The increased popularity of mobile devices has resulted in a meteoric increase in apps in app stores. The convenience of using a mobile device has forced businesses and brands to use apps to reach and engage their target audience.
If you are also planning to build an application for your audience, having an understanding of the mobile app development life cycle (MADLC) will help you know how to proceed to get it right the first time. It will also help you know what you need and what to expect throughout the development process. The MADLC is not very different from the software development life cycle. Take a look at these five steps:
1. Defining Your Objectives And Market Research
Before the commencement of the development, you need to have a clear strategy with well-defined goals. The first step involves gathering information that will help inform the nature and function of your application.
What do you want to achieve with the app? What trends in the market are informing your decision to build an app for your brand/business? How will the app benefit your engagement with your target audience? What segment of the market are you targeting? Be clear and objective when answering these questions, as they form the foundation of your app development process, whether you’re outsourcing app development or doing it in-house.
During this step, you need to develop a unique app concept that will arouse the interest of your target group. A good practice you can adopt is checking out some of the top apps in a given app store. Analyze how they function and what they are getting right. Additionally, you must be clear on the following:
• What will keep you ahead of the competition? It would be best if you offered something unique to your target market that your competitors don’t offer. Focus on the unique aspects of your apps.
• Does your concept align with your business objectives? Your core objective should be to propel your business to the next level. You should be able to draw a direct link between your app concept and your business.
• Is the app concept customer-centric? Ensure your app concept addresses the needs of your customers.
Additionally, your concept should be reasonable and easy to execute.
3. App Design
This phase is where the creation begins. Here, you can make initial sketches and designs for the different screens and functions of your app. You should have an eye for detail while doing this. The visual elements of various app components should be harmonious and feed the overall user experience.
With these figured out, you can then proceed to create a prototype app. Ideally, this is a complete app that materializes your concept. There are plenty of tools developers can use in developing the prototype available from solution providers.
With a prototype, you can get insights from other developers, your client, and your target group on the functionality of the app, its limitations, and the adjustments and improvements that can be made to improve the app.
4. App Development
The development phase mainly focuses on building a robust backend that connects various elements of the app to your servers, databases, storage solutions, and APIs. The standard development process has three stages:
• Alpha Stage: All the core features have been incorporated in the app, but testing and the addition of supplementary features are not yet done.
• Beta Stage: Light testing has been done and major bugs have been fixed. Also, some additional features to complement the core ones have been added. At this stage, advanced testing can be done using a small group of the actual target group.
• Release Candidate Stage: The app is ready for release.
The client needs to be actively engaged through all the stages of development to get it right the first time. Additionally, developers should have the guidelines for developing native apps in the back of their mind to avoid any hitches during deployment.
5. App Testing
With a fully functional app, it is time to put your app through a rigorous testing process by subjecting it to a wide range of relevant real-world scenarios. The purpose is to identify any faults missed through the initial stages.
The key elements to test include usability, compatibility with various devices, performance, the interface, low-level resource testing, service, accessibility, and security. The insights gathered from testing should then inform final adjustments on the app.
6. Deployment And Support
The final step is deploying the app. This phase involves getting the word out to as many people as possible. Some of the key focus areas in this phase include:
• App store optimization to improve your app’s visibility.
• Search engine optimization via the use of effective keywords in marketing blogs and social media posts.
• Creating a landing page on your website specifically for your app.
• Paid advertisements on social media for wider reach.
Post-deployment, developers provide support in case there are fixes or adjustments to be made. Their support also comes in handy when there is a need to update the app.
The longest of these phases is the last. App development is a never-ending process as long as the app is functional. As the app gets more users and reviews, you gain more insights into what you can do to improve the app’s features and what to include or exclude in future updates. User preferences are always evolving, and your task through development is ensuring your app conforms to their changing needs.