6 steps to creating a successful app
App development is an exciting and challenging process – and requires a lot of careful thought and planning. How long you take to develop an app depends on the complexity of your project and who you choose to collaborate with, but there are some basic steps any app developer will need to take to make their finished product a success.
So how long does app development take? While there’s no hard and fast answer, here’s a rough step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – Create your project brief (about 1-2 weeks)
This is a crucial part of the planning phase that can often be underestimated. It requires a lot of careful thinking and consideration. The more detailed your project brief, the less time it will take for stakeholders to clearly and fully understand your project and its requirements. No matter who you’re working with, your project brief should include:
• Project aims
• RFP (Request for proposal)
• Non-disclosure agreement
• Budget estimate
• Approximate delivery date
• Metrics for measuring success
Step 2 – Research your app idea (about 4-5 weeks)
Researching your app idea involves gaining a clear understanding of your target market, your target audience, and what user need(s) your app aims to fulfill. By the end of this stage, you should aim to have:
• User stories. These should capture your app’s functionality from the end users’ perspectives. User stories should give you a clear idea of how your target users will use your app and what they’ll use it for.
• A Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This includes all the basics of what you want your app to do. At this stage, there’s no need to include additional features that aren’t crucial for launch.
• App prototype. Your app prototype isn’t meant to be the finished product. It should be designed with the specific features and functions that are essential for your project. Your prototype can then be tested before development starts.
Step 3 – Design sprints and validation (6-12 weeks)
Design sprints are an excellent tool for testing out specific elements of your app. Each sprint should typically take about a week to complete. If you don’t utilise these sprints effectively, you might face issues and need to make changes with your app later on that will take up a lot more of your project’s time and could delay your app’s launch. This stage lets you build a basic design for your app which users can test to give you valuable feedback and insights, including how much they value a specific feature and how and when they use it.
Step 4 – Development and rapid prototyping (6-12 weeks)
Rapid prototyping goes hand-in-hand with design sprints. At this stage, you’ll have the opportunity to build quick and easy iterations of your app which can be tested by your target users and adapted again and again based on their feedback. This form of prototyping can save you and your team a lot of time – allowing for changes to be made incrementally and efficiently, rather than having to implement a bunch of changes at the last minute.
Step 5 – Deployment and release (approx. 2 weeks)
This stage can be broken down into 2 key areas: submission and review. When you submit your app to the App Store or Google Play Store, you’ll need:
• Your company and contact info
• App screenshots
• App icons
Review methods and timelines will vary depending on your chosen app marketplace.
Step 6 – Post-launch support and improvements (ongoing)
Now that you’ve released your app, the app development process doesn’t stop there. You’ll need to also invest time in updates, support, improvements and maintenance. This is a continuous process, as you gain further insights and feedback from your users over time and adapt your app accordingly. That means there’s no timeframe for this stage – it’s ongoing.
Providing support to your app’s users, being receptive of their feedback and responsive in actioning changes that will improve their user experience will help to ensure the success of your app.
Falmouth Flexible offers an online masters degree in Creative App Development that will give you an in-depth understanding of the app development process and equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to embark on a successful career as an app developer.