Mobile App Development Process – What It’s All About?
Mobile apps – everyone has used them, everyone knows a lot of them. But what it’s actually like to create one? What does the process look like? Well, since we develop products like this, here’s a breakdown of all the stages of creating a mobile app.
Create the Problem Statement
Building a successful app is like building a thriving business – your product must solve a problem that the customers are willing to pay for. The first and the most important step in the mobile app development process is to define, as accurately as possible, the problem that the market has – this is what problem statement is – a description of the main problem you want to address with your product.
It’s very common for founders to list every little problem that their application will solve, but keep in mind, that every additional problem you want to solve with your app equals additional features you have to embed into your product. It is much better to begin with the single most important problem your future customers are facing and focus on it. You can always develop additional features later on.
To sum it up – remember to be focused on the main problem and don’t let yourself be tempted by the collateral problems to solve and developing additional features. A well-described problem statement also serves a communication purpose with your product team. It gives them proper direction during the whole process and focuses them on the ultimate goal of the project.
Problem Statement Example: Netflix
Let’s use the example of Netflix, who initially solved the problem people had while having to travel to the video store to rent a movie. Netflix sought to avoid video stores altogether and instead deliver movies in an envelope to your mailbox, allowing you to keep the movie as long as you’d like.
“Going to the video store is a pain. People don’t like traveling back and forth just to rent a movie and they hate paying late fees even more.”
That’s a simple problem statement but it’s accurate. Notice that it doesn’t include any reference to the solution.
Verify Your Idea
After we have chosen the problem to solve and created the problem statement, it’s time to dive deeper and understand the problem we are trying to address.
You will start this stage by asking some tough questions: “do I really need to build a product for mobile devices to properly solve this particular problem?” Not all projects are meant to be built as a mobile application. Products like messaging apps, social media platforms or products which core feature is augmented reality are perfect for mobile platforms. But let’s consider an information portal or a forum with a lot of content to be managed – for this type of a digital product it’s better to build a website rather than a mobile app.
Okay, so you carefully considered which platform would be the best way to go about your product. Let’s move on and identify your target group – people, who will use your product in order to solve their problem. This analysis should include their motivation, decision-making patterns and demographics of your potential clients. Consider how your clients will use the application. Try to be as precise as possible while conducting this analysis, because you will use this data later on during the development of your application.
Competitor Research is a Must!
Before you commit your time and resources to the app, check the market first. Search for similar apps on the AppStore and Google Play and search the internet for already available solutions to solve the problem. This kind of research is called “desk research”. Take a look at your potential competitors and ask yourself how your mobile app can be better or solve this problem differently. Measure the market’s’ potential size by checking a number of installs your competitors have generated. Take a look at their app ratings and reviews from users, you may find something that users frequently ask for but your competitor ignores them. Also, see what users dislike about the app. But, most importantly, look for something missing that users are hungry for.
Remember, don’t underestimate the competitor research phase, it’s crucial for your app and, if done properly, will give you some insight into the real users’ needs and potential gaps on the market that you can take the advantage of. The more you will tailor the app to potential users and their needs, the better the outcome of your app will be.
When the idea is validated and your competitor research is complete, it’s time to start to sketching the first versions of your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with your designer. But the first thing you should do is to write down all the thing you want your app to do and rank them based on the priority. To do so, go back to your problem statement and based on that try to figure out what functionalities are required to make your app successful – focus on the primary functions first and after that create list of those that can be added later.
We know it’s tempting to add features that your users might want all at once, but remember – focus on the basics. Build the core of your app and solve the primary problem – time for adding additional features will come.
With the list of core functionalities only, you will meet with the development team. They will tell you if the list is applicable and suggest some existing solutions that can be incorporated into your app to build the features – sometimes it is more cost-effective to buy an existing tool than to build it from scratch.
After you have created the list of functionalities and consulted it with your developers and received a green light in terms of applicability, it’s time for the next stage – wireframing.
A wireframe is a visual guide that represents the application’s interface. It serves as a blueprint and defines the app’s structure, functionality in general – what’s going on inside. To focus on the essentials, wireframe does not include any visual elements and colours, it’s simply grey. It focuses on the application’s information architecture and hierarchy as well as navigation and usability.
This stage is crucial, because it connects the performed research with the design stage and acts as a bridge between them. It usually takes place on a whiteboard to simply visualize your app’s user flow. But we like to take this stage on the next level and create an interactive wireframe to enable every remote team member to have access to it from their computer or phone. It helps to simplify the process and encourage everyone on the team to leave the comments and make suggestions. This way, we also ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the functionalities.
Usually, after we’ve created the wireframe we will test it on members of your target audience to double check if everything suits their needs and if they understand the product. This will ensure that whatever product you create it will not be destined to fail.
Okay. So we have done a lot of work, but there’s still a lot ahead of us. After the wireframe is complete, we have tested it and implemented users’ feedback it’s time to design the User Interface.
The User Interface is basically what the users interact with. It’s what represents the app in their eyes as they can’t really see the Backend of your application. That’s why it’s essential during this stage to really care for details, visual identification and branding. After all – in order to succeed you will need to establish a strong brand that your users trust.
This stage is really back and forth between you, the designers and the target audience. We will constantly communicate and work together to create each screen of the app and test it along the way. Because every app and project is different it’s hard to exactly tell how the design will go – some of our clients have their visual identification ready and some need it done, some require 3D animations, some illustrations and so on. So, depending on the product, we will need to create different designs to suit your vision and to suit the target audience.
Code. Improve. Repeat.
We have the design ready. It’s beautiful and it’s time to bring it to life. Here come the Developers. Based on the design as well as the research and the functionalities list, the Dev team will build both the Frontend and the backend of your app. The tech stack they use depends on what your app needs to be and what the research has shown. Sometimes a native app may be better than a hybrid one and vice-versa. Before we start any coding, at the very beginning of the project, our team will provide you with suggestions and guidelines regarding recommended technologies to use, so that we are on the same page.
During this stage, we will update you frequently and each time a new functionality or a functionality group comes to life. This process is all about creating and improving.
After this is done, our QA team will do the Quality Assurance and Code Review to make sure the code is quality, has no bugs, is ready to launch and that you will be able to easily scale your app and add new features.
Do you want to consult your idea for a product with a team of expert Developers and Designers as well as Product Owners?