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The mobile development market is constantly expanding. According to statistics with an estimated value of 206.85 billion US dollars in 2022 to 2030, it will grow with a compound annual growth rate of 13.9%.

Stages of app development

The business world’s growing appetite for apps showcases the move over the last 10 years from single vendors with all-in-one platforms to “best-of-breed” applications.

Todd McKinnon, Okta’s chief executive officer, told CIO Journal

Nevertheless, making an on-demand mobile app is a process that implies quite thorough pre-planning. It’s crucial to know the concept of the software development life cycle to ensure product integrity, decrease time-to-market, streamline the mobile apps development process, and save on app costs.

NIX has provided mobile app development services since 2009 and uses best practices to build high-level mobile solutions for different purposes. In this article, we would like to share our know-how to help you understand the mobile app development steps and their specifics.

Buyer's Guide

Stage 1: Strategy

The first stage of the application development lifecycle is working out everything from what the app is about and who will use it to what technologies it will be based on and how we will measure success.

Stages of app development

1. Establish the Mobile App’s Goals and Objectives

A mobile app should be based on problem-solving for the user and be handy. It’s important to ask yourself what problems you want to solve with your app and how you plan to benefit from the app.

2. Describe the Target Audience – Who and How Many

Your research should include actual demographics, motivations, behavior patterns, and goals of your user’s persona. Whether your target audience is using an iPhone or Android, it’s essential to keep in mind the user lifecycle and its characteristics during the whole development process. This way, you can create user personas, which help understand the real goals and constraints of who will be using the app. Knowing what your users are is the cornerstone of building an on-demand mobile app.

Thorough research gives clarity and sets you on firm footing regarding what your app will be.

3. Research the Competition

A detailed study of your competitor’s app will help you figure out what features are absent in their app so that you can include them in your app to make it stand out.

4. Select a Mobile Platform for the App

After identifying the target audience, it’s time to select a preferred mobile platform – iOS or Android. There are two ways to develop the app: 

  • Native development if you want to build a high-performance application with a rich user experience and complicated logic that can be easily updated and enhanced with new functionality in the future. 
  • Cross-platform development if you have a short window to test the idea and hypothesis in the app market or you need software products or services that will work on several operating systems. It’s also more cost-effective since you can create one app for both platforms.
Mobile app stages of new product development process from idea to app release and support.

The Output of the Strategy Stage:

  • Understanding of the app’s goals and target audience 
  • Choosing the preferred mobile platform
  • Creating a project roadmap along with tech considerations based on functionality

Stage 2: Design

At this stage, it’s time to build a development team that usually consists of a product owner, project manager, business analyst, 2–3 app developers per platform (Android and iOS), back-end developer, UI/UX designer, and 1-2 QA engineers. When your team is formed, you can proceed with the design.

The design stage includes four steps.

Stages of app development

1. Clarifying Requirements

The team examines the project’s initial data and then asks more specific and contextual questions during the workshop with the client.

2. UX Planning

At this stage, we are creating an app architecture for a better conceptual understanding and preparing the future mobile app’s prototype with as much detail as possible: each button, pop-up, and text field.

The team analyzes and classifies all the information received from the client and fills in gaps if necessary. We already begin to create the structure of the project, draw up the user flow and happy passes, and work through the edge cases. After the NDA agreement with the client, we move on to the next stage – UI.

3. UI Creation and Design

It’s essential to keep in mind the client’s tastes and preferences, but even more important is the target audience. After successful approval of the main screens’ designs, we can create the project’s style guide and render the rest of the screens. If the client has a brand book or a unique corporate style it’s important to follow it and make sure it’s well accompanied.

4. Maintenance and Testing

When mobile app developers receive all the prototypes, the designer’s work does not end. The designer also accompanies the project team during the development stage to explain the difficult moments in the logic, structure and find a compromise between what is beautiful and technically practical to implement. The designer himself must also check the final product for compliance with its design and idea.

All these steps ensure making a high-quality and custom app sharpened to achieve the customer’s business and target audience goals.

The Output of the Design Stage:

  • UI/UX final blueprint for development – wireframes, concepts, prototypes, and user testing in the chosen format (source design files, project specification for developers in Zeplin, Adobe XD, Figma, InVision)
  • A style guide (specification of fonts, sizes, styles of elements and their states)
  • Clickable prototype and/or application scheme (optional, if the client requested it)
  • Further support from the development team

Stage 3: Development

We believe that teamwork is the driving force behind great software development. Building a trusting relationship between the client and the team is the foundation of a successful outcome.

At NIX, we are using Agile methodology – breaking development up into sprints of around two weeks apiece, and each focused on a singular functionality. This helps with flexible planning, progressive development, early deployment, and constant enhancements. At the end of each sprint, a mini-release is provided for the client’s review and testing.

As for native development, there are the main programming languages: for iOS developmentSwift, Objective‑C, for Android – Kotlin and Java. For cross-platform development software, there is React Native or Flutter

Taxi Case Study

The development process can be described in the following steps:

Stages of app development
  1. We select application architecture depending on the functional requirements that include orientation, flips, amount of business logic, etc. For Android and iOS, there are basic types of the app’s architecture: MVP, MVVM, Viper, Redux, etc.

    Depending on the chosen technology for the backend (step 2), we can choose the best fit for the project.

  2. We consider whether the backend will support the app’s functionality when there is a clear understanding of the visuals and non-functional requirements. An app, depending on the chosen platform, iOS, or Android, will have different requirements. There are two main ways to set up a backend:
    • SaaS as the backend – such as Firebase, AWS Mobile Hub, CloudKit, Kinvey, Parse and Rest API for basic app MVP
    • A custom backend, which is a better option if you predict the mobile app to grow in new features and users
  3. We choose the frameworks, libraries, and off-the-shelf solutions that will be used in the app. Frameworks as infrastructures to speed up code writing for iOS and Android such as DI and Binding. As for functionally specific frameworks for the particular project:
    • For Android – Play Services (Maps API, Places API), payment gateways, social integrations, etc.
    • For iOS – CoreLocation, HealthKit, etc.
  4. The team participates in the API design, if necessary. If you already have a separate system, you need to write an API that allows your application to interact with the overall system or with third-party software. 
  5. As we figured out the network models, we can design our database and draw the diagrams to facilitate the creation of the database models.
  6. If needed, we take part in detailed specification requirements and design, as we, as experts, are aware of the system’s limitations and optimal UX/UI solutions and can provide useful input to business analysts and designers.
  7. The team sets repositories and configures CI/CD (by default, projects are automatically built through Gitlab pipelines)

The Output of the Development Stage:

  • App ready for testing

Stage 4: Testing

Mobile app testing is a necessary procedure, and if applied in the early stages of the application development lifecycle, it can save your budget. The QA team needs to test a mobile application for usability, compatibility, security, UI checks, and performance.

Stages of app development

At NIX, we plan the testing in layers. First, the priority is functionality, second is additional functionality, and third is design. The second and third items may switch places – it depends on the client’s needs and requirements. It’s better to implement a few features that work smoothly than a whole pack that creates many bugs.

Our QA engineers can calculate an approximate number of tests for each feature to provide the client with the testing stage’s estimation.

At NIX, depending on the project, besides basic testing, we conduct three more types of testing:

1. Performance Testing

Performance testing determines how fast a system or part of a system performs under a particular load. It can also verify and validate other system quality attributes, such as scalability, reliability, and resource consumption. Performance testing answers questions such as how well the app responds to the user requests, how fast the app’s screens are loading, or if your app’s size is bigger than what it should be.

Directions of performance testing:

  • Load testing to evaluate the behavior of an application under an expected load.
  • Stress testing to evaluate system reliability under extreme or disproportional loads

After your app passes the necessary performance testing, it is still crucial to test the API and backend for load by simulating the maximum quantity of simultaneous users. The app should be able to handle a high load and perform well even when usage spikes.


2. Security Testing 

Security testing is a crucial part of the mobile apps development process. It’s especially vital for mobile enterprise solutions that any potential vulnerability can lead to a hack.

Critical user data includes any data that should not be accessed by a third party – both personal user data such as date of birth, residential address, personal correspondence and private data such as passwords, credit card data, bank account numbers, order numbers, and so on.

This is a way of evaluating a mobile app’s security, which consists of systematic testing of its protection effectiveness. The testing process involves actively searching for any weaknesses, technical flaws, or vulnerabilities in the application.

Essential rules:

  • Store important user data only in secure platform storage.
  • Do not store any sensitive user data in application code or resources.
  • Select only a proper algorithm from well-established, up-to-date, and well-known cryptographic algorithms.
  • Test data entry forms within your mobile app to ensure there is no data leakage.

3. Usability Testing 

Usability testing should accompany software development at all its stages. This will allow timely detection of many problems, many of which can be identified before or during interface design.

The purpose of usability testing can be to check the specific functionality, the user’s overall impression of the app or design, check the user’s happy passes, or compare the application with competitors’ analogs. 

To ensure your application works smoothly with no bugs and that it will be comfortable in use, it is essential to perform beta testing. This involves external user testing – a limited, targeted audience uses a beta version of an app and provides real feedback to understand the usability flow or possible issues with it.

Benefits of beta testing:

  • Testing with real users and the ability to correct the issues before release
  • Decreased amount of issues and complaints after a final release to the market

Once the team performs the app testing in-house, it’s ready for the release of the beta version of the app to market.

The Output of the Testing Stage:

  • Tested functionality, ready backend and app ready for release
  • Functionality specification 
  • Full source code
Alienware Case

Stage 5: App Release and Ongoing Support

The first release usually contains the app’s priority features and the extended functionality for the following releases. 

Stages of app development

It’s the final stage of SDLC mobile application development when the app is ready for market launch. However, you should keep in mind app stores’ particular policies for accepting and verifying mobile apps. After the app submission to the Apple App Store, it goes through a review process that may take from a few days to months depending on your app’s quality and how closely it follows Apple’s iOS development guidelines. App reviews on Google Play are different from App Store, but often your app will show up in the market a few hours after submission.

After app submission, it is essential to keep track of the trends upgrade the features according to the audience targeting requests, and process user feedback for future improvements.

Wrapping Up

App development is an ongoing process and will proceed after the first launch as you receive user feedback and build new functionality. The most important thing is to build an expert team that will help lead you through all steps of the mobile apps development process and ensure the product’s integrity.

We hope this article helped you understand all app development phases – from strategy and identifying the target audience, to app release and its ongoing support.

Why outsource mobile app development to NIX? Our mobile development department consists of more than 50 experts and the entire team consists of 3000+ technicians experienced in various business domains. Depending on your current needs, we build a team and work with you side by side through all steps of application development.

You can use our brief request for proposal (RFP) template which will save you time and will allow you to present your idea and development needs in a well-structured form.

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Are the Stages of Mobile App Development the Same for All Types of Apps?

The steps for application development are generally similar for different types of apps. App creation consists of working on mobile app development strategy, design, development, testing, app release, and ongoing support. However, the specific requirements and complexity may vary based on the nature of the app. Some steps to create an app may require adding extra modifications to accommodate specific features or functionalities.


How Long Does Each Stage of the Mobile App Development Process Usually Take?

The duration of the mobile apps development process depends on various factors, such as the app’s complexity, team size, and resources allocated. On average, the planning and design steps to build an app can take a few weeks, followed by development and testing phases, ranging from a few weeks to several months. It’s important to note that these timelines can vary significantly depending on the project scope.


Is It Possible to Skip a Stage During Mobile App Development?

Skipping any of the mobile app development stages is generally not recommended, as each stage plays a crucial role in ensuring the app’s success. However, some stages may be combined or prioritized differently in certain situations, such as when modifying an existing app or developing a simple prototype. It’s important to assess the project’s specific requirements and consult with the development team to determine the best workflow with all the steps to develop an app adapted to the business context.


What Are the Common Pitfalls to Avoid During the Different Stages of App Development?

It’s essential to be aware of common pitfalls during app development to ensure a smooth process. Some key pitfalls to avoid are inadequate planning and requirements gathering, insufficient testing and quality assurance, poor user experience design, ineffective communication among team members, and neglecting post-development support and maintenance. A seasoned team differs from the newcomers, which are many, by additional stages of the mobile apps development process they take aim at double-checking the strategic data and communication flow. You can proactively enhance the overall app development experience by addressing these challenges beforehand.


What Are the Stages Involved in Building an Android App?

The stages of Android app building typically include:

  • Requirement gathering and analysis
  • UI/UX design
  • Front- and back-end development
  • Integration of necessary APIs and functionalities
  • Testing and debugging
  • Deployment to the Google Play Store
  • Post-launch monitoring, updates, and maintenance


Are There Any Specific Steps to Optimize App Performance?

Yes, optimizing app performance is crucial for providing a seamless user experience. Some specific mobile apps development process steps include:

  • Efficient code optimization and reducing resource usage
  • Implementing caching mechanisms to minimize data retrieval time
  • Optimizing network requests and reducing latency
  • Implementing background processing for resource-intensive tasks
  • Regularly monitoring and analyzing app performance using analytics tools
  • Optimizing battery usage and minimizing memory leaks
  • Testing the app on various devices and platforms to ensure compatibility and performance across different scenarios.


How Can I Ensure the Security of My App During the Development Process?

To ensure security during the development process, be sure to include the following stages of the mobile apps development process:

  • Implement secure coding practices to prevent vulnerabilities like SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
  • Employ encryption algorithms to secure sensitive user data, both during transmission and storage.
  • Regularly update libraries and dependencies to patch security vulnerabilities
  • Conduct thorough penetration testing and security audits to identify and address potential weaknesses
  • Follow security best practices and guidelines provided by platform-specific security frameworks.
  • Provide user authentication and authorization mechanisms to protect user accounts and data.
  • Implement secure communication protocols such as HTTPS to protect data transmitted between the app and the server.

Ensure you haven’t missed any of these steps to make an app that will pay off handsomely.


Are There Any Specific Steps for Preparing an App for Deployment?

These are the steps to create an app that precede the deployment stage:

  • Conduct thorough testing to ensure the app’s functionality, performance, and compatibility across different devices and platforms.
  • Optimize the app’s size and resources for efficient downloading and installation.
  • Create engaging and visually appealing promotional materials for app store listings, such as app screenshots and descriptions.
  • Implement an analytics framework to gather user insights and monitor app performance post-launch.
  • Plan for regular updates and bug fixes to address user feedback and improve the app’s functionality.
  • Follow the guidelines and requirements of the respective app stores (e.g., Google Play Store, Apple App Store) for submitting your app.


Are There Any Industry Standards or Guidelines for the Stages of Mobile App Development?

While there are no universally enforced standards, several industry organizations and frameworks provide guidelines detailing mobile application development stages. Some notable ones include the Mobile App Development Lifecycle (MADLC) by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Mobile Application Development Framework (MADF) by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and platform-specific guidelines provided by companies like Google and Apple. Adhering to these guidelines can help ensure best practices and increase the chances of successfully completing the mobile apps development process stages.

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