Mobile apps represent an outstanding marketing power for businesses, either small or large. As more entrepreneurs start to understand their potential, the number of apps developed by businesses grows by the day. But if you are only just starting to consider app development for your business a number of questions arise. One common question I see people struggle with is how long it will take to make an app.
Unfortunately, the answer is rarely as straightforward as the question. Many factors influence the time from planning an app to its release. On average, you can estimate that you will have your app up and running after about four to six months if everything goes smoothly. But as I said, this is very much just an average timeframe and the complexity of your app will determine the potential lead time for development.
Some apps, for example, could release an initial version within a couple of months, while for others it can take more than a year to get a product ready for market release.
At Sharp Notions, we’ve worked with a number of different timelines for different projects. It primarily depends on the app’s functionality, purpose, and audience.
Based on this experience, we have narrowed down the factors that are most likely to influence the app development timeline, so let’s take a look at each of them.
Market Research and Validation
Let’s say you have already come up with an app idea that you are certain will help your business set itself apart from your competitors. But how will it hold up in the market?
Before having developers work their magic, you should conduct comprehensive market research. That will show whether your idea already exists in the market, if another company has created something similar, or if there’s a genuine need for the application you want to develop.
Without this step, there’s no telling how your app will perform once you launch it. It could be a hit, that’s obviously a possibility. But developing an application requires time and money, and it’s not worthwhile to invest your time into something that might fall short.
After the initial research, you would likely design the basic app functionalities and move onto the development process. Keep in mind, that the overall operation can take more time than initially estimated. That’s because you need to go through a thorough validation process that will oversee the entire production. Although slow and complicated, it’s a valuable procedure that enables you to identify threats, opportunities, and also save money before building something that people may not want to use.
Determining the Complexity of Your App
While going mobile can add significant value to your business, it might be difficult to assess how much you’ll have to invest in the process. Back-end and front-end functionalities can have a considerable say in the final result, as these decisions will establish complexity, unique requirements, and even the interface design.
Back-end functionality consists of three main parts: the application, the database, and the server. Whenever a user opens the app and does something with it, that information is stored on a server. So, the next time a user logs in, they can revisit their last session and use that information without having to go through the entire process again.
The front-end functionalities refer to the elements the user directly interacts with, particularly its interface. Traditionally, many developers give a lot more attention to the back-end, as those are the core factors that allow people to use the application. However, mobile technology has changed a lot in recent years, and consumers today don’t just care about what an app does, but how it looks too. Mobile apps must have an appealing design and an intuitive interface to keep users engaged.
Getting these two main components just right takes time, and your developers will most likely need to run a few tests until finding the perfect balance.
Risk and Security Planning
Planning for possible risks and security breaches is an essential step of mobile app development, as it ensures the safety of the users, but also of the company creating the application.
When not properly secured, mobile apps can act as open doors to an individual’s personal information. Skipping this stage can bring several risks into the equation, especially if the development process does not integrate security measures right from the start.
Developers will test the product to see where it is vulnerable and add layers of protection afterward, so it’s vital to give this process enough time to be thorough.
Finding the Right Team
When looking for a team to develop your app, it’s vital to find people compatible with your business. First, you need someone with the necessary skills to give life to your idea, so it’s best to choose a team that has done something similar before.
But technical know-how aside, they also need to be on the same page with you. Though the application and its creation are in their hands, you have a lot to say about how the final product will look. Given that, ideally, you need a team that will hear you out whenever you want to add something to the application.
Keep in mind that a “the customer’s always right” mindset isn’t always helpful. While it’s crucial for them to listen to your input, your team of developers must also give you proper feedback. You might think that extra functionality you want to add last minute will make the product an instant hit, but your developers should be honest with you and tell you when you have unrealistic expectations.
Allowing for Multiple Stages of Testing
Can there be such a thing as too much testing? Not really! Mobile users are notoriously picky, and they just won’t give your app another chance if it’s full of glitches or it freezes.
The developers will test the application a lot, but once the deadline is approaching (or once they tell you the app’s almost ready), you might have a voice in your head telling you just to be done with it. Don’t listen to that voice. Don’t rush or skip the final testing stage.
Let your team try out the application for bugs and security issues before the product goes live. It might just be too late after that. Worst case scenario you’ll have to push the release date, though that’s a lot better than dealing with the PR nightmare of a bad app.
A common approach for development is the Agile Development Methodology, which works on the theory of regular testing combined with regular releases. Below is a visual of this process:
How Can You Reduce the Time It Takes to Develop an App?
Let’s be honest: you already know the answer to this question. If you want a fast-developed app, then the obvious solution would be to strip down some features. A less complex application can drastically reduce the timeline, though in this case, the final version might not resemble what you had in mind.
So if you don’t want to budge on app complexity, then choose the right team for the job. You’ll need someone with the know-how and human resources to give your project complete attention, without cutting corners on production quality. If you find them, you’ll have a great shot at making an app in record time.
Back to You
The best advice anyone can give you regarding the process of going mobile is to not rush into things. It’s better to take it slow even when looking for a team to develop the application. Putting out an app in a month or less isn’t a very good strategy, especially if you want something to add value to your business and the market.
That’s one of the core beliefs here at Sharp Notions. We take our time to understand your needs and your audience before we get down to work. However, you can always rest assured that the solution we deliver will be of superior quality, on time and within budget.