Imagine a day in your life without Mobile apps. Imagine waking up without an alarm app. Imagine not scrolling through your messages, emails, or Instagram feed first thing in the morning. Imagine not using at least one app out of many like Uber, Spotify, or Maps on your way to work. Imagine going one day without using fitness apps, delivery apps, news apps, or on-demand apps.
Sounds harder than you thought, right? It sure is. Mobile apps are an inevitable part of our everyday lives. There’s no living without them.
- 49% off all app users open an app 11+ times each day
- 21% off all millennials open an app 50+ times a day
- 70% off all digital media consumption comes from mobile apps
- An average smartphone owner uses at least 10 apps per day and about 30 apps a month
That’s how ubiquitous mobile apps are. Needless to say that they are one of the biggest assets driving all major business decisions in the world. From directly selling products to customers, to effectively marketing your business, building strong customer relationships, and reaching new global markets, apps are the definitive gateway for business success.
Mobile app development business in 2022
If you’re not yet considering building a mobile app in 2022, you’re late to the party. Mobile apps are expected to generate $935 billion in revenue by 2023.
Apple announced that it paid developers a total of $60 billion in 2021. This implies that their gross revenues from the App Store have continued to rapidly grow. Analysis from CNBC suggests that this could mean a total App Store revenue of anywhere between $70.58 and $85.71 billion in 2021. That’s beyond impressive.
Users spent $133 billion in mobile apps in 2021. Clearly, mobile apps are where the money is. So if you’re planning to give your business the boost it deserves, it’s time to invest in mobile app development for business success.
Alright then. Now that I have your attention on why you should build an app for your business, let’s get down to talking how you can build a mobile app that takes your business to the next level. Or you could also phrase it as how not to build a mobile app that sees no action, just like 25% of all apps that get downloaded and never used again. This happens due to immature app development, and we won’t let it happen to you. So let’s dive into this guide on how to build a mobile app in 2022.
Ideation to implementation – the mobile app development process
A good app is a combination of a good idea and great execution. The process of mobile app development begins by understanding your target customers. You begin by identifying a problem your customers are facing and then device s brilliant way to solve that problem. You then think about the technology you will use to solve that problem. Based on that, you’ll need to hire the right app development team for your app – by far the most crucial story of them all. Finally, once your team and you are on the same page, the actual process of designing, coding and deploying the app begins. Let’s go over each of these stages in app development in detail:
Identify a problem
Every business begins with identifying a problem and solving it. Your mobile app can only be successful if enough people find it useful. So begin by identifying a problem that a large number of your potential customers face regularly.
Now here’s what you need to know. Having an original idea doesn’t necessarily mean that you must create an app that no one has ever thought of. That’s the one thing holding most people back from mobile application development.
You must remember that Facebook wasn’t the first social media app. There were several that broke the ground, but it was Facebook that did the job better than most others and became the tech giant it did.
Instagram arrived with a simple model – filters to make your photos look more stunning so you just can’t stop sharing them with the world. And it still became a soaring success even though people across the world were already sharing photos aplenty on Facebook.
Most of the popular payment apps we all use today are not the first payment apps to be created.
It is notable that you can build a wildly successful app on a ‘not so original’ idea as long as your execution is better than the rest. If you do things faster and better than the competitors, you can still kill it with your app in a crowded space.
Validate your idea
Before you invest money, mind, and manpower into mobile app development, you need to take an objective look at the business proposition of your idea. What sounds like something very important to you needs to be as important to a sizeable number of potential customers.
There are many ways to validate an idea. You could create a blog, web page, or a social media campaign to see how much traction it gets. You could launch a mini or lite version of your product, or float a sneak peek to see how much attention it draws.
The goal here is to gauge the market value of your idea and make sure you are making a sound business decision.
Do your research
This is an important step in doing everything that’s worth doing. Good research is the basis of a good product.
In mobile app development too, there are several levels of research you need to master in order to understand your users, your competitors, your product, and everything else you need.
You can start with competitor research to identify opportunities, understand the scope of your idea, find gaps in the current market and understand exactly what you’re up against.
With as many as 6.5 million apps to choose from in all app stores, you can gather that it is one of the most competitive businesses out there. Competitive analysis thus becomes the most essential business strategy for your mobile app development. Some of the key benefits of competitive research include:
- Understanding your unique value proposition
- Identifying your biggest competitors
- Building a competitive/SWOT analysis
- Learning from their mistakes
User research is what leads to good user experiences. There are many ways to conduct user research and you can choose one or more ways to understand how users interact with your app. For instance, you can have focus groups where you can test the efficacy of your idea and understand how potent a market you have.
Once you have a minimum viable product or a prototype, you can have a small scale group of users interact with it and understand the strengths and weaknesses of it to fine tune your product.
Build a mobile app development strategy
Now that you know your problem and solution, and your users and competition, it’s time to build a mobile app development strategy. Begin by answering some basic questions like;
- Why you wish to build this app.
- Are you trying to generate revenue?
- Or use the mobile app as a marketing channel?
- What is your business model?
- How do you wish to monetize your app?
- How much are you willing to invest in this app?
- How do you wish to market the app?
Answer all the basic questions before you begin developing the mobile app. Charting out a mobile app development strategy helps you clear your roadmap and make sure you make the right decisions along the way.
Understand the technology
Here comes the challenging but also the interesting part – understanding mobile app development technologies. While you are going to hire a dedicated team of developers to build the mobile app, understanding the basics of mobile app development technologies will help you plan the development in sync with your business goals and also stay on top of the development process.
The gist is that you need to take time understanding how different technologies will impact your final user experience. Do you wish to build a native app, web app, or hybrid app? What’s the difference and how does it matter. We’ll talk about this in elaborate detail in a later section.
Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Before you dive headlong into mobile app development that involves months of tedious coding, designing, and testing, it’s a good idea to do a trial run of the product by first building an MVP.
A minimum viable product is the most basic working version of your app that has just enough features to exhibit the potential of your app. It needs to be the cheapest version that can show your early customers what your app is capable of and start the feedback loop. The feedback will help you fine tune the app and in many cases, even begin generating early revenue.
More importantly, it will help you attract investment into your app, so you can raise capital for further development. Some of the other key ways an MVP helps you build a mobile app for your business are:
- Let’s you test the app early on within minimum cost
- Gives you tangible proof of concept to show investors
- Understand early on what features work best and what don’t click
- Get hands on reviews/feedback to improve user experience
- Testing the abilities of your mobile application developers
- Early testing prevents expensive late fixes
All of the above are excellent reasons to follow the MVP development strategy. So how do you build an MVP?
Begin by isolating your mobile app’s core functionality and build that first. Make sure your app fulfils the main purpose you built it for. Steer clear of any extra features, design elements, bells and whistles at this point. You are looking for a bare essentials working version of your idea
Make sure your MVP is functional, reliable, and usable. You do also need to make sure it has simple but clean and functional design.
Smartphone app development is a competitive area of the economy and the MVP strategy lets you get in on the action early without wasting any time.
Double Down on Design
As Steve Jobs famously said it for all of us, design isn’t how something looks or feels, design is how something works. Making sure your mobile app design is clean, functional, and trendy, will help you instantly connect with your users and keep them engaged to your app. Hire the best designers experienced in UI/UX design who understand what today’s customers love. Then blend it with your unique features to give your users the best mobile app experience ever.
Typically, when you hire an app development company, you hire a cohesive team of mobile app developers, designers, QA, and project managers. Working together as a team, these professionals make sure your app works perfectly. There are no conflicts in design and development, and the project manager ensures everyone stays on the same page. This is the best way to approach design and development to minimize friction and build an app that performs flawlessly.
If for any reason you decide to hire your designers and developers separately, make sure you can get them both to get familiar with each other so that design elements can be properly developed.
Wireframes, Mock-ups, and Prototypes are all design tools that can help facilitate better design that’s practical and keeps everyone in the loop. Even though you’ll have professionals for all this work, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the paraphernalia around mobile app design process.
User Interface vs User Experience
User interface is what your users see when they use your app. User experience is how they feel when they use your app.
To elaborate, user interface design deals with the layout of the app, the font, the colours, the visuals and animations, the size of buttons, the theme, and so on. Designers aim to use design elements that correspond to latest design principles, and the most popular current trends.
User interface must be attractive to begin with, and simple to use. Pages and buttons must be so strange that the user intuitively knows what to do next. When the app looks simple yet sophisticated, clean feature rich, that’s when users have longer average session times and higher engagement rates.
User Experience design aims to evoke the right emotional response in your users, and make them feel good when they use your app. Depending on what your app does, you may want your users to feel happy, calm, entertained, motivated, excited, or curious.
Meditation apps use soothing colours, transcendent music, tranquil voices, to make users feel calm and relaxed. Shopping and e-commerce apps use quick transactions, easy checkouts and high-tech curation to make customers feel excited or happy. All elements like design, accessibility, performance, speed, and ergonomics etc. are used in the right proportions to make sure users feel good when using your app.
Wireframes are a two-dimensional illustration of how each page of your app will look once complete. It can be as simple as a sketch on paper or be made with a software. The idea is to give you a diagrammatic representation of your app pages. At this stage, it’s usually a black and white sketch with crossed out boxes where images and text will later be.
After you okay the wireframes, designers will proceed to building mock-ups. These present a more finished design complete with images and text (could be dummy), colour palette, layout, typography, buttons, and more. A mock-up looks realistic and beautifully represents your app. It can help you impress investors and generate early feedback.
A prototype is a working design. It is the exact replica of what your app will look like when it’s complete, allowing you to see the pages and buttons in action. It is the most basic working model of your app before coding and actual development begins. At this stage, making changes is still easier and cheaper and with a complete visual experience, you can ensure you’re on the right track.
Now that you understand the basics of mobile app design, you’ll be able to better coordinate with your teams and make sure your users love it.
App Development Technologies
It’s time to come back to the technological aspect of mobile app development. As we mentioned in above sections, there are various platforms, languages, frameworks, tech stacks, and other technologies involved in building a mobile app.
We’ll begin by understanding platforms. The two primary mobile platforms are Android and iOS. There are others like Windows, with a smaller market share.
Mobile apps can be divided into three categories based on platform – Native Apps, Web Apps, and Hybrid Apps.
Each platform has different app development environments, different languages and frameworks. Apps that are built using platform specific technologies are called Native Apps. So an Android app uses Java or Kotlin as its programming language, and adheres to Android specific design philosophies. Apps built this way work only on Android phones. They offer immersive experience, utilize all Android features, and provide the best user experience.
Similarly, iOS apps are coded in Objective-C or Swift, and follow iOS guidelines. In essence, apps built for a surfing platform are called native apps. If you wish to build a native app, you will essentially go through two development cycles, one for Android and another for iOS. The process is longer, more expensive, but it’s certainly the best in terms of quality and user experience.
Web apps are completely platform agnostic and operate through a browser on the web. Therefore, a web app can be used on any device with an internet browser. These apps are usually coded in HTML5 or other web frameworks. They have much quicker development cycles and can be deployed in shorter times. Since they go throw the browser, the experience may not be completely immersive and some browser tabs and ribbons may occupy screen real estate.
However, most modern web apps have evolved to offer great user experience and hence, web apps are a good option for small businesses looking for an app solution on a budget.
Hybrid apps are the middle ground between native apps and web apps. They are built using special cross-platform frameworks and programming languages like React Native, Flutter, etc. These frameworks facilitate code reuse between platforms so the mass of code can be written once and then platform specific changes can be applied to increase impact.
Based on your specific needs, timeline, and budget, choose the best app type for yourself and begin building your smartphone app.
Last but far from the least, you need to familiarize yourself with app marketing. Your unique creativity and business acumen will be most required in this make or break stage. You could develop the best mobile app in the world but if you cannot get people to find out about it, it would never reach the popularity it deserves.
There are many ways to market an app – free and paid. Begin by creating a buzz on social media. Use Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms to showcase your app. You can even leverage in-app advertisements with other apps. YouTube ads are a more expensive but highly effective strategy you can opt for when you have the budget for it. The idea is to keep marketing the app.
App Store Optimization
In order to increase visibility of your app so that more people find it in the app stores, follow App Store optimization best practices. Use attractive logo design and a short but catchy app name. User plenty of best screenshots of your app they best represent its positives. Users want to be sure what they’re getting into before they download an app so don’t skimp on images and screenshots. Even try to include a video showcasing how fun and exciting your app is. Include keywords in the tag line and description.
At the end of the day, you need your app to generate revenue and to do that, you need an app monetization model. There are many to choose from and with a little careful thought, you can find out what works best for you.
Paid downloads are one way to make money from apps. However, you need to offer some truly out of the park value to your users before you can ask them to pay up upfront. Remember that 98% of worldwide app revenue comes from free apps.
In-app purchases are the other option where users can use the bulk of the app features for free, but you can add on certain premium features that they can pay for. For example, game apps have locked levels or extra lives that users can pay for. Utility apps have special advanced features that users need to pay for.
Subscription model is gaining immense popularity these days thanks to the advent of movies and music streaming apps. If you can continually provide value to the users, enough for them to pay you month after month, the subscription model is indeed a fantastic revenue stream.
While the complete mobile app development process involves a lot more technical detail, the above is the gist of everything you need to know as a business owner looking to build a mobile app. To summarize, think about what you want to build an app and carefully build a strategy for how you will utilize the app. Once you know what you want, hire a mobile app development company that has the skills and experience you need. Having built the app, market it carefully and keep it well maintained so that users continue to find value in it for years to come.
If you’re looking to get started on the mobile app development process, contact us for a free consultation today and let’s get you started.