Inspiration hits you one morning, and you wake up with a definite idea of the most mind-blowing app. You can see every detail: how it works, what it does, how it improves the lives of those who use it. It is an app that would not only be viable, but useful.
The only problem you are facing: you are new to the app development field, and you are not familiar with the steps entailed to transform a vision into a real-life app. Here is a short set of instructions that will help you turn the app in your dreams into an actual dream app.
Now that you’ve made the decision of developing an app, you need to pick a development methodology that will enhance the implementation of your project. Since you are new to the field, we should first define what the development methodology concept represents.
In straightforward words, development methodology refers to the process of organizing all the work that software development entails. Do not get all confused and see development methodology as a particular technical approach or project management style.
To make your selection of the best development methodology for your app development, you need to grasp the essentials of the two development methodologies you have at your disposal:
• Waterfall methodology. The waterfall model represents the conventional approach towards developing an app.
• Agile methodology. Agile development methodology is a form of RAD or Rapid Application Development. RAD is a general term for adaptive software development approaches. It uses Scrum, a subset of Agile, for implementation.
Agile vs Waterfall
The first step is to customize a development methodology into your own development methodology. Most software and app development companies define their own process framework. At Segue Tech, it is an adaptation of the Waterfall development methodology.
One of the changes implemented is a prototyping approach to be implemented as much as possible. Prototyping allows customers to get a more comprehensive picture of the finalized product from the early through the advanced stages of the development cycle.
Prototyping permits the app development team to have a better appreciation and understanding of the customer’s needs and desires. Prototyping also improves the transfer of information from and to the customer, enhancing communication on all levels.
The first step of developing an app is to finish the main framework in accordance to the instructions provided. Once this initial stage is completed, the next step is to put the finishing touches on further app development.
This is achieved by continually communicating with the customer with the purpose of refining the app into the desired finished product. This process means that the developers remain as frequentative as possible while sticking to the general architecture of the system.
Step 1: Outline Your Goals
Coming up with the idea of an app is only the point of departure for your development project. However, before deciding which development methodology to use, agile method or waterfall method, the actual first step is identifying your goals, i.e., the mission and purpose of the app.
You need to outline what is your app going to achieve, what makes it appealing and viable, what is the problem that it intends to come up with a solution for, how will it improve the life of the user? Get all straight answers to these questions, and you have your goals set.
Step 2: Start Sketching
The second step of any app development, whether you use agile development methodology or waterfall project management, is to commence sketching or drafting your app. It is the step where you lay the basis of your future app’s interface.
It is the step where you outline the concept of your app, including its structure and layout. The first sketch has a clear purpose: to allow your development team to figure out the goals of the app. The draft will function as a reference throughout the course of the development process.
Step 3: Do Some Thorough Research
Research is conducted to find out if there are any other applications that promise to do the same, boost your creativity for your app development, uncover the technical prerequisites for app development, as well as discover how you will be able to promote and monetize your app.
1. Identify Competition
Research may reveal that your revolutionary idea is not exactly unique. In the context of over 1 million applications available for both iOS and Android, it is unlikely that no one else has thought of the same concept and built an app around it.
Getting discouraged is not an option. In the end, the developers of similar apps should be regarded as competition, and you fight off competition, you don’t get scared and give up. Concentrate on your project and how you can make it feasible.
2. Get Inspired
Uncover the soft spots of your competition and work on avoiding their mistakes. Improve critical features and drop any negative thoughts. Explore the practical facets of your app, check out technical requirements, and test your app’s viability as far as technical limitations are concerned.
3. Get Informed
While researching, you will get clarifications on many other aspects, including privacy issues, copyright, and other legal restrictions. You may need to diverge from your preset route and adapt to the newly found conditions via a different solution than what you had in mind.
Research allows you to get an overall perspective on your app. Use any industry contacts you may have to secure an authority opinion from the very beginning of your app development project. There is time to focus on the difference between agile and waterfall methodologies later.
4. Market and Monetize
Once feasibility is no longer an issue, the focal point of your research is exposing the best strategies to promote and monetize your app. A first step in releasing your app on the market is identifying your target audience: the niche in the market that you want to reach.
Next, you need to single out the strategies that can make your app visible to your target audience. Your strategies should help your target consumer understand how your app offers a solution to their problem. With the right approach, the end user will come to see the value of your app.
The whole point of your app development endeavors is to transform your app into a money-generating project. There are at least two approaches that you can take:
1. Charge users per download. It is the simplest approach of the two.
2. Provide the app for free and run adds on it, an approach that works when you are counting on a significant user base.
Step 4: Generate a Storyboard and a Basic Design and Layout
It is the stage where you polish your ideas into a wireframe, i.e., a basic design and layout, of the app you are about to develop. You need to start prototyping your app, and you can always use one of the many tools available online and designed for this particular task.
Some of the prototyping tools you can employ include Moqups, Balsamiq, and HotGloo. With these tools, you can drag and release graphics and placeholders into place and also enhance button functionality to click through your app in review mode.
In addition to the wireframe, there is the storyboard that must be created as well. A storyboard is like a map that provides a clear understanding of the relationship between its different screens. It also allows you to have a better understanding of user navigation experience inside your app.
Step 5: Structure Your App’s Backend
Once you are done creating your app’s storyboard and wireframe, you have laid the grounds of its backend structure. It is the stage where you need to outline a diagram to be used as an easy to understand guide by the developers and team member joining later in the project.
If your research has uncovered certain practical restrictions, adjust your storyboard and wireframe to keep your app within those limitations.
Step 6. Test Your Prototype
This is the step where you put your wireframe, the prototype of your app, to test. Get family, friends, experts, and colleagues involved and have them test your app. Remember that you may not get all positive reviews.
The whole purpose of testing your prototype is to detect dead-end links and flaws. The best way to test your app is to have your friends/experts give it a run where you can see them and observe their actions and reactions and how they navigate the app.
It is the perfect chance to adjust your app to optimize your User Interface Design and User Experience Design. This is the step where you can still address any potential issues before you enter the designing phase when any change is more challenging to implement.
App development in the mobile era is a challenging endeavor that may come out as overpowering and complicated. It involves many process development stages and lots of decision making. However, it is a rewarding and profitable activity.
The number of phases that you need to go through to finalize your app development process may scare you, and you may feel seduced by the prospect of leaving out some of these steps. This guide is here to show the relevance of each step and how you can capitalize on each of them in the end.
The waterfall method is ideal if you want to diminish risk when faced with limitations, such as a situation of a contract with a government. The Agile development methodology performs better where it is possible.