The world of mobile app development has exploded over the last decade. But it is once again going through a transformative phase of adaptation as new micro-processing technologies are rapidly being developed, allowing for mobile applications to be run on multiple platform types. Soon enough, apps built for mobile use will be able to run on desktops seamlessly, and some apps will be able to function on both iPhone and Android, along with PCs and Macs. With all of these new advancements taking place, now is the perfect time to educate yourself and try your hand at mobile app development.

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What is Mobile App Development?

In short, mobile app development involves designing and constructing new mobile applications that can be run on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. This process consists of developing software that can be installed onto a device and includes backend services that allow for data access via APIs. Once applications are developed, tested, and proven to work as intended, they are deployed and can be pre-installed or downloaded by mobile users worldwide. Several elements and considerations go into developing effective mobile apps, such as hardware requirements, screen size, compatibility, and much more.

Mobile App Statistics

As technology has advanced and mobile app development has grown, more and more people worldwide are purchasing smartphones and using them throughout the day. At present, there are well over 3.5 billion users of smartphone technology– a bit less than half the global population. With so many people and businesses making use of this innovative technology in their daily lives, several statistics have popped up that mobile app developers might want to be aware of. Such as:

  • The average American citizen looks at their phone at least once every 10 to 12 minutes, even while on vacation.
    • More than 10% of these individuals check their mobile device every four minutes
  • 50% of the time people spend with different forms of digital media is done via mobile devices.
  • Users of smartphones spend up to 90% of their screen time on mobile apps
  • Average consumers have more than 30 apps installed on their mobile devices.
  • Average users spend approximately 35 hours every month on various mobile apps.

Benefits of a Mobile App

Building a successful mobile application can be time-consuming and tricky, but it’s well worth it in the end for those who are willing to put in the effort. Developing mobile apps comes with many promising benefits that all prospective developers should know before they get down to business. Some of the key benefits of building a mobile app include:

Increase sales and marketing

Any forward-thinking business looking to find success in the coming years will need to look into developing a mobile app. Apps help companies increase sales, but they also allow businesses to digitize their services to make them more readily available to mobile users. Apps provide new types of direct marketing channels to reach more customers and generate more income, without the need for buying or building a new brick-and-mortar location. The development of apps has allowed many businesses to forgo physical store locations altogether as they have transitioned towards e-commerce.

Immerse and engage your customers

If mobile apps are beneficial for the businesses that create them, they are equally helpful to consumers due to providing an accessible and immersive experience. Companies can use apps to provide added value to their brand and present app users with a seamless and streamlined shopping experience that they can enjoy right from the comfort of their living room couch. Many apps also incorporate push notifications, loyalty perks, and even next-level personalized action so that every customer can enjoy a tailor-made experience based on their known preferences.

Become competitive

Approximately 65% of all small businesses have already constructed and deployed some type of mobile app, which means building an app is necessary if you don’t want to fall behind your competitors in the market. Companies that don’t use mobile applications to expand their business ventures and develop new ways to reach consumers are much more likely to get left behind going forward.

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Process for Developing a Mobile App

A woman working on her phone and laptop.

When you get down to the base of mobile application development, there are only three primary steps that need to be followed: understanding the requirements and functions the app needs to have, developing the product, and then testing the product. But obviously, this isn’t nearly enough instruction for newbie developers to create a successful, well-working app. Here are some of the essential steps that go into the mobile app development process that you have to know about before you get started:

Identifying a business need

The most successful apps out there are the ones that actively solve a problem or address the specific needs of a business. Before doing anything else, you’re going to need to identify an issue that you can build your app around to serve as an effective solution. If you don’t have a need to meet or a problem to solve, how will you know what kind of app you’ll need to build? This will serve as a solid foundation as you move forward to develop your application, and give you a clearer indication of what features and functions it will likely need to include to have the best possible chance at success.

Brainstorming and research

Brainstorming ideas for your product is the first step of developing anything, and that includes mobile applications. Gather together everyone involved in the app development process, brainstorm a list of the best possible features that you can offer to consumers through the app, and then list less-critical features that can be added later. Once your group has brainstormed enough content for a full app, delve into some competitor research to see what kind of apps your closest competitors are producing

Try to find features of their apps that weren’t included in your original brainstorming session, and think about how you can also incorporate similar functions to improve customer experience. You can also look at reviews of competitor apps to look at potential issues that you can avoid before your app is deployed to the public.

Build a minimum viable product

Once you’ve decided on all of the primary functions you want to include in the app, you can start to define your minimum viable product, what it will look like, and how it will operate. Minimum viable products serve as a baseline version of your mobile app that can become a foundational starting point for consumer interaction. It also provides the opportunity to test the application’s design, functionality, reliability, and usability. Constructing this minimum viable product is an essential component is successful app development for several reasons:

  • It allows for consumer feedback regarding issues and preferred features.
  • It provides investors with a basic vision of what the app will eventually become.
  • It gets the product out to customers quickly and efficiently.
  • It tests the ability of app developers to build and scale the product.

Choose a framework

The next step of the process involves selecting the optimum app development framework to construct your unique application. Some of the best frameworks available to developers that are currently on the market include:

  • React Native: One of the most popular Android and iOS app development frameworks. React Native enables the creation of high-performance apps through shorter development cycles and deployment times.
  • Vue.Js: A progressive framework used to incrementally construct user interfaces that can easily be integrated into people’s existing projects and libraries. It can power sophisticated Single-Page Applications when paired with supporting libraries and modern tooling.
  • Unreal Engine: The world’s most advanced and open 3D creation tool that can be used in real time to create cutting-edge gaming content.
  • Unity: A leading platform for developing interactive, real time content for VR, 3D, 2D, and app games.
  • Terraform: An open-source infrastructure as code software tool that can provide consistent CLU workflow, allowing you to manage hundreds of different cloud services.
  • Python: A programming language that allows you to work and integrate systems more effectively. It allows for software development, back end development, writing system scripts, data science, and more.
  • Django: A free, open-sourced, and advanced Python Web framework that enables the rapid development of pragmatic, clean designs.

Determine your monetization model

In order for apps to be successful, they need to eventually become self-sufficient entities that can produce money, which means that your app’s monetization is essential. Many businesses incorporate different monetization strategies, but the genuinely effective ones involve two primary factors; user intent and user experience within the app. Here are six of the more common monetization models that your app can utilize:

  1. A model based on freemium features that requires a paid upgrade to unlock premium features or remove ads.
  2. A pay per download model
  3. An in-app purchase model
  4. An affiliate program model
  5. An ad revenue model
  6. A hybrid model

Design your app using UX/UI

person writing on white paper

User interface design and user experience design (UX) are critical for developing a successful, profitable mobile application. It involves system performance, accessibility, design, utility, ergonomics, marketing, and much more to create a spectacular design that provides only the highest-quality level of user experience. These two elements can sometimes get conflated, however, so here are some things to note:

  • User interface design primarily involves ensuring that your app looks good and keeps up with all of the latest technological trends to complement the user’s experience. 
  • User experience design has more to do with the emotional responses and experiences a consumer has when engaging with the application.

Begin developing your app

Once everything else has been gone over, it’s time to start the development process of your mobile application. App development tends to involve three essential aspects; technology stacks, technology architecture, and developmental milestones, along with the three critical parts of frontend development, backend server technologies, and the application’s performing interface (API).

However, one additional element is absolutely critical for developers to keep in mind throughout the entire app creation process; security.

Security

It’s essential for applications to be designed and developed to emphasize the importance of security for both businesses and consumers. There are several reasons for this heavy emphasis on security. However, the primary ones revolve around protecting confidential information, increasing customer trust while boosting brand reputation, and preventing potential attacks on application vulnerabilities. 

It should be noted, though, that this issue is much more critical in some cases than in others. Healthcare apps, for example, must be built with extensive security measures in place to keep confidential data safe and secure. By focusing on these security elements, developers can produce effective and safe applications that consumers will feel comfortable using.

Quality assurance phase

Once the app has been developed, it then needs to be extensively tested for quality assurance. The last thing a business should ever do is release an app that hasn’t gone through quality control to remove bugs, glitches, and other potential issues that may impact the consumer experience. App testing can be done either through manual or automated methods, though this largely depends on the type of application being tested. No matter the app type, though, ten specific elements should be tested during this process:

  1. Security testing
  2. Functional testing
  3. Performance testing
  4. User experience and interface testing
  5. Platform testing
  6. Documentation testing
  7. Configuration testing
  8. Recovery testing
  9. Beta testing
  10. Certification testing

Launch your app!

As soon as all of the above processes have been carefully completed, your business should be ready to deploy its mobile application onto app stores. Developers should monitor mobile performance and quickly make adjustments to resolve bugs, glitches, or user complaints that may arise after launch. They must also keep up with app updates, general app maintenance, app optimization and regularly add new app features to continue attracting new users.

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Top Mobile App Failures

A smartphone home screen showing several popular mobile applications.

As sad as it is, only one out of every 10,000 or so mobile apps will be successful. Countless apps have faded into oblivion and failed in their aims for several reasons, but there are four primary ones that you need to be concerned with if you want to give your app the best possible chance at success.

Mediocre strategy

Apps that fail often do so as a result of the ineffective strategies of app developers. Without a well-designed, researched, and implemented strategy, the chances of a mobile app succeeding are less than slim. From start to finish, developers need to have practical ideas, conduct extensive market research to learn what does and doesn’t work, take that information, and use it to design and build useful apps.

Oversaturated market

There are billions of apps already on the market, and more are being developed every single day. This kind of market oversaturation ensures that many apps are too similar to stand out and succeed. Due to this, apps need to not only be effective and well planned out, but they must also be able to stand out among competing apps and offer quality features that consumers won’t be able to resist. In essence, your application will need to check all of the boxes regarding quality, design, implementation, and more.

Inadequate design

As mentioned above, apps need to stand out from the massive crowd in an oversaturated market, and having an inadequate design is sure to kill any chance an app has of ever seeing much success. If a user downloads the app and sees that it’s poorly designed, they will leave in approximately eight seconds and are unlikely to return. In short, poorly designed apps essentially equate to lousy business, while great designs equate to happy consumers.

Insufficient funds

The truth is that it costs a lot of money to create an app, even a poorly designed and ultimately unsuccessful one. Before you start the app development process, it’s crucial that you understand the financial ramifications involved and know whether or not you’ll be able to pay for everything. If you find that you don’t have the necessary funds, put a hard stop on your app development plans and take a few steps back to consider your options. Keep in mind that going in without enough money will cost you big time when all is said and done.

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Final Word

Now that you’ve made it through this ultimate guide, you should have a much clearer understanding of the mobile app development process and the steps that it entails. With this new knowledge under your belt, you can start to develop your application ideas in ways that will help you succeed and let you win out over your competition. That being said, you don’t have to go through this process on your own. If you’re looking for additional help to get your mobile app development project started, consider reaching out to Alternova. Their experts can assist you in streamlining your app creation process by handling frontend and backend development so that you can launch a successful application quickly and efficiently. Whether you want to create a shopping application or the next trending mobile game, they’ll be able to help.

Do you need help with mobile or web application development and cross-platform deployment? Check out the superior services offered by Alternova to learn about what their front and back end development experts can do for you today.