Businesses and people are using mobile apps every day. In fact, people spend 90% of their time they are on their phones using a mobile app. Most of this time is spent on social media and other communications, but 19% is spent on business apps so having a way to access your services through a mobile app is crucial to reaching your customers. I’m going to discuss the process a client goes through when we develop a mobile app. We use a seven-part process that includes:
- Develop a list of the required features.
- Approval by Customer
- Approval by App Store(s)
- Plan Next Upgrade
I’ll discuss each step of the process, why it is important, and expectations about what will occur.
Develop a list of the required features.
Before you develop an app, it is crucial to know what features are important to your company and/or customers. Phones have so many features that can be used, but not all companies need to use all of them. Some examples of feature you would use on a mobile app that you might not use on a website are Siri functionality, gps, or accessing the camera. Common questions you need to answer before building an app are:
- How will my customers use the app?
- Do I need a sign in button?
- Is it going to be free, paid, or free w/ in-app purchases?
- Are there specific steps I want the app user to follow? If so, what are they?
The more specific you are, the easier the next phase will be.
Prototyping is performed as a small project to confirm our understanding of the requirements. During this stage, we create screens that show the basic functionality. It will only show the concept of how it will look. This lets you get an idea of how the app will work without all the costs associated with developing the app and getting it approved on both Google’s and Apple’s app stores. During this stage, you’ll be able to see how the major user interface and user experience will look. Video sound will not be included at this stage, but it will work for presenting the idea to investors and as a basis for designing an estimate. Once the prototype is complete, you own it. You can use it to build in-house, with us, or shop around. We think you’ll be happy with our work though.
Once the prototype has been approved, we will develop an estimate to develop and get your app on the app stores. The estimate will cover all aspects of the app agreed upon. Once we have provided you with the estimate you have 90 days to consider it before making a decision. If you need more time just ask and we will do our best to accommodate.
During the developing stage, we will use a cross-platform development tool called Flutter to code. This tool helps us develop apps that will work on both Android and ioS. Flutter is developed by Google, so it encourages internet and mobile best practices. This is the tool that companies like Square, BMW, and eBay have used to develop their apps.
Typically we will have about 3 developers working in parallel to get your app developed quickly. Each will work on different functionalities, we’ll test the functionalities to make sure they work independent of each other, then we’ll integrate them together to get an app that works seamlessly, but is easy to modify. Once all the functionality is ready, we will test the app to make sure it works on our phones before sending it to you to test.
Approval by Customer
We’ll provide you access to the app to test on your phones and make sure it works as intended. We know that it will take a few uses to discover if there are any issues that need to be corrected. If there are, we will either fix them applying for acceptance into the app store or while working on the next update. The determining factor in which approach we take is if it is a feature included in the current contract or a desired new feature. We will normally give 2 weeks to a month for you to test the app, but if you prefer to send it to the app stores for approval faster we are happy to accommodate.
Approval by App Store(s)
Once you are satisfied with the app, we will get it approved in the app stores. Most apps are approved within 24 hours, but sometimes it takes as long as 4-5 days. If for any reason the app is rejected, we would correct whatever the app store requires to correct the issue(s) and reapply. Once it is approved you can start marketing your app or have your employees start using it. At this point the project is complete and we should start planning the next update.
Even though the app is complete and can serve its business function, you should constantly be improving your app. There are several reasons that make continuous updates important:
- Security- regularly updating your mobile app lets it use the latest advances in security.
- UI/UX- As the operating system updates, new features may be released you want to implement.
- Additional Offerings- You might have added new services that you want to highlight or add a customer rewards program later on.
- Customer feedback- Customers may request other functions in the app.
- Staying relevant- To keep an app relevant it has to keep up or advance the industry standards.
Because all these aspects play a role in updating apps, best practices recommend updating once a month, but if the app is fairly static, you may want to extend that to every three months.
As you can see there are several distinct phases of building and maintaining an app that should be considered before building your app, but having a mobile app gives you greater access to your clients or empowers your employees. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your ideas for a mobile app reach out by email.