So you have decided to get your app developed but do you know exactly what is involved in moving forward? Once you find an app developer in Birmingham, what are the crucial elements in the app development process? As they say, forewarned is forearmed so it is well worth knowing what to expect.

Google Play and Apple’s App store each have more than 1.5 million apps for sale; before adding yours, you need to be sure that it will fit with your business and marketing goals. The mobile app development lifecycle involves a whole lot of pre-planning and testing. The exact route that you take will depend upon the purpose of your app and what your app developer recommends.

Here is our take on the app development process and the likely challenges that you will come up against.

Research
Stage one involves your app idea. Think about user demographics and the goals of your buyers. Always plan and research with the end user firmly in mind. Think about what they will need the app to do. By doing this at the start, you can ensure that you are going in the right direction with confidence. Carry out plenty of research and don’t be afraid to brainstorm. Checking out what is already out there and analysing the competition is also an essential step. By studying competitor apps, you can ascertain what they have missed and what you should include.

Wireframing
This may sound like an odd term but all it actually means is creating an image or several of them showing the functional elements of the app on each screen. This can then be used for planning the structure and functionality. How you do this is up to you or your app developer but detailed sketches or computer generated images will do the job well. Your final images can help to refine ideas and ensure that each component of the design is located in the right place. Don’t forget to produce a storyboard showing how each screen will relate to the next; this is how users will navigate their way through the app. Ensure that your brand is included, make the user experience a great one and focus on the fact that you are producing a mobile app and not a mobile website. The two are very different when it comes to how they are used.

Technical Feasibility Appraisal
So now you have the visuals sorted out, what about the back end system and how will it support the functionality? You need to be sure that your app idea is feasible technically and in order to do this you need to look at the format and platform.

Formats: Tablet, smartphone, wearables, etc.
Platforms: Android, iOS etc.

Your app developer in Birmingham may have a few ideas as to how the functionality should be decided so ask as many questions as you like to ensure that you are happy with the final status.

Prototype
For a lot of app developers and for you, this is the most exciting part as you are going to get to build a rapid prototype. It is referred to as ‘rapid’ as the idea is to get the app into the hands of the uses quickly to see how it works. This enables you to find out if you are going in the right direction. If you have stakeholders involved, make sure to get their feedback and make use of it.

Design
Now comes the coding. You will hear your app developer refer to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) and both will interact closely with each other. Now you will see blueprints and visual directions, allowing your app developer to envision how the final app will look and what interaction with it will be like. Depending upon your budget and project scope, this may be completed quickly or for the more complex designs, can take a whole team many hours. Multiple versions of screens will be created by moving around navigation buttons and visual elements. The more outstanding your app, the more original your UX will be.

Development
Once the design concept is finalised, a working prototype can be created to show functionality and how much work is going to be involved. In the initial stage, functionality will not be tested. This is because the app is likely to be quite ‘buggy’ so it would be pointless trying to test functionality that does not really exist. Stage two involves the proposed functionality being included after the app has been checked and bugs fixed. Now the app can be released to a test group of users. After more work has done and more fixes have been applied, you are ready to move to the deployment stage, meaning that the app is ready to be released.

If user requirements are likely to change frequently, your app developer in Birmingham is likely to make use of agile methodology, which is as described by Wikipedia:
“Agile software development is an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer/end user.”

This helps tremendously with flexible planning and progressive development as well as early deployment involving constant improvements. Where apps are very complex, they can be broken down into smaller and more manageable modules with agile methodology being applied to each.

Testing
Testing frequently is recommended as this will help to keep costs low. If this is delayed, fixing bugs becomes more expensive. A large area to cover when it comes to app development, your app designer will manage all aspects, testing for usability, compatibility, security, interface checks, performance and stress. User acceptance testing will be used to see how your proposed users react to the new app. Once their recommendations have been accommodated, the beta trial commences using a group of chosen participants. The feedback from this stage enables your app developer to ascertain how well the app’s functions work in reality.

Deployment
Now your app is ready to launch. Depending upon which app store you want to use, the processes vary so you will need to follow these. But this is not the end; once your app gets out into the real world, feedback will commence and this can be used to produce future app versions. All apps need to be updated with newer and better features.

Do take into account that as soon as your app is released, the cycle of development begins again. You will need to have enough resources available to keep your new app product going. As well as investing money in your new digital product at the start, it is a long-term commitment so be prepared to stick with it, now and into the future.