On all the app projects we have handled over the years, one thing that has become indisputably clear is that if you do not have any coding experience, trying to design and build a quality app is like messing around with a black box. This is why app consultancy services are so in demand.
If you have plans of building a mobile app for your Small to Medium-Sized Business (SMB), then you need to understand how/what it takes to execute the app. Apps can be highly advantageous for a business as demonstrated by recent research which indicates that at least one in five SMBs currently have an app or they already have plans to have one in place by 2016.
In a nutshell, we will discuss the key stages to building an app, namely:
• Discovery of the mobile app idea
• Market research on the proposed app
• The tech-stack process of developing a quality mobile app
As it is, you may already have a great idea on a mobile app for your enterprise which means that you have already begun the first stage of creating your desired app.
The SECOND step you should take should be to carry out market research on the app you intend to build instead of delving right into designing the app. Ideally, you should carry out intensive research on what you want the app to do for your enterprise, what your target audience wants as well as what your competitors are offering. As you carry out your research, strive to find answers to the questions below…
1. What do you want to achieve with the app you are about to develop?
2. How does your app integrate with your current and future marketing goals?
3. Who will be using the app?
4. How will the intended users of the mobile app access it?
5. On what platform(s) will your app be based?
6. What framework and programming language will you use when designing your app?
7. Do your business competitors have apps?
8. How do your competitors use their apps?
9. What are the main features offered in your competitors’ apps?
10. How much money are you willing to spend in the mobile app development process?
11. How soon do you want your app running?
12. When do you want to launch your mobile app?
13. What marketing strategies will you employ to promote the mobile app you have designed for your business?
Your THIRD step should be to identify the goals and objectives that you want to achieve with your mobile app.
This is a very critical step in the app development process. Once you have identified the role that your app will play in marketing your enterprise, you then have to craft a map on how to actualise this.
At this stage, you need to find answers to the following important questions…
1. What problems do you aim to solve for your existing and potential future customers?
2. How do you plan to make your app uniquely appealing?
3. What features do you plan to incorporate into your app?
Note that to identify the best features to incorporate into your app and the benefits you want to offer your customer base will most likely require you to make a delicate balancing act between your app development budget and your personal app maintenance capabilities. However, research shows that to build the most functional app, it is best that you prioritise engagement with your customer base over offering exclusive services.
The FOURTH thing should be to determine the backend processes for your app.
The wireframes and the story features on your app will help you determine the best backend structures to use for your app. When selecting the backend structures for your app, consider incorporating push notifications for users, best servers to use as well as data integration. Research shows that for many entrepreneurs, choosing a mobile backend as a service (BaaS) platform is more ideal. This is because this type of platform usually makes scaling the app easier in future and at the same time it addresses the challenge of lack of in-house app maintenance skills.
At this stage, you are now ready to delve into the FIFTH step which is developing your app.
Note that developing an app is a complicated process which entails a lot of processes. If you are not relying on a mobile BaaS platform or an app development platform, your app developer will have to set up databases for your app, APIs, storage solutions and servers to facilitate the backend for your app.
At this stage, if you do not have accounts for your developer on the app stores you plan to use to get your app on the market, ensure that you set them up. Many people tend to overlook this process which can take several days. Additionally, ensure that you understand the guidelines for the app stores you plan to use so that your app does not get rejected once you submit it to the stores for review.
The SIXTH step should be to test and re-test your app.
At this stage, you should already have an app that is completely designed as you wished. Testing your app is bound to be exciting. You should ensure that you put your app through real-life scenarios (put yourself in the user’s shoes) so as to identify and correct any technical flaws before you can eventually roll it out.
At this point, you are now ready for the FINAL stage in your app development lifecycle which is the official release of the app. This should essentially be the culmination of the efforts you have been making to promote your app. At this point, consider creating a buzz around the release of your app perhaps by creating engaging content aimed at people who showed interest in the app you were creating or perhaps by putting out some press releases.