Mobile app development 101: Everything you need to know
Developing an app used to be an expensive and challenging endeavor. But these days, it’s far easier and cheaper to build an app than ever before. As such, entrepreneurs and small businesses are increasingly relying on mobile apps as part of their marketing strategy. Whether you want to develop an app in-house or hire a mobile app development company, this guide will help you get everything you need to know about mobile app development 101 so that you can create the best possible product for your business.
What is mobile app development?
Mobile apps help people engage with technology on a personal level. Apps improve user experience by providing quick access to information, entertainment and social interaction from any location and at any time. Mobile applications (apps) can range from one-off payments for services or goods, instant notifications of breaking news or sports events to mobile game titles like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. Mobile application developers create applications for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems as well as platforms such as Windows Mobile, BlackBerry OS and Symbian. This comprehensive guide covers what mobile application development is, how it works and why it’s important in today’s society so you can make informed decisions when choosing your developer.
Focus on user experience
There’s a lot of pressure for an early-stage startup to show progress. And, as an entrepreneur, sometimes it can be difficult not to get caught up in building something because it feels like progress. But if your product isn’t solving a problem or adding value for customers, then there really is no point in building it.
Deal up front with memory and bandwidth constraints
Mobile devices are different from PCs in two major ways. The first is that mobile devices have less memory and less bandwidth, both of which can put serious constraints on your mobile app. In fact, even if you’re developing a mobile website rather than an app, your focus should be on getting small files that load quickly. Mobile users simply won’t wait for large images or animated GIFs before deciding whether to bail or keep browsing; get rid of anything other than text as quickly as possible.
Choose carefully between native and Web development
When it comes to mobile application development, choosing between native and Web app is one of biggest dilemmas facing developers. It’s not just about which platform will provide a better user experience; there are also other factors involved, such as budget and timeline. This post lays out a comparison of both options.
Think about how to take advantage of location
Location has become a hot topic for many mobile apps. With services like Foursquare and Loopt, it’s easier than ever for users to take advantage of location-based services on their smartphones, and even easier for developers to make apps that offer these services. If your business isn’t currently using a mobile app or service that takes advantage of location data, consider creating one — you could be missing out on thousands of new customers who live nearby!
Rely on server-side data synchronization
Many mobile applications are tied together with backend servers (think of Facebook, Uber, Google Maps). This is a good way to provide a consistent experience across apps because data can be updated quickly and efficiently. If your application requires server-side data synchronization, choose services that can accommodate your software’s specific needs.
Design and code for touch interfaces
Today, most people have a mobile device that they use as their primary computing device. If you’re designing an application or service, your users will probably interact with it on a touchscreen interface. Designing and coding for touch interfaces differs from using traditional desktop and laptop input methods in many ways. Here are just some of them
Don’t get too dependent on hardware performance
Designing mobile apps around hardware features can be a recipe for trouble. At some point, those features will slow down or become obsolete. Instead, focus on designing for human-computer interaction and depend on hardware as little as possible. That way, your apps will work even if a user upgrades his or her device one day.
Expect users to make mistakes
While mobile app development itself is complicated enough, from a user’s perspective there are plenty of potential ways for things to go wrong. As a developer, it’s best if you can allow for these mistakes. Keep in mind that users may accidentally tap on or interact with elements they didn’t mean to, or they may be distracted while using your app and accidentally close it out by mistake.
Many people who develop mobile apps start out on their own, but they soon realize that developing a great product takes more than just talent and hard work. Starting your own mobile app company is a big undertaking, and it can be overwhelming trying to do everything by yourself. It’s far better to hire out what you don’t want or need to do — like marketing or web design.