In today’s dynamic world, where mobile devices and smartphones are an integral part of life, everyone wants to know how to create mobile apps, and what is the path from idea to release. So today we will talk about it from the point of view of our client and business.
By the end of 2022, the revenue generated by mobile apps surpassed $450 billion, and this upward trend continues to unfold year after year. In the autumn of 2022 alone, the Apple store witnessed the release of over 90,000 new mobile apps. It is worth noting that the Google Play app store currently hosts an astonishing 3.5 million apps, while the Apple app store boasts 1.6 million available apps.
What makes mobile apps stand out?
This vast market presents an abundance of opportunities. This is a large market with great opportunities, so it is very important to build all development processes correctly, and the application itself, the final product for your (our) clients, must be of very high quality in order to stand out from others.
Based on our award-winning experience in mobile app development, we at Godel are always ready to offer a great team and a step-by-step plan to achieve the goal. After all, it is very important to achieve the right result the first time, especially at the business and corporate levels.
Development is a complex and long process that includes the work of many people, constant communication, solving problems, finding solutions, and if necessary, compromises.
The corporate segment and businesses usually come with ready-made ideas, sometimes with a partial or existing solution. The idea must be implemented, the existing solutions must be finalized, developed or supported.
Before starting, we must assume that we have a rough estimate of the software project we are planning to do. The assessment can be provided by the client, or we can perform it.
To perform such an assessment, we need to understand the project goals and client requirements, core feature set, required third-party services, and design preferences. All this is put into a preliminary assessment of the project, after which we can proceed to the development stages.
It should be noted here that sometimes it may be important for a client to check the very essence of his idea, without implementing all the functionality, therefore, at this preliminary stage, when we see the main requirements and a set of functionalities, a good starting point is preparing two sets of features: must-have and nice-to-have.
With these must-have features in mind, we can first make the MVP of the project. Requirements for starting from MVP can also come from the client himself. In any case, the MVP allows us to check if there is interest in a product by reducing the initial investment. MVP can be used both for internal testing and presentation, as well as for entering the market with the main functionality and getting feedback from real customers, which allows us to get additional analytical data about the work and prospects of the product.
The process of the mobile app development follows the following stages:
- Design stage
- Development stage
- Release stage
- Feedback stage
Within each of these stages, there are several types of project activities carried out by the project team. Iteration in this context is a distinct sequence of activities based on an established plan and evaluation criteria, resulting in an executable release (internal or external). During the whole product development lifecycle, it can repeatedly go through all phases or part of them.
There are certain advantages of using Iterations:
- Requirements are adjusted accordingly business needs during the whole product development.
- Workload of the team is spread more evenly throughout the project.
- The team can leverage lessons learned, thus can continually improve the process.
- Stakeholders can be given concrete evidence of the project’s status throughout the lifecycle.
- Team is getting regular feedback from stakeholders and can adopt to their needs.
- Product can be presented to market on early stages with smaller functionality.
So, let’s talk about the Planning stage.
In this phase, the business case which includes business context and success factors is established. It is important that we clearly understand the needs of the client as we set the iteration plan. This effort enables us to have the greatest impact on reducing development costs and meeting clients’ expectations.
First of all, we must decide on the organisation of the development process itself, create storyboards, and outline the technical prototype of the system.
At Godel, we offer a variety of options for working with our clients in terms of integration and how our teams work.
Our team models include:
- Reverse Augmented
At the Presale stage, as part of the proposal, we provide the option of integrating our team or teams, as well as the selected version of the development methodology. Typically for mobile development, this is an Agile (Scrum) methodology, with 2-week sprints, and a full set of ceremonies inherent in Scrum. This option for most situations is considered optimal and most flexible for the mobile world.
The second step in this phase will be to conduct a series of calls with the technical team to draw up a technical prototype of the architecture and create storyboards and a general specification.
Storyboards are visual representations or schematics depicting the core functionalities and flow of a mobile application through a series of potential screens. They serve as a valuable tool for the project team to synchronize and address project-related inquiries, both with the client and other teams involved. Furthermore, designers can leverage storyboards to facilitate the creation of the application’s user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designs. By providing a visual roadmap, storyboards enable effective coordination and collaboration, ensuring a cohesive and user-friendly application design.
The specification plays a crucial role in the project lifecycle as it encompasses a comprehensive overview of the project, providing a detailed description of its objectives, functionalities, and the technology stack that will be utilised. Additionally, the specification includes intricate details regarding the interface, outlining specificities and requirements for seamless user interaction. To enhance clarity, a user story can be incorporated within the specification, illustrating the step-by-step process and anticipated outcomes when users interact with different elements, such as buttons. This comprehensive document serves as a valuable tool for project managers and clients, enabling them to gain a holistic understanding of the entire project journey, from its inception to successful completion. It fosters effective communication and alignment, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page and working towards a shared vision.
The design stage is just as important as the planning and development stage. Design is not just about how your application looks, design helps make it friendly, understandable, and useful.
An important point of mobile development at this stage is the need to create a design for two different platforms (Android and iOS), where you need to take into account their features, different specific components, and limitations. It should also be noted the general trend towards a dark theme, which may also need to be implemented. Thus, the development of design for mobile devices is a very important stage of preparation for the development itself, which is accompanied by constant challenges, and compromises and requires good knowledge in both platforms.
We at Godel can provide both a designer (or a team of designers) from our side or work with designers from the client’s side.
At this stage, in the minimum version, screens are created based on those storyboards that were created at the planning stage, some changes and edits are possible. In the truest version, at this stage, the basis for the Design System of the project is created, based on the brand book and the client’s wishes, after which the screens begin to be made. Depending on the requirements and deadlines, all this can be a complete process even before the development stage, or parallel to it (of course, provided that part of the design work has been completed)
The development stage is coming.
The development of a mobile app can be native or cross-platform and involves solving various problems associated with a particular platform.
Native development implies the presence of separate teams that deal with each of their platforms and know the best ways to implement the tasks and features that the business needs
In the case of cross-platforms, this is the definition and implementation of the code base that can be reused by both platforms, as well as the creation of separate solutions specific to different platforms.
Both options have their pros and cons, we at Godel are always ready to help with this choice, based on the goals and size of the business or field of activity of our clients.
As we said above, this stage is carried out within the framework of the chosen development methodology. Agile is the preferred approach for mobile development due to the ability to quickly respond to customer feedback, market changes and new features. Agile via Scrum allows the project team to divide the development process into pieces – the so-called sprints. At the output of each sprint, we get some units of the finished product. At the beginning of development, of course, it is impossible to talk about a workable application after the first few sprints, but in the future, the result of each new sprint may be a ready-made new version of the application, which will be published to the stores.
All of these are critical to success in the dynamic world of mobile development.
Of course, the development stage includes not only the development itself but also the coverage of our code with tests. Test coverage is a very important part of development, as it allows us to maintain the right level of code quality and avoid errors in the future if we need to make changes. And yes, it takes time, and the benefits from it are more hidden or appear only after a while. Nevertheless, we believe that writing tests for at least the most important functionality is the necessary minimum that needs to be done.
One way or another, at some stage of development, we will have a completed version of our application and the Release stage will come. It is the moment when your hard work culminates in a polished product ready to be unleashed upon the world. The release stage involves a series of meticulous steps that ensure a smooth and successful launch of your Android app. Let’s dive into the essential aspects of this critical phase.
At this stage, generate the final build of your app that will be uploaded to the app store. Preparing a build consists of optimizing the build, removing debugging information, reducing file sizes, and implementing obfuscation or code minification techniques to protect your application code.
To establish trust and integrity, app signing is paramount. Signing your app with a digital certificate verifies its authenticity and safeguards it against tampering. The signing process involves using a Keystore file, which should be securely managed to prevent unauthorized access.
In fact, the publishing process can be significantly streamlined through the implementation of Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) frameworks. The configuration of the CI/CD can be established during the early stages of development, as it plays a vital role in the entire development cycle. Subsequently, it can be updated and refined to facilitate seamless publishing during the Release stage. By automating various steps within the CI/CD framework, developers can reduce manual efforts and enhance efficiency, ultimately expediting the process of delivering software updates and releases.
A published application can first be sent for beta testing to a small group of users, for example, to conduct internal testing among company employees, and then make our application public immediately, or gradually, distributing it in waves (more relevant for updating an existing application). After choosing a publishing strategy, we need to wait for the review process, which is performed by the stores, and now our application is already in production.
In the end, we will come to the stage of collecting Feedback. The feedback stage refers to the phase where the app is released to a group of users or beta testers to gather feedback and evaluate its performance, usability, and overall user experience. This stage is crucial for identifying and addressing any issues or improvements before the official launch of the app. Let’s give a little overview of some of the highlights of this stage.
- Beta Testing: Release a beta version of the app to a limited number of users or a specific user group.
- User Feedback Collection: This feedback can include bug reports, suggestions for improvements, usability issues, and general impressions.
- Bug Tracking and Issue Management: This helps ensure that issues are properly documented, assigned to developers, and resolved in a timely manner.
- Performance Monitoring: Monitor the app’s performance using analytics tools or crash reporting services.
- Iterative Development: Based on the feedback received, iterate on the app’s design, functionality, and user experience.
- Continuous Communication: Maintain open communication channels with beta testers to address their concerns, clarify questions, and keep them informed about progress and updates.
The feedback stage allows developers to gain valuable insights into how users interact with the app and make necessary adjustments to deliver a polished and user-friendly experience. It helps in identifying and resolving issues early on, ensuring a more successful and well-received final release of the Android app.
And then, then a new cycle or next step begins…
Illustrations created by Alena Kantsavaya, User Experience Designer at Godel
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