How Long Does It Really Take to Develop a Mobile App? – Part 2

On our first article on this topic, we presented you the first stage on mobile development: the Big Idea and market Research. Now it’s time to understand the Planing and Development stages on mobile application development project.

Stage 2: Planning

As with the research stage, there are two basic questions to ask yourself in the planning phase: What platform(s) do you want to release on and what features do you want to include? These two supposedly simple questions can spawn hundreds more. Will your app be Apple-exclusive, Android-exclusive, or on both? Should your app include the ability to like and comment? What about direct messaging? Will your app be text or image-heavy? How will users login? Through a username and password or through one of their social media accounts? Will you have a scrolling feed? The options can become endless if you let them.

The platforms you want to use and the features you want to offer are largely dependent on the product you want to offer and your target audience, but the one major rule is the larger your scope, the longer development will take.

If your product isn’t platform exclusive (ie. if you’re not developing a drawing app for Apple iPad users only), you may want to release your app on both iOS and Android to reach the largest number of consumers. However, you need to keep in mind that although developing a product for both platforms will increase your audience reach, it may not be within your budget. On average, development for Android devices can be more complex and requires more lines of coding (and thus more work) than iOS. So, if budget is a concern, you may have to decide between iOS’s simpler development and their 1.4 billion active users, or Android’s more complicated process and their 2.5 billion active devices.

Whatever your ultimate decisions are in the planning stage, the process takes about a month or so. It’s also important to stick with your finalized plans to ensure the rest of the development process doesn’t hit any bumps due to unexpected last-minute decision making.

Stage 3: Development

With the completion of the research and planning stages, it’s finally time to let the professional, experienced app developers you hired do their thing! As they work, they’ll be focused on a few key components of the development stage.

First is the User Interface (or UI), which refers to the appearance of your app; it includes all of the visuals a user will see and is often developed by Graphic Designers. However, a UI without any coding is unusable as anything other than a series of images, as in this initial stage, the visuals aren’t tied to any part of the system.

This is partially solved with Front End development, which takes the completed UI and writes code to accommodate the visuals. It’s the system that allows users to perform actions in the app, like clicking on a heart icon to “like” a picture. The Front End code is also where the main differences between platforms becomes evident, as iOS uses Swift or Objective-C, while Android uses the more complex Java script. In this form, an app becomes a functional prototype, with actions appearing on the screen, but no follow-through to the rest of the system.

This is addressed with completion of the Back End. In this final stage, developers take both the UI and the Front End enabled-actions, and connect them to the overall system. The Back End creates a complete application, which ensures the action a user takes on one side of the app ties into a result

for another user on the other end of the app. For example, if someone leaves a message on a friend’s picture, the system controlled by the Back End guarantees that friend will receive it on their end. Keep in mind, the Front End and Back End are often developed simultaneously.

This stage can vary depending on how many features you want to include and how experienced your hired app developers are, but it generally takes about 6 weeks.

This is the second article of the series “How Long Does It Really Take to Develop a Mobile App?”. On the next articles we will cover the Testing and Release stages of a mobile application development. Stay tuned!

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