Before developing an app, you must be wondering what is the app development process. Today, we are covering all the steps that are needed in a mobile app development project.

Every app is different, in terms of design, functionality, purpose, but the overall process should be similar. Project management methodologies for mobile apps are always evolving, but there is quite a standard process that we should follow.

At each step, we will explain what each process means, what it comprises of, and why do we need it.

Step #1: Ideation

This is the process of coming up with an app idea. The next best idea for your business or startup. Mobile app ideas come from everywhere; from everyday lives, from the last television show you watched, or even from playing a video game! By opening up your awareness, you can come up with a new idea for your startup.

The key is to find a gap in the market that is unsolved. The bigger the problem, the more people need your app. After identifying a gap in the market, you can now come up with innovative solutions that your users will love. The more interesting the solution, the better the results of the app.

For businesses, though, we can go through a design thinking process that can help your business identify the problems, find solutions, and build prototypes. If there are too many problems to solve, FOCUS on one main problem and build outwards from there.

Upon identifying the problem and solution, you should piece together a mobile app concept in your mind. Either write it down on paper or into a word doc. This will help your ideas flow better without the need for remembering the idea.

You should also plan out the flow of the mobile app and all the features you need. It does not have to be perfect, but just a rough idea. To know what you are missing in your mobile app, let app consultants advise you!

app ideation

Step #2: Strategy Planning

In order for an app to be successful, you must come up with strategies that can help you push your app forward for growth. At SleekDigital, we constantly talk about user growth strategies.

User growth strategies are split into 4 parts: User acquisition strategy, user activation strategy, user retention strategy and user monetisation strategy. Although this does not work for all situations, this serves as a guideline to think of app strategies for growth.

In your app, in order to get strong initial traction in the first version, you need a user acquisition strategy. This will include things like promo codes, referral programmes that can help your mobile app have a viral effect.

Apart from the growth functionalities, we also need to have a marketing plan. Many companies make the mistake of having the mentality “Build and they will come” which is a grave mistake for app entrepreneurs. Therefore, setting aside time and resources is one of the keys to mobile app success.

This does not apply to internal apps like ERP systems. For ERP systems, it is how you motivate your team to start utilising the apps. It can be incentives that are given if an amount of time is replaced with an app.

For internal apps, we have to plan the User Experience of the app to be seamless and easy to use so that users will not shy away from the app.

Up to this stage, you should have a strong mobile app concept with a marketing plan prepared.

Step #3: Wireframing

Wireframes are the skeleton of an app. This will help companies and startups understand how the app will operate. This is to ensure that the following steps in development are not on the wrong page of the client’s ideas.

Wireframes are to layout functionalities and content before the development of the app. User journey mapping will also be taken into account while we do up the app wireframes. Wireframes can also help to establish the basic app structure.

In the wireframes, we will do linking so that we know what each button/feature leads to.

This is crucial for the client to provide valuable feedback on the app so that the following stages of the mobile app development process will be smooth and swift.

Step #4: UI/UX Design

UI/UX Design, or User Interface User Experience Design, is the process of deciding how the app looks and feels. User Interface’s purpose is to optimise how the app looks, whereas User Experience is to ensure that the usage of the app is seamless. For example, it is bad to place a button at an awkward part of the phone where fingers are harder to reach in one-handed use.

In this process, we will add in the “meat” from the wireframe in the previous stage. There will be user feedback time where clients can give feedback on the design. For example, clients can say that the colours are not what they are looking for, and the app designers will do the necessary amendments.

In most companies, the UI Design will be converted into something called an interactive wireframe. This interactive wireframe will be a clickable UI Design that you can experience how the app will feel after development is done.

After this step is completed, you will have a demo version of the pap where you can show you potential partners, vendors, or even investors.

Step #5: Mobile App Development

This is the most important step in any app developer’s project. This is the step where the actual programming happens.

Generally, app developers will look a the specification document, where all the requirements of the app are in, and the UI Design to develop. This will help the app developer to come up with the mobile app much more effectively.

A proper mobile app development project usually comes in three steps. Frontend development, backend development and admin panel development.

Frontend development is converting the designs that the app designers have come up with into codes. In native app development, Java or Kotlin is used for Android is used while Swift or Objective-C is used for iOS apps. There are also a few popular cross-platform frameworks that commonly used to speed up development. The most popular few are react native, flutter and ionic app frameworks.

In the backend, it is to develop the functionalities and the manipulation of data that are being transferred in the app. This includes things like saving user information upon registration, triggering emails, and even adding new data based on the user’s actions (e.g adding a comment).

Finally, an admin panel is also developed to allow admins to view all information of the app. For example, all the users of the app, all the products in the app, etc. This is usually done by web developers as it is a web-based admin panel.

After all three steps are completed, the app is ready to be used and all programming has been done.

app development process

Step #6: UAT and Bugfixing

After the mobile app development has been completed, we are going to conduct UAT, also known as User Acceptance Test. There are a few testing methodologies. The most common testing method is functional testing.

Functional testing is to test all the functions agreed in the quotation of the project. Line by line, we check out the functionalities that are tested and working. Whenever there is a feature that is not working, we will have to fix the bug and go through the full test again to make sure that there are no dependencies.

Some other tests that we can go through are security testing (also commonly known as penetration testing) and performance testing, which is to make sure that the speed of the mobile app is as per expectations.

During the testing of the mobile app, we will do a bug fix to ensure that all the bugs that are reported are attended to and fixed as per requirements.

After this step is completed, we should have a functional mobile app that is ready for launch.

Step #7: Deployment

We are coming to the launch of a full app. We are at the stage that we bring the app to the market, finally! In the deployment phase, we are going to be launching the mobile app to the live servers.

There are a few things that need to be deployed in this phase. If the app is being used internally, only the backend has to be deployed. The app can be sent around in the form of APK or IPA files.

However, if the app is a public mobile app, then you will have to launch the app into Google Play Store and Apple App Stores. Therefore, we have to generate a “build” for each respective app stores and upload them. There is an approval process which takes an average of two weeks for approval.

Next, we will have to deploy the backend on a preferred web hosting company. The most popular these days are Vodien web hosting, AWS, Microsoft Azure, etc.

After we have launched the app on both, we are ready to roll! The app is now live and can be downloaded from the app stores!

app deployment

Step #8: Post-Development (Optional)

After the app has been launched, most companies will look for a maintenance programme that ensures that the app is stable in the release and make sure that new software upgrades will be done accordingly.

At SleekDigital, we offer free 12-months warranty for all development bugs. Therefore, it means that we are ready to fix any bugs within 12 months of all warranty period.

We also can customise a maintenance programme for your needs. For example, some companies require more man-days to edit the mobile app within the first year, they will take a bigger package. If they find that they do not need such heavy maintenance, then they will take a smaller package.

Maintenance also includes app server housekeeping, software and version upgrades, device optimisation (E.g. when a new iPhone released), etc.

This is important to upkeep the system for the users along the way.

Conclusion

SleekDigital hopes to optimise our app development processes by finding inefficiencies in the development process so that our clients will have a smooth and enjoyable app development process. We hope that this article will serve useful for all potential partners in the industry.

Feel free to share this with your counterparts wherever you feel necessary!