An Overview of Different Stages of Mobile App Development Lifecycle

Mobile App Development Life Cycle

30Jun
2017

Mobile apps are a part of every smartphone user's inevitable daily necessity. Corporate companies, be it small or large do invest in mobile apps to expand their business to make it reach every nook and corner of the country or even the whole world. If you are an ambitious business person and need to expand your services anywhere and anytime, then mobile apps are the sure shot choice for you. This article will give you an insight on the different stages involved in developing a mobile app. To explain the whole process of the mobile app development lifecycle in short, I would say that every app that is floating in the Play Store or App Store undergoes several stages of extensive research, planning and validation. The stages of developing the mobile application are almost the same as the website development but from the perspective of a mobile device than a laptop. So, let's see what happens behind the scenes of app development projects. 
 
 
App Development Idea, Action Plan and Results (Pic courtesy: http://www.pinsdaddy.com)
 
 
1. Idea abstraction.
  • Putting on your thinking cap: The base of any project is the conceptualization. If you are a start-up firm, then the idea needs to be unique. But, if you have an already established business and require an app to support it then you are already through this step.
  • Knowing your target audience: Knowing the target audience is necessary to know what the app should encompass.
  • Knowing your competitors: It is necessary to know what the other apps of the same category comprises and the services they offer the customers. This research is highly indispensable to make the app stand out in the crowd. An added feature in addition to the other apps available in the market would fetch your app that extra brownie points. And yes, this is not an easy affair with millions and billions of apps going rounds in the Play Store. Once the idea has taken off, then comes the implementation.  But how long does it take to get this idea off the ground? It takes a very long time and yes the long duration is inevitable as the quality of the app plays a vital role in the ladder to the throne.
  • Estimating budget.
  • Am I going to make the app free or paid? 
  • Stipulated time to launch the app
  • Whom should I entrust with the task of app development? It is necessary to research on the Mobile App Development Companies in Middle East and entrust the task on a Top Android/iOS app development company according to your requirement.
2. Wireframes on the roll 
 
 
(A sample wireframe for the world-famous website and app- You tube) Pic Courtesy: wireframesketcher.com
 
Once the idea is ready, the next step would be to prepare a blue print or a wireframe of the project. As the name suggests, wireframes are nothing but a skeletal system of the idea. These wireframes are highly important as it benefits everyone who is involved in the project starting from the client to the developer. Wireframes help the clients to evaluate if the picture given to them has missed out anything or even provide new ideas to build on top of it. This minimizes the cost and effort taken due to changes in later stages. The wireframes also give the developers to deliver what precisely is expected of them so that things are not overdone or left out later. This even helps the managers give their cost estimation and evaluate if the requirements laid out to them are feasible to implement or not. 
 
3. Assessment of technology:
Once the wireframes are validated, gather the technical requirements that are crucial to implement the application in real time. The requirements are to be gathered to understand the feasibility to implement the project. There are a lot of technical requirements that are discussed in the making of the app. Some of which are
  • Deciding on the platform like android/iOS which the app is expected to be compatible with.
  • What is the technology that is required to implement the app in the chosen platform? 
  • What is the framework that is required for this?
  • What features in the phone will the app need access to?
  • What technology should be used in the backend depending on the data that the app uses? 
4. Prototyping the app
A prototype is nothing but a low-cost dummy model of the main product that is going to be developed. It contains the prime functionalities of the app and lets the client use the system and give inputs. The building of wireframes and prototype may seem time consuming and waste of money but that's not the case. Prototype and wireframes aids the client to get to know that they are receiving what they had asked for and not something else. These are highly required for any project either big or small as changes made in the product is more time consuming and cost multiplying. Making a prototype would minimize the last-minute changes as there is a lot of planning and validation of the requirement involved. "A stitch in time saves nine" isn't it? If you are a client, feel free to make as many changes as possible and put in more ideas to the app at this stage because creativity at the later stage would cost you a fortune and delays the app release. If you have an already established business, the prototype could be shown to the customers and their feedback could be analyzed. User perspectives will help to improve the application and take it to a higher level. There are a lot of tools available in the market to make prototyping effortless and efficient.
 
5. Design:
UI and UX sound the same but are two different features all together. UI targets the look and display of the app screen and the UX targets the functionalities like responsiveness of the app. The UI and UX should be perfectly balanced and they go hand in hand to enable user engagement in the app.
  • UI: UI mainly focuses on how the app is displayed to the eyes of the user and designers create designs that are fascinates the users. Colors and graphics for the app are finalized in this phase. Care should be taken to avoid too many colors and graphics in the app as it tends to be more cumbersome for the users to use it.
  • UX: UX aims in smooth end user interaction with the application. UX focuses on the usability part of the app. Platform that the app is going to work and the hardware plays an important role in the UX plans. It is based on the platform that we must consider few Interface design guidelines for a better UX. The guidelines are,
    • Apple: Human Interface Guidelines
    • Android: Design Guidelines
    • Windows Phone: Design Library for Windows Phone
  • Storyboard: In the technical requirements, you gathered, if the app is developed for the iOS platform, The UI developed would be storyboards. It helps to create screens and interconnect them. Xcode offers a visual editor for storyboards.
6. Development
 
 
 
Pic courtesy: pinsdaddy.com 
 
The app developers take the requirements and write corresponding codes to implement the functionalities. The apps screens will be ready at this stage and the functionalities will be developed and integrated to it. Now-a-days, most of the app development companies' follow the agile methodology for coding since it delivers functionalities in small iterations which minimizes the bugs as testing is done in every module built. This enables the product to be more stable and adapt to changes in the future. But these changes cannot be major ones since it will delay the app release and cost of development will shoot up drastically. Agile methods deliver a quality and an agile product.
 
Developer accounts must be set up in Google Play/ App Store depending on the platform chosen at this stage.
 
App store guidelines must be considered at this stage to get the app through the respective stores to launch. That is the sole purpose of the development isn't it. So, make sure that your app adheres to the respective guidelines of its platform to avoid hassles in the later stage. 
 
7. Testing:
If the project follows the agile methodology, then the testing and developing goes hand in hand. Once the app is developed completely, it will be put through a series of test to ensure that hell does not break loose when the user uses it in real time. 
An app that is developed goes through many testing phases, some of which are,        
  • Functional Testing - to test if all functionalities are working as intended.
  • Performance testing- To check the app's performance and behavior in all adverse conditions
  • Interrupt Testing - To check if the app is working despite interruptions from the other app.
  • Usability testing- Checking the application for usability issues. 
The other tests include installation testing, Security testing, Services testing, testing on emulators, Beta testing etc. 
 
8. Launching
Once the app gets thumbs up from all testing phases, then the app is ready to launch. The next phase would be submitting app in the play store/app store for approval. The approval stage is quicker as it takes just 3 hours for an android app to get approved and 4-5 days in case of an app for iOS.
 
9. App store optimization
The task is not accomplished once the app reaches among the other apps floating in the Play Store/App Store. The apps must be optimized in such a way that it appears on the top when the user runs a search. The app title and description should have the relevant keywords. When the user clicks on the app, the page should have the app name, icon, screenshots, promotional videos, and other necessary information clearly.
 
 
Wrapping up:
Such an extensively planned and careful process, isn't? Even though the key development of the app lifecycle is done with, the process does not conclude right there. There is more in store to do. The app after launching goes through marketing strategy to reach the user. Marketing is highly required for the app to gain popularity and capture user attention. The feedback of the real-time experience of the app is obtained from the users and the app is improved by the Mobile App developers and several versions are released. With the advancement in technology and the version releases of the platforms and latest updates in technology, the application is again enhanced to keep the app ahead of competitions and retain the customers. 

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