What Is The Best Development Approach for a Successful App?
Wondering what is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?
You’ve come to the right place.
What is the best development approach to make your app successful?
The success of an app greatly depends on your software development methodology and management approach, and a pragmatic and success-oriented approach has quite a few building blocks. These building blocks are as follows:
You have a great app idea and you launch your “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), subsequently, customers further refine the requirements for future development of app features. As you can see, this fluidity in the requirement increases uncertainty and complexity.
You need the right people in your team to deal with it. This is why the noted management guru Jim Collins stressed getting the right people on the bus, and the right people in the right seats.
The role of the project manager (PM) is the most important, in view of the systems integration work the role involves. You need a competent PM, well-versed with both theoretical and practical knowledge of project management and, of course, software engineering.
They should be familiar with and have experience with the waterfall approach, agile methods, extreme programming development methods, etc. This is a critical success factor, as I explained in “10 biggest challenges when developing an app”.
Subsequently, you need the developers, UI designers, testers, DevOps engineers, etc. Assuming you need to hire them, you might be tempted to hire freelancers. However, this is a decision that needs careful planning.
Team members need to collaborate well among themselves, moreover, in an Agile environment, they need to collaborate with customers. Implementing processes and adhering to them requires a team and not just individuals.
Consider hiring a field expert development team for complex projects. Our guide “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” explains why you should do so.
The project methodology is an important building block of an effective approach to app development. Selecting a software development methodology depends on the nature of the app that you are building and your business requirements.
Software systems delivering a core functionality need to abide by standard industry-specific rules, therefore, such a software system typically has well-defined requirements for the entire system. We call them “Systems of Record” (SoRs).
A development project for an SoR should undergo rigorous reviews after every phase like requirements definition, design, etc. This mitigates the project risks, and the “Waterfall” methodology is good for such projects.
However, web or mobile apps are customer-facing tools, called “Systems of Engagement” (SoEs). Business stakeholders change their requirements frequently.
Launching an MVP, and then enhancing the app based on the feedback from the market is a better approach. MVP prototyping is a great way to build the product that your desired customers really want.
Agile software development, which breaks the project down into incremental deliverables or sprints, is the right methodology for this thanks to its iterative or increment workflow.
For more on the agile manifesto and the waterfall model, read my article “Waterfall vs Agile: which methodology is right for your project”.
3. Organizing the team
Achieving success in an app development project requires organizing the team in a manner that facilitates collaboration. This is due to the following reasons:
- For mobile and web apps, customers will likely change requirements based on the MVP. The project team will need to incorporate the modified requirements quickly as part of the iteration approach and its time frames, and this requires close collaboration between the team and customers.
- Such Agile projects require just the relevant processes, and no process overhead. An empowered team is imperative, which requires a high degree of collaboration.
- Projects like this will involve “Continuous Integration” (CI) and “Continuous Delivery” (CD) as part of the software delivery life cycle or SDLC. These are important for frequent releases, however, setting up a CI environment is complex. CI should feed CD seamlessly, and this requires close collaboration between developers, testers, DevOps engineers, etc. Read more about this in “5 common pitfalls of CI/CD—and how to avoid them”.
I recommend that you use the “Scrum” technique to deliver such projects, and organize the project team as follows:
- The PM performs the role of a “Scrum master”, and establishes small, cross-functional teams.
- Such teams have “Product owners”, and they provide the requirements. Designers, developers, and testers work closely with the product owner.
- The team works on “Sprints”, i.e., iterations in an environment where delivering value to the customer have the highest priority, and collaboration is the name of the game.
Read more about scrum teams in “How to build a Scrum development team?”.
4. Early decision-making about the kind of app you will develop
There are different kinds of mobile apps, and for a successful project, you need to decide early which kind you will develop. The different kinds of apps are as follows:
These apps have the following characteristics:
- Native apps are developed for specific platforms like Android or iOS, and they deliver the best performance on that platform.
- They use platform-specific advanced program languages, e.g., Kotlin for Android, or Swift for iOS. This makes these apps more secure and performant.
- Designers use platform-specific guidelines when designing the UI of a native app, therefore, users can get a better UI.
- Native apps can use device features like GPS, camera, etc., moreover, businesses can send push notifications with these apps.
Developers must maintain a separate code base for different platforms, i.e., the Android app can’t be used on iOS. This can make native app development costlier. Read more about native apps in this Quora Q&A thread. Instagram is an example of a native app.
Users can access web apps using a web browser on their phone, and they don’t need to download them from an app store. Developing a web app is inexpensive since there is no need to maintain different code bases for different platforms. Users don’t need to install updates for web apps.
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However, web apps have the following disadvantages:
- The UI isn’t sophisticated enough.
- There are security risks with web apps.
- These apps can’t use the built-in features of the device.
Twitter Lite is a web app.
Hybrid apps have some characteristics from the web as well as native apps. These apps reside in app stores, and hybrid apps can take advantage of some device features. They rely on HTML being rendered in a browser, with the browser being embedded in the app.
- Their performance is not as good as native apps.
- They can’t use all device features, and the UI is not as friendly as native apps.
Progressive web apps (PWAs):
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are web apps, however, to the user, it feels quite like a native app. These are responsive apps with their security features being better than web apps. They engage users better than web apps, and PWAs can send push notifications. Flipboard is an example of a PWA.
Some features of a PWA can work offline, and users can install them on their home screen. These apps are always up-to-date, moreover, users with a higher version of the browser can progressively access more features. You can read more about PWAs in “Types of mobile apps: native, hybrid, web and progressive web apps”.
PWAs have certain disadvantages, e.g.:
- They don’t offer the best user experience when using social media.
- Mobile devices are continuously evolving, with new hardware features added. PWAs can’t use the latest features like the fingerprint scanner.
- Re-engagement features of PWAs are mostly limited to Android devices.
I recommend that you build a native app. This is in view of the clear advantages to native apps, e.g., security, better UI, the ability to use device features, and better user engagement.
5. Platforms, APIs, tools, frameworks, and guidelines
Developing a great app can be complex, however, you can benefit from using platforms, APIs, frameworks, etc. I will now explain these, as follows:
Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) platforms
Designing the mobile app UI and developing the business logic have a high priority, however, developing and managing the mobile backend is important too.
I recommend that you use a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform so that you can focus on the front-end. The advantages are as follows:
- MBaaS platforms like AWS Amplify or Google Firebase handle the cloud infrastructure, persistent storage, etc. This frees you up from developing and managing the mobile backend.
- Naturally, the multitude of mobile platforms and devices increases the complexity of mobile app development. However, using an MBaaS platform simplifies this for you.
- You can easily implement security, user management, and push notification features when you use an MBaaS platform. These platforms also let you easily integrate 3rd party APIs, moreover, scaling your app is easier.
Read “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for more insights.
Development and testing tools
Using the right development and testing tools eases the development process. Consider using the following:
- Android Studio: This is the popular “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE) for Android development. It offers numerous advantages, e.g.:
- Xcode: Xcode is the IDE of choice for iOS developers. There are several advantages to it, e.g.:
- pCloudy: pCloudy offers an excellent solution to deal with a key challenge in mobile app testing. There are numerous platforms and devices, moreover, there are multiple versions. pCloudy offers a mobile device lab on the cloud for testing, with a wide range of devices. It integrates well with XCTest and Espresso.
APIs and SDKs
In today’s era of “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs), many businesses have published their APIs for other developers to access. You can take advantage of this, and implement the core features of your app easily.
An example is a mobile payment app, where you can use Stripe or Braintree APIs to implement the payment feature. Another example is a streaming app, where you can use the Wowza cloud streaming API to easily implement the streaming feature.
Some of the API providers also offer Android and iOS “Software Development Kits” (SDKs), and this further eases the development. In our above examples, Stripe and Wowza offer SDKs.
Read “8 advantages of APIs for developers” to understand how APIs help in development.
UI design guidelines
Platforms like Android and iOS have their respective guidelines for UI design. You need to consult the platform-specific guidelines, which are as follows:
Project management tools
Effective project management requires the right tools, and you can use one of these reputed PM tools:
You will benefit from using a data-driven process, such as the one we have at DevTeam.Space. A real-time dashboard improves your project management, therefore, you can consider using one.
Wondering how to develop a successful app?
Mobile apps have a large market, however, it’s also a highly competitive market. Customers have choices, and your app must have strong differentiators.
Developing a successful app could be a complex project, therefore, consider taking help from a software development company. Consult our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to learn more about this.
Also, why not take a few minutes to fill out our project specification form to see how our developers and dev teams can help you build the best applications.
Our developers are fully trained to use our unique agile methodology as well as scrum. They are also trained in the waterfall methodology, Kanban, etc., and experienced in rapid application development or RAD, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions on Successful App Development Approach
The main methodologies are Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Lean, and Feature-Driven Development or FDD.
Agile is one of the most used software development processes at the current time. The agile development approach is designed to build flexibility into the software development process so is ideal for complex projects that are likely to change as they go along. However, Agile is not always the best approach for other types of projects.
You will need to hire them from a software development platform that has trained its full-time developers in the Agile methodology. DevTeam.Space is one such company that also vets all its developers to ensure they are the best of the best.