Mobile Application Development Process: [Step by Step Guide]

Have an app idea? Want to make your own app and make money out of it?

If you’re developing a mobile application for the first time, you may have certain questions in your mind:

  • What will be the cost of mobile app development?
  • How to earn money from the application?
  • How will the app get more downloads?
  • Which important features should be included in the app?
  • How often should the mobile app be updated?

According to Statista, here are the number of apps on the Google Play and Apple App Store.

  • Google Play Store: 3.4 million
  • App Store: 2.2 millions

Most of the companies are trying to take advantage of this trend but are not aware about the application development process and its importance.

Why is it important to understand the lifecycle of mobile application development?

  • Reduces the cost of app development, since you know the expectation and purpose of each phase
  • Provides general idea of the time taken in every stage
  • Easy to define key milestones
  • You can set goals and strategize the development accordingly

Contents

Phase 1: Market Research and Understanding the Project Requirements

Market Research

The first step of the mobile app development process involves gathering information that will help to plan the roadmap. This phase aims to understand the idea, purpose of the mobile app development, business logic, objectives, and competitors’ shortcomings.

Your first step should be to do research about your target audience and competitors. Since all apps start with an idea, make sure to do market research to find a unique and profitable business idea.

To gather the requirements, you’ll need to answer the following questions:

  • Who will use this app? Who are the ideal customers?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • How do the competitors’ deliver their service? Does their process differ?
  • What are the pain points and challenges in the existing apps?
  • What do you want to accomplish with this mobile app?
  • What is the USP of your mobile app?

Answering these questions will help shape your app idea, define a cost estimation, and set the delivery milestones as per your project requirements.

The more you understand the whereabouts of the mobile app, the better credible result it will deliver. Therefore, it is recommended to do the detailed analysis and basic groundwork of the above questions before moving to the next phase.

Phase 2: Planning the Mobile App and Analyzing the Competition

Planning

After gathering the requirements and doing market research, analyze the competitor’s app – how they function, what they are getting right, and figure out the gap between competitor’s app and your mobile app.

The planning phase in the mobile app development process aims to define the detailed functional requirement of the app. For the app’s success, develop a unique app concept and identify the features and functionalities you’d implement in it.

Here the questions arises:

Which Platform do You Need to Choose for App Development?

Choosing the platform depends on your requirements and the features of the mobile app. Most of the apps require different technology stacks. Discuss your mobile app requirements with one of the best app development companies like us who has experience in developing similar applications.

With the help of consultation from the mobile app development experts, it’d be easier for you to understand which mobile platform to choose for app development; native apps (iOS app or Android app) or hybrid apps

Once you select the app development platform, you must consider recent technology trends. Why? Because most of the audience is used to it, and it’d be easier for you to get your application into the market and get your app users habitual about it.

Which Recognizable and Unique Name Can You Give to Your Mobile app?

Find a name that is short, memorable, searchable and unique. Most of the successful apps have one-word names, which helps the users to remember easily. For instance: Whatsapp, Telegram, Hike, Skype, Snapchat.

Phase 3: Validate Your Mobile App Idea

Planning

Before moving forward in the app development process, how about doing a feasibility study of your idea? You might think that your idea is a good one; it solves a specific problem, but have you seen its output?

The purpose of this phase is to make sure your creative mobile app development ideas are valid and hold the importance in the market.

Build Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Version of the App Idea

MVP is the basic version of the app, which has the core features for early customers. The app is released in the market only after getting sufficient feedback.

For instance: Spotify, one of the most popular music streaming service providers, launched MVP for a closed group of Windows users. Having received considerable feedback from the first customers, the Spotify founders- Daniel EK and Martin Lorentzon proved that their service would generate a considerable income. Today, Spotify has 155 million active users and 155 million premium Spotify subscribers.

Many other successful start-ups have validated their mobile app development idea by developing MVP before commencing with the final version.

Check this guide about MVP version mobile apps if you want to explore more on it.

  • Reduces the risk of developing the mobile app
  • Saves time during the actual development
  • Proves that your idea has an actual demand
  • Provide feedback for the future development of the product
  • Boost the confidence to sell the product
  • Conduct market research
  • Build Minimum Viable Product
  • Analyze the mobile application store charts
  • Understand the size of the target market
  • Check whether a product will fit in the market

Have an App Idea in Mind?

Want to validate your app idea? Want to get a free consultation?

Phase 4: Sign Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to Protect Your App Idea

Signing-of-NDA

After defining the complete strategy, development time-frame, cost-estimation, and freezing the requirements, if you’re planning to go ahead with a mobile app development company or freelancers, it is recommended to sign the NDA. Data privacy is of utmost importance in the app development process; thus, you need to make sure it is not shared in public.

What is an NDA?

NDA is a confidential agreement signed between two parties that agrees upon not disclosing or sharing certain information in public. If information is breached, legal actions are taken.

Why Sign an NDA During the Mobile App Development Process?

On signing an NDA, two parties commit to secure the app idea and other sensitive information. There are many software available through which app ideas, business strategies, and confidential information are automatically encrypted, stored, and securely backed up. In addition, most of the app development companies have dedicated teams to guide throughout the agreement.

What Does the Agreement Contain?

Most of the agreements contain- project requirements, communication methods, meeting data, legal clauses, the time frame of the agreement, and delivery phases in milestones.

What is the Importance of Signing the NDA?

  • Provides confidence to share confidential information
  • Ensures clarity on what information is confidential
  • Helps to preserve a critical business relationship

How to Patent an App Idea?

Have an exclusive app idea? Afraid about someone stealing it?
Patenting can shield your app idea and keeps the copiers away from stealing or using it. To patent it, your app idea should be new and exclusive to the subject to a patent law.

Phase 5: Wireframing of Mobile App

Signing-of-NDA

Once it is agreed to sign an NDA, the team of Business Analysts will start wireframing the app to understand how the app will look like.

Wireframing is the visual representation of the app concept. The primary purpose of this phase in the mobile app development process is to provide a clear outline of the screen structure, layout, navigation of the entire app, the relationship between each screen and features. Wireframes can be hand-drawn with pen and paper or by using wireframing tools like Balsamiq, Axure, Mockplus, and Sketch.

This is how a wireframe looks like.

popular dating apps in canada

Source: Moqups

Why is Wireframing Useful?

  • Identifies the missing needs
  • Get an overview of a mobile app flow
  • Estimates the project development with more accuracy
  • Helps to deliver the core message effectively
  • Gathers feedback at an early stage
  • It gives a clear picture of the elements that are needed to code
  • Saves time on the entire project

Here are the Tools Required for Wireframing

  1. Balsamiq
  2. Moqups
  3. Adobe
  4. Sketch

How Much Time Does it Take to Wireframe the Mobile App?

Estimated time 2-3 days depending on the scope and requirement of the mobile app.

Phase 6: Designing the UI/UX of the Mobile Apps

Signing-of-NDA

App design combines the UI and UX of an app; while UI is the overall style (color, fonts, buttons, controls) of the app, UX defines usability and functionality.

In the mobile app development process, the purpose of UI/UX is to provide easy, enjoyable, and effective interaction between mobile apps and users. In addition, UI/UX puts a lasting impact on the user’s mind, thereby boosting the conversion rate and growing the brand name.

Why UI/UX is Important

  • Increase customer retention
  • It gives the blue-print and visual direction of the entire app
  • Improves the average time spent by the visitor, which may result in conversion, and interaction
  • Improves brand perception
  • Boost search-engine ranking
  • Clarifies the vision
  • Draw attention to the readers

Which Tools do Graphic Designers Use for Designing the App?

  • Adobe XD
  • Sketch
  • Photoshop
  • InVision Studio
  • Marvel
  • Figma

What Makes a Good Mobile App Design?

Apps that are not designed well simply won’t succeed. Check out the below-mentioned to know what we recommend.

  • Maintain buttons, typefaces, labels similar across entire app
  • Use clear images
  • Make navigation easy
  • Don’t make random color choices
  • Use the elements that have clear purpose
  • Too many design elements can make app complicated
  • Don’t pick up fancy fonts
  • Keep design responsive
  • Keep it simple

How Much Time Does it Take to Design an App?

Designing mobile apps depends on the requirements, number of screens, features, and complexity. Have a look at the table to understand how much time we take to design simple, medium, and complex apps.

App TypeExamplesDesign Time
Simple AppCalculator, formula based calculations, simple image editor with inbuilt filter SDK1-2 weeks
Complex AppOnDemand applications like Uber eats, Postmates. Booking applications like airbnb, bookings.com – Video editors like Apple clips, FilmoraGo2-3 weeks
Enterprise AppLarge scale applications with multiple SDKs and custom SDKs E-Commerce application like Amazon, Walmart Streaming applications like Netflix Spotify3-4 weeks

Phase 7: Mobile App Development

Mobile App Development

After defining the app’s skeleton, your app is ready to move into the programming and coding phase. Development is an iterative phase where development work is broken into smaller milestones to develop an app. In this phase of the app development process, continuous changes happen until the expected result is not delivered.

Space-O Canada has top mobile app developers on board who can handle every aspect of the development precisely. Have a glimpse at our portfolio to know how we develop mobile applications.

What is the General Architecture for App Development?

The mobile app development process includes frontend and backend development to complete developing a mobile application.

Front-end Development: Front-end of the mobile app is what the user experiences and interacts with the mobile app. There are two types of front-end developments:

a) Native front-end development is designed for iOS (developed with Objective-C or Swift) or Android platforms (developed with Java or Kotlin).

b) Hybrid is used for both and is compatible with all operating system

Following is the technology stack we use for front-end development:

  • HTML
  • CSS3
  • JavaScript
  • AngularJS
  • ReactNative
  • Flutter

Back-end Development: As the name says, it handles the behind-the-scenes of the entire application. Backend development focuses on storing information in databases and creating an architecture, making it easy to retrieve it.

For instance: Signups, logins, messaging, storing data on the cloud, answering user queries happen in the backend. Amazon, Uber, Netflix require a backend.

Following is the web programming language stack for back-end development:

  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Ruby-on-Rails

What is App Delivery Milestone?

During the beginning of the project, the app is broken down into different steps and deadlines for each step are defined. Each completed step is known as a milestone. Development of the app is done in milestones so that you can know the expectations, dates to be delivered and track of progress to complete the project on time and budget.

For instance: Milestone 1 in development phase

  • Registration and login
  • Integration of social networks
  • Message interface
  • Push notifications
  • Account settings
  • Design implementation

Phase 8: Mobile App Testing

Signing-of-NDA

Mobile app testing is the process of testing the functionality and usability of a mobile app. In the mobile app development lifecycle phase, the quality analyst team prepares the test cases to evaluate the app quality and record the test results. Testing can be manual or automated and helps to ensure that applications, i.e. delivered are error-free and meet the business requirements.

With agile processes, testing of the app is performed often to assure the best possible quality. In the testing phase, new features and bug fixes are released at short intervals. This type of performance testing in the app development process ensures that there are no bugs when the app is live and used by the app users.

What Specific Things to Consider Before Testing Mobile Apps?

  • Screen resolution
  • Turning on/off GPS
  • Screen orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
  • Different device’s manufacturers
  • Operating system
  • Type of mobile application

Which are the Types of Testing Methods?

In the testing phase, when your application is developed, two types of testing process are done initially:

  • Black-box testing: Black box testing is a testing which only examines the functionality without its internal structure. If the function produces the correct output of the input value provided, then it is passed otherwise failed.
  • White-box testing: In white-box testing, internal structure, design, coding of mobile app are tested to improve the app’s usability and security. It costs more compared to black-box testing, but here the app is tested completely.

Which Tools are Used to Perform Testing?

To assure the performance and code stability, testing tools are used. Here are some of the tools that can be used:

  • Selenium
  • Load runner
  • Appium
  • Apache Jmeter
  • Cucumber

Benefits of Quality Assurance For Your Mobile App

  • Identifies the quality of the mobile app
  • Identifies the gaps, or missing requirements contrary to actual requirements
  • Improves time-to-market
  • Reduces development and maintenance cost
  • Improves overall performance of the app

How Much Time Does it Take to Test the Application?

It can take anywhere in between three weeks – six weeks to perform testing. It may even take longer if there are problems or if the app is complicated.

Phase 9: Launching of Mobile App

Signing-of-NDA

In this final stage of the app development process, your app is ready to launch in the market. Depending on your goals, your app is either launched on App Stores or Google Play Store or both. However, before the app launch, it is required to fulfill certain criteria, rules, and requirements and policies of Apple’s App Store or Play Store.

For the app release, you would require

  • Title of the app
  • Metadata
  • Description
  • Category
  • Keywords
  • Launch icons
  • Screenshots
  • Video

Once your app is submitted to the Apple App Store, iOS apps are reviewed based on quality and guidelines. It generally takes around a few days- weeks to approve the app. If your app gets rejected, you can communicate with the Apple Resolution center.

In Google Play Store, it takes upto seven days or longer in exceptional cases to publish the app. For certain developer accounts, it may take more time to thoroughly review the app to protect the users. You will receive a notification on your app’s dashboard about how long your app will take.

Some key areas to focus on after launching in the app development process:

  • Perform application store optimization to create awareness amongst the target audience
  • Perform SEO to optimize the keywords to be used in the app marketing
  • Create the landing page to promote your app efficiently
  • Opt for a paid advertising to increase the app’s reach

Want to hire the best mobile app developers?

Contact our app development team. We have experience in developing over 100 iOS and Android mobile apps.

Phase 10: Maintenance and Upgradation of App

Signing-of-NDA

In the app development stages, once the app is launched in the app stores, it is quintessential to measure the app analytics. Track KPI, check crash reports or other user-reported issues. It is an ongoing process for measuring the success of the app.

Encourage users to give feedback and reviews as it will be helpful for future versions of the app. Moreover, upgrade the app at regular intervals as it is one reason for app failure or app uninstalls.

According to a report, 1 million risky apps were rejected by the Apple app store in 2020.

Numbers show that, while there is a rise in the number of published mobile applications, the obsolete apps are equally getting removed.

Why is it Important to Maintain and Upgrade Mobile apps?

  • To stay relevant
  • To fix bugs
  • Provides security against cyber threats
  • Avoids unfortunate downtime
  • It helps to stay competitive
  • To keep up with the technology
  • For the purpose of rebranding

Best Practices for Mobile App Maintenance

  • Track the app performance
  • Update the user interface at regular interval
  • Use the latest technology stack
  • Fix the bugs
  • Add new features and functionalities

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain the App?

Approximately, it costs around $3000-5000 per month per platform with a minimum 6 month contract to maintain the app.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Which tools are used during the mobile app development process?

    In the mobile app development cycle, every phase requires different tools:

    • Basecamp for project communication
    • Adobe tools & sketch for design tools
    • Android Studio, Xcode, Visual studio, intelIJ idea for development
    • Mantis, SonarQube for bugs and scanning
    • Appium & Jcenter for Automation & testing
    • GitLab for version controlling mechanism
    • Jenkins for CI
    • Swagger for API development
  2. What type of applications have you developed?

    We have developed feature-rich mobile applications for various business verticals. To know more, have a look at our portfolio.

  3. What is the status of the source code? Who owns the source code?

    We write the source code on the client’s IP. It is handed over after the successful completion of the project. If the project is existing or if there are upgrades in the app, then the code is shared by the client or else we create it from scratch.

  4. What is the app development methodology that you use?

    We generally choose the agile methodology. Here tasks are divided into small iterations to deliver specific features for the release. This minimizes the overall time for development and provides satisfying applications.

  5. How much time will it take to develop an app?

    Developing mobile applications depends on the mobile app’s functionality, complexity, app market, requirements, the platform you have chosen, and your project’s structure. All stages of app development take a different amount of time to complete.

    App TypeExamplesDevelopment Time
    Simple AppCalculator, formula based calculations, simple image editor with inbuilt filter SDK3-4 weeks
    Medium AppOnDemand applications like Uber eats, Postmates. Booking applications like airbnb, bookings.com
    Video editors like Apple clips, FilmoraGo
    5-6 weeks
    Complex AppLarge scale applications with multiple SDKs and custom SDKs E-Commerce application – Amazon, Walmart – Streaming applications, Netflix Spotify8-10 weeks
  6. Which platform to choose for mobile application development?

    Native mobile apps (Android or iOS) or hybrid mobile apps all depend on your requirements and needs. While choosing the platform, you should focus on:

    • Target audience
    • App market
    • User behaviour
    • Features
    • The cost of development
    • Devices you need to support
    • App design
    • User expectations
  7. Which technologies do you use as it will directly impact the app development cost?

    For Android development, our development team use the following technology stack:

    Programming language: Java, Kotlin
    IDE: Android Studio
    Database: SQLite, Realm
    Tools: Android SDK, Android NDK

    For iOS development, we use the following technologies.

    Language: Swift, Objective C
    IDE: XCode
    Database: SQLite, Realm, CoreData

  8. What is the cost of mobile app development?

    Simple App$8000-$10000
    Medium App$12000 – $20000
    Complex App$20000+

Conclusion

We have summarized different phases of the mobile application development process which can help you to develop feature-rich mobile applications. From requirement gathering to app maintenance in the mobile app development process, every phase has its importance; thus, mobile app developers need to understand each stage before commencing with the development of the mobile app.

We hope all this information about the mobile app development process helps to make the right decision. Since you have an idea about the mobile app development lifecycle, you can hire an app development team or freelancing iOS and Android developers.

You can also hire our talented pool of mobile app development team who have expertise in delivering enterprise-level apps. The developers of Space-O Canada have delivered more than 100 projects across the globe. In fact we’ve developed apps for enterprise and SMBs across most of the industry verticals.

Get in touch with us through the ‘Contact Us form, and one of our sales representatives will get back to you shortly.

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Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel
Designation: Co-founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies

Mr. Rakesh Patel is a Founder and CEO of Space-O Canada. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.