Mobile applications have become a vital business tool in this mobile-first world. Many small businesses race to get mobile app development done for one reason: to improve their business.
If you are planning to get a mobile app developed that’s good for you.
However, there are many things you’ll need to consider to successfully turn your ideas into an app that suits your business needs.
This is crucial if you’re commissioning the job to outside talents.
In this article, we help you with a checklist of all the essential things you need to know so you can select appropriate developers or communicate your ideas, needs, and requirements to the developers you are appointing.
1. What is mobile app development?
Developing a mobile app comprises a set of processes and procedures that include writing codes for portable devices such as smartphones and tablets.
There are three types of mobile applications in the market:
- Native application (native app) is a program build for a particular platform or device
- App built for systems like Android OS, Apple’s iOS Samsung’s Bada, MeeGo, Palm, Symbian, etc.
- Apps cannot cross-platform, meaning Android app cannot run on an Apple phone
- Typically created to take advantage of its high performance and good use experience as it is developed using the user’s native device user interface
- It can be costly to develop as you need to create duplicate mobile apps for different platforms
- It is called hybrid because it is mainly a website application wrapped with native codes
- It is fast and relatively more straightforward to develop
- To be able to communicate with your mobile device it uses API (Application Programming Interface) like a gyroscope, accelerometer, geolocation, etc.
- Lacking in performance, speed, and optimization
- Highly recommended by Google with Progressive Web App (WPA)
- Software applications that behave like a native app but runs on an Internet browser
- You can install the web page onto your mobile home screen turning it into app-like
- Despite the need for internet connection to work smoothly in the early days, the technology has evolved to allow seamless offline function (something that can be achieved with WPA)
To understand which mobile app development is the best for your needs we have created a list of considerations for you.
2. What are the differences and which works best for your needs?
Mobile app development cost comprises resources needed to create and maintain an app.
- Native: Highest
- Hybrid: Low cost, but high skills needed
- Web: Lowest
Performance of an app means how smooth does an application perform a function
- Native: Highly stable and fast. Native code access the mobile device functionality while content, structure, and visual elements use the device memory (this means the load is on users device).
- Hybrid: Moderate to high, depending on how it is coded. Hybrid app content is just a wrapper on the user’s device where data are from a server (almost best of both, native and web, world).
- Web: Highly dependent on browser and Internet performance. Web app performance is linked to browser work and network connection (not a big issue with today’s technology and Internet capacity).
Mobile app distribution means how users can access and download your application.
- Native and Hybrid must be distributed through app stores (like Google Play, App Store) with marketing benefits but specific requirements and restrictions
- Web app has no store distribution, thus its all up to your own web page/mobile app marketing
How you make money out of your application signifies the monetization capacity of your app.
- With native and hybrid you can monetize through in-app purchases, ads or app purchase itself but app stores take a fee from all purchases plus possible deployment fee
- A web app can be monetized through ads or subscriptions
This means how flexible your developer can develop the features of your application. Some application may require simple function while some are as complicated as an enterprise system.
- Native codes have broad access to any device APIs
- Hybrid can use some APIs reasonably while some features only at low level such as gyroscope or accelerometer
- Web code can only use some device APIs such as geolocation
The user interface (UI) is the look and feel of the application that provides not just aesthetics but also experiences to the users.
- Native and the device code is the same thus the look-and-feel can be the original UI to its native OS
- Hybrid and web apps do not provide native experience, but again with today’s level of technology it’s reasonably achievable
Code portability is essential as it means how efficiently can the codes function on different platforms. This profoundly affects your timeline and budget.
- Code native to a platform cannot be used for another (meaning Android app cannot run on iPhone)
- Most hybrid codebase tools can be ported to major platforms
- For web, the app can work on any platform because it’s loaded on web browsers
Every mobile application needs to be maintained over time, but different technology provides different ease of maintenance.
- High maintenance for native apps
- Easier and faster to maintain hybrid and web apps
- A native app is recommended for applications that are developed for single platforms, have extensive requirements, require a highly optimized and stable work, need best native UI or best graphics animation
- A hybrid app is advisable for applications that need to be distributed on multi-platform, and apps develop for App Store
- A web app is good for those with limited funds or resources, that do not require App Stores
3. Mobile App Development Services & Costing
How much does it cost to build a mobile app?
This is probably the first question you’d ask your developer. Frankly, with so many options available today, the range of costs can be pretty huge.
It highly depends on three factors:
- Who: freelance developer, small software house, a software development agency
- Where: local or abroad
- What: what do you want to achieve
In India, the approximate cost of building a simple mobile app can cost about $5,000 to $8,000 but can go up to as high as $40,000 for a complex app.
Moreover, that may be half of what you pay for in the US for the same app.
In Malaysia, the price starts from about RM 30,000 and above.
From Design to Development: Types of services
From the design stage to development, software house typically offers a wide range of services.
The services usually offered by software development agencies include but not limited to
- Design, develop and deliver mobile apps across major platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Web
- Agile project management for cost and time-saving development methods
- UI/UX team that focuses on your application interface and user experience
- Use up-to-date and emerging technology
- Has standard coding guidelines and standards
- Quality Assurance Testing
- Usability Testing
If you have particular needs for your problems/ business such as beacon technology, games, enterprise system or mix reality, then you’ll need to make sure the team you’re commissioning has the knowledge, experience, and capacity to deliver what you need.
Key processes & steps you should know
Mobile App Development Lifecycle
Step 1: Discovering and Researching Your Market Segment
You may already have an idea for your mobile app. But, before you move on to get it designed and developed, you should deep dive into research.
Here are things you should research and prepare before talking to a mobile app developer:
- Know what you want to achieve with the mobile app
- Understand your target audience
- Recognize where you can access your customer segment
- Identify the problem(s) your target prospects are facing or issues you want to solve for your business
- Development budget
- Your timeline
- Discover what your competitors are doing
Step 2: Establishing Goals and Objectives of Your Mobile App
Firstly, you’ll need to establish your mobile app goals and objective, then match it with your business goals.
This is a crucial step in planning and discussing your mobile app development with the developer.
You may map out how your app will get there to advance your mobile marketing objective, or you could get the app development agency to provide you with a detailed development plan.
Remember: don’t just get everything and every feature you think you want.
Determining your mobile app features and benefits is an act of balancing between overall mobile application development budget and developers capabilities.
Here’s a tip based on research: design your mobile apps with a focus on customer engagement.
You may want to discuss this together with your developer.
- Identify the problem(s) you want to solve for your customers
- What feature will the app include?
- What will be your app’s core appeal/value propositions?
Step 3: Creating the Wireframe and Storyboard
Every story has a structure. The same goes for your app.
You will need to know what your app will look like, what features to include and how the users will use the features.
Usually, software development agency will provide with the wireframe and storyboard. However, if you have in-house personnel who can do this, that’s great! You can save up some money for other matters.
Anyway, things that you should keep in mind are:
- Look for ways to incorporate your brand
- Focus on the user experience
Step 4: Defining Your Mobile App’s Backend
Backend in computing term means the structures that support your app. Your developer or the appointed developer company will decide and advice. Here are some of their considerations:
- APIs, what software intermediaries needed to enable the features you want for your app
- Data diagrams that map out the flow of information for your app
- Servers to host your application and other services, the costing
- Data integration, the where and how you want to integrate data from different resources to enable the features you want in your app
Step 5: Finalizing Wireframe and Test Your Prototype
A good developer will want you to test out the prototype and lockdown the wireframe before the real work of developing the mobile app begins.
This step is crucial to ensure a smoother development flow. Changing the flow of your app or the function in the middle of app development will delay the entire project tremendously. What’s more, additional cost may incur.
From your perspective, prototyping is essential for you to evaluate the design concept and identify dead links, flaws in the flow and usability of your mobile app.
At this stage, you’d want to bring in people closer to your target user to test and evaluate the prototype.
Step 6: Developing Your Mobile App
At this phase, hiring outside talent to develop your mobile app means establishing deliverables and timeline clearly.
Once development in progress, what should you do?
Nobody likes surprises, as such before the project even begins, you should request that the developer or project manager provide milestone updates. Progressively you will be kept abreast of each deliverable agreed before.
This way, any issues or misalignment of communication can be iron out before it is too late.
Step 7: Test, Testing, and Retest
This is the most important and most exciting stage of an app development lifecycle. You finally get to see the complete product. But, the make it marketable, you need to test the mobile app rigorously.
Before the developer release the app for you to test, they will conduct numerous in-house tests, such as:
- Functional Testing: to ensure the functions of your app behaves as it should as defined during the requirements phase
- Performance Testing: to test the application through a serious of mobile device challenges such as low battery, poor Internet connection, less memory, etc.
- Memory Leakage Testing: to ensure the application is using optimized memory for processing and does not slow down due to a memory leak
- Interrupt Testing: to test your application how it handles incoming interruptions from other apps on your mobile
- Usability Testing: to test usability, flexibility, and friendliness of your mobile application
- Installation Testing: to ensure application installation, uninstallation and updating with no interruption
- Operational Testing: to check the backup and recovery process to ensure it is ready for when there are any operational downtime
- Security Testing: to see if the application’s data and network security is responding as per requirements
4. Things you don’t have to know…just leave it to the expert
As much as you want to be on top of everything, there are matters that best leave it to the experts.
A good developer will be able to think, decide and advice you on the following based on what is needed to achieve your goals.
- mobile app development platform
- mobile app development tools
- programming languages used to develop your mobile app
- memory and garbage management
Lastly, what’s next
Getting a mobile app development by hiring outside talent is not an easy thing. There are many processes involved in vetting through their capabilities and capacities.
With this article, we hope you’re, at least, slightly more equipped to differentiate good developers and select the right one for your mobile app development needs.