Hackernoon logoAn Overview of What You Need to Know Before Starting to Develop a Mobile App by@abhishekamin

An Overview of What You Need to Know Before Starting to Develop a Mobile App

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@abhishekaminAbhishek Amin

Working as a lead content strategist, writer, and editor for one of the best software development companies.

Hello mates! It’s been said that the world is going mobile, and so are we. Mobile devices and mobile applications have reached the core in all walks of life. The big boom and drastic changes in the usage of Android and iOS smartphones have led the mobile app development trend to be the most significant over the last decade. 

According to Statista, revenues from mobile applications are subjected to reach US$4,025 million by the end of this year. User representation will be 11.8% in 2021 and is expected to hit 13.4% by 2024.

From the numbers above, we can only imagine the potential of mobile applications at an industry level. But for those who do not know much about the basics of a mobile application, this article might help!

What Exactly is a Mobile Application?

A mobile application is a variant of a software application designed for a specific OS, empowering it to run on all devices like smartphones and tablets with the same OS. For example, a mobile app developed on iOS would be made to run on iPhones and iPads. This again depends on the project requirement whether it should be compatible to both iPads and iPhone or not. That depends on the business requirements, and the decision is solely yours. 

Developing a mobile app could be a game-changing move for your business: E-commerce, on-demand marketplace applications, real estate marketplace applications with AR-VR powered virtual 3D tour for immersive experiences, 2D-3D games, and the list goes on and on.

The bottom line here is that if you are a startup or an entrepreneur or an enterprise owner, mobile application development is something that will definitely skyrocket your business operations to a new level, in terms of experience, revenue, or both.

How is a Mobile App Developed?

The mobile application development process is all about coding or writing a programming software that works on a mobile device, which could be a smartphone, a tablet, or a wearable device that runs on Android, iOS, and others. However, mobile app development is not only about coding a native, HTML5, or hybrid app. There is much more to it. 

Everything starts with a project discovery where the client and the development team collaborates efficiently to know more about the business objectives and goals and understand the overall purpose and target audience in order to design a prototype as per the expectations. In other words, mobile app development is also an ecosystem that includes various phases like strategic ideation, defining, designing, building, and launching a successful mobile product.

Why Mobile App Development? 

Herewith the reasons why mobile application development might be one things you’d want to consider first:

A. Mobile App Stats Showcasing Its Potential

  • An average mobile app user in the United States has over 100 apps installed on their device, App Annie reports.
  • A typical mobile user will check their smartphone 63 times a day, suggests Bank My Cell.
  • Bank My Cell also reports that 87% of users check their phone at least one hour before sleep. Out of those, 69% of users will check their phone at least five minutes before sleep.
  • According to a Leanplum report, 79% of users will abandon a digital product after only one day of use.
  • A reputed measurement and analytics company ComScore reports that mobile apps of today account for more than 57% of all digital media usage.
  • By 2021, almost 7 billion people worldwide will be using mobile devices, Statista reports.
  • By 2022, the number of mobile app downloads or year will reach 258 million from 168 million in 2017. By the same year, the app store consumer spending will increase by 92% to reach a smashing $157 billion all over the world.

B. A Potential Problem Solver

The numbers above speak volumes with clarity considering the current and predicted market over the next decade. It is a harsh reality that all the mobile apps that are being developed do not succeed. This is the reason the idea of developing a mobile app must be tied to a long-term goal. If your goal is to solve an ongoing problem, make sure that the mobile app solution you develop serves to the fullest.

Thinking from the end-users point of view, they will be more than willing to interact with you, buy your products and book your services via a mobile platform, or involved in a business with you. The overall idea is to deliver a platform that makes it easy for every customer to perform actions on-the-go with speed and efficiency. 

C. Platform to Entertain

A full spectrum of mobile gaming apps, online media, and content apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HotStar, etc. are the best examples. A strategic mobile app design and development along with app monetization help to excel the mobile app on a global scale. With the fact that a lot of users are accessing the entertainment apps these days during their busy schedules. 

OTT apps, social media apps, video sharing apps, or a global platform to showcase your talent like TikTok, explore, find, and, learn from the artists to target the audience of any category.

D. Adding Value to People’s Daily Lives

The best case for a mobile app would be to give what users want, instantly and at all times. The real value of developing a mobile app could be seen by the daily usage of it. Hence, if you are thinking to develop a mobile app that serves the daily necessities of people, definitely give it a go. 

There can be a lot of app ideas where individuals or enterprises are looking for apps that provide a streamlined solution to manage their appointments. Apps like Skype, Zoom, etc. can be also thought of while discussing this which provides features to instantly communicate with individuals and teams via voice and video conferencing with a range of features. A grocery app or an E-commerce app is another domain that could add value to the business as well as customers to order and buy the items they wish for.

Types of Mobile Apps

The type of a mobile app, as you may have already known, depends on the technologies and frameworks used while developing a mobile app. Developing a mobile app for the iOS platform for all Apple iPhones would be different than developing an app for Android.

The three main types of mobile applications are mentioned below:

Native Apps

You may ask what is a native app? The native app created will only work for a specific platform, either Android or iOS. The native iOS app would not work over the devices with Android OS and vice-versa. The tools and frameworks used are different too. For instance, Xcode (IDE) and Objective-C (programming language) are used to develop iOS apps. Android Studio Eclipse (IDE), Java, Kotlin are used to build applications for devices running on Android OS.

Native mobile apps development is the preferred choice of the developers’ community, as it offers the ability to make the most of device features and potential.

HTML Apps or Web Apps

Different from the native apps, these apps are programmed to run on all devices, desktops, smartphones, and tablets. With the power of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS; such apps are developed with a write once, run anywhere approach. This means the code is written once can be used across multiple platforms. These apps are also known as cross-platform mobile apps with a responsive design to make them run perfectly on various smartphones and tablets of different screens and resolutions.

These apps can be shared in the form of a URL that redirects the users to install the app and save it as a bookmark on their mobile devices. This is another benefit for smartphone users as it saves the device memory.

Hybrid Apps

Why are they called Hybrid Apps? Because they are a mix of native apps and web apps. Hybrid apps will deliver the exact look and feel of a native app but will operate originally as a web app. In its layman's terms, hybrid apps are web apps with a native cover. Similar to web apps, a single codebase is shared across multiple platforms in the development cycle. Developers can also use the APIs used for the native apps to provide specific features and functionalities with two-way communication for real-time data sharing.

Hybrid mobile app development saves cost and time significantly, to empower faster market launch. It is also a brilliant option to know the audience’s behavior and feedback about your app or product to come up with upgrades for the next launch. 

However, which platform to select depends on a lot of factors associated with your business objectives and budget assigned for a mobile app development project.

Factors affecting the cost to build a Mobile App

Normally this depends on the following points:

Choosing the Type of a Mobile App

Cost depends on whether you want to go for a native app, a web app, a hybrid or cross-platform application. 

Nature of the App

Based on the industry and purpose of the mobile app, whether it is a database app, a full-fledged E-commerce or marketplace solution, etc.; the features and functionalities with the latest technologies integration with APIs will affect the cost. It depends on a case-to-case basis and the project requirements.

Continuous App Maintenance

Launching an app is just not the end. Annual maintenance of the app is a critical aspect given the scalability and usability of the app. You must have an allocated budget for annual app maintenance and upgrade services.

Software Testing and QA

Make sure the app is flawless before it enters the market. Or else be ready for the app crashes and experiencing higher bounce rates. Know the importance of investing in QA services beforehand and get the bug fixes in real-time. This cost is nothing compared to the losses you may face upon ignoring it.

First Thing At Last: Who Do You Hire to Develop a Mobile App?

Perhaps the most significant factor of all. You may have the in-house resources to develop a mobile app. Else you may look for a freelancer or hire a top software development company locally or an offshore development company (ODC). To avail the long-term benefits upon overall app quality and customer service, hiring a mobile development team from a software development company is preferred.

Now, you may wonder how the process of mobile app development commences, right? Let us dig into it without wasting time. Normally you may require the following resources to develop any app:

  •     Project Manager
  •     A UI/UX Designer
  •     Two programmers at least
  •     Quality Assurance Engineer

Mobile App Development Process

It all depends on the people or company you hire. However, the most basic phases in the mobile app development process are as follows:

Project Discovery

This is the initial phase of the project where the engagement actually starts. Knowledge sharing begins to understand the business nature, team, the client, the target audience, and most importantly the purpose of the app to be developed. The research, analysis, feature list, and journey roadmap are prepared and showcased to the client for approval.

Design Prototypes / Wireframes

Designing a User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) using the brand colors, if any, begins. This is to provide a non-functional prototype to showcase an idea with the presentation of the app screens, from the starting point to the end. The wireframes and prototype testing is done and finalized here to be sent to the development team.

App Development

Many times backend development of the mobile app starts in parallel with the UI / UX design. Once the design is ready, the designs with all the elements are integrated within the app, and frontend development starts. Mobile app developers write the code, develop, and run the testing about the app modules being ready.

There may be a case in which slight modifications can be made to wireframes and functionalities, depending upon the limitations of the backend. This is where the flexibility helps in the app development process, which is hard to get in engagement with a freelancer.

Software App Testing

Prevention is better than anything post-launch, right? This is where the overall app quality, usability, functionality testing is done. Any bugs or malfunctions occurring within the app are resolved with an idea of what could be improved before the app goes live.

App Launch

Once it is determined that the app is ready to go, the process of launching it on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store begins. There is a predefined process by Apple and Google for app submission to make it launch on the respective stores.

App Marketing

If you have created a marketing strategy by yourself or outsourced to an app marketing company or agency, they would strategize the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch app marketing techniques. But it would be better if you understand the importance of this by expert consultation beforehand.

App Monetization

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This is a process of generating revenue from your app with the help of your customers. Various ways to generate revenue through apps is described below:

In-app Purchases

Offer premium services, content, rewards in terms of virtual currencies (gems), facilities, upgrades, etc. can be unlocked after the purchase. You might be surprised to find out that more than 50% of the apps include in-app purchases to generate revenue from the app. So brainstorm about the features beforehand.

In-app Advertising

Allow the advertisements to run in the application. This is ideal if it is a free app to install. You ask for an upgrade to make it ad-free by inserting the in-app purchase. Both ways, your app will generate revenue. Get paid on the total number of advert impressions and upon clicks too.

Quick tip: You get more revenue if video adverts are there, with a consideration given to the length of the adverts.

Subscriptions

Monthly / Quarterly / Yearly subscriptions with an auto-renew option is a standard way. This is where a new user can access initial or some of the app content only. For accessing a complete set of features and content, a subscription module can be introduced. 

Sponsorships

Find the right sponsor with the same targets and white-label your app, which can be designed for brand colors in no time at all. Gain brand loyalty and expand your userbase with paid sponsorships.

Affiliation Marketing

Gain rewards in terms of revenue by becoming a member of the mobile affiliation network. Advert apps, products, and services within your apps and generate revenue by pay per click or installs.

Finally… A Quick Tip

Mobile app development is a complex process but it actually exists like an open book considering its every step. Mobile app ideation and close collaboration with a team of mobile developers are hugely significant in making the right step towards mobile app success.

I hope the readers will enjoy the journey where I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, in case anyone is going for a mobile app development project.

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