HOW TO CHOOSE A MOBILE APP VENDOR

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The App Development Cycle and You

by Petr Kudlacek on 16 May 2014

mobile app development App development can be a long process, but a good foundation can keep you from making mistakes and also remove a lot of the worry when outsourcing your baby to the hands of professional developers.

App development can be a long process, but a good foundation can keep you from making mistakes and also remove a lot of the worry when outsourcing your baby to the hands of professional developers.

Research and Discovery

You and your team of mobile application developers will need to do research long before the development phase itself begins. The first piece of research is to determine what problem you want to solve and what unique way you can solve it.

Next, look at all the competition that is currently solving that problem and search other areas to determine how many users are having that problem. This gives you a good scope on your competition and your user base.

The last part of research and discovery is to fully flesh out, in words, your idea. If this seems like it is a concept that can be built and will easily solve the problem at hand. Take this idea and then set out to find professionals (that’s us!) who can make your dream into a reality.

What Platforms to Support

The next big question to ask yourself is: where do you want to be? In turn, ask your developers: Where can you put me?

Different mobile platforms have their own APIs and you’ll need to figure out what to support and where to put your efforts.

 dev platforms

Some of the key APIs to consider include those for:

  • Apple’s iOS
  • Google’s Android
  • BlackBerry devices
  • Windows Mobile
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digital currency platforms

The Questions Phase

After getting an idea about your app and where you’d like to be, turn to your developers and find out what they can do for you.

You’ll need to ask them very basic questions at first and then build this into a longer list of thoughts on your app, its purpose, and your target audience.

Questions you’ll want to ask developers include:

  • Is my proposed solution possible?
  • Can it be on the platforms I want?
  • What restrictions are there for what I want to do?
  • Can my process be simplified?
  • Do I need to add any necessary steps or cut any extra ones?
  • What are the pros and cons of being free? Ad-supported? Paid? What are most people in my area doing?
  • What else can you do for me?

When choosing a team to design your app for you, see samples. Ask for lots of samples. If someone shows you just one or two and pushes for the sale, take a step back. Designers should have a strong portfolio and they should be able to show you various samples of different types of apps.

Design and Development

This is where you turn your baby over to others and have them build you an app that meets all of your needs. This isn’t a hands-on or a hands-off phase for you, it is somewhere in between.

You need to provide your developer with a good sketch of what you want, a workflow of how the process should be handled, and any additional data, servers, or other access that they will need to build your project.

Beyond that, you should provide your developer with colors, logos, and other branding to keep your app consistent with your existing company brand. After giving them this information, it is time to step back for a brief moment.

 design and development

Your developer will first provide you with a basic app that goes through the main processes. This is run through to make sure it supports the functions you want and has the right feel. From here you and your developers flesh out the rest of the app and verify its uses.

This is also the testing phase, and your developers should be testing it every step of the way. Check up with them and establish a schedule for the developers to inform you about the latest test results and what still needs to be worked out.

The development cycle varies in length by app and can be a short or a long-term project. Your developer should give you an idea of that at the beginning of your work. They should also be willing to answer questions at every point along the way.

Good developers will not only be willing to speak with you about the process, they’ll want to keep you informed and seek your input as the work progresses.

Common Mistake: Bad measurements

In the research phase, it is easy to understand the problem and how you think you can fix it. However, knowing how to measure your success isn’t always easy or obvious. Work with your team and your developers to make sure you are using the right metrics and that they truly measure your success.

Common Mistake: Bad Timelines

Software development isn’t easy to gauge or estimate, so strict and quick deadlines aren’t something a developer can promise. The best cure for this disease is to make sure the timeline you’re working from is acceptable to your developer and includes all the necessary steps and tasks associated with building your app.

Common Mistake: Going Quiet

While you don’t want to ask the same questions every day, you do want to keep in touch with your designers. If you stay out of the loop and are hard to contact, development will continue and may not meet what you had in mind but did not express.

Common Mistake: Running Away

Trouble pops up with the development of any app, but the key is not to run. Stick to plans even when an interruption hits and pushes back the schedule. Staying with it will get you an app faster and switching gears suddenly will cause the loss of a lot of work and make it difficult for anyone to pick back up at the stopping point.

Common Mistake: Unclear expectations

Ensure that you communicate your expectations for the project clearly to your development team. Never assume anything and ensure your development team has a clear understanding of what you require.

 expectations

Common Mistake: Unclear specifications

Just as your expectations should be laid out clearly, so should your specifications. If you aren't sure where to start, we'll help you through the process.

Common Mistake: No development methodology

A clear development methodology should be in place prior to starting a project. If you already have a process in place, our team will adjust to meet your needs. If you do not, we will work with you to develop one.

Common Mistake: Not getting technical project documentation

If your software was originally created by a different team and you come to us for modifications or further development, ensure that you receive the technical project documentation from the first developer. This ensures our team will be able to move forward with your project.

Maintenance

After your app has been developed and you launch, don’t let your developers slip away. You’ll want to keep in contact so they can help you troubleshoot, create updates, and identify problems that may arise with new interactions or smartphones.

Maintenance is the second-most important step after building the app.

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