Mobile App Design, A Beginner’s Guide

How can I make a mobile app?

As smart phones become increasingly popular and that too with the availability of affordable data plans, mobile applications are increasingly becoming a popular engagement tool for users and serve various areas of interests. Many established businesses want to engage their customers further and build retention and engagement through mobile applications. Additionally many enterprise customers are interested in designing and developing mobile applications for their internal operational management and communication. Hundreds of startups are interested in developing business ideas which are almost entirely based on a mobile application. In the Richmond, VA area there are not many options for someone to design & develop a mobile app of their own. Most local mobile application development companies can be very expensive with their usual rates above $100 per hour which can make a typical app which requires about 300 hours of development work costing above $30,000. There are few freelance mobile developers in the Central Virginia area. DevSoft Digital offers much more competitive rates for end to end mobile app development.

What are the main steps in Mobile Application Design and Development

1. Documentation of functionalities and user journeys

The question ‘What the app does’ is answered and the way user is expected to interact with the app is conceptualized. The best approach is to document the ideas in a shared document for the product owners, designers and developers to give feedback and iterate.

2. User Interface / User Experience (UI/UX) Design

Based on the documentation and ideas in Step 1, a professional skilled in UI/UX design usually uses a tool like Sketch or Photoshop to design the various screens the user will see. Every button, text area, menu or image elements are meticulously designed in a way which would be convenient and engaging for the user to interact with. This process also helps further polish and improve the original ideas in step 1. The designed screens can be wireframed in a prototyping tool like in the InVision App. This enables the product creators to see partially functional screens on an actual mobile device and can help with further evolution and improvement of the ideas.

3. Development

Once the designs and functionalities of the app have been finalized, the developers start working on the app, as in building and programming the frontend and backend of the application. Frontend development refers to development of the various screens as designed in Step 2 and also coding the various functionalities which operate the various elements in the screens the users interact with. Backend development refers to the designing of database and more complex programming which takes place on the server or storage area were all the app related data is stored and processed. Two most popular frontend development platforms are iOS and Android. However cross platform / hybrid platforms like React Native or Xamarin are gaining popularity as they produce apps which can be used on both iOS and Android devices. Backend development frameworks like Node.JS, Ruby on Rails and Python are popular. There are SQL and no SQL databases in which the application data is stored and the processing of the data takes place at the server level in a cloud based server like Amazon Web Services. DevSoft Digital offers full spectrum of Cloud Solutions.

4. Testing & Quality Assurance

It may seem like just a quick final step but testing and quality assurance is one of the most intensive and time consuming steps of the application development process. All the various functionalities and user stories initially planned in Step 1 are thoroughly and exhaustively tested. Many established companies like DevSoft Digital develop proper spreadsheets of various test cases and functionalities to ensure that the app functions as expected in a diverse set of test cases.

5. Delivery and Beta Testing

Once a thorough level of testing and quality assurance is complete, a beta or initial version of the mobile application is released on the application stores of Apple and / or Android. The purpose is to enable real life prospective users of the app to play around with the newly minted mobile application and give feedback. Additional built in error checks and analytics tool are also programmed into the application for automatic feedback and analysis to the development and product team.

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