The 6 Stages of App Development

App development is a process. The goal is to work smarter not harder and that requires going through several stages of planning before you get close to insulating yourself with a pair of noise cancelling headphones and locking eyes with your screen for some quality coding time.There’s a lot to creating a successful App. Let’s walk through the stages.

Stage 1: Discovery

Harken back to your high school days and remember science class. The first step in any kind of process is to outline your objective. You need to define your end goal, and decide on the steps needed to get you there. Let’s break it down with some basic questions:

  • Why: Why is your app necessary? What function does it fill?
  • Competitors: Does your app have any direct competition?
  • How does your app work? Define a basic outline
  • Data: Make a list of the data and metrics you will need to collect to make your app competitive.
  • Cost Evaluation: How much will your app cost? What value will it bring in?
  • Target Audience: Who is your app for?
  • Channels: Where will you need to advertise, and what should your budget be?
  • When is your ideal launch date? Work backwards to construct your development timeline and use it to delegate and stay on task.

A good place to start is in testing out the competition. Do your research and see what other apps on the market are doing. What’s their UI like? Where are they advertising? Think of this step as The Business Plan for your app. Here’s a few ideas to start compiling your “market research”.

  • Look at customer feedback and reviews for your competition - you’ll want to get an idea for what the market is missing.
  • Use resources like Google Keyword Planner to get some actual data on what potential users are searching for, and how popular your idea might be.

Being thorough with your market research early on, will only set you up for success later when you begin to plan your marketing strategy. It’s always better to build on your work as you go through the app development process.

Stage 2: Design

Stage 2 of app development is all about making decisions and compromises to optimize the UX. Develop User Personas to identify who the users are and how users will interact with the application. What are the users going to see first? What are the most important elements of your interface? You don’t want to overwhelm your UI so don’t be afraid to kill your darlings, it’s a common phrase used by writers and it applies to writing code as well. It means don’t be afraid to get rid of the elements that may bog down your app just because you like them as stand alone ideas. Your UI is the navigation assistant for your end users and you need to start the planning early on in the process - before coding. This will help outline the specific elements you’re going to need to create. Use practical tools like UML classes and ER diagrams to plot your course and map out your app. The process of Wireframing, Graphic Design, and Prototyping make for a successful end result.

Stage 3: Development

Finally! It’s time to write. There’s a reason for the phrase, “back to the drawing board.” without the previous stages of app development, you’d be coding blind.There are several pieces that come together when it comes time to code your app.Front End App DevelopmentThe front end is what the user sees and uses to interact with your app. Remember all that handy UI and UX planning you did? Here’s where it comes in handy. What skills will you need for Front End development?A typical stack involves:

  1. Bootstrap
  2. HTML
  3. CSS
  4. Select JavaScript libraries and frameworks

Back End App DevelopmentYour backend is operations central; the code that powers data collection, keeps it secure, and processes your data for the execution of your app’s functions. In the backend, you’ll want to pay particular attention to your business logic components; or the data utility and service agents that support your app; like server communication and data storage.This is where you’ll determine the logic of all the dynamic elements in your UI, the structure of your navigation methods, and make sure that your functionality aligns with your market research and consumer needs. If you’re designing a web app, check out our thoughts on building in .Net Core.API Integration It’s uncommon today to not work with an API in a project. Whether it’s a third-party API or an internal one, API’s are a key factor in adding data and functionality into an application. Business logic is typically built into the API or web services layer connecting the backend with the frontend. SecurityOf course, security is an essential component of any digital product. Whether you incorporate a third party solution or create custom code when needed, you should collaborate with IT and DevOpsteams to configure environments to support your security requirements.

Stage 4: Test

Beta TestingBeta testing is about “releasing” your app to a controlled group of your target audience and seeing how your hard work might stand up to your average customers. Beta testing also gives you a tiny preview into the post launch KPIs you’ll want to monitor. There are three types of beta testing that can be utilized in a project:

  1. Internal - Utilizing a private url that can only be accessed by the development team.
  2. Private - Only beta users have access to the application via an invitation code.
  3. Public - Anyone can sign up and use the application

Protip: As you develop, push out updates where new features and fixes can be validated. QA TestingThis is testing done by others on your team or in your company, or industry professionals with experience as power users. These people know what they’re looking for structurally and can help you identify bugs within the UI and the function of the APP.ReleaseAt this stage, implement end-to-end testing to confirm the application is ready for release. Check off all of the boxes on the deployment checklist. These items will center around the cloud environment, IT requirements, and data migrations.

Stage 5: Accepted for Launch!

At the end of a long road, nothing feels better than a successful launch. Congratulations! Share the news with your family, friends, LinkedIn community and, obviously, your target audience! But the hard work isn’t over.

Stage 6: Manage

After you launch you’ll want to continue to monitor some key KPIs like:

  1. UX and performance metrics
  2. Engagement metrics
  3. Revenue metrics
  4. Installations
  5. Retention rate
  6. Churn

Tracking important user data is the trick to being ready to roll out improvements for version 2. But that’s for another article.Need help with the nuts and bolts of designing Version 1 or 2 of your App? Reach out today for an Assessment to discover what your business needs are for your next digital transformation - and how TECKpert can make it happen.