Mobile App Guide

Mobile Apps - The Process

When we work with you to help development a mobile app (or a series of apps) we will ensure that we go through the correct phases. It is important to move through this process carefully to ensure that you meet your needs. Below are the phases of putting together an App. These phases will have to be completed for each platform we want to put it on – i.e. iPhone, Andriod etc.


Planning

The planning stage is key to the development of an App and is often overlooked or rushed but it is imperative if the App is to be a success – during this stage we have to decide the following.

  • Purpose – the reason for the App – what we do we want it to deliver? – what is the App user expecting to get out of it? Who are the stakeholders?
  • Appeal – why would somebody download it – how do we make it desirable.
  • What it does – what features, functions do we want it to have and how do we want it to act.
  • Data – what data it needs to be able to collect/deliver and how this is done – i.e. back end server integration, databases, etc.
  • Content – what will we put on the app.
  • User journey – at this stage we would also ‘sketch’ out what we think the screens will broadly look like and how they will interact.

It is important to be consultative during this process and talk to all the stakeholders so as to keep the focus on delivering a quality product. This process is better done internally (with consultation if required). Once all of the above are complete we will be in a position to produce a full spec that will include all of the above plus elements of the design (ideas of look and feel and examples of other Apps that are similar/related). Once this document is produced we can go out to tender to get accurate pricing for the actual build of the App. The above typically takes around 4-6 weeks.

Designing

The designing stage is begun once the project has been committed to – at this point we will start to produce actual user experience documents with a layout of what the full user experience is like. This will include screen shots and layouts. Once we have determined what goes where and which buttons lead to which pages etc we will then be left with a list of content and designs that will need to be produced – these will include button designs, logos, themes etc. These will be sent out to a third party to put together for use in the actual App. During the design phase we have to also put together the architecture of the App – i.e. what databases are we going to use do we need an external server (in this case we do) etc. Also in this stage the content needs to be verified and produced ready for the build itself. This process takes 4-6 weeks typically – it can easily overrun if the project falls into the ‘design by committee’ trap that often happens. Generally the design phase is outsourced to specialised designers.

Coding

Once the design and user journey are fully completed the project can be handed over to the coders – these are the guys that will actually pull together all the previous steps and produce the App itself – they put together all the content and designs and build in the actual navigation. Also they will be responsible for building the back-end – with what we are trying to achieve we will need several interfaces to both push and pull data from/to the app – this is separate to the App itself but will need to be completed during this phase of the project. The Coding phase takes 4-8 weeks (nearer the 8 weeks if we have push and pull requirements).

Testing

The testing phase is one of the most important parts of the project. At this point the App is released back to us by the developers and we get to fully test – data uploads, downloads, usability and content checking. It’s very important for us to get this right before we ‘sign it off’ – we need to think about any changes we would want to make now that we can actually use the App and feedback for them to be implemented. Testing should really last around 2-3 weeks.

Approving

At this point we can submit the App to the platform host (Apple/Google) for approval – this take up to two weeks whilst they check the code works OK and that no laws are infringed. Once they sign off the App it will live in their App Store. This process takes 2 weeks.

Above is a brief description of the phases we will have to go through to launch our App. Roughly it can take between 12-21 weeks to correctly put together an App (depending on the specific requirements)