMART business goals
Like any other business project that starts with a key plan and identifies the main goals and objectives, building an interactive mobile app requires the definition of SMART goals. Ask yourself questions like:
- What problem will the app solve?
- How will your app differentiate from competitors?
- What features would resonate most with your app users?
Initially, it can be challenging to define these goals, and it's easy to get lost during the building phase. However, with clear goals set out, there's a sense of direction that aids your mobile app developer in prioritizing what's crucial. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) technique to set goals ensures that there are defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the app development progress.
The ideation phase of app creation plays a vital role in defining your business goals. Thus, organizing stakeholder workshops and brainstorming sessions with key business personnel can refine the idea, goals, and objectives. It's also vital to consider the app development cost, guiding resource allocation throughout the development process.
Conduct Market Research
Let's face it, it can be a daunting task to create an interactive mobile application for unfamiliar users or customers. By defining clear goals, you ensure that your mobile app aligns with your overall mission and vision. However, there is a gap in understanding what the app user truly wants and the kind of features that will meet their needs. That's why market research is crucial.
App market research involves studying current market trends and understanding the features customers are most likely to gravitate towards. During this research, it's essential to consider the optimal time to launch your app, whether your app communicates your unique value proposition more effectively than competitors, and if it addresses your customers' pain points.
Approaches to app market research include surveys (both online and offline), interviews, focus groups, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, staying updated with social media conversations, and consulting research powerhouses like Gartner, Pew Research, and Statista, among others.
If your business already serves a significant number of customers, use this to your advantage by engaging these customers in a pilot study to gauge their response to your app idea. This approach will offer insights into the preferences of potential users and show how they align with your broader audience.
Identify the Features and Functionalities
Now that you have determined your business goals, the next step is to work on identifying the features and defining the scope of your mobile app. This means building your minimum viable product (MVP) and adding features that will contribute to achieving your business goals. An MVP is a core component of your app that tests the viability of your mobile application. It helps you address issues early on in the development process.
Essentially, an MVP is the bare bones of your app. It guides your development process by figuring out how to make an app with just its necessary components. An MVP should have just enough of the core features to complete the simplest functionalities and use cases.
Remember that adding unnecessary features can reduce your speed to market and extend your development timelines, so focus on the vital features. Some of the key functionalities to consider include intuitive navigation, user-centered design, data security, data management, performance optimization, device compatibility, loading speed, and responsiveness. Meanwhile, depending on your app's primary objectives, essential features might include push notifications, mobile payment options, support centers, and geolocation capabilities.
Planning, UX Design & Wireframes
After the functionalities and features are clear, the next logical step is the deliberate planning and design phase. This is where the theoretical concept of your app starts to gain tangible shape and form. In this stage, your user experience (UX) specialists will play a key role by developing the wireframe. A wireframe is a rough sketch or an illustration of how the mobile app will work. You can create the wireframe on a whiteboard, paper, or notepad. The goal is to see the arrangement of the app elements.
To begin, map out the entire user journey. What steps will users take within your app? What's the logical flow? A top-notch UX goes beyond aesthetics and is more focused on creating an intuitive and user-friendly environment. During this phase, drafting use cases becomes pivotal because they will help the designer with wireframing. Use cases are descriptions that showcase how app users will perform a specific task on the mobile app. They act as blueprints, capturing the possible interactions between the user and the app. For example, as a user of a popular app like LinkedIn, I want to be able to post updates, read and reply to messages from colleagues, and share important information. This sense of direction will help you draw up a wireframe and understand the user flow.
The user interface (UI) is also crucial when it comes to how appealing and interactive your mobile application is to a user. Consistently incorporate your brand colors, adopt typography that resonates with your audience, and design interfaces that are both functional and visually captivating. Importantly, your UI should align with the expectations of your target audience.
With your UX and UI decisions in place, it's time to breathe life into your designs. This is where prototyping steps in. Prototyping is a draft version of your ideas in digital form. Create clickable prototypes to offer a simulated experience of your app. This is about making the design experiential. Prototyping acts as an early feedback mechanism, ensuring your design feels interactive and resonates with the user.
As you journey through the planning and design phase, always loop back to your foundational goal and MVP. This will ensure your designs are not just visually appealing but are grounded in purpose, functionality, and user-centricity.
Develop Your Mobile App
From ideation and design, we now transition to the development and testing phase. This is where your team starts building the features of the application. Choose the right development method that best aligns with your goals and objectives, whether using a no-code app builder or outsourcing to an app development company. Your choice will determine the outcome of your mobile application.
There are two primary ways to build your mobile app, the Native or Cross-platform. A native app is specifically designed for one platform, either iOS or Android, ensuring optimized performance and a seamless user experience. Cross-platform, on the other hand, allows for deployment on multiple platforms with a single codebase, potentially speeding up development and reducing costs. The choice between the two depends on the project requirements and the skills of your mobile app developers. This decision is important, and here's where a seasoned software development team comes into play. They don't just write code; they leverage their expertise to guide you, ensuring that the approach aligns with your goals and offers scalability. Your software development team can make all the difference by identifying potential pitfalls and ensuring a smooth development process while adhering to deadlines.
To meet up with market demands, your software development team has to be on their A-game and use the agile methodology. The agile methodology is a mindset that ensures adaptability, scalability, and flexibility. Agile ensures that the product in development is always in tune with stakeholder expectations and evolving market demands. It also allows for interactive testing in the app development process where initial errors can be corrected early before they get complicated.
Live Testing for The App
Before launching your app to users, it must be tested on real mobile platforms. This approach helps eliminate bugs and errors that users might encounter while interacting with your mobile application. To facilitate this, engage beta testers—a select group given early access to your app. They can conduct usability testing sessions and pinpoint errors they come across, such as non-functional links, misleading navigation, or misspellings.
Addressing these issues before your mobile app reaches your customers can prevent negative feedback and low reviews on the Google Play Store and App Store. In this phase, your Quality Assurance specialist should diligently inspect every detail and feature, ensuring the app functions correctly on various devices like iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones, and tablets, and checks its performance both online and offline.
Live testing is about placing your app in a real-world environment and evaluating its performance, speed, compatibility, and overall user satisfaction. Feedback gathered during this phase can be important, offering insights that can elevate your app from merely good to exceptional. Once all feedback has been addressed and implemented, you're all set for your app launch!
Time to Launch Your app
The D-day is here! Now it is time to get your interactive mobile app into the hands of your customers and let them experience what you have built. Before this day, it's crucial to have a comprehensive launch strategy in place to generate buzz for your product even before it becomes available on app stores. Utilize social media channels, your company blog, and various other media outlets to promote your app.
Best practices recommend monitoring your app's performance and understanding user behavior post-launch. Actively gather feedback and encourage users to share their reviews. Use these insights to enhance subsequent versions of the app.
Even after the launch, remain proactive in identifying features your users might appreciate and regularly update your app with fresh content and refinements. Maintain this iterative approach, and voila! You've successfully launched your mobile app.
The journey to building an interactive mobile app can be complicated and requires planning, execution, and monitoring. Tailoring your mobile app to your users' pain points and solving their challenges will boost the performance of your app. A good mobile application is defined by how interactive it is and how it takes a customer through a seamless user journey. In the app world, it’s about launching an experience. Ensure your journey from ideation to launch paves the way for an experience par excellence. This level of excellence is defined by your mobile and software developers. Experience the Devsu difference by augmenting your team with our skilled software developers. Get Started.