Launch Like a Pro in 7 Steps: A Guide to Mobile Apps Development
How to develop an app that users love? iOS vs. Android? We cover key considerations, tools, and best practices for successful mobile applications.
Jun 21,2024

We’re inseparable from our phones; there’s no getting around it. Each of us has our own customized suite of mobile applications catered to our daily needs on regular rotation. Savvy businesses understand this implication and are busy developing in-house apps to gather first-hand data on their user base and deliver precise advertisements to customers. Every developer naturally wants to ensure their app stands out, but only the dedicated ones perform any market analysis to confirm if there’s even a need for such an app. However, these efforts are undoubtedly worth it. Consider the astounding success of apps like Instagram and Uber, which have revolutionized their respective industries through innovative app development strategies. Putting the digital legwork in and researching your app’s market potential can pay dividends when performed correctly.

 

In this blog, we’ll delve into the key considerations, tools, and best practices for developing a successful mobile application for your business. Whether you’re Android-for-life or iOS Nation, the characteristics of quality app design should be universally applied. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid idea of how to craft the right app for your business’s needs (and which parties to trust with designing it). So, let’s get into it!

 

What is mobile app development?

Let’s start with the basics. Mobile app development is creating software applications that run on mobile devices, such as iOS or Android platforms. These apps involve a mix of coding, design, and user experience considerations during the design process. 

The development cycle normally includes planning, designing the user interface, writing code, testing for bugs, and finally deploying your app. Ultimately, you want to create user-friendly and functional apps that enhance the user experience and meet specific needs or solve problems. The first stage in the mobile app development is market research.

Key Points of App Market Research

Market research is a crucial step in any app development process. It equips your business with a strategic advantage by gathering current market information and understanding your user needs and preferences. Properly analyzed, this assortment of data can steer product development and market positioning in the right direction, giving your product or service a distinct and attractive edge to your users.

 

Okay, so now that we agree that app research is worthwhile, where do we begin? To conduct the best quality app market research you can, focus on these three key points:

Define your Target Users

Before you start developing your app, identify your target users. These individuals are the ideal users for your application. Defining their user personas includes gathering information such as their gender, age, nationality, occupation, interests, and education level. 

 

Designing your app from the users' perspective forms the bedrock of your app development strategy, showing them that their needs and preferences matter to you. Ideally, you want your app’s flow and features to align with your users’ habits to increase user engagement in the long run. Repeat users are the gold standard for any marketing campaign.


Adopting a user-centric approach when developing your app is critical. Let’s say, for example, that a 'global fast-fashion women's clothing brand' wants to create an app. Who are their target users? Well, they might start by targeting women aged 15-39 who follow fashion trends and frequently purchase the latest styles. Designing an app from the users' perspective in this manner means that you’re giving them incentives to actively engage with your content since it’s already aligned with their interests.

Understand Your User Needs

Once you've defined your target users and their characteristics, the next step is understanding their unique needs. This step involves understanding when and why these users will engage with your app and what features they expect. No two users are ever the same, but incorporating these features definitely enhances user interaction and engagement with your app.


Sticking with our "global fast-fashion women's clothing brand" example, besides browsing and ordering products, users might want to check other consumers' feedback to understand the product and service standards better. And with good reason—69% of consumers are more likely to use a business with reviews describing a positive experience.

 

As such, incorporating a product review section in your application is a tried-and-tested means of reassuring your users about their shopping experience. 

 

Analyze your Competitors' Strengths and Weaknesses

Pay attention to the features your competitors offer, learn from their strengths, and, more importantly, identify weaknesses in their apps that you can refine for your own needs. User reviews on app stores are invaluable for insights into these areas for improvement.

 

What Tools Are Available for App Development? Can I Develop an App Myself?

It depends! If you're comfortable with coding and understand app development concepts well, you can build an app yourself using the tools mentioned above. There are plenty of online tutorials and resources to help you get started.

The two leading mobile operating systems are Android and iOS, each built on a specific programming language. Decide which platform you plan to target first to determine the development tools and languages you’ll need.

  • iOS App Development: Apple uses Objective-C and Swift, with the company’s Xcode as the primary development tool.

  • Android App Development: Android developers employ Java and Kotlin, with Google's Android as the main component.

Which App Platform to Develop First?

Due to varying user preferences for operating systems, many apps are developed simultaneously for iOS and Android. The decision on which platform for your app development first will depend on your user demographics (the ones you researched, remember?), development goals, costs, and monetization plans.

 Key Differences:

  • Android: An open-source platform with a high global market share (over 70% as of early 2024). Suitable for reaching a broad audience. Android  Apps are immensely flexible and can be developed on any computer.

  • iOS: While its global market share is lower, Apple has had greater success in bringing its users up to date, with over 66 percent of users having iOS 17 installed, compared to just 13 percent of Android users running the latest version. iOS is limited to particular devices, saving testing time and ensuring stability. It also offers higher security for both software and user information, though with less developer flexibility.

Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform development tools like React Native and Flutter offer a flexible approach, allowing you to write code once and deploy it on both Android and iOS. While these tools often require post-conversion checks by professional developers at a top iOS app development company or Android equivalent to ensure their accuracy, they also give you the confidence and capability to develop for multiple platforms.

 

Is It Hard to Make An App? What Resources Are Available for me to learn app development?

To learn how to develop an app from scratch, you must understand the roles that database integration, API integration, SDK usage, and UI/UX design play in the development process.

Google Search

Search for "app development learning" to find the top-ranking articles covering the different programming languages and basic logic. Forums like Discord, Quora, and Reddit have dedicated communities focused on asking and answering questions about development and sharing experiences.

YouTube Tutorials

Video tutorials offer a visual and auditory learning experience, showing the development process and highlighting potential issues and details to consider. The volume of content released on an ongoing basis is immense, and tutorials on how to make an app are available at all levels.

Online Courses

Platforms like Codecademy and Coursera are filled with user-friendly app development courses that provide structured teaching outlines and learning objectives, making systematic learning efforts as straightforward as possible.

By utilizing the resources above, you can build a solid foundation in app development and gradually develop the expertise necessary to create a fully functional and appealing app. Remember, these resources are here to support your learning journey and give you the confidence and capability to develop your own apps.

10 Key Considerations for High-Quality App Development

Simply put, making an app isn’t hard. But to make a high-quality and successful app for your business, consider these five key points during development or optimization:

1. Prioritize Security and Privacy

Data security has recently become a top priority for global app users. Ensuring the security of your user data and systems is integral to your app's success. 

2. Verify the Software Company’s Security Certifications

Only collaborate with software companies that have verifiable security certifications. This helps safeguard information, assess risks, and provide solutions to potential threats, minimizing your losses in emergencies.

3. Schedule Regular System Updates

Provide regular updates for your systems, software, and general hardware to counter nefarious hacking attempts, reducing your risk of exposure.

4. Adhere to Legal Regulations

Any aspiring app developer should be familiar with various development regulations, including basic security standards, user consent for data collection, compliance with public decency, and respect for intellectual property rights. For example, app developers in the US must follow the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) if their intended app handles medical data.

5. Encrypt Sensitive Data

Encrypting sensitive data during transmission or storage can minimize losses in case of data breaches.

6. Ensure User Authentication and Authorization Mechanisms

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to enhance user security. MFA adds a layer of security by combining two or more different factors, including passwords, security questions, fingerprint scans, and phone verifications, to prevent identity theft. 

7. Data Analytics for App Performance

After launching your app, collecting and analyzing performance data is critical. Incorporating a backend that consolidates marketing-related data can help assess your app’s successes and generate insights into its development needs.

Key metrics to monitor include:

  • The number of active daily and monthly users

  • Peak usage times for practical promotional activities

  • Page views, clicks, and time spent on each page

Embedding data tracking instructions during your initial app planning phase facilitates better internal analysis and more informed decision-making for future updates.

8. Technical Integration for Enhanced User Experience

When designing an app, consider whether it needs to integrate with other internal systems or external application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs are rules and protocols that enable various software applications to communicate with each other.

An example of API use in action is a retail brand membership app that uses Twilio APIs to integrate their application software with WhatsApp. Twilios Conversations API lets you start with a channel like a web or in-app chat and expand to other channels as consumer preferences evolve. Meanwhile, the app integrates with POS so customers can use app vouchers for store discounts.

9. Provide Convenience to your Users

Enhancing user convenience can significantly improve your app’s adoption and satisfaction ratings. Take the two features below as an example:

  • Quick Social Media Logins: Allow your users to sign in using their social media accounts (Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to save time and avoid tedious registration processes.

  • Mobile Payment Options: Incorporate mobile payment methods to simplify the checkout process, enabling quick and easy transactions.

 

10. Simplify and Focus on Core Functions

While including an exhaustive set of features may be tempting, an overloaded app can reduce usability and frustrate users. Focus on delivering the core functions first and develop supplementary features that enhance these primary services.

Instead of cramming every possible function into an app, center the design around the essential features that provide the most value to your users, making the app as intuitive and easy to navigate as possible.

Additional Reading: App Development Case Study - TECO

This case study highlights the design of a user-friendly app emphasizing clear readability and easy operation.

Following these considerations, you can build a top-quality app that meets your users’ needs, ensures security, and provides a smooth and enjoyable experience.

 

Step 1: App Design

Based on the user needs and objectives you identified during market research, brainstorm the app's core features. 

Ask yourself: How can these features be interconnected for smooth operation and user-friendliness? In the design phase, you can explore all possibilities and gradually zero in on the core essential elements that define your intended user experience.

Step 2: App UI/UX Design

UI (User Interface) design focuses on the app's interface's aesthetic appeal and intuitive operation. It includes aspects like branding consistency, font readability, and color schemes.

UX (User Experience) design, on the other hand, emphasizes how your users interact with your app. It considers factors such as ease of finding features, adherence to user habits, and minimizing the time and effort required to accomplish tasks.

Both UI and UX design are essential components of app development—90% of users stop using an app if they experience poor performance! A user-friendly app with sound UX logic and clean UI design invariably attracts more users (and retains them), as it facilitates easy navigation without the need for extensive tutorials.

Step 3: Technical Development

Once the app’s design and concept are finalized, the development phase begins. This stage involves programming the app, integrating databases, setting up servers, and various technical tasks. 

Regular communication within your team is critical throughout development to ensure an aligned vision between the desired app and the actual product.

Step 4: Testing and Adjustments

After completing the development, your app should undergo testing by internal and external testers. These testers assess the app's performance under various scenarios to identify any anomalies or malfunctions. 

They also evaluate the simplicity and logic of the interface and user experience. This iterative testing and adjustment process helps uncover and address issues before the app officially launches.

Step 5: App Deployment

Once your newly minted app is ready to roll, it can be deployed to relevant app platforms for users to download or purchase. Each platform has its submission fees and review processes, which may require multiple rounds of review before the app goes live. 

Allocating sufficient time for the review process is essential to avoid any troublesome delays in your app's launch.

  • Apple App Store Submission Guidelines: Annual fee of $99, review time approximately 1-2 weeks.

  • Google Play Store Submission Guidelines: One-time fee of $25, review time approximately 1-2 days.

Step 6: App Promotion, Marketing, and Exposure

Even if you can boast of having the best app in the world, attracting anyone to use it is going to be challenging without proper promotion. Consider using external channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram and optimizing App Store Optimization (ASO) to improve your search rankings. 

ASO involves adjusting an app's name, description, keywords, and visuals to influence its search ranking in app stores. The higher your search rankings, the more likely you are to gain potential customers.

Step 7: App Maintenance and Updates

Collecting user feedback is hugely important for future optimization. Regular updates maintain a stable ASO ranking and so enhance your app’s security and privacy. Even without adding new features, you should prioritize app maintenance and updates to keep your app current and secure. The last thing you want is for your users to jump ship because a competitor offers an app with improved stability. 

Following these steps can help ensure your app's successful development, deployment, and maintenance, creating a satisfying user experience and increasing overall app engagement.

 

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