Research shows that there are over 3 billion smartphone users globally-- and that number only continues to increase. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that organizations of all industries and business models are turning towards dedicated mobile applications to improve brand awareness, increase conversions, and ultimately bolster business growth.
In addition, when you factor in the number of users of other mobile devices -- such as wearable technology devices or the over 1 billion tablet users around the world -- the value of a professional mobile app increases exponentially.
But how can businesses learn how to develop an app that suits their business needs without breaking the bank, blowing their budget, or overhauling their entire revenue model?
It turns out that there are several best practices that the best software development companies adhere to when creating reliable mobile apps for clients (such as yourself). By following these guidelines, developers are able to stretch budgets, keep projects within their projected timelines, and ensure that the finished platform works properly and achieves the desired objective.
Now, it might seem like businesses don't need to know these best practices -- after all, if you aren't the one who will actually be designing and developing the mobile app, what's the point?
Well, if you thought that, that's where you're wrong. Understanding the process of how to develop an app that mobile app software developers follow throughout each software development life cycle -- particularly for mobile platforms -- is crucial for businesses. This will empower them to choose the best partner for their company, choose a solution that fits within their budget, and understand more wholly how an app development project is progressing.
And when you understand a project's ins and outs, you set yourself up for far better success in the long run.
How To Develop An App
Developing a mobile app is a complex process. This new platform needs to reflect consistent brand identity, match your website and responsive mobile site, and encourage consumers to both download the application and convert within it. It may seem daunting to know where to begin.
1. Create A Concept For Your Mobile App
The first step in how to develop an app is determining the overall concept of your app. Ask yourself what objectives you want to reach and how the mobile app will help you do so. This will create a vision for the project and inform the functionalities and design needed to reach your business goals.
2. Determine How Your App Will Make Money
This may seem like a later step, but you should actually begin thinking about how your mobile app will make money pretty early on, as this will influence the user interface design. The most common ways to make money include:
- In-app purchases and upgrades
- A fully eCommerce app
- In-app advertisements from third-parties
3. Understand The Features You Need And The Features You Want
Many businesses make the grave mistake of trying to cram too many features into their mobile app --especially in the first version. A better option would be to pare down the desired features into desired features and necessary features. Only include the necessary features in V1 of your app. Believe it or not, user feedback will let you know the other features that customers are looking for later.
4. Sketch The Wireframe And User Journey
After you have honed in on your app's goal and desired features, a user experience designer -- with the help of other experts, such as a digital strategist or an information architect -- will create a wireframe and layout the user journey that customers will take in order to complete the desired action.
5. Design The User Interface
Once the wireframe and customer journey are approved, an app designer will design the interface, adding graphics, colors, designs and more to create a compelling and well-branded experience.
6. Develop The App In A Testing Environment
After the mobile app is designed, the heavy lifting begins -- meaning, app developers begin coding the platform. They should do this in a test environment so it can be tested throughout the entire development process. In addition, app development firms will develop both the frontend -- or forward-facing aspect of an app that customers interact with -- as well as a backend that allows team members to manage content.
7. Test/QA Every Feature And Function Within The App
As we mentioned, every mobile app should be tested dozens -- if not, hundreds! -- of times throughout development. In fact, a dedicated quality assurance expert should conduct thorough QA tests, which will ensure every single feature works the way that it is supposed to. If they catch a bug within the test environment, developers will be able to fix it before the app is launched, ensuring users are none the wiser.
8. Make Your App Available For Download In Applicable App Stores
Once V1 of your app is completed, an app development agency will launch it in the applicable app stores so users can begin downloading and using the app. The most popular are the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
9. Market The Mobile Application To Your Target Demographic
Did you know that app stores allow companies to input photos, videos, and content that can help target appropriate audiences? Well, it's true! Luckily, reliable app design and development firms will help businesses market their app successfully, both on the app stores and on other platforms, such as their website or social media channels. This is particularly imperative because 61% of users won't install a new app. Plus, it will increase downloads -- and that means more revenue for you and more visibility within the app stores, too.
10. Continually Improve The App Through Feedback And Updates
An important rule of thumb to remember is that app development is never truly done. Users will provide targeted feedback, customers will leave reviews in the app stores, bugs will occur, and organizations will want to add new features from time to time. All of these items mean that a new version of the app -- whether it's a small fix or a major update -- needs to be developed and released to existing users and the app stores.
5 App Development Best Practices Every Business Should Adhere To
1. Take Note Of The Competition
2. Reduce Interface Clutter
3. Invest In Intuitive Navigation
4. Design A User-Friendly Platform
5. Make Your Mobile App Secure
How Much Does It Cost To Build An App?
All in all, it can be difficult to pinpoint how much it will cost to build an app. After all, the pricing is greatly affected by the timeline of the deliverables, how many features and functionalities you might need, what actions users will be allowed to take within the mobile app, and what long-term support you desire from a software development company.
In general, organizations pay about $200,000 to $350,000 for a mobile app with several features. But don't let that price tag scare you! Extremely simple app development projects can dip into the lower five figures. Meanwhile, extremely complex mobile apps -- such as those with innovative AR/VR features or robust eCommerce shops -- can skyrocket to $500,000 or more.
How Do App Developers Charge For Their Services?
Businesses can expect to pay hourly for results for mobile app development. That is because app development requires a lot of timely, active tasks -- and those are more easily tracked and billed for by the hour. Mobile app software developers in the United States tend to cost somewhere between $100 and $175 per person per hour -- although, of course, that can fluctuate quite a bit depending on their expertise, location, and reputation.
Outsourcing an app design and development project is another valid option -- one that will save you big bucks during the software life cycle. Outsourcing software development companies who can build mobile apps generally charge between $55 and $75 per person per hour.
Pro Tip: Both outsourcing and hiring a U.S.-based app development company are valid options that can deliver excellent results. However, the right direction depends solely on your particular needs. Take the time to understand each development firm's experience, case studies, service offerings, and pricing structure. This will help you determine how much help you'll need throughout the entire project and whether or not an agency can meet those requirements.
And remember -- paying more money upfront will usually save you thousands of dollars -- if not more -- in the long run. This is because you end up with a better project that needs less long-term maintenance and fewer updates over time.
How Long Does It Take To Build An App?
Much like the cost of a mobile app development project is hard to pinpoint, so is the timeline. That is because -- yet again -- this is so dependent on a business's personalized needs.
When do they need the app live by? What is their budget? How many features do they need the app to have?
Typical software development projects take 9 to 12 months to compete at least, and businesses who are investing in developing a mobile app should allocate the same amount of time, on average.
However, there are a few items that can affect how long it takes to build an app. These include:
1. The Various App Versions And Their Features
Most mobile apps have several versions throughout their entire life. If a business is willing to lessen the number of features they want in their first version, and simply add them in a later version, they could speed up the app development process.
2. A Bigger Budget May Mean Faster Development Time
Brands with more money to spend can afford more designers, developers, and hours that an agency spends on their project. Therefore, a larger budget typically speeds up app development projects noticeably.
3. Does The Agency Also Need To Design The App?
Most organizations utilize the same app design and development agency to, well, design and develop their app. Thus, if your app needs to be conceptualized, wireframed, and designed before it is actually coded, the timeline may increase by quite a bit.
iOS App Development vs. Android App Development: What's The Difference?
Although most mobile app software development companies are well-versed in creating applications for both Apple and Android devices, those development processes do look different.
Therefore, it is in every organization's best interested to understand how to develop an app for both iOS and Android operating systems so they can be sure to select the best development partner and release a successful product to the public.
iOS app development companies speak wither Objective-C or Swift, which are two different programming languages -- although they are compatible with one another.
Both programming languages are almost exclusively used by Apple. Although they are scalable within Apple products -- which is why Apple items have such strong inter-device cohesion -- they don't operate well outside of the Apple realm.
Apple mobile applications have a few notable qualities. These include:
- Sharper, better animations
- A faster testing/QA process, which leads to a quicker market release
- A more secure operating system
Android app development companies use the Java programming language to build their apps. The computer programming language is very flexible and scalable, which allows designers to create a consistent brand identity on a variety of platforms.
But just because Apple is newer and flashier doesn't mean they have all the winning qualities. Android mobile applications excel in many areas, including:
- Strong user experience
- Lower development cost that iOS
- Lower Google Play Store fees