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In this article, we will tell you how to create a mobile app for your site in detail and with examples. You’ll find out how to define the project’s goals, choose main and additional features, what the design and a tech stack should be like, how the process of app development takes place, and how much it costs.
Step 1: your project’s goals
What goals a business should have according to SMART criteria. Source
Before you start typing, you better start with a pen and paper. Think about why you need a mobile app
and what you want to achieve with its help. Usually, it’s a sale of products or services or attraction of traffic to the site. But not always. A mobile app can also be a basis for your loyalty program, a communication channel with a support service, or complement the work of your site (for instance, if you need a map and GPS).
One way or another, before you move on, you have to define your project’s goals. This is important because it’s going to influence the development of design, functionality, and approach to monetization
(if it’s required). And the more clear and specific these goals are, the better the chances that they are achievable. For this reason, we recommend using SMART criteria, which can guide the setting of your project’s goals.
SMART is a mnemonic acronym for:
- Specific — target the specific field to improve. For example, sales increase and not the increase of a company’s profitability.
- Measurable — use a quantitative estimate or another measurable indicator of progress. For instance, you have to sell 1000 units and not just improve sales performance in the future.
- Assignable — assign a specific executor. I.e. you need particular people responsible for the result under each goal.
- Realistic — the goal has to be achievable. For example, don’t set a goal of outdoing Amazon if you are a newcomer with a small budget.
- Time-related — specify when your goal has to be reached. For example, sell 10000 phones by September.
Step 2: small market research
Comparison of internet users’ interest in planner apps with the help of a free service Google Trends
Research is an essential step in the process of mobile app development
. It can help you understand whether your target audience needs your service and if so, what exact app they would like: design, features, and business model. The research will help you understand how competitive the market is, what your competitors are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
You can conduct such marketing research on your own by using public data and free tools such as Google Trends and Keyword Planner. However, you should do it provided that you know what to look for and how. If you don’t, then better hire a marketing agency or a full-cycle development company such as Merehead.
Step 3: your platform’s interface design
. This is a scheme, which shows logic, structure, and relations of the contents and systems of organization, navigation, and search within the app. An information architecture aims at organizing content in such a way that users can get used to the app functionality easily and quickly and find everything they need effortlessly.
An example of the information architecture of a mobile app. Source
App interface wireframe
. A wireframe is a rough draft of a visual architecture of a platform that will serve as a basic «plan» of how your app is going to look and work. Externally the wireframes are schemes where the main elements of the interface design of the app
are reflected without going into details. Thus, empty blocks are used instead of an outline image or text. Transitions between pages are usually reflected in the wireframe and the features of a mobile app are outlined.
The first draft of a wireframe is usually done on paper and then it’s moved to e-version with the help of Swiftic, Native Scripts, React Native, or Adobe Photoshop. Here is what the app wireframe may look like:
An example of a mobile app wireframe. Source
. Mock-ups are a final static visualization of an app’s interface design. Unlike wireframes, they demonstrate everything that the interface is about to contain: text, images, videos, icons, buttons, animation, and other design elements
. Prototypes are animated mock-ups, where all animations, videos, buttons, and transitions are working, but the app features aren’t.
Difference between wireframe, mock-up, and prototype of the app design. Source
Step 4: 10 features of successful apps
Ease of use
. Though people spend more and more time in mobile apps, the amount of time that they are ready to spend in any of them is limited. For this reason, the interface design of your app has to be as simple and user-friendly as possible.
Support of both iOS and Android
. These are two operating systems that almost all smartphones in the world run on: a share of iOS is 29,06%, Android — 70,43% (according to Statcounter.com). Along with this, both platforms are popular in almost all countries. Only in several ones such as India, Brazil, and Nigeria, one OS (Android) is dominating. This means that when developing a mobile app for your site, you have to implement support of both operating systems.
. Modern phones are very fast and able to work with several programs simultaneously, due to which the users can perform many tasks at once switching between running programs. The problem is if your mobile app loads or performs some function too long, your users will turn it off and start doing something else.
Integration with social networks
. In a world controlled by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter, close integration with social networks
is necessary. They simplify registration and allow sharing achievements and content, communicating with friends and acquaintances. It’s important to have integration with popular social networks because it makes it possible to spread information about your app on the web, share it with more people, and attract new users.
Autonomous app operation.
This feature is optional for the majority of apps, but the users would appreciate it if some of your app’s capabilities were available offline as well. So try to predict what content and features your target audience might need when there’s no Internet connection. For instance, Spotify has this mode (music playing
), Google Maps (interactive map and user’s location tracking), and Bridgefy (Bluetooth message sending).
. Users like products, which offer many opportunities for settings. The best app allows choosing screen themes, fonts, background, color schemes, privacy levels, parameters of notifications and search. Implement such capabilities in your app. Let your users make your mobile app look and function the way they want.
Search system, filters
. Pay attention to the search feature in your app especially if it has a lot of content and/or features like on Facebook, Amazon, or Google Maps. Search on such platforms has to be very simple and guess what the user wants, correct his mistakes, and give recommendations based on the first letters of a word or past requests.
. The development of a really great mobile app for your site requires a continuous process of improvements and updates. They are necessary so that your platform stays relevant over the years and not just right after the launch. Moreover, these updates are needed to fix bugs and errors that are present in any software.
. Since many online platforms store personal and confidential information, medical records
, or bank information, a high level of security is absolutely essential for any mobile app. For this reason, you need to encrypt the internet connection and databases as well as introduce additional safety measures:
Reporting and analysis
- Protection from SQL injections.
- Protection from denial of service (DoS).
- Protection of HTTP parameters from pollution.
- Protection from distributed denial of service (DDoS).
- Protection from server-side request forgery (SSRF).
- Protection from cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
- Two-factor and HTTPS authentication.
- Biometric authentication.
- Data encryption.
. They allow administrators to get all necessary information about the users’ behavior. It’s important for mobile apps of any type because it gives the possibility to monitor your service’s performance and do your utmost to optimize it. Besides, it’s great feedback, which is going to demonstrate what content features in your app people like and what they don’t.
Correspondence to GDPR
. This regulation aims to protect the personal data of all European Union citizens at the legal level. Its implementation doesn’t require additional legislation in EU member countries, but it requires everyone, who stores, processes, and uses the user data of EU citizens to change their software in accordance with GDPR principles. Specific features and solutions to implement such accordance depend on the project.
Step 5: optimal tech stack and API
A tech stack is a set of various software tools for the development of software including mobile apps. It consists of programming languages, frameworks, compilers, database management systems, API, etc. The chosen tech stack influences requirements to the hardware of the user’s device, software’s reliability, performance, development time, and development cost.
The tech stack is usually divided into a frontend, backend, and API.
is a user interface, system interface, and other elements, which an end user interacts with. Here is an example of a tech stack for the creation of a mobile app’s frontend:
is an internal hardware/software part of a mobile app responsible for the work with databases, functionality, and everything that is hidden from the user’s view. I.e. it’s everything that works beyond the user’s device. Here is an example of a tech stack for the backend:
(Application Programming Interface) is special protocols to connect frontend to backend and integrate with external services, which expand the app’s functionalities. For instance, a taxi app needs integrations with online maps, GPS systems, and payment gateways. While a mobile app for managing electronic medical record (EMR) might need the following APIs:
Step 6: bringing your app into code
The average cost of creation of the mobile app depending on its complexity and the developer’s location
Mobile app development is no trivial task, which requires considerable experience and knowledge. That being said, you need experience and knowledge of not only technical details but also the field, which the app is going to work in (e-commerce, banks, insurance, video games, health care, mass media, and the like). This article describes how to find a technical partner: «Choose a custom erp software development company
Cooperation with a technical partner is going to take place according to the following algorithm:
- Agreement. You and the development company create a concept of your mobile app, and then you draw up your project’s scope of work and discuss all cooperation details — starting with payment and deadline and ending with KPI and communication channels. Once all conditions and details are specified, a cooperation agreement is drawn up and signed.
- Prototyping. You, business analyst, and/or designer create an app wireframe — a simplified scheme, which demonstrates user flows and main capabilities of your app (an example of a wireframe is shown above).
- Interface design creation. Designers develop interface mock-ups/prototypes on the basis of the ready wireframe. These mock-ups show the design in the form, which the end users will see it in.
- Direct coding. This stage is bringing your mobile app’s concept, design, and functionality into code. Frontend developers and backend developers are responsible for that.
- App testing. Almost right after the start of coding, QA specialists take on the case and check the code, all features, and system elements with the help of special programs.
- Release and support. When the app is written and tested, it’s usually added to listings of marketplaces of App Store and Google Play, which requires relatively little time and money.
Step 7: service testing and improvement
During the testing, make sure that most checks are done by QA specialists and not by the main developer of your app. It’s also important to do the testing during each sprint and not when the greater part of a code is ready. This will make the testing more effective.
You need to test the following things:
- Usability. Make sure that your app is user-friendly. At this stage, it’s appropriate to engage new QA testers for the first use.
- Features. Make sure that all features of your app are working the way that is described in the requirements. To do so, QA specialists usually create a test plan with a list of actions and a desired response from the app.
- Performance. This type of testing is usually conducted at later sprints because only then you can estimate the real speed of both a mobile app in general and its separate features.
- Compatibility. There are tens of thousands of combinations of devices and operating systems and you have to make sure that your app will work on most of them. You can conduct such testing manually or with the help of special tools like Firebase from Google.
- Security. You also have to make sure that your app is protected from hacker attacks, DDoS attacks, SQL injections, etc.