Smartphones are integral parts of our lives and we do many of our day-to-day tasks with them. With your phone, you can efficiently work, run a business, and connect with friends and family. None of this would be possible without effective mobile applications. 

Apps go through several development steps to ensure that they work the way you want them to work. In this guide, we’ll look at each of the stages in the app development life cycle.

What is the app development life cycle?

All the steps your development team goes through from product design to launch is the app development life cycle. Mobile apps are critical parts of our lives, and your dedicated development team should have a process to ensure that a mobile app does what you want it to do. 

The app development life cycle provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you achieve this goal. While it can change based on your target market and the app’s function, the primary goal of the application development life cycle is to guide you and ensure that you have an efficient app development journey.

Stages of the app development life cycle 

Stage 1: Planning

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So, you already have an app idea in your head, and you think it will be something huge. Every app we use today began as an idea.

Before you go into any other phases, you and your team need to do some thorough planning.

Planning stages involve a lot of market research. This analysis helps you understand the landscape you’re competing in and see what weaknesses you can capitalize on.

You’ll need answers to a few of the following questions:

  • What’s the goal of your mobile app?
  • Who’ll find this app helpful?
  • What is the ideal technology for you to build this app?
  • Who are your competitors and what features do they offer?
  • What distinctive features will your app offer?
  • What’s your development budget?
  • What’s your development timeline?
  • How do you plan to promote your app to reach your target audience?

This is also the stage to hire a development team. You’ll need a diverse set of experts to launch a successful app.

Setting objectives and goals

This is one vital step of the planning stage. When you determine that an app will provide several objectives, draw up a strategy that outlines how your app will achieve them.

For many people, choosing an app’s central features and benefits involves finding a balance between your team’s capabilities and your app development budget. Outsourcing development is one way to strike this balance. 

Stage 2: Design

After identifying goals, it’s time to start prototyping. In this stage, you take your idea and start building out some basic designs. This part of the mobile development life cycle includes the following steps:

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Sketching

Sketching starts clarifying the app’s concept. User experience and user interface design play a significant role in determining your app’s utility, so let’s take them one by one to see what it all means. 

UX

User experience determines your app’s functionality, accessibility, and usability. Good UX ensures that your app can work effectively.

The sketch informs later wireframing and mockups and starts to form how the app will look in the end. While a wireframe is rudimentary, a mockup is a nicer-looking model of how the final project will look. 

The principles of effective UX
  • Clarity: ensure that text is clear and consistent and linking is intuitive.
  • Functionality: make sure the app works efficiently across platforms and doesn’t lag or crash.
  • User interaction: users should have no problem navigating the app.

Wireframes and mockups are the steps in the design phase where you consider an app’s flaws. It’s much cheaper to fix problems in this stage than later in the process, so it’s essential you get this stage right. 

UI

User interface design covers an app’s components like buttons, menus, fonts and colors. The UI step is where you finalize colors and graphics and it’s vital that you adapt the UI to your target market. A banking app, for example, needs to be clear and minimal to build trust in the bank. A mobile game, on the other hand, can get away with brighter colors, busier menus and more playful fonts.

Storyboarding

At this stage of the application development life cycle, you probably already have a solid idea of what the app will look like and what features it will offer your target audience. You should also set the scope of work detailing what parts of the development you’ll do in-house and which parts you’ll outsource.

All in all, the objective is to build a clear picture of the app and how it will deliver its features. It’s a roadmap that shows the connections between all screens on the app. It shows how users will navigate it and where each button leads.

Prototyping

Once you’ve agreed on the design in the wireframing and storyboard step, you can move on to prototyping. It’s where you get to see your wireframe in action. You can feel the design and features come to life, share them with people, and get feedback. Take this feedback and use it to edit your wireframes.

Be sure to get as much feedback as possible, even from people outside the dev team. People who aren’t developers often identify problems you never thought about. After all, real people will be the ones using the final app. 

Stage 3: Development

When you’ve finished prototyping, the next step is the actual app development. This mobile app development stage stage is where you get the app to work in the real world.

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Setting up development sprints that fit your launch deadline is one important detail in this stage. Work with a development team that has experience building similar apps and works with you to launch your app on time. 

Agile development generally offers the most productive app development process. This splits development into manageable sprints so that you can adapt to market changes throughout the process. 

Stage 4: Quality assurance

Testing ensures that everything about the app is functional and ready to go at launch.

You definitely don’t want to launch a defective app. So be sure it’s bug-free when you launch. Quality assurance prevents bugs from earlier development stages from getting out.

There are two primary types of tests you will need to run:

  • User acceptance testing:
    User acceptance testing puts the app in the hands of real-world sample users. Their feedback is vital data to use in development. 
  • Beta testing:
    Beta testing opens up your app to more test users. It also helps you discover any bugs of shortcomings in the app.

When you’re confident that the app functions correctly and you’re happy with its use and appearance, it’s time to launch the app.

Stage 5: Release

Congratulations! You’ve got your app and testing is complete. You’re ready to shock the tech world and your first users.

Follow these steps as you launch your app:

Deploy it on a web server

Your backend server is critical when it comes to your app’s functionality. The server keeps your app operational and helps in the transfer of data to and from the app. You can try RackSpace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and others for web servers that can handle your app’s traffic.

Deploy your app on a marketplace

Once your app is ready, it’s time to release it on an app store. Note that companies like Apple and Google will have different requirements for you to meet before you can list it on their sites. 

A competent mobile development team will know the requirements and will have been anticipating these from the beginning, so working with the right team will get your app up on these platforms quickly. 

Stage 6: Maintenance and monitoring

The mobile app development life cycle doesn’t end with a product release. You will need to address any problems that arise and update it regularly. These updates will help improve performance, expand the app’s features, and deal with any vulnerabilities. 

Here is how the monitoring and maintenance step can help

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  • Dealing with crashes:

It’s possible for your app to crash due to increased traffic and technical problems. You need to deal with the crash to provide a better experience for your users.

Conclusion

An app’s development life cycle is a tested and reliable rundown of everything you’ll need to do to build an app. With the steps outlined above, you should be able to get all the details you need and launch a functional and purpose-driven app. From the planning stage to product launch to routine maintenance, an app’s life cycle has a lot of moving parts. Building a solid foundation and working with a thorough partner will set you and your app up for success. 

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Application Development Life Cycle - marcel-100px Hi, I’m Marcin, COO of Applandeo

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