From Concept to Release: The 6 Steps of the Mobile App Development Process

Mobile app development follows a standard process of strategy, design, development, and deployment, similar to other software projects.
May 20, 2024

If you're new to software development, you might find it lengthy. Why the detailed design steps? Why constant testing? And what about iterations? Understanding this process upfront can save you questions and enhance your experience. This article guides you from idea to app launch and beyond.

App development encompasses multiple stages, including strategy, design, development, and deployment. We've divided the app creation process into 6 steps, providing a comprehensive breakdown of each. This breakdown sheds light on how your idea transforms into a functional app accessible on various app stores.

Step 1. Conceptualization and Idea Generation

Every mobile project has a unique beginning. The journey of mobile app development initiates with brainstorming and generating innovative concepts. This phase involves pinpointing user needs, market trends, and potential solutions that lay the foundation for your app.

Clients often approach us with a mere idea, while others arrive with documented requirements or a list of desired features. Some seek to replicate existing systems, and occasionally, we're tasked with creating an 'app like Instagram' or similar. Regardless, our initial aim is to comprehensively grasp your app's concept. Who will be using it? Which platform(s) are we targeting? Are there comparable systems in the same domain? What are the project's business objectives? Do you have a marketing strategy in mind?

To acquire answers to these inquiries, we embark on the app development process with a series of client interviews. This approach enables us to gain a precise understanding of project goals, context, and timeline. Ideally, we involve various stakeholders from your end, such as product owners, designers, marketing teams, and domain experts. This comprehensive involvement allows us to consider numerous project facets, understand your expectations, and immerse ourselves in your business and market environment.

Once we've collected the requirements and gathered all necessary information, we transition to one of the most pivotal segments of the app creation process - analytics and research.

Step 2. Market Research and Validation

This stands as a pivotal phase in any new product development. The more comprehensive your research, the more refined your product strategy becomes. This practice not only diminishes mobile application development costs but also saves substantial time throughout the subsequent development stages.

Within this stage, an all-encompassing market research is executed to assess the demand for your app concept. By delving into competitor analysis, evaluating target audience demographics, and discerning user preferences, you can effectively validate your concept and arrive at well-informed decisions.

Step 3. Design and User Interface Creation

Design breathes life into visual aesthetics and the user interface. Designers craft an engaging UI/UX that aligns with your app's objectives and resonates with users. This step prioritizes usability, consistency, and visual allure.

Arguably the most exhilarating phase of the mobile application development cycle, user experience (UX) design offers an initial peek into the app's potential appearance and functionality. This stage is where we shape the users' interaction with the system and define their overall experience. The UX design journey is a multi-step process. While we provide a concise overview here, for a more detailed understanding, you can explore our article on the design process and techniques.

During the UI design phase, we transform black-and-white wireframes into captivating and vibrant mockups. This stage is undoubtedly among the most gratifying in app development. Here, you'll witness how your application will precisely appear when users access it on their mobile devices.

This process might initiate with mood boards—collections of design elements and color scheme samples—especially if your product introduces an entirely new brand. Conversely, if you possess a brand book, style guide, or other branding materials, the UI designer's primary objective is to adeptly translate your brand's distinct identity to your new app. By the conclusion of this phase, you'll possess a vivid, high-fidelity prototype of your app, crafted using Figma or another design tool.

While UI design concludes the design phase, it's not uncommon for us to revisit mockups and apply adjustments during subsequent stages like development and testing. The beauty of the iterative development approach lies in our ability to test assumptions and design concepts, making revisions based on early feedback long before the system reaches the end users' hands.

Step 4. App Development and Programming

Moving forward in the app development cycle, the subsequent phase involves seamlessly transitioning the completed and approved UI design to the development team. This transition's smooth execution is crucial, enabling effective communication between designers and developers to clarify details before the coding process begins. Ultimately, the development team's objective is not solely to create a functional app, but also to craft a pixel-perfect and engaging experience.

Development entails translating the design and technical specifications into code. Developers harness programming languages, frameworks, and tools to construct the app's fundamental functionalities, ensuring a seamless blend of performance and functionality.

The composition and skill set of the team hinge upon the app's specifics. In cases where we create two native applications, a single iOS and Android mobile app design is employed, but two engineers (one for iOS and one for Android) are engaged to develop separate apps for each store. Conversely, cross-platform mobile apps, built using contemporary frameworks like React Native or Flutter, often operate on a single codebase and can be developed by a single engineer. Yet, if an app necessitates intricate backend development, additional competence and skills might be required for the project.

Step 5. Testing and Quality Assurance

Thorough testing is conducted to discover and resolve bugs, glitches, and performance concerns. Quality assurance involves a thorough examination of app features, functionality, compatibility, and security to ensure a smooth user experience. Quality assurance is an essential component of every development cycle, encompassing various testing types.

Functional and performance tests verify the app's proper functionality and speed under varying loads. Usability tests assess the user experience. The app is also tested on diverse devices and simulators to ensure it renders well on various screen sizes. This meticulous testing process guarantees a robust and user-friendly application.

Step 6. Deployment and launch

As we approach the final steps of mobile app development — deployment and launch — we ensure that your application is robust and performing well. Whenever possible, we engage not only stakeholders but also potential users for testing and feedback to gather early insights.

Upon receiving the green light, we proceed to add the application to the relevant app store(s). If you don't have a developer account yet, you'll need to create one as the app owner. We adhere to standard procedures, such as adding screenshots and providing descriptions. Ideally, with smooth processing and prompt store reviews, this step should take only a few days. Occasionally, you might receive comments or requests from store representatives, which might slightly delay the launch until all matters are resolved.

For a consumer-focused app, having a web landing page that promotes the application and provides links to the published app stores can be beneficial.

After traversing all the key stages of mobile development, the app becomes available in stores, and you start receiving initial reviews and installation statistics. While it might seem like your journey has reached its conclusion, in most cases, it's just the beginning.

After launching the application, the question arises:
What to do next?
And the answer is - Monitoring and Optimization

After the app is launched, it becomes essential to monitor its performance, analyze user reviews, and actively interact with end users to pinpoint any potential usability concerns. Genuine user feedback holds immense value.

To align with your goals, you can set up key performance indicators (KPIs) and utilize analytics tools for thorough monitoring. As time progresses, the accumulation of substantial feedback equips you to craft a strategy aimed at refining and elevating your product even further.

And main question...
How long does it take to develop an app?

Crafting and designing a lightweight app with basic functionalities might only demand 2-3 months. This quick turnaround is often seen in Proof of Concept (PoC) and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) projects aimed at entering the market promptly. Conversely, feature-rich apps that seamlessly integrate multiple third-party services (think Airbnb or Uber Eats) might necessitate a longer development period, ranging from 6 months to a full year, before they are ready for launch.

Several major factors impact the number and length of steps for developing an app:

1. Tech Stack and Approach:
The development of mobile apps for Android or iOS using native toolsets generally takes more time compared to utilizing cross-platform development frameworks like React Native or Flutter. However, it's worth noting that the cross-platform approach might not always be the ideal choice, especially for applications that require high performance and scalability.

2. Functionality: The extent and intricacy of features play a crucial role in shaping the project's roadmap. The more features involved, the more comprehensive the development process.

3. Integrations: Depending on project objectives, integrating third-party services or external systems can either streamline the development timeline or extend it. For instance, using API-driven integrations can save time by utilizing existing resources. However, as the number of integrations increases, the process of configuring, testing, and supporting them can become more time-consuming.

If you're seeking to create a rough time estimate for your app concept and are uncertain about the process, mobile app development experts are available to assist. Reach out to our team, share details about your project, and we'll provide an initial time and cost estimate. Our aim is to aid you in validating your idea and guide you through the early stages of planning.

Enlist the services of an expert team for comprehensive mobile app development. Frontetica stands as an established provider of mobile app development solutions. Our expertise extends to assisting both startups and enterprise clients in crafting captivating user-centric applications, ensuring effective engagement with their target audience on mobile platforms.

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