Stage 4: Testing
With the app’s coding and accompanying visuals completed, it’s time to deal with the inevitable bugs.
Before an app is sent out into the wider world, it needs to be tested to ensure it’s functioning. Alpha testing, which is done in a closed environment and performed by developers, uncovers any broken features or glitches users might experience while using the app and gives the team a chance to fix them. The goal is to try and “break” the app in as many malicious and innocuous ways as possible. Alpha testers want to stress the app in both the finite, fixated way you intended the app to be used, as well as the multitude of unintended ways your end-users may use the app in their daily lives. Often companies include a second stage of testing, called beta testing, with a select group of public users to help them in this phase. They’re people outside of the development team who can help stress an app in similar ways to how it would be used “in the wild”. Beta testing is often a great way to gauge whether your app can handle a large number of users at one time, who may be using the app in ways it was not designed for.
In general, robust testing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month.
Stage 5: Release (and Beyond)
Once the final round of testing is completed, the development team has taken any feedback from the beta testers and fixed any problems, your app is finally ready for launch.
Releasing your project to the world starts with submitting your app for approval to either Apple’s App Store or Google Play (or both!). When doing so, ensure you have a catchy title and informative description for the app, as well as some great promotional images to give users an idea of what your app looks like and what it has to offer. You also need to be aware of proper App Store Optimization (similar to a website’s SEO) and include the right keywords to make sure you reach the widest (and more relevant) audience as possible.
However, when you receive approval and your app is finally released to the world, that isn’t the end. The world’s most successful apps, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are in a continuous process of development. Their respective parent companies spend an incredible amount of time and money tweaking their app for years after their supposed completion. New system features, new bug fixes, new UI, and new security features to protect users and their info are being continuously patched into their apps to attract new users and keep their existing base happy.
Maintaining an app can last years, but the exact end-date is entirely up to you, your budget, and your desire to keep improving on your product.