Want to Build an App? Here Is a Mobile App Development Process with Steps to Follow

If you're reading this, we assume you've never tried building a mobile application. If this is true, we must say that this is something a successful entrepreneur has to do at some point.

Building a product is a bumpy road. And not everyone who tried developing a mobile application has gotten through it successfully. They’ve hit some rocks, got some cuts, and learned. And hopefully, they've finally figured it out.

If you're looking to repeat that challenge, we can help you smooth the path. In this article, we'll explain every step in the amazing process of building a mobile application.

Fasten your belts, and let's go!

Step 1: Get some coffee and talk

How many great ideas are born in plain conversations over a cup of coffee? Tons of them! Getting ideas out of your head and putting them into the ears of other people is how you turn them into reality. An initial meeting with your app development team who's going to deliver an application is all about teasing out your ideas, thinking through concepts, and putting them into a usable format. Like a mindmap.

Mindmap

Step 2: Make ideas more tangible

Mindmapping helps you generate a starting point for project development. But after that, you need to make your product concept much more tangible and visible. The easiest way to do it is to imagine that your product is already alive and there are actual people using it. How about capturing how a user will interact with your app to achieve a specific goal?

User stories

Writing user stories is a bit like writing a play. You've got actors (users), actions (I want to), and the results of these actions (so that). Here is what your user stories might look like:

User story

Wireframes

Use cases are primarily textual, but they give you a clear vision of what screens your application needs to consist of and what elements need to be on each screen.

All there is to do now is make a wireframe.

Wireframe

Step 3: Get an overview of the project timeline

A nice wireframe makes your project measurable. You can see what exact functionality you need to build, what technologies are going to be involved, and how much time it will take to deliver the end product. If your dev team is good at planning, they will send you a Gantt Chart with project timelines so you could set all the right expectations.

timeline

Step 4: Split your project into pieces

Sometimes the amount of work that is required to build an app might look overwhelming. There is so much effort that goes into creating a new product! But when you break down the whole project into epics and tasks, it will look much more digestible. In Agile, an epic is a body of work that can be broken down into specific tasks.

epics

Tasks need to be organized into a backlog. It's an ordered list of everything that you know you will need in the product. You can create a backlog in Trello, Jira, Asana, or any other project management software.

Step 5: Manage priorities

You're almost ready to start coding! But there is one more thing we need to figure out. Which epics and tasks get to be done first? To prioritize features you can rank them according to their importance for users. You can use Jira to do this.

piorities

In the screenshot above you can see how we organized tasks for one of our projects. On the left, we arranged software versions by priority. The tasks are listed from the most important to the least important. In addition, each task is marked with an arrow that indicates the importance of a given task.

Step 6: Start a virtuous cycle of continuous iterations

Congratulations! Now we've arrived at the point where programming finally starts. Iterations are two-week sprints during which your developers are working hard to build the required functionality.

Here is how an iteration looks like in an experienced mobile app development company:

One day before the sprint starts: A sprint planning meeting where the team

  • Prioritizes tasks
  • Estimates task duration
  • Composes a sprint scope

Every day: Daily standup meetings, where the team discusses

  • What has been done?
  • What should be done next?
  • What are the blockers?

At the end of the sprint: The team releases a software build to the staging environment and then to the production server.

On the last day before the sprint ends: A retrospective meeting where your whole team gets together to

  • Vote about their own efficiency
  • Identify the main issues
  • Discuss how the process can be improved

Step 7: Gather analytics and improve all the time

When a chunk of your app's functionality is done and you can even play with it, it's time to analyze the performance of this piece of software. Your app development team will measure

  • Software performance
  • User behavior
  • Interactions of an app with third-party systems
  • Features that users need, and those they don't

At this stage, app developers also detect and fix bugs that they couldn't catch while testing, and improve whatever isn't working as it's supposed to.

Analytics

Step 8: Test the app before the final release

When all the epics and tasks in your backlog disappear, your brand new app is almost ready to get out in the wild. Don't rush though! We still have a very important task to complete.

Pre-release testing is a process during which you and your team need to:

  • Run stress tests to make sure that app can survive beyond the limits of normal operation.
  • Do a security audit to check if the app is fully protected against hackers and malware
  • Conduct peer review by using a third-party company which can review and evaluate your team's quality of work
  • Ask app designer to review the end product and tell if everything corresponds to his or her idea: fonts, alignments, transitions, animations, etc.
  • Do recovery tests to see how well the application can recover from crashes, hardware failures, and other similar problems.

Step 9: Submit the app to Apple's App Store or Google Play Store

We almost have a release, hooray! Time to reserve a slot in the App Store or Google Play for your app for users to see. The submission process doesn't take long, but it's essential to do it properly. Apple and Google have strict regulations in place that app developers need to follow. Otherwise, their apps won't get approved for publishing.

Your app developers must check if your app complies with all the requirements. And then, you can hopefully celebrate a successful launch without any delays.

Step 10: Thought we're done? Not yet!

The first app release is just a beginning. After your app is launched in the market, you need to continually support it. App maintenance activities include:

  • Bug fixing
  • Running A/B testing
  • Rolling out improvements
  • Building new features

We hope this article was useful! If there are any crucial steps that we missed in the app development process, please let us know in comments.

Have a huge success with your app!