Mobile App Development
Every company has unique business goals and differing strategies to meet them, which is why a mobile application specific to your business is one of the best investments your company can make. No matter whether you are trying to break into a new market, gain traction in an existing market or digitizing your internal processes, having a custom mobile application will allow you to give your users an intuitive digital product with features that make sense to your users and achieves your specific business goals.
Software development is a complex process which involves a team of experts doing multiple tasks in order to achieve specific business and user requirements. At itCraft, our development team uses an agile framework which allows the team to focus on the priorities which will deliver the highest business value throughout every stage of the process.
How to Develop a Custom Mobile App?
Every project begins with an in-person workshop or online strategy sessions where our business analysts, architects and UX/UI designers discuss the business, user and system requirements.
During these dynamic sessions we refine or tweak the concept & business model (if required), and ensure the team understands the commercial priorities of the client so the right development plan can be made.
The major goal of the workshop is to begin mapping out the app features as well as understanding the target audience which includes creating personas, value propositions and some rapid wireframing so that prioritised user stories, a technical recommendation and budget estimate can be created.
Based on the outcomes of the workshop, our business analyst will finalize the User Stories documentation. Each user story will include a priority (must have, should have, could have, won’t have) to help shape each iteration during development, and will also include a Definition of Done (DoD) which acts as the ‘acceptance criteria’ for every feature of the app.
In order to build a strong, long-term business relationship, it is vital that the expectations of all parties line up prior to development. For this reason, our analyst will ensure that all documentation is complete and ready for further stages in the process, including any additional analysis required (API analysis, user research, competition analysis, etc). At this stage we can estimate the team required and their engagement to develop the app as defined.
With a full understanding of the target users and the commercial goals of the project, we can begin the UX (user experience) design phase. The prioritized user stories and the initial rapid wireframing from previous steps allow our designers to determine how users will use the app and what every screen should include.
We use our designers’ expertise and experience in user behaviour to create an intuitive user experience and predict how users will interact with the app.
With the help of sophisticated design software, our designers map out the app and create a set of low-fidelity wireframes which are essential for the visual design phase, also known as UI design.
UI stands for user interface and ultimately becomes what the user sees in the app. Our designers use the UX wireframes and turn them into pixel-perfect mockups of every screen.
Our designers incorporate the latest design trends with your company branding guidelines (logo, typeface, colour pallette, etc) to come up with a visually appealing user interface.
Because branding is vital to the UI design of the app, if you do not have any design guidelines at this stage, we will include a brand design phase in order to create a ‘mini-brand book’ which you can use in future branding activities of your company to keep everything consistent.
With the design of an easy-to-use, intuitive UX and visually-pleasing UI, our designers put them together using modern design software to create an interactive, clickable prototype of your mobile applications. (Sometimes the UX and UI design phases run concurrently).
This clickable prototype allows you and any stakeholders or potential investors to approve the ‘look & feel’ of the app. It can also be used in target user testing to gather feedback and make any changes to the UX or UI before spending any money on development on your custom mobile applications.
This is the final step of the design phase and by this stage you will have everything necessary to make the development phase run smoothly.
The back end of your app provides data to your app from a database. If your app requires user accounts, data to be shared between users and devices, to store data online or you need the app to show your user data from an external source, then you will need a dedicated backend developer.
Back end development is the programming of the app for the operations going on ‘behind the scenes’ and includes the database, scripts, processes and algorithms which are ‘hidden’ from the user.
Depending on the requirements of the project, our backend developers often use Java (Spring) or NodeJS for back end development.
Frontend Development (Native & Cross-Platform)
The part of the app which the user sees and interacts with is called the frontend. It is installed on the user’s mobile device and shows content or data from the backend using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
The technical recommendation you receive after the workshop will usually specify whether you should opt for native apps or whether a cross-platform framework like Flutter or React Native would be more suitable.
Native iOS and Android code is written using Swift while native Android code is written using Kotlin. These are two separate code bases which allow the greatest flexibility in developing your frontend. Cross-platform development allows our developers to write a single code base which will run on both platforms.
Our QA Engineers are a vital part of the development team. They are involved from the very beginning of development creating test scenarios for each function which are tested throughout the development process to ensure everything functions properly on your mobile device.
The primary purpose of testing is to ensure that the features in the app function properly. Any issues arising from testing are addressed inside that sprint or planned for the following one.
For the backend we do integration testing where we simulate crucial user scenarios that run a sequence of API requests. We also run unit tests to check each new version of the app.
For larger projects we also offer continuous code quality, graphic user interface and performance testing as required.
During development and QA testing, your app will live on a staging environment where the code can only be accessed by the development team.
Once all development and testing has been completed, it is ready to be deployed to a live environment. This is a server that allows the public to start using the app to access data and write to the database. This is necessary for users to create accounts, share information or download the content or resources your app provides.
As part of our comprehensive service, we also help you submit your app to the relevant app stores. Generally, the submission of a new app to both the Google Play store and the App Store is relatively straightforward but it does require some app development knowledge to generate the app builds and certificates required.
Apple formally reviews all apps to confirm that they meet the Apple developer guidelines before approving them for release. Google, on the other hand, doesn’t formally review all apps submitted but will remove apps which have been reported by other users of breaching the guidelines.
Additionally, we can provide app store optimization (ASO) to improve conversion rates of your app downloads in both stores.
Support & Maintenance
In order to ensure optimum system operations of your app, we offer you a dedicated team to act as a ‘help desk’ for your product. This team will perform all necessary bug fixes, monitor the app performance, provide consultancy and manage the process of any change requests you may have, ensuring that everything is functioning on your mobile device.
We will maintain all test scenarios and manage all documentation of the product and make sure it is kept up-to-date so that you can efficiently scale your product as your users increases and the product evolves.
We will also collect real user data and feedback to help shape future iterations and updates. Having a proactive team supporting the product and which understands the product inside and out will help maximize the life of the product.
Why are Companies Investing in Custom Mobile Applications?
Statistics tell us that 90% of the time people spend on their mobile devices is actually spent using mobile apps. It is a common business strategy these days for companies to use their website simply for informational purposes and to direct people to the Google Play or Apple Store to download their app. Once your user has the app installed, the options are almost limitless in terms of what information you can provide to your client and how you interact with them. Here are some of the main reasons for building a custom mobile app:
Drive Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is key to the success of your business. When a customer is thinking about a product or service, you want them to think of your brand first. A mobile app is a significant tool for doing this because it allows you to provide a user-friendly, convenient way of getting information your customers need and expect. The added advantage is that you have a way of offering discounts and push notification messages which will always be remembered when the customer needs your product or service.
Happy customers have a direct influence on your bottom line. With the majority of web searches these days done on a mobile app, having a responsive web app that adjusts to every type of device is an absolute minimum for your business. But having a mobile app significantly increases the engagement of your customers because the user interface is designed specifically to be intuitive and easy-to-use. An example of this is food home delivery services. Digital ordering and delivery of food has increased 300% since 2014 and businesses that have made this process simple and include loyalty programs see an increased frequency of return clients.
Create Customer Loyalty
As mentioned above, offering customer loyalty programs to a digital product can significantly increase your profits. If this is done properly, a well designed custom mobile app can allow you to grow loyalty to your brand by providing things such as gamification, in-app purchases and push notifications allowing your business to send interesting push notifications.
Open Direct Marketing Opportunities
A custom mobile app is such a versatile tool and can be used in your direct marketing campaigns. Having features like booking forms, accounts, newsfeeds and push notifications can all be used in delivering your business message to your clients, as long as the experience is customer centric. A mobile app is a much more intuitive way to engage your clients with your marketing campaigns than a billboard or shiny brochure.
A mobile app is the most effective way to compete against the biggest brands in the world. Even if you do not have a huge physical presence in the market, you can build an impressive online presence by offering your services remotely, supplying your products via an eCommerce channel, and supply information effectively. By investing in high-quality UX/UI design services you can satisfy customer needs by making it easy for your users to access your products and services.
Why Trust itCraft with your Mobile App Development?
itCraft has been engaged in custom software development for over a decade, developing over 250 custom apps across multiple industries in over 25 countries. Our agile teams build world-class, scalable digital products with a focus on delivering the highest business value at every stage of the project, meaning you will always have the best value for money to match your budget. Here are some of the reasons large enterprises and ambitious startups choose to work with us:
Agile Scrum Framework
Despite being a buzzword for many in software development, we are truly agile. We use an agile Scrum framework which allows us to always focus on delivering the highest priorities to meet your business goals.
Rather than agreeing every task and feature for the whole project prior to the start of development, we break this down into 2-week development blocks called sprints. Because scopes and priorities change very often during a project, together we plan and agree what tasks should be delivered during each sprint. With this approach you can see realtime progress, change priorities, add new features, identify solutions to potential threats, with the confidence that we are always working on the most important tasks.
For the peace of mind of our clients, as well as to be able to consistently produce world-class software year after year, we strive hard to maintain our ISO certification.
As an ISO9001 certified company, our quality management system has been certified by ISO to meet international standards, and we have demonstrated our ability to consistently provide services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
To further enhance our trust and reliability, and to prove our commitment to responsibly handling sensitive data (which is a must in software development), our information security processes have been certified by ISO under ISO27001.
Choosing the right technology is vital to a successful mobile app development project. Not only do you need to make sure the technology has the ability to deliver your current business requirements, it also needs to be scalable to meet changing market needs in the future, including higher number of users, new features (products & services) and new technology trends.
Before we begin your project we will agree on the proposed team lineup to meet the development goals of the project, along with the hourly rates of each team member so you can monitor the budget.
During the process you will have multiple communication channels to the Scrum Master (Project Manager), meetings with the entire team, a client success manager to touch base with and access to multiple status reports.
Our standard process includes continuous integration meaning you will always have the latest release of the app throughout the development process, and access to release notes to define what was different from the last version.
There is no such thing as a silly question except for the question you never ask. Here are some of the questions people often ask when considering developing a mobile app:
Our goal is to deliver a commercially viable application to market as quickly as possible. Depending on the size and requirements of the project, we assign a highly skilled agile team to focus on the agreed priorities which will give you the highest business value to ensure you have a functioning digital product to match your budget.
For an example of different size teams and projects, please refer to our pricing page.
Because every project is different, from a commercial standpoint as well as functionality, we provide a detailed technical recommendation after conducting our UX workshops. The deep-dive into the priorities & objectives of your mobile app, as well as the user requirements will allow us to analyze what system architecture will be best suited to deliver your business goals. We will consider any budget restrictions, third-party APIs, the programming languages to best deliver the functionality and any other requirements to come up with the right tech stack for your business.
As an agile developer, we work in 2-week sprints to deliver the highest priority tasks. Prior to each sprint, our Scrum Master (Project Manager) agrees with you what tasks should be completed during the sprint. During each sprint we have daily meetings (which you can be a part of) to review the team’s progress of each task. At the end of each sprint we present what we have achieved before planning the next sprint. This allows you to be as involved in the process as you like.
Additionally, for every mobile app development we use continuous integration, meaning that you will always have the latest version of the app available to you on your device at all times.
After launching the MVP of your mobile app, we can either continue developing more features, or support you under a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA defines the key system functions and identifies the priority, response time and fix time of any bugs that arise in your software.
We also offer app-store optimization (ASO) to help get your product higher up the rankings in Google Play and Apple Store. We can also monitor the comments from users to identify areas of the app which need improvement.
All great businesses were born from an idea. At itCraft, we have experienced Product Designers and Business Analysts who can help you take an idea and help define the business, user and system requirements to ensure the app is commercially viable. This product discovery phase usually begins with a workshop where you and our team discuss the business value of your idea which they will use to create product documentation and come up with a development plan to validate your idea.
Check out some of our previous work
We make sure your goals become our goals. Here are some of the businesses who have trusted our agile teams to help them deliver world-class, scalable mobile applications.
Native mobile apps used for multichannel, real-time voice communication capabilities replicating the complex functionality of the existing trader turrets used by traders in the financial market.
Voted as the best B2B App in 2019, this native app allows Makro’s large client base to manage their loyalty cards and receive the latest discounts & promotions, significantly increasing client engagement.
A mobile app with Machine Learning capabilities for busy restaurant owners to manage suppliers, inventory, ordering, billing whilst being able to keep an eye on the budget.
More resources about Mobile App Development
Do you need more information about developing mobile apps? Are you interested in what our experts have to say about the latest technology and trends? If so, check out some of the recent posts below. If you can’t find answers to what you are looking for, get in contact with us and we can organise a chat with one of our experts.
Cross-platform vs. native development ebook
Webinar: Before you quit your job to create a startup
Webinar: 13 things you should know about cross platform development
Reach out to find out more
If you would like to find out how itCraft can help make your digital project a success, or if you would like to discuss your mobile app idea with experienced experts in the field, send us an email. We are here to make the journey of mobile app development an enjoyable and successful one!
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