Mobile App Creation Guide: From Idea to Market Development. Part 2
Sep 27, 2023
In my first "Mobile App Creation Guide: From Idea to Market Development. Part 1" I tried to combine my extensive experience and knowledge covering the process from market analysis and the idea itself to unit economics. Today I want to share with you directly the approach to creating the app itself from design to bringing the product to market. Don't expect to find code snippets here; the content of the guide is not only for those who work with Android, iOS or Flutter, but also for those who are new to the world of coding.
A short about me: I've spent over a decade in the tech industry, from project management to running my own business. In addition to my core business, I invest in startups and also build internal products for company needs. I have dedicated my life to building products by applying my knowledge and business experience. My professional path from project manager to business owner has allowed me to understand the application concept, marketing and of course technical aspects.
The purpose of this guide is to gather all these aspects into a single resource, mainly to systematize my own thoughts and knowledge.
Before I start outlining the material, I would like to point out: ideally I would like to illustrate each point with a real-life example, but that would make this guide too long. Therefore, I will focus on the key elements and elaborate on each step, explaining their importance. If you find any gaps in information, the Internet is a treasure trove of additional resources.
Prepare yourself for this to be a very extensive read.
Step 2. UX/UI
Crafting the App's Navigation Flow
During this phase, we lay out the various screens and map out how they connect. Instead of diving into detailed designs or drafts of the screens, a simple outline of each screen with arrows showing the flow from one to the next is adequate. Feel free to utilize any platform or tool you're comfortable with, be it figma.com, miro.com, app.diagrams.net, or just a plain piece of paper.
Building the navigation of the application
We're diving into the initial sketches for the UX screens. Crafting these sketches means producing simple outlines of the screen components. Instead of focusing on intricate design specifics at this juncture, the goal is to pinpoint the placement and type of elements for each screen. As with the step before, choose a location or method that suits you best.
The aesthetic appeal of an application plays a pivotal role in its development journey. It's the interface that sets the tone for initial interactions and ensures users stick around. A design that's either lackluster or not user-friendly can deter users from continuing with the app. If mobile app design isn't your forte, consider seeking expert advice or tapping into platforms that offer pre-established design frameworks.
Consider these two main strategies for designing your app:
DIY Approach (if you're up for the challenge)
Knowledge is power. Before embarking on the design journey, delve into popular apps to discern elements and styles that resonate with your vision. Dive into platforms like pinterest.com, behance.net, among others, to gather ideas and get inspired.
A plethora of online platforms provide comprehensive design frameworks for mobile applications. Harness these platforms to piece together your app using existing design elements. Some noteworthy platforms are ui8.net, creativemarket.com, figmaresource.com, uistore.design, to name a few.
Hiring an experienced designer or company
While this route can be more expensive, it is often the best option to ensure high quality. As an experienced designer will offer the best solutions based on previous experience. Also, the speed of execution will definitely make you happy.
Let me give you an example of the company's work using my company as an example. In design, we not only include design development, but we also research the market and offer the best UX solutions so that the conversion rate of your app is as high as possible. Developers are also involved in the design so that the design is not only beautiful and user-friendly, but it can still be technically implemented without any problems.
Step 3. Crafting the App
Deciding on the Technology Stack and Structural Blueprint
Describing this step is quite a task for me. Developers hold their known technologies close to their hearts, and a single misstep in wording can lead to unintended reactions. I'll navigate this delicate topic with care.
The choice of the right tech stack and the app's structural blueprint can have a profound impact on its efficiency, adaptability, and long-term support. Here are some guidelines to consider:
When it comes to picking a tech stack, the allure of venturing into uncharted territories versus relying on established technologies is real. If a technology is projected to stay relevant over the next couple of years, it's a worthy contender. But if its longevity is in doubt, it's wise to steer clear.
Pinpoint the platform you aim to cater to (iOS, Android, or both). Are you contemplating making your app accessible on other platforms down the line? Flutter might be worth a look, given its capability to cater to both platforms concurrently. Yet, remember that opting for Flutter could mean compromising on the distinct design nuances of iOS and Android. Plus, you might miss out on harnessing platform-specific functionalities like AR, Live activity, widgets, and more. If you're equipped for it, using KMM can be a robust alternative for dual-platform development.
If server-side development is on your agenda and it's a new arena for you, gravitate towards languages that align with your learning curve or those that are widely recognized. Mainstream languages boast extensive communities, ensuring you're never short of answers.
For crafting apps on iOS, Swift and SwiftUI are your best bets, whereas Kotlin stands out for Android.
On the architecture front, things are more straightforward. You have architectures characterized by bidirectional and unidirectional data flows. For compact teams and projects, bidirectional architectures (like MVVM, MVC, MVP, etc.) tend to be more intuitive and straightforward to deploy. Conversely, for more extensive ventures, unidirectional blueprints (like Clean Swift, MVI, etc.) are ideal, given their rigorous demarcation of roles and ease in handling intricate interfaces.
Identifying Services within the App
While this phase isn't mandatory, it's advantageous. It streamlines the comprehension of the app's structural representation in the code, facilitating faster development.
Through the use of boxes and directional indicators, we highlight the specific roles of each service and their interdependencies.
Step 4. Analyzing the App
Two concise sections.
When users experience sudden shutdowns or improper functioning of the app, there's a risk they may turn to alternatives provided by competitors. Therefore, it’s crucial to embed a third-party service in your app for overseeing and documenting application failures. Currently, Firebase Crashlytics and Google Crashlytics are prevalent choices, but there are others available.
Analytics are the observational tools that allow you to understand user behavior and interaction within your app. They are instrumental in pinpointing the phases where users encounter difficulties or lose engagement.
In the beginning stages, monitoring fundamental activities like the opening of screens and relaying the corresponding data to an analytical service is adequate. Some platforms also allow the transmission of error messages and operational logs, aiding in the identification and rectification of issues within the app.
Firebase Analytics and Google Analytics are notable mentions in the realm of popular analytical tools available today, but they aren’t the only options. When selecting an appropriate service, it’s important to weigh the associated costs.
Step 5. Advancing the App
Developing the Customer Journey Map (CJM)
Effective app promotion necessitates a profound understanding of user interactions. Creating a Customer Journey Map (CJM) is instrumental in this, offering insights into user experiences and interactions at different stages. A CJM can highlight areas of improvement in the user journey before initiating promotional activities.
A CJM provides a visual depiction of the user's interaction stages with a product, from the initial advertisement or realization of a need, through to app purchase, subscription, and in-app purchases, including any interactions post-purchase.
Various methods exist for creating a CJM, each with its unique characteristics:
Visual Representation: This involves illustrating the user journey using diagrams, with each stage represented by a unique block or cell, interconnected by arrows.
Tables and Lists: This method entails the creation of detailed tables or lists representing each stage of the user journey.
Scenarios and Stories: This involves creating narratives based on actual user experiences.
Developing a Communication Strategy
Post-CJM analysis, it’s pivotal to formulate a communication strategy, identifying the most efficacious methods to elevate your app’s presence.
This strategy may include:
Objectives: Define the objectives you aspire to achieve through communication endeavors, such as enhancing awareness, amplifying sales, augmenting installations, intensifying user engagement, or establishing your app as a market frontrunner.
Target Audience: Discern the ideal users of your app, considering their demographic, psychographic traits, interests, and preferences. This facilitates the customization of your messages to resonate maximally with users.
Key Messages: Formulate a series of messages that articulate your app’s Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) to your selected audience, ensuring uniformity across all communication mediums and accentuating the app’s distinctive benefits and features.
Channels and Tactics: Ascertain the most effective communication channels to connect with your target audience, such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, collaborations with influencers, paid advertisements, etc. Opt for tactics that align with your objectives and the preferences of your audience. Consider the platform specificity of your app when selecting promotional avenues.
Content Strategy: Develop a content blueprint specifying the content types you’ll create (e.g., blog entries, videos, social media posts), the themes you’ll address, and the frequency of publications or shares.
Timeline: Establish a timeline for executing the communication strategy, taking into account any promotional activities, updates, or seasonal trends that may affect your messaging.
Budget: Allocate a budget to your communication initiatives to secure the necessary resources for effective strategy implementation.
Measurement and Evaluation: Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor the success of your communication strategy. Regularly assess the outcomes and modify the strategy as required to maximize effectiveness.
Crisis Communication Plan: Devise a plan for addressing adverse situations or potential crises that could tarnish your brand’s reputation.
Step 6. Reassessing the App's Lifecycle Map
Once the app is published and promoted, the subsequent steps are to adapt to the demand, modify the app's lifecycle map, and continue to evolve along it.
When we create an app primarily for ourselves, monetization is usually not a priority, rendering the entire process relatively simple. However, the moment the aspiration to generate income arises, the development process instantly becomes multifaceted. It necessitates a thorough examination of the market, competitors, and a precise definition of the target audience, among other considerations.
There is an alternative strategy for app monetization that deserves acknowledgment. This approach is to replicate the most prevalent app, release it to the store, and then disregard it. Subsequently, you shift focus to the next trending app, mimic it, and the cycle continues. For this kind of approach, all these meticulous steps are redundant.
Nevertheless, if the aspiration is to fabricate something distinctive and of superior quality, as mentioned earlier, the procedure becomes significantly more complicated. Every stage of development requires meticulous attention and deliberation. By adhering to all these steps, it is possible to develop outstanding apps that will be beneficial and appealing to both the users and the developers.