Today, many companies are launching new applications in order to keep up with digital transformation accelerated by the Covid pandemic. They jump on the bandwagon with the belief that it’s enough to decide on the app type and hire a development team to build the right product. However, there are a range of factors that often go unnoticed, leaving business owners with solutions that don’t bring the expected outcomes.
The JatApp team is here to show you how to make an app that will serve both your business and your customers. Based on our 6-year experience in mobile app development, we’ve gathered the best practices for you to complete your project without any stress or uncertainty.
1. Understand the problem you want to solve
In the rush to build a mobile app, businesses often don’t focus enough on what would help them to meet their goals or what product their clients currently need. As a result, a mobile app doesn’t bring any revenues, becoming a sunk cost.
What you need to do from the very beginning is to understand the problem you want to address with your solution. In other words, you should think about challenges that need to be resolved to achieve your strategic goals. These could be either your internal business challenges or your clients’ pain points. Identifying these problems can shed light on potential scenarios where developing a mobile application is necessary.
Furthermore, you should conduct research to understand the specific needs of your customers. Depending on your findings, you’ll need to brainstorm what functionalities your solution should have in order to address these needs. At this stage, it’s a good idea to reflect on how exactly you will attract your customers.
2. Analyze how others have solved it
There are three kinds of competitors you may concentrate on during your analysis. These are direct, indirect, and replacement competitors. Direct competitors are businesses that offer similar products and services to the same audience, while indirect competitors refer to companies that deliver a different service or product that present a similar solution. Meanwhile, replacement competitors are another story. These are companies that offer an alternative solution to your end users.
For instance, if you are a fast food restaurant that serves burgers, your direct competitor would be another fast food place with burgers. Your indirect competitors will be fast food restaurants that offer, say, tacos and burritos. Coffee shops with to-go lunches are your replacement competitors in this case.
By looking at these three types of competitors, you can find a variety of different ways how others solve the challenge or problem you’ve identified earlier. This would help you not only to understand what features or user interface (UI) elements appeal to your audience, but also come up with innovative ideas that these competitors might lack. In such a way, you need to walk in your customers’ shoes to see what could make them choose your solution over the one provided by your competitors. At the end of this competitors’ analysis, you should be left with the product ideas that would bring value to your audience and fill a gap in the market.
3. Sketch the wireframe and lay out the flow
Once you know why you’re building your app and what you need to do to attract your customers, you should create a user flow by writing down every action a user needs to take to navigate through your mobile app. A user flow can be defined as the path that a user takes to complete a certain task in an application.
Based on the user flow, the app designers create wireframes for your solution. A wireframe refers to a layout of a mobile app that shows how UI elements will look like on the pages. At JatApp, we use Figma, a popular UI design tool, in order to build wireframes for our clients. Our design team usually invites other staff members to leave the feedback on the wireframes to make sure that the application is easy to use.
Creating wireframes in Figma
4. Remove non-core features
Once you’ve prepared the user flow and wireframes, you need to identify features that you can remove, so that you could offer only the core value of your solution. Building a minimum viable product (MVP) is always a smart move if you want to keep the development costs down and release the mobile app quicker. An MVP refers to the basic version of your solution that helps to gather user feedback early on in the development process.
Minimum viable product
In such a way, the first version of a product doesn’t necessarily have to include all nice-to-have features. In fact, additional functionalities can be released later as an update. Before launching an MVP, the quality assurance team should test the app and fix the bugs, if they’re found.
5. Design the UI
To deliver an intuitive UI, your team should define the target audience of your solution. At JatApp, we rely on Google Analytics to determine customers’ demographics, financial and marital status, gender, and so on. We need this information to understand what visual elements are essential in a mobile app. For example, one of our recent projects, Pre-Quest, which is a test preparation platform for children, contains many bright and cartoon-like illustrations to keep kids interested. As we identified who our end users are, we managed to deliver a successful solution that is effective and engaging for them.
Also, if your company has a strong brand identity, the design of your application should reflect it. To promote your brand awareness, you may want to incorporate the company’s style elements and colors into the product. Once the design is ready, it’s essential to test the product once again.
6. Choose a development approach
The next step is to decide whether you go for native app development or opt for cross-platform. Native apps refer to solutions created for one platform only. By contrast, cross-platform apps are software products designed from a single codebase to operate on multiple platforms, mostly iOS and Android. This approach is associated with decreased development time, since engineers need to write code only once.
Your choice of a platform would heavily depend on several factors, such as development cost, app complexity, and UI and user experience (UX).
If you have a limited budget, cross-platform app development can be a great solution. Since engineers write a single code for several platforms, they’ll spend less time building an app and therefore charge you less for their work. You can cut down your costs by up to 40% with this development approach compared to native app development.
However, it makes sense to choose a cross-platform approach only if you’re dead sure that you’ll find tech talents. Since cross-platform frameworks are relatively new, you may have a hard time searching for specialists. Each day of an unfilled job position may cost you a fortune, so you may end up spending more on your project than you would with a native app approach.
Native app development is a go-to solution if you’re planning to build complex applications that have many functionalities and third-party integrations. The following approach enables you to ensure a high level of performance of such mobile apps. One of our cases, a payment gateway makes a good example of a native app with many Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and features.
Payment gateway app functionality
Moreover, supporting complex native apps tends to be less problematic, as long as developers can change the code quickly. Meanwhile, when cross-platform applications have some errors, engineers need to handle them on both platforms.
Native development is well-known for its ability to ensure a superb UX. With this approach, engineers have access to native UI and UX elements of the platform, such as camera, microphone, GPS, and so on. Users can intuitively navigate through a native app, as they already know all peculiarities of the respective operating system and thus may focus on the task they have to complete.
If you still can’t choose which option is right for your project, we have a good article about native app and cross-platform app development for you to make a more informed decision.
7. Hire an app developer
Last but not least, you should search for talented developers who would write code for your software. There are three common approaches to hiring tech specialists: recruiting in-house coders, working with freelancers, or collaborating with an outsourcing company. Let’s see some pros and cons of each option.
Hiring engineers in-house means working with professionals on a full-time basis. These employees will be dedicated only to your project and your company. You’ll have full control over your team and be able to maintain the lines of communication easily.
Still, be prepared to pay more for in-house talent, as you’ll need to cover overhead costs, such as sick leaves, vacations, and taxes. Plus, you’ll have to take care of such things as equipment purchase, office rent, and similar.
Freelancers can be best described as independent contractors who offer software development services to different employers. As a rule, their work costs significantly less compared to in-house coders. Also, you can forget about the burden of taxes, office space, and stuff like that.
What you may worry about, however, is the lack of commitment to your app development project. It’s often the case when freelancers work on several projects simultaneously. Besides, you should take extra effort choosing a qualified freelancer that can meet all your requirements.
Outsourcing company is a software agency that completes a project for you. With this strategy, you’ll benefit from a wide pool of tech talent, as you can search for developers from all over the world and work with them remotely. The software development company also takes care of buying the necessary equipment, choosing office space, ongoing payroll, utility expenses, and so forth. If you feel that your team is wearing too many hats, you can always ask the vendor to suggest more developers, which offers you more flexibility in your project.
However, you need to make sure that your hires understand English well enough to understand the requirements as well as communicate any issues when necessary. The difference in time zones can also pop up as a serious barrier, especially when a vendor can’t handle it properly.
Mobile app development is not only about writing good code. You won’t reap the benefits from releasing your product quickly, if it doesn’t have any value to your end users. It’s critical that you put work into all seven steps of the mobile app development process to create the solution that really makes a difference for your business and your target audience.
To achieve this goal, you’ll need to have a reliable partner that has enough experience and knowledge in mobile app development. JatApp has delivered more than 200 projects, many of which are native and cross-platform mobile applications. Our mobile app developers have been recognized as top specialists according to Clutch. Beyond all that, our agency is included in the list of the top 1,000 outsourcing B2B companies in the world.
Want to make your own app? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your mobile app idea.