The Apple App Store and Google Play are the largest app stores in the world at the moment. They both have more than two million apps available to users. As a matter of fact, Google Play is fast approaching the three million milestone. Both marketplaces make hundreds of millions of dollars each year in revenue. From my experience, the mobile development lifecycle is essential if you want to build a successful app.
A well-documented and rigorous process will ensure that the app development phase is going to be as efficient as possible. Even though today, building an app is not rocket science, you most certainly need to have a solid base if you want to do things right.
In this post, I want to walk you through a fairly comprehensive 6-step process to mobile development, which I use every single time.
1. The Inception
Nearly every mobile user has come up at some point with an idea for an app. This represents the firestarter of the entire process. Once you have the idea, you need to define and, most importantly, refine it. Here are a few fundamental questions you should ask yourself before validating your idea:
- Who is going to be my target audience?
- What problem is my app idea solving?
- Are there similar apps available in the app store? If so, how will my app be different than others?
- What’s the value the app is going to bring to users?
- What features am I going to include in the app?
In this first stage, it also helps if you can do some market research to find out more about the target audience, such as their motivations and behavior patterns.
The inception step has the purpose of giving you much more clarity regarding the next phase and it will help you lay down the necessary groundwork for what’s to follow.
2. The Design
Once an idea is validated and the research is finished, the design phase can begin based on the functionalities you want the app to have. When it comes to creating the UX mockups, it’s critical to follow the interface guidelines for the platform that you will be targeting. Here are a couple of examples and differences between iOS and Android:
- To switch between sections in an app, iOS uses a bar that is visible at the bottom of the screen, while Android displays the same bar at the top;
- iOS devices do not come with a physical back button, while a large number of Android devices do.
By drawing detailed sketches of the app, we will be able to uncover usability issues and find the best way to integrate the functionalities into a mobile app. When it comes to wireframing, here are the best practices we use at YOPESO:
- Sketch the layout of each screen of the app by using as many details as we possibly can;
- Include buttons, logos, or any other visual elements which can help designers in the UI stage;
- Keep in mind the design cues that each platform uses;
- Come up with a few variations of the same screen and play around with the buttons, visual elements or navigation.
The point of the design stage in the mobile development lifecycle is to help us create the prototype, which needs to be tested by potential users. Any UI or UX concerns need to be addressed in this phase so they can be resolved in the next step. If you find this process too difficult to handle, then you can get in touch with me and we’ll help you find the best solutions for your idea.
3. The Development
The prototype of an app is still in the proof-of-concept stage and has only core functionality, which means that only certain parts of it are actually working. These are the next stages that are part of the development process:
- Alpha. The core functionality has been implemented, but not tested. The app has quite a lot of bugs at this stage and the non-core functionality is still missing.
- Beta. The majority of the app’s proposed functionalities have been incorporated and some bugs have been fixed. Even though there may still be issues, a beta version of the app can be released to a select group of users.
- Release candidate. In the final stage of the app, all the bugs and issues have been fixed and it can be released to the public.
4. The Testing
The testing phase goes hand in hand with the development. In fact, it’s never too early to start testing an app because major issues can be found at any stage. The sooner they can be resolved, the quicker the app can be ready to be released to the public.
For example, if we discover performances issue in the alpha stage, the architecture can still be modified in order to avoid building the app on false assumptions.
As the mobile development lifecycle moves further along, the app will be tested by more and more people. If in the beginning, only a handful of people would provide feedback on it, the beta version can be introduced to the first potential users. These are the main aspects that we test for every app:
5. The Launch
The launch is critical to the success of your app and also following the policies provided by each store. To make the launch of your app a success and create buzz around it, you should include these aspects in the process:
- App store optimization. The majority of users rely on the app store when it comes to discovering new applications, which is why you should do your best to optimize it in order to improve its ranking.
- Landing page. It’s extremely important to create a landing page dedicated to the app, where you need to include videos, app description, FAQs, screenshots, badges of stores, links to your social media profiles, user reviews, and other aspects a user might find useful.
- SEO. Even though SEO is a long-term process, you should start building your strategy as soon as you launch the app. That way, you will see the results even months from launching it.
- Paid ads. Depending on your budget and where your audience hangs out, you may want to consider running ads on Google, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
- Influencer marketing. By getting influencers to review your app either in a video or on their blog, can get you significant exposure. It’s important to start building a relationship with them while your app is still in the works.
6. The Updates
The launch does not represent the end of the mobile development lifecycle. Every app is going to need regular updates and new features will be added. The users’ feedback is critical at this stage and it’s something we pay attention to in order to keep developing an app people will want to keep using. The Mobile Development Lifecycle Is Key in Product Management Rigorous product management is key to developing a successful mobile app. I recommend the approach I presented in this post to anyone who’s thinking about creating an app.
I’m hoping you’ll find my advice helpful and that you’ll check out my blog for more awesome content.
Have any questions about mobile development? Hit me up here.