It’s hard to imagine our life without a smartphone. We use it not only to keep in touch with our loved ones, but also to search for information, play at a casino online Philippines, pay utility bills, and order goods. Now it’s almost a rule of good courtesy for a company to have a mobile app.
Steps in Designing a Mobile App
First, decide: do you really need an app or are you just going with the flow? There are a few signs to help you answer this question.
Your site has a lot of mobile traffic. If your customers often interact with your site from their smartphones, you should consider a more user-friendly tool.
There are repeat sales on the site. If customers come back to your site again and again, retain them with a mobile app. Messages about new promotions and unique apps can be sent to your phone, and users can access your services at any time from anywhere in the world.
You have a loyalty system. You don’t need to spend your budget on issuing plastic cards: it’s much more convenient to open the app and show a QR or barcode.
You want to use new features not available on the website. For example, using AR technology, users can “try on” clothes or the interior of an apartment.
If at least one of these points applies to you, think about developing a mobile app.
So there is a need for a mobile platform after all. Before contacting the developers, we advise to understand who the app is created for, how it will be used, and most importantly – what problems it will solve.
The first step is to determine the target audience and the role the app will play in business communication with customers. At this stage, they determine:
- The specifics of the target audience and how it can be expanded.
- The goals that the customer will achieve with their app.
- The competitiveness of the market in this area.
You should also understand what apps are used by the client’s target audience and their competitors in general. This will help understand whether the audience will be able to make a choice in favor of the application being developed and reject analogues.
With all this information and an idea, the client contacts the developer. Based on this information the developer collects his own analytics on the market, competitors, and existing analogues of the app, and determines the behavioral models of users. This gives the developer an idea of how the software will be used and how to make it most convenient and useful not only for the audience, but also for the client’s business.
As a result, both the client and the developer get a complete picture of what the functionality and design of the finished product should be.
Drafting a Statement of Work for the Development of a Mobile App
The terms of reference formulates the description of functionality, app design, the set of technical requirements, how to implement them, and the project budget.
It’s also determined what method of visualizing the customer journey is used. There are two options:
- User Story describes how a person behaves when using the app – logs in, browses the catalog, makes purchases. Allows you to think through the details in advance and avoid problems at the stage of service design.
- Customer Journey Map shows the user’s movement from screen to screen and what buttons he presses. The map helps you understand how to bring the app’s functionality to life.
Furthermore, the task should specify the stages of functionality design – for example, the loading stage, the order of registration, menus, etc.
The designer develops a prototype of the application. There are two ways to do this – create a static prototype, made in the form of images, or interactive – with the ability to navigate through pages, simulating the work of elements – buttons, sliders, etc.
Thanks to interactive prototypes, the customer can understand how the application will work and feel in the future, and the developer can predict and quickly eliminate errors.
An analyst engaged in prototyping thinks through the way the application works and the algorithm of user actions. After agreement with the customer, corrections are made to the prototype, and the project is then passed on to the designers. Designers then determine the style in which the application will be designed, according to the recommendations of the Material Design Guidelines or iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Or they create their own style or design code.
Figma is used for interactive prototyping. In this program, it’s possible to work on the structure and design of the product, as well as to view the application as if it were ready for use and installed on a smartphone.
Writing the application code is perhaps the most time-consuming stage of application development, which is divided into frontend and backend. The frontend develops the client part of the application – the interface, the business logic, and the backend develops the server part, which is responsible for receiving, processing and transmitting data.
There are many methods of interface development, but we will distinguish two main ones – cross-platform and native.
The cross-platform method uses common sets of development tools. The application is written using the same technologies and the same language, but is suitable for different platforms. Therefore, this method is more economical both in development and support.
The difficulty with this method is that once a new version of the operating system is released, it will be difficult to promptly update the cross-platform application. Most likely, you will have to wait for an update of the framework used.
Native development implies that the language and technologies specific to one platform are used to develop an application. For Android applications, for example, Java/Kotlin is used, and for iOS – Swift/Objective-C.
A native approach allows us to use the capabilities of the chosen platform as much as possible. This means that the performance of such applications is higher and they work more smoothly. Developers, in turn, can work with all the functions of the system and quickly make changes to the application when the OS is updated.
However, the native method is more expensive – and not only at the development stage, but also in support.
Which approach to choose? It depends on several factors:
- The complexity of the functions performed by the app.
- The speed and responsiveness of the app.
- The business processes that will be built into it.
The cross-platform approach is most often chosen for the development of test products and small applications, and the native approach – for applications that are closely integrated with the operating system and should become a full-fledged element of the business and affect sales.
It is carried out at all stages of development. Testing isn’t just about finding bugs and errors. At this stage, it’s important to understand how easy the application is to use, how intuitive it is for the user, whether it’s difficult to find the right function, check security levels, performance, etc.
Testing is divided into several stages:
- Functionality – registration, user authorization, purchases.
- Functionality of the application and devices of different types and manufacturers.
- Performance, operation under high loads.
- Security – protection against data leakage or deletion.
Regression testing is also performed to make sure that new bugs are not introduced after deletion and that unaffected code parts work smoothly.
You shouldn’t spare money and time for this – the deeper testers study the application, the less probability to find a bug after downloading it from the store, the higher is the end-user loyalty. Better the absence of an app from a business than an app that works poorly – and creates a bad impression of your services and products.
After successful testing, the work doesn’t end – it moves on to support. The team constantly monitors the smooth operation of the servers, tracking user reactions and feedback. It’s important to quickly respond not only to negative feedback and bug reports, but also to requests. The sooner bugs are fixed, the sooner the app store will hide the negative feedback to the past version.
We can’t forget about development. The mobile app market is growing and transforming every year. In order not to lose users, you need to stay afloat and constantly update the app in line with new trends. So at one time, during the pandemic, restaurant and delivery apps got their bearings and promptly added the option of door-to-door delivery: if the user did not want contact with the courier, he could tick the appropriate box on the order.
However, it’s perfect to have an idea in advance of how your app will grow. To do this, a roadmap is made – a plan for developing the service for the years ahead. It’s good when the client already has an idea of what improvements and functions they want to add to the app. But if they don’t, the development team can help them figure it out and create a roadmap based on the feedback about the app and analytics data.
Despite the seeming simplicity of mobile apps, their development is a complex, multi-step and costly process. A huge number of factors influence the success of the finished product, from its functionality and competitiveness to its promotion and development. Therefore, before embarking on the development process, we recommend that you properly assess your capabilities and analyze the market. After all, the “trendiness” of a solution doesn’t always guarantee the success of the app. If you are sure that your business needs a mobile app, contact us using the form on this page.