At NS804, we are fully committed to delivering the highest quality applications possible with every custom app development project we undertake. When clients commission us to build custom mobile applications, we know they expect world-class solutions to the problems they want to solve.
Custom app development projects are quite different from off-the-shelf solutions. First, they provide the chance to capture a brand’s image in the UI/UX of the application. There is also a match between the resources available at hand and the solution to be built. At NS804, we understand the ever-present problem of optimizing resources for utility purposes. Each project is unique because of the industry, problems at hand, client requests, and numerous other variables.
In this article, we discuss our approach to custom mobile application building. Clearly, it is never a one-sided effort. The general framework is meant to foster continuous communication between the team and the client until project delivery. We can break down the process into six stages, although some activities could feature in more than one stage.
The project’s first stage begins when a client gets in touch regarding an app idea they have. A series of discussions follow to establish the scope of the problem at hand and whether a singular app can solve all of them. It may require that we conduct interviews with several stakeholders in the client’s business.
The first stage can last weeks and sometimes months to gather sufficient information. There may be a need to conduct fresh market research to understand competitor strengths, market size and gaps, and even the feasibility of a product in a new market. It may be prudent to enlist the services of people with particular domain knowledge when it is not available in-house.
Getting things right in terms of product-market fit is very important. It can save enormous resources that would otherwise be used in rebuilding a product in cases where market research was not done comprehensively.
Planning and Design
The second step in our process involves starting to bring ideas to life, at least on paper. At this point, the team begins to visualize what the solution might look like. However, we must first determine the project scope. Not everything that was mentioned in the discovery phase can go into the first version of the application. The best projects have a clear primary problem they are solving, which is the focus of the Minimum Viable Product.
Limiting the project scope is important to ensure the project is deliverable within a reasonable time and with the available resources. Such a project is also more manageable because you can establish milestones that add up to the final product.
The scope of the MVP includes the functionalities/deliverables that the product will need to have before the client approves it.
The team draws up wireframes to demonstrate the flow and layout of the application. Once these are approved, the team can build interactive mock-ups that give a realistic feel of the app. Working prototypes are great for collecting feedback from the users you are targeting with the app.
It is during this stage that any integrations with third-party APIs happen to add functionalities such as payment processing, geolocation, social media integration, and so forth.
Our agile methodology of project handling means that the user remains well-briefed throughout the development phase. With every sprint, new features are delivered and any necessary fixes deemed necessary are made. With version control, we can always roll back to a previous version of the app when the need arises.
Testing is a crucial part of the custom app development process and enough time and resources must be set aside. It can either be done manually or be automated. In manual testing, you’d ideally be clicking throughout the application and noting any bugs found. This process is tedious, expensive in terms of time, and very prone to human error.
Automated testing is the preferred approach today and can happen concurrently with the development process. Engineers can run tests on their code before adding it to the main project.
There are several types of tests that a team runs on their project.
- Functional tests are to determine whether a feature works as intended. It looks at the output rather than the behind-the-scene working. For instance, a functional test may be done whether a user can successfully query the database for a piece of information.
- Integration tests look at whether the different modules or microservices that make up your application are working together as planned.
- Performance testing simulates different conditions to determine the stability of the application. It looks at the speed and responsiveness of the different microservices especially when handling a high number of requests. Performance testing gives assurances that an app is indeed scalable.
- End-to-end tests mimic a typical user’s behavior to determine whether the entire application runs as intended. It simulates a user’s journey from logging in, resetting passwords, clicking on links within the app and all other functionalities available.
The custom mobile application deployment process is just as important as the building process. There are multiple app deployments that exist today and with good reason. First, the team needs to figure out the correct infrastructure to use including the database and networking resources.
A script that automates the release process is preferred to manual deployment to reduce errors. Test scripts are also necessary so that an alarm is raised in case of a fault. A continuous integration/continuous delivery approach to deployment offers important benefits. It means that each update is minimal and is unlikely to impact or jeopardise the entire application in case of a bug. Small and frequent updates are considered more sustainable today.
The team picks and keep an eye on metrics that indicate the app is running correctly.
The final stage of the application development process is always maintenance. The first and most important thing is to identify and fix bugs as quickly as possible. Frequent bugs or delayed fixes can sabotage the success of an otherwise well-built application. At NS804, we advise clients on how best to plan for maintenance, including setting aside a proportion of the initial budget for maintenance.
The second reason for maintenance is to take advantage to optimize performance As pointed out, continuous performance testing may identify bottlenecks which if improved upon can make the user journey much smoother. Small continuous improvements greatly contribute to user satisfaction numbers.
The third reason is to make security improvements. Popular apps are targets of cyber attacks and therefore any security patches to guard against those attacks are critical.
The final reason is to implement the product roadmap which involves adding new features. The MVP is often simple and limited in functionality. Once the app attains a critical mass of users, the business can begin thinking of ways to build more to grow its user base and revenue. Users appreciate when they are part of an application’s evolution. It is possible to develop new features that are in stride with user needs. Through a feedback loop, a business can find out, prioritize, and build features that resonate with its audience.
Advantages of Custom App Development
Custom application development is an involving process that requires utmost cooperation between the client and the development team. The working relationship can go on for years and the initial application can often evolve substantially.
Despite the longer development cycle and substantial initial cash outlay, custom app development offers multiple advantages.
First, the high level of customization means that the app fits the problem it is meant to solve. There are peculiarities in the environment within which a business operates that an off-the-shelf solution may not provide for. The second advantage is the guarantee of stability even when the business scales. The assurance comes from the simulations carried out at the testing phase. The app promoters already have projections about future user numbers, and this is taken into account when building the app.
Owing your application means you can evolve it as the business grows. You can build new features, improve existing ones, and take in user feedback along the way. A unique feature that your competitors do not have on their apps could be the source of competitive advantage. Custom applications are also an opportunity to grow brand equity through high service quality and interactions with users.
When your business handles sensitive user data, guaranteed app security is paramount. Custom app development provides you with the peace of mind that user information is safe and frequent security updates are happening.
Best Practices in Custom App Development
There are basic app development best practices, which if adhered to, massively increase the chances of building a successful app.
First, every project must have a unique value proposition. If there already exists competitor apps in the space, it must be clear what the new app seeks to do better. Where an off-the-shelf solution exists, the level of customization should justify the time, resources, and effort in custom app development.
Another best practice is to have a user-centric approach to development. From the initial research stage, you must take in user feedback throughout the design, building, testing, and deploying of the application. The UI should be easy and intuitive to use. There has to be a methodology for taking in and filtering user feedback even after launch.
In addition, the team has to have clear performance metrics before deploying an app. There must be no compromise on the standards.
Ensuring there is proper document is another important best practice. Having a proper record of all aspects of an app is crucial during development and maintenance of an app. It also enables knowledge transfer should new developers come on board, or the project is transferred to a new team altogether. Some important information to have include the server environment and the thought process behind it, the database and a model diagram of the database, a record of all troubleshooting done so far, app installation steps, important libraries and dependencies, code update instructions and so much more.
Unfortunately, there are many projects when important information is never recorded or shared with important stakeholders. When a key figure in a team leaves, there is always a danger of the project being impacted too much negatively.
Laslty, testing and optimization are also important practices in NS804’s development process. While an application may do all the primary functions it is meant to, it is equally important that it does so efficiently. The code needs to be tweaked to reduce load times, use memory efficiently and to resolve other glitches in the user journey.
Work with Us
If your business intends to build and deploy an application to augment critical functions, we encourage you to work with us. Our team brings a wealth of experience from years of delivering apps in multiple industries. We walk with clients through every stage including determining MVP features to implementing the product roadmap years down the line. The team handles projects with utmost professionalism and in keeping with global standards. We make use of the right technologies to ensure we future-proof your app.
For more information about our services, reach out to us through our website. A member of our team will be in touch with you.