How many times have you thought you have found the right business idea? Have you ever thought you wanted to turn it into an app to solve a problem close to your heart?
So many projects don't get off the ground because you often don't know where to start or are frightened by the idea of having to think through all the stages of developing and creating an app. A world that is often confusing because it is composed of numerous technical aspects.
In this article we have defined the main steps that are followed during an app development project. The idea is to provide a guide to orient entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs toward the creation of their own digital product.
Following our method, we have also created an online tool with which you can estimate the cost of your app in a few clicks by answering quick and simple questions.
An app must be born with the purpose of intercepting the needs and wants of a specific audience.
The task of the product, in our case of an app, will be to enable users to satisfy those needs in the best possible way.
Before starting the development of an app, and more generally of any digital project, we always recommend conducting a Market Analysis.
At the initial stage of this process, the main aspects of the idea and product need to be defined, in particular:
Through the Market Analysis we will go on to define all the points listed, leading up to answering the fundamental question: what makes the app unique?
Once we find the answer, we are ready to prepare an effective "product pitch." Very useful, for example, if you want to present the project to potential partners and investors.
In other words, market analysis is important to build a product suitable for the target audience, from the very first line of code.
At this stage we start to get our hands dirty and take the first steps toward developing an app, through so-called User Stories.
In the context of project management for app development, the User Story is a tool that allows us to describe the various functionalities and processes of use, from the perspective of user experience. Through this approach we are able to understand qua them are the must-have and nice-to-have functionalities. That is, the necessary and core functionalities, and those that are not core but desirable.
This method is often used to create what is called a Minimum viable product (MVP) a version of the app with all the core features (Core Features).
Thus, it is possible to obtain a basic version of the app, to be presented already to potential users or potential investors, and to drastically reduce the cost and time of development.
In addition to User Stories, whether creating an MVP or developing a complete app, we first need to design the design: we talk about UX (user experience design) and UI (user interface design). Let's see what these are in the next section of our checklist.
The differences between UI and UX.
When we talk about UX Design, we refer to the users' browsing experience. We therefore mean the series of interactions with the page or app (click, scroll, hold, etc.) that the user must perform to complete a so-called User story or more generally to perform any action in the app.
UI Design, on the other hand, refers to the creation of the interface that users interact with, i.e., the style, colors, fonts, and everything that users view on the app.
Both elements are closely related and are crucial to the creation of a successful product.
After studying the best use paths for users, the so-called "wireframe" will be created at this stage: a schematic model of the structure of the app.
The wireframe will be a first visual draft of what the layout should be.
A first layout where the interactions between the various screens, the spaces and the architecture of the elements are illustrated, without giving too much emphasis to the graphic style (we will work on that in later stages).
The realization of the Wireframe will be the result of the work done by the Designers and is mainly based on UX. The goal is to make the app as "user-friendly" as possible.
Mockups and App Prototype
We are ready to create the mockups, i.e., the illustrative presentation of the product, which we will use to finally create our prototype, i.e., a first clickable version of the app.
Creating a prototype has many advantages:
Here is an example of a mockup we made for one of our clients (lead time about 72h):
Our advice for conducting initial testing of the app.
At this stage, we always suggest the following experiment to our clients: once you have made your prototype, try to show it to someone (if a potential user, so on target, even better) who has no knowledge of the app and analyze if their behavior (how they use it) is in line with expectations.
The UX is ready, the clickable prototype being defined, and the functionality to be developed is now clear to both the development team and the client. The back-end team will now begin the design of the so-called Database.
Here it is important that there is transparency between the development team and the client. At Fontoso for example, we always share the database schema: this allows the client to have an overview of all the data or information that will be saved in the database.
That of data is an aspect that is often underestimated, but it represents a key step. Particularly with regard to future marketing efforts.
The back end of the applications we develop in Fontoso will be used by both iOS and Android versions. We create a single shared database for both versions of the app, speeding up development time and consequently reducing costs.
Now let's move on to the front end! For the development of the front end, that is, everything visible in the app, the guidelines imposed by the prototype are followed. We use **React Native,**an open source framework for mobile apps, created by Facebook. Using such technology allows us to cut the development time and cost for an iOS and Android app in half.
Having seen in practical terms how to turn an idea into an app, let us now analyze how the development time and costs of an app are estimated.
With regard to timelines, based on our experience we have been able to make the following classification, depending on the type of app:
How much does an app cost.
The answer is always it depends. To make it easier for those who want to take their first steps towards creating a mobile app, we have developed an interactive online tool that will allow you to calculate the cost of the project in a few clicks, take a look at it here: