Fifteen years ago, the word “app” was totally different than it is today. Apps were not really anything that we think they are today. In fact, smartphones were just starting! Now, years later, almost everyone knows what an app is, and has multiple on their phones. However, most people don’t realize what is app development. Even though apps could be small in file size, and operate on small devices, (phones and tablets) app development is a very complicated process.
Why an App
Before we get into the app development process, we must think about why an app might be a great solution. Is an app really needed when the internet is very advanced, and web sites are now turning into web apps? (Ex. Spotify, DropBox, and several others) There are several great reasons that an app would solve your problem, and a web app or website might fall short!
- Apps can collect specific data that might not available on an average website
- Apps can send push notifications to specific users
- Apps can spread brand awareness by pushing data
- Apps can do offline data storage
- Apps can be accessed without a web connection
These are just a few good factors in helping illustrate why app development would make sense to help solve your problem.
What kind of problems can an app solve
As stated above, the first step is to figure out the WHY your business would need an app. What kind of problem do we have that we need to solve within an app? There are several apps out there that solve several problems, there are games to entertain, there are messaging apps to help communicate with friends, there are news apps to help get the headlines in a few taps and the list goes on and on. As a small-business owner, an app could help get your products or services to people in a few taps. An app could create a new platform for you to speak with your customers.
What’s the best way to build my app?
There are several ways to accomplish building an app. After determining what you would like to have in an app, or why you want an app, we can embark on building the app with you!
Discovery / Research Phase
There are several steps in app building, the first one is to do a discovery phase. This is time spent for the developers, and the full app team, to get to know you and your business. They will discover how it works and create the best solution for your business’s app. The discovery phase is critical to make sure everyone is on the same page, and that the end result is an app that works for you!
The length of a discovery phase can vary depending on many things. The main factor is the app budget and how complex the app needs to be.
The average discovery phase usually lasts a few weeks, however, it can last much longer depending on the scope. Once the app is fully understood the team can get to researching the best ways to create your app.
In the research phase, the app team can determine what technologies and coding libraries would work best for your app. The team can also research to see if anything similar exists. This helps you possibly get a leg up on your competition!
We also help define your target audience and who the app is really intended for. We can research how they will think and use the app and see if it matches intended user and create user stories!
The discovery and research are crucial to getting off on the right start!
UX / UI Design
After lots of research and laying a solid foundation, it is time to move on to the overall design! This is where the designer will step in, and start using the research to help them layout your app. The length and amount of design again depend on how complex the app is and the app’s budget!
The UX / UI design process usually starts with a wireframe. In the wireframe stage, there is no color, and probably no pictures. Wireframes are used by the design team to lay out the app’s screens and get a general layout that will give the best user experience. Wireframes look pretty simple, but they are an important step as they dictate the placement of general elements inside your app and help get the overall layout.
After the wireframes are done and approved, it is time to turn them into a full design. The design team will take the wireframes and do a full hig fidelity design. They will add colors to buttons, textures, and photos to screen and give a full mockup of the app. The designs are then agreed upon by the client and then the designer can export all of the elements that make up the app and give them to the programming team!
This is the stage of the app development where the heavy lifting is done! This stage of the process is where the app is truly built. In the programming stage, the development team takes the screenshots and mockups the designers made and put functionality in it. They will also build out how everything inside the app is stored. For example, if your app requires a login, or some type of data to be pulled in to make it work, this is the stage that it is built.
Programming an app can be fairly difficult and can take a long time. It again depends on how complex the app is. The more complex, the more programming.
The app has been designed and programmed. It is almost ready to be delivered! The last and perhaps the most important phase of the process is testing. This is the stage where the team will run all kinds of test and simulations to ensure that the app works correctly. They can test everything from vulnerabilities in the code to user testing and seeing if users are using the app as predicted. This stage is important as it is making sure the app functions correctly.
During the tests, the team takes the feedback and will implement the changes. The testing phase and how vigorous the app is tested again depends on the complexity of the app and your budget.
The bugs are out, the app is polished, and it’s ready to launch! The final part of the build process now is to release it to the various platforms. If it is a standard mobile app, that means releasing it in the Apple iOS App Store and the Android Google Play store.
Releasing the app on Apple’s App store takes a few days to a few weeks. It can depend on the volume of apps waiting to be approved as apple tests each one to ensure there is nothing malicious in the code and is up to their standards.
Releasing on the Android Google Play store is easier. You can usually have your app up in their store the same day as you upload it. They do minor testing on the apps sent in so the process is much quicker.
After everything is approved and released into the store you have officially launched your app!
An app build can take an extensive amount of time from weeks to years. The end result is to have a great application that gets your business directly into people’s hands. While the application might be small or simple, the development process is very complex!