A sleek mobile app is a powerful driver of sales and brand awareness. Yet, the process of building it is a black box for many business owners. What resources and steps do you need to gain a presence in app stores?
Few companies have enough resources and expertise to handle mobile app development in house. A reputable company like AppKong will focus on your niche, audience, and goals every step of the way. However, even when working with a dedicated team, you still need to understand the key stages.
Step 1 - Discovery, Research, And Tech Stack
Clients’ expectations are the starting point for a development team. Before your experts get down to work, they will dive deep into research. The discovery stage will consist of an in-depth analysis of your business, industry, competitors, and target audience.
First, what do you want your app to accomplish, and how should it fit in your overall marketing strategy? Who is the target audience, and what do you want them to do through the app? What language and framework will power your app? Will it be available on iOS, Android, or both?
These are just some questions addressed at this stage. Based on your requirements, the behavior of the target audience and competitor analysis, your contractor will work out the necessary features.
Thanks to mobile app development frameworks like Flutter and React Native, one team can build an app accessible across mobile platforms. It can even be extended to desktop and web! A unified code base will help you expand your online presence relatively quickly and at a low cost.
Step 2 - Wireframes and Storyboards
Armed with research insights, your developers will create a design plan. It will correspond to the required functionality and visual features. The team will determine the scope of work and break it down into stages.
Next, they will start sketching out the app and its storyboard. Wireframes and storyboards are interconnected. The former are simple visual representations of your app. Boxes and grey areas will show how different components are positioned.
A storyboard is a roadmap showing connections between screens and overall app navigation. This tentative design gives a clear picture of how the proposed ideas and features will work together.
Step 3 - Defining the Backend
Even the most elaborate design is useless without a robust back end. It comprises structures forming the backbone of your app. They include servers, APIs, data integration, push notifications, etc.
To facilitate back-end development, you may use the services of a mobile BaaS provider. Otherwise, the team will arrange databases, storage solutions, APIs, and everything else from scratch.
Step 4 - Finalizing Your Wireframe and Testing Your Prototype
Subsequently, based on the chosen server-side solutions, designers may need to modify their wireframes. Once the design is finalized, the team moves on to prototyping. Unlike wireframes, prototypes are interactive, so clients can see how their design concepts work in action.
Using a high-fidelity model, your team will achieve several goals. It will collect feedback, find broken links and other imperfections, and assess usability overall. It is advisable to test the prototype on a group of users outside the development team.
During the tests, team representatives observe users as they interact with the app and ask open questions to collect feedback. The main focus is on usability and functionality. These evaluations may be monitored or unmonitored — i.e., conducted using special software. Based on the results, developers change the interface or user experience to remedy shortcomings.
Step 5 - Application Development
App development itself includes a series of stages and evaluations. While programming and coding, the team will zoom in on the specifics of the target operating system (or systems, depending on your needs). When working with a dedicated team, sign a non-disclosure agreement and establish a clear timeline for deliverables.
Wireframes will be turned into actual screens in the mobile app. These are high-resolution renderings demonstrating the interface for interactions. These final designs must include ideas and feedback collected during the initial testing.
Step 6 - More Testing
Now, you are ready to test a complete version of your app with all the stunning graphics and features you envisioned. This is probably the most exciting stage in the process. When developing apps for multiple platforms, it is essential to test the compatibility of images, graphics, and UX across operating systems.
Your team will subject the app to rigorous testing in a variety of realistic scenarios. If something worked while in development, it is not guaranteed to work in the final concept. Thus, developers will refer back to the original design and planning documents for every feature.
User testing may reveal new questions and insights that weren’t obvious before. The development firm may use online mobile UX testing tools, which reflect feedback and analytics in real-time. You cannot launch your app before making sure that:
- it works perfectly well in all scenarios, and
- its appearance and usability are up to scratch.
Step 7 - Preparing for Launch
The final preparations have a big impact on the ultimate results. Functionality and design alone do not ensure visibility in app stores! Businesses should get their marketing departments involved early in the process.
Experts in digital promotion suggest the right keywords to optimize the app description for SEO. They create optimized titles and descriptions, attractive screenshots, a demo or promo video.
Finally, any app needs a website or at least a landing page. Web presence, although you are marketing an app, is critical for credibility and brand awareness. Additionally, it will help with analytics and increase discoverability. Google’s App Indexing API will consider your app’s content and web page in its search rankings.
Create anticipation to maximize adoption at the early stages. Your customers will be excited to install your app if it enhances their convenience!
Use your existing web resources to promote your app. Advertise it on your website and social media. Share updates of the development process in your blog. Inform customers by email, too!