The Development Phase of Your Mobile App
Before you can start building your mobile app, there are many things to think about and important choices to make. However, even if you are outsourcing development to a knowledgeable partner you trust, there are still many things to say on top of at this point to ensure the procedure keeps on track and the outcomes are at their best.
What is DevOps and how can I choose between agile and waterfall development methodologies?
Software development projects, including those for mobile apps, typically adhere to one of two main approaches, but there are variations like the Rapid Application Development (RAD) model and our hybrid “controlled agile” model (comparable to fixed-price agile).
Although the waterfall methodology is no longer in vogue, the linear paradigm it symbolizes was once the norm for creating software. It is built meticulously outlining all functionalities, needs, and anything that helps them in each step of the writing process.
Following the design, implementation, testing, and release of the software, maintenance is performed. Before beginning the following phase, the previous one must be finished.
The waterfall method for developing apps
As software systems grew increasingly complicated, the waterfall paradigm became obsolete. Due to the large number of moving parts, it became nearly difficult to anticipate every aspect and detail. And doing so would frequently lead to clumsy software with a subpar user interface.
Additionally, significant quantities of money were frequently spent on software that ended up being useless, or “white elephant” software.
The agile technique, which now predominates in software development, sprang to prominence as a remedy for the waterfall approach’s increasingly expensive flaws. Iterative software development using the agile project management SaaS technique, according to Atlassian, produces faster value while causing fewer headaches:
An agile team produces work in manageable, small-scale increments rather than staking all on a “big bang” launch. Teams have a built-in mechanism for fast adjusting to change since requirements, plans, and results are regularly evaluated.
Lean development principles serve as the foundation for the three key elements of the agile methodology: a continuous approach to development, brief feedback loops, and a structured project management procedure.
Agile and DevOps
Another extremely well-liked software development process that is connected to the Agile methodology is DevOps. Continuous integration/continuous delivery, or CI/CD, pipeline automation is mostly related to DevOps. Given that they are frequently used practically interchangeably, it can be simple to confuse the two.
Although it’s easy to get bogged down in the theory of what separates Agile and DevOps, the latter essentially only refers to the extension of the Agile mentality and principles into IT operations — the professionals in charge of running software and ensuring that it is accessible to users.
The risk of problems arising between how new software performs in a staging environment and the “live” environment is reduced by closer cooperation between the Dev and Ops teams and by releasing iterations in small chunks.
Agile/DevOps or Waterfall methodology?
The majority of contemporary software development projects, including those for mobile applications, follow an Agile methodology since it allows for testing and verification of an app and its functionalities at various stages of development, reducing the risk of costly errors. Theoretically, this should help shorten release timelines and lower expenses.
The issue with the Agile technique is that it makes it difficult to accurately budget because nothing is set in stone at the beginning. If a project has a set budget, it could be a problem.
In most cases, if an app sponsor wants a set pricing offer for their app project, they must use the waterfall process. This is possible if you have detailed specs for your app, but it is typically only advised for small-scale development projects.
We provide a different “managed Agile” hybrid methodology that goes further in providing the benefits of Agile while yet adhering to a pre-established budget. As with Agile, the software development process is divided into sprints, but before work on a sprint ever starts, a set price is estimated and agreed upon.
The project sponsor and the DevOps team preserve flexibility by agreeing on any changes to the functionality, features, and roadmap after each completed sprint before work on the following one begins.
Common errors to avoid when developing mobile applications
These are some of the most frequent errors that might cause an app development project to fail after it has already started. Avoid them, and you’ll be on your way to a successful outcome and a positive working relationship with your development team.
Your mobile app’s infrastructure and software should be thoroughly documented. Avoid retroactive documentation of your program towards the conclusion of the development phase because it often results in gaps. As the project develops, make sure thorough documentation is produced.
It is very tough for new developers who might work on your project in the future if there is no documentation or it is not done well. Because of this, it will be more difficult in the future to bring maintenance and development in-house, change agencies, or add new team members.
In the end, inadequate documentation might waste a lot of time and money in the future.
Once development is underway, it’s all too tempting to let your guard down and trust the team to finish creating your mobile application. That might easily result in misunderstandings and improperly detected crossed wires.
Overcommunication is always preferable to little communication, and it need not imply unfavorable micromanagement or excessive numbers of pointless meetings that participants grow bored with. Continuous micro-communication and feedback loops are incorporated into the development process using Agile and DevOps techniques.
To keep everyone enthused and going in the same direction, communication on business issues like costs, when invoices are due, team staffing, etc., is also essential.
After operating as an IT consultancy and software development company for almost 20 years, we can confidently assert that high communication standards are just as important to long-term project success as technical proficiency. So we ensure that such standards are upheld!
Poor problem management
It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s become one because it’s 100% true: successful projects deal with issues when they inevitably arise rather than avoiding them altogether.
Make sure the procedure for handling predicted issues and accountability are both specified. What would happen if a major developer broke their leg in the middle of the development process? or accepted a wonderful employment offer and abruptly abandons the project?
Additionally, make sure that unforeseen issues are addressed promptly and productively.
It is vital to adhere to sprint deadlines even if your mobile app is being produced using only an Agile methodology, which by definition means there is no firm completion date (the software is launched as soon as possible and subsequently improved upon).
Verify that everyone is dedicated to reaching deadlines and intervene immediately if there are any indications that standards are slipping. One missed sprint deadline can cause the project’s schedule to slide rapidly.
The stages of development your mobile application will experience
What typical stages of development might you anticipate your app to go through?
Proof of concept
Although this is technically still in the pre-development phase, you should always confirm the necessity and demand for an app before devoting time and resources to its development. For suggestions on how to obtain proof of concept before contracting your app, go back to the earlier in this guide’s “verify your idea” section of the pre-development phase.
Your app’s first stage of development will be an MVP unless you are completely certain you can describe every aspect of its functionalities, features, and appearance before launching it (a very unlikely case) (minimum viable product).
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of your program that has the fewest functionality and features possible while providing value to users. Therefore, you must reduce your concepts and goals for what the app will ultimately do to its most basic forms. An MVP should only contain the features and functions that give the app a competitive advantage over its rivals.
If there are no direct competitors, you might also merely list the features and functionalities that make it valuable.
All stakeholders can participate in a design sprint or workshop to define MVPs (including users).
Additionally, you can develop an interactive prototype that, at the very least in terms of fundamental design and functionality, resembles the finished product and can be tested with actual consumers. There are several methods and technologies available for rapidly and affordably creating an interactive MVP of your software.
Utilize the input you receive at this point to refine or confirm your MVP.
The major initial development phase can start as soon as you’re certain that your app concept has been validated and that an MVP has been established. Consider the step in the waterfall process where you meticulously detail every component of the finished app. And now comes the construction phase.
This is the point where the pre-launch work is finished, regardless of whether you are creating an MVP or a “full” project. Typically, it will be formatted as follows:
- Performing the first sprint of an Agile approach or establishing the development roadmap
- Regular reviews of the functionality and features developed along the roadmap (if you have them, at the end of each sprint)
- Discussing any modifications and alterations along the road, and approving or rejecting them
- Approving the finished item and organizing the launch’s many components (migration from staging to live environment, marketing & promotion, etc.)
Iterative development & Maintenance
The release of your MVP marks the start of the development process, not its conclusion if you have been using an Agile technique to create your mobile app. You still need to maintain your app’s functionality even if you believe it to be mostly finished at this point because it was developed using the waterfall process and/or is a straightforward product with no ambitions for expansion.
The following iterative development processes will be taken if you have already released an MVP:
- Evaluating the technical functioning of the app
- Examining user behavior and comparing it to objectives and targets
- Use that information and insight to specify the features, functionality, and design modifications for your subsequent iteration release
- Begin v.1.2’s development phase.
The post-development phase of your mobile app
If we think of a mobile app as a self-contained business, as it frequently is, it is clear that the app is not enough to run the business even if it includes a supporting function. Every company needs clients, and every software needs users. They also need to be convinced to use it and be aware that it exists.
The initial step is downloading a mobile application to phones. The second is to promote usage.
Making your app known
Depending on the type of app you have created, the optimal marketing and promotion strategy will differ greatly. You have the advantage of an already open channel of communication and, perhaps, brand trust if your app adds value for current users.
Or your app can be used exclusively by your company internally. Even though it’s probably the kind of program that is easiest to sell and acquire users to use, the problem shouldn’t be understated. Still, you’ll need a solid advertising and follow-up plan.
A commercial app is a type that is most difficult to grow in terms of downloads and continued engagement. As thousands of apps compete for users’ attention, you will need to stand out above the noise.
If your app is competing in a market that is already packed with other apps targeting the same demographic, as opposed to if you are providing something comparatively unique, the issue will be slightly different. But neither is a simple problem to solve.
Your objective in the first scenario is to persuade potential customers that your software offers value in comparison to competitors they may already be using. The app must then fulfill that promise if it wants to continue to be downloaded and used on mobile devices.
In the second scenario, it will be your responsibility to persuade potential customers of the need for an app like yours. You must explain the issue you are resolving or the service you are offering.
Channels and elements for mobile app marketing
Getting mobile app promotion correctly is true science, much like any type of marketing to an audience that is constantly being barraged with marketing. Several of the more typical techniques and actions are as follows:
A great landing page
A mobile app must still have at least a rudimentary website from which people can download it or one that points them to the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android apps. Unless the software has a desktop web version, that will frequently just be a single landing page.
However, the landing page must be extremely effective in persuading visitors to download the app. The copy must be compelling and persuasive, and the design and layout must be optimized for conversions. Finding a landing page formula that best converts site visitors into mobile app downloads nearly always involves a process, and it’s crucial to do it properly.
Prominent placement in app stores
You must ensure that your mobile app is highly visible in Google Play and the App Store so that anyone seeking it explicitly or more broadly for an app similar to yours can quickly find it. You should make sure you have someone on board who can ensure that your app is prominently displayed because app store marketing has grown into a marketing discipline unto itself.
PPC, media coverage, influencers, and more
You’ll need the same kind of multi-channel marketing strategy if your app is commercial, especially if it’s in a crowded sector like mobile gaming or e-commerce, for it to succeed quickly.
This could encompass anything from SEO and PPC search marketing to social media marketing, working with influencers, a PR campaign, guerrilla marketing strategies, offering incentives to users who refer friends, and good old billboards and placements on public transportation.
Your marketing strategy and channel mix will be greatly influenced by your budget and the app’s economic model, but no matter the situation, a successful marketing campaign will be essential to attracting the necessary number of downloads and users.
Mobile app monetization
Not every mobile app is made with the intention of making money. If you’re creating an app for the Internet of Things (IoT) equipment, such as a smart refrigerator or heating system, the app will likely be a useful component of the final product. Or it may be a booking system for clients of a hair or plumbing salon.
These types of apps generate a return on investment by enhancing a product’s general quality or making things easier for customers. However, you may also use this type of app to send information to customers about specials, new goods, services, etc. The app serves as a direct line of communication with its users even if it is not a “company” in and of itself. Making the most of that characteristic is important since it is extremely valued.
The primary monetization models for mobile apps created to generate direct revenues are:
Users will put up with some in-app advertising if your program is free to download and provides value. If your app is well-known enough, you can either join up for one of the major mobile ad networks like Google’s AdMob or try to go it alone with direct contracts with advertisers. However, take care not to go against Play Store and App Store rules. They need a mandatory 30% cut of all profits made by apps users download from their stores.
Version without ad
Users may choose to pay a nominal amount for an ad-free version of free software that makes money through in-app advertisements, which can be a reliable source of income.
Freemium apps operate on the principle that anyone can use a version with restricted capability for no cost, but users must pay to get the full functionality. For instance, a fitness app might provide one or a small number of training programs for free, with a fee to unlock other ones. or for additional features and functionalities that bring value.
The majority of mobile games have a freemium business model, which allows for in-app purchases to speed up progress or unlock new levels while still allowing for free gameplay.
An app needs a large user base in order to generate revenue from data. However, there are instances of extremely profitable business models for data licensing from apps like Waze and Foursquare.
E-commerce apps make money by conducting business in a manner that is quite similar to that of an e-commerce website. An app merely provides customers with a more user-friendly version of the primary website.
This concludes our comprehensive guide on developing mobile apps in 2022. You should now have a solid basic understanding of the mobile app industry, the decision-making process, and the pre-development stage, development, and launch phases.
We’d also be happy to hear from you if you’d want to consult with one of our professionals about a future mobile app development project. Simply get in touch with us and let us know about your project concept.