Getting your app up and ready for the market as early as possible gives you a definitive lead in the competition. Have you noticed how quickly a dozen clones and lookalike apps sprout up on the app stores as soon as an idea becomes successful? Between the ideation and the completion of your app, there’s every possibility that someone else is working on that very same idea and whoever gets their app out first clearly reaps the benefits.
Gaining that lead however, takes effort. Just like a good piece of art, a good app takes time. There’s a ton of right choices to be made – from the technology, methodology, and platform, to the design, colors and which features to add. Once you come ashore from the sea of choices, there is the actual work to be done. Writing clean code, multiple iterations, rounds of testing, prototyping and mockups, the list goes on. Am I scaring you already? Trust me, I’m not.
I’m just saying that there are ways to do all of this systematically, so that not only do you have a great app to show off to the world but also, you can have it faster than your competitors. All you need to do is have all your priorities sorted and follow a systematic development cycle. Here are the top 10 best practices we use to develop apps faster without compromising one bit on the quality:
1. Wireframes – Do Them First And Do Them Right
Wireframes are the core skeleton of your app, the basic blueprint we could say. They set the stage for all design and development and are the first thing you should do, so that your entire team has a clear idea of the task ahead. Your UX designers as well as programmers now know just how to go about their respective tasks.
Remember that at this stage, your wireframes don’t have to be too sophisticated. Go for low fidelity wireframes that merely sketch out the basic layout of the app, with crossed boxes and dummy text. You can improvise and modify later.
2. Start with One Platform
Developing for both Android and iOS instantly doubles up your production time. Even if your audience is spread across both platforms and you absolutely have to have a presence on both, I’d still advise that you go for any one first. You can always get into the second as soon as you launch on one and get the official word out. Talking of launching, here’s the next point
3. Launch the MVP First
Don’t assume that you need to go all guns blazing and launch the fully loaded version of your app to begin with. Start believing in the MVP or Minimum Viable Product approach, wherein you launch a basic app with all the core functionality minus the bells and whistles. Focus on the primary problem your app wants to tackle and offer the solution to that first. Launch your app with that much ammunition and you can always refuel mid-air, thanks to regular updates. Not only does this let you launch your app a lot faster but also lets you assess real-time, hands-on feedback, allowing you to dramatically sharpen your approach and add features that you know for sure will be received well, minimizing the time spent in A/B testing new features.
4. Use Agile Methodology with Short Sprints
The Agile methodology ensures that all different teams working on the project are in tandem with each other with effective communication and ample collaboration. This way, hand-offs become easy and effective, changes can be adapted quickly, iterations are faster and the time gains are significant.
The duration of your sprints largely depends on your projects but in general, short sprints ranging from two to six weeks help keep the pace, deal with problems early on and keep the development cycle tightly wound.
5. Automate Testing
Automation is like the holy grail of speeding things up. Testing is the one part of app development cycle that takes up a good chunk of your time. So to deal with that, automate your testing. There are a number of software testing tools available for Android as well as iOS developers that do the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to spend hours testing.
6. Set the Shipping Date Early On and Obsess With It
Once you commit to the stakeholders that you will ship the app on a certain date, you have a definite goal to stick to. Be sure to send the message across all teams that the date is non-negotiable and everyone needs to do what it takes to finish work by then. This would work as a psychological motivator, keeping the entire development cycle on track and prioritize the features that need to ship with the first MVP. Everything that is less than indispensable can then be moved to a future release.
7. Get All the Help You Can
Don’t be a hero trying to build everything from scratch. Make optimal use of all available resources available. External code libraries, Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) providers, ready built components etc. must all be leveraged to cut down the time takes to build it all yourself. Any smaller features that can be outsourced must be outsourced.
8. Use A Component Based UI
Using component based UI is another way to speed up the development process as these help you develop a sustainable technical framework as well as create reusable components that can be used across projects.
9. Re-Evaluate and Re-Estimate Regularly
No matter how aggressively you chase the ship date, you are bound to overshoot a few milestones. So every week, re-evaluate your estimates and re-prioritize your tasks. Your development team is only human, and some tasks end up taking longer than originally expected. Don’t let those tasks derail the entire project and instead, find a way to get around those tasks first and re-order your estimate.
10. Collaborate, Communicate and Motivate
A project is only as good as the people working on it. So at all times, make sure your teams are communicating effectively, working at their full potential and feeling associated to the project. Keep the team spirit alive and create a good atmosphere for them to work creatively and give their best.
The idea behind developing your app faster is to individually analyze each step and cut out all distractions, focusing only on your core offering first. If you follow the above 10 steps, you can shave hours off of your development cycle and get your app out before any of your competitors have a clue. If you have any other idea we missed out on, do share with us in the comments section.