day thousands of mobile apps are published to the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Some of these mobile apps are games, others are social networks, and many are ecommerce apps. All of these apps, if professionally built, should follow a similar mobile app development process. At BHW, we have built over 350 web and mobile apps and in this article I will outline the strategy, design, and development processes we follow.
Each app is different and our methodologies are always evolving, but this is a fairly standard process when developing mobile apps. This mobile app development process typically includes idea, strategy, design, development, deployment, and post-launch phases.
As trite as it sounds, all great apps began as ideas. If you don’t have an app idea, the best place to start is to train yourself to always think of things in terms of problems and potential solutions. You want your brain to instinctively ask “Why do we do things this way?” or “Is there a better way to solve this problem?” If you can identify a problem or market inefficiency, you are half way to your idea!
The next thing to do is understand why this problem exists and think about why nobody else has made an app to solve this problem previously. Talk to others with this problem. Immerse yourself in the problem space as much as possible. Once you have a complete grasp of the problem, begin to evaluate how a mobile app could solve the problem.
This is where having some understanding of what mobile apps can do is extremely valuable. We are frequently asked, “Is this even possible?” Fortunately, the answer is often yes, but it is imperative that this answer is sound. You are about to invest a considerable amount of time and money into an app, now is the time to challenge your idea’s validity and viability.
Once you have an idea, you need to plan for your app’s success. One of the best places to start is by identifying your competition. See if any other apps serve a similar purpose and look for the following:
- Number of installs – See if anyone is using these apps.
- Ratings and reviews – See if people like these apps and what they like/dislike about them.
- Company history – See how these apps have changed over time and what sort of challenges they faced along the way. Try to see what they did to grow their user base.
There are two main goals of this process. First, learn as much as you can for free. Making mistakes is time consuming, frustrating, and expensive. Often, you have to try a few approaches before getting it right. Why not save yourself a few iterations, by learning lessons from your competitors? The second is to understand how hard it will be to compete in the marketplace. Are people hungry for a new solution? Is there some niche not being filled by the existing options? Understand what gaps exist and tailor your solution to meet them. If your idea is completely new, find other “first to market” apps and study how they educated consumers about their new product.