You may remember Vine – 2012 leader as a social app for recording short video forms. At its peak of popularity, it had over 200 million users. Unfortunately, it didn’t stand the test of time and the rapidly developing technology – in 2017, Twitter (the owner of Vine) decided to close it. The mobile application market is highly competitive – Vine failed to win the race with players such as TikTok, Instagram or Snapchat, because it didn’t invest in the development of the app and failed to listen to its users.
This article combines questions asked most frequently by our customers. We explain why creating a mobile application is so complex, we go through each stage of the mythical “perfect” process of creating a mobile solution, and we introduce some of the most important technical terms that you may encounter when working with a mobile app developer.
1. How to create a mobile application concept?
As our first point needed a more thorough introduction, we created a separate blogpost on the topic of creating a mobile application concept. If you’re not already familiar with this information, just click the link, read along, and then come back for the rest of the key issues.
2. How to create a good brief?
A brief is a document which provides information about the project and defines its goals and expectations, being the basis for a conversation with a software supplier. The main purpose of a brief is for a project team to understand what is expected from the product and what are its main assumptions, which helps in planning the design process and setting priorities. It should contain the most detailed answers to the questions asked in the blogpost “How to create a mobile application concept?”. Such a brief will allow a software supplier to suggest the next steps in working on an application – directing you to more detailed workshops or proposing initial consulting to assess whether a mobile app is the right solution for your business growth.
3. What will your application look like?
Perhaps you have your own designer who has already prepared the app’s looks according to your brandbook. Or maybe you usually outsource small graphic works to an acquainted graphic professional? Creating the visual layer of a digital product requires vast knowledge and skills. People who specialize in designing web applications are called Product Designers and use expert tools such as Adobe XD or the increasingly popular Figma (according to a UX Tools survey, Figma is the main work tool for 63% of UI designers).
If you have a ready project
In such a case it is important to provide it to a chosen supplier who, using their knowledge and experience, is able to assess whether the views have been properly prepared and don’t require critical corrections that may determine the final appearance of the app. A well-designed project is the basis of the programmer’s work, therefore an important stage of the process is building a so-called Design System. With its help a developer sees how to implement individual components, such as text and color styles, or entire modules in the application, so that they always look consistent and scale well.
If you don't have a ready-made project
In that case, or, what’s more, when your product doesn’t have its own branding, we suggest subcontracting the job to specialists. Visual identity is a key aspect of running a business, as it distinguishes your product from the competition. Good design creates a consistent experience among users, makes the product look professional, inspires consumer confidence, and directly affects their purchasing decisions, building brand recognition. If a user has several similar products to choose from, there is a high probability that they will choose the one with the most interesting visual identification.
4. What is the target operating system?
In other words: do you want your application to reach users of only one of the popular iOS or Android systems? Or maybe you want it to be available to everyone, regardless of whether they have an Apple smartphone or the latest Samsung or Huawei? On one hand, the answer to this question seems quite simple – of course you want to reach as many customers as possible! But do you really? Have you looked at your business statistics? Perhaps it will turn out that the vast majority of your customers use only one operating system? Or maybe your solution is dedicated to users of a specific system? Although the question seems simple, the answers can be extremely different depending on what type of business you run, where you operate or who you provide your services to.
This question is number one on our list – it’s where we start when talking to customers. And the answer leads us to yet another important issue.
5. Which mobile platform do you want to use?
Let’s start with the fact that each operating system is written in a dedicated programming language. In the developer’s nomenclature, we talk about native platforms – i.e. adapted to specific devices. So, if you want to write an application that will be the most efficient and optimal for Apple devices – choose a native platform for devices with the iOS operating system, written in a specific language – Swift. If you want your app to work great on Android phones, choose a native solution written in Kotlin.
You choose one operating system? No problem. However, if you answered the first question on our list with: “I want to conquer the world and get every customer, no matter what phone they have!”, then you have two options:
Writing two separate applications – one for iOS, the other one for Android, which involves the employment of two development teams and launching two projects that differ from each other in terms of design.
Writing one application based on a hybrid platform. But wait – one application that works on devices with both iOS and Android? Yup. Hybrid platforms are gaining more and more popularity and are just as efficient, stable and safe as native solutions. In addition, they require only one development team, one specification and one design.
6. Do you need an API?
You probably don’t want your mobile application to be used only in the form of a presentation. You want it to click – and clicks should trigger specific actions that translate into sales.
You browse Amazon, finally find the right sweater, click “buy now”, select the type of shipment, make the payment and calmly (or not!) wait another 2 days at the door for the courier. Although all this is happening in the application, it doesn’t perform all the complicated operations that happen “in the back”. The app is just a tool to help streamline the purchasing process. The API is responsible for all communication between the actions performed in the app, the data processed on the servers, and internal purchasing systems. Everything that happens “behind”, i.e. what the user doesn’t see, is a so-called “backend”, while the API itself is an intermediary between what we see in the application and what is happening internally in the system.
Of course, not every mobile application needs an API. Simple applications don’t require connecting to any other system or server. An example is a calculator that performs all operations on its own and doesn’t need to download data from the outside. So, do you have a backend with a properly configured API? If not, the process of creating your mobile app will be longer and more expensive – you will have to appoint a separate team that will take care of the entire application logic and its functionalities.
However, if this step is already behind you and you have a ready system and API adapted to communication with the app, the creation process will be simpler. All you have to do is share the finished documentation of your backend work, and the team can start working on your app.
7. How to choose a supplier?
You browse Google with the phrase “Who makes mobile applications” and get hundreds of pages of various software providers as a result? The market of software houses (because this is the name of the companies that create software on behalf of clients) is very large and competitive. In Poland alone, according to the statistics of the Clutch portal, there are over 800 companies providing digital product development services.
How to find a supplier in such a vast market, being sure that your product will be treated with respect and you’ll be provided with the best cooperation experience and a stunning end result?
When browsing websites, look primarily at the completed projects section: see, whether there are apps you use or products from popular brands that may have a large number of users.
View comments on the App Store and Google Play – see how these apps are rated.
Check the references section on the software supplier’s website.
When talking directly with the selected suppliers, pay attention to the way of communication – whether it is understandable to you, whether you are treated with respect and whether the supplier answers your questions and concerns exhaustively already at the stage of preliminary talks.
During the implementation of projects that may cost several hundred thousand dollars, the basis is honest and open communication. Pay attention to whether the supplier communicates risks and potential pitfalls in your project, understands your business and tries to be a partner who wants to help you achieve success.
So, what’s next?
If you want to consult your idea, our experts in various fields will help you create a product that will meet the needs of both the market and your recipients. We can support each of the above steps, making the most of our technical expertise and vast experience.