It is hard to imagine that many modern people are using the smartphone just for calls. Most mobile devices go far beyond the primary goal behind them – making phone calls and sending simple instant messages. Today, even the simplest of mobile offers a platform to keep various apps for everyday use, turning thousands of people into more and more thankful users of apps.
Whether simple or complex, informative or entertaining, minimalist, or filled with vivid and engaging details, practical or cheerful, meet a needy customer, they make life better. The variety of apps available today allows users to do a variety of tasks using only their mobile phone. Setting an alarm for tomorrow, calculating next week’s expenses, or sending mum selfies via the Messenger app, most consumers don’t imagine how many professionals stand behind these simple daily routines.
We have already unveiled the typical steps in designing interface design for mobile applications in our articles Today we will go further and set the whole path from setting the idea for a mobile app to its release in the App Store.
In any creative process, making a mobile app out of thin air is a complicated and sophisticated process that has its unique features and characteristics for each particular case. However, based on FuGenx’s extensive experience in creating diverse applications, it is possible to define several of the following typical creative steps for this process:
- Sets the initial scope of work
- Consumer / Market Research
- UX wireframing
- UI Design
- Software Architecture Planning
- iOS development
Even if you have seen the sequence of steps, this does not mean that each phase will only start when the previous step is completed. This type of linear dependence cannot be in as many processes and steps are interconnected. Also, some of them come here as a test or assessment and spread to all the processes of app creation. Let’s go step by step now to see how the subtle idea turns into a real mobile app.
Setting the task and initial scope of works
As we have already stated in the article, the design of the task is the foundation of all design and development. During this time a team of designers and developers must obtain maximum information from the client to determine the right path to the goal. He who walks without a destination in mind may come nowhere. In product design it works the same way: to get the result, you need to set goals clearly at the beginning of the path. This does not mean that goals should be completely the same at the end of the journey: the right level of flexibility must be set so that the goals can be more or less modified in the creative process, research and testing. However, if the initial goals are not set, the creative process can easily become chaotic.
Another important tip we have seen through long practice is that by communicating with clients you should not only get their desires but also try to get the ideas and reasons behind these desires. If you understand why your customer wants to see specific colors, shapes, or transitions, justifying other evidentiary methods for these ideas will give you (if needed) the result that the customer wants and at the same time. Friendly and thoughtful use of resources or initiate interactions.
The more information you get from the client, the better it is to set the right direction. Design briefs, calls, and Skype-meetings chat in Slack, brainstorming sessions, mood-boards all make a good starting line for productive work. In our case, this journey is initiated by sales managers and business analysts who take the first line of communication with clients and have the experience of bridging the customer and creative team.
At this stage, it is advisable to obtain data about:
- The nature of the product and its USP
- The target audience
- Geographical target (if available)
- Keywords that indicate the organization its identity
- Clients see important structure and functions in the app
- Preferred visual features (color palette, general style, special features, connection with other existing digital products or brand strategy, etc.)
- Potential technologies, devices, and surfaces that the app will use
- Requires compatibility with existing corporate identity (if available)
- The nature of data processing, server-side requirements, and additional technologies
The list is not full, and it still contains the most important locations needed to set the general design and development flow. The outcome of this phase is a diverse set of information blocks that will form the basis for further evaluation of the project, planning logical milestones and sprints as well as creating our effective design and development solutions.
The data collected at the previous stage allows business analysts and sales managers to provide the client with the first-time estimate of the time and therefore the planned costs for the project. As with any creative process, it is practically impossible to make a precise assessment that stays the same throughout the entire project: it is data that must be retrieved and reviewed after each stage of the design process. Certainly, there may be some instances of very simple products, have a clear structure and most screens or elements, so the assessment from the first steps of processing the client’s data and desires is very accurate. However, the more complicated the project, the greater the likelihood of assessment reviews and adjustments. Another important point to note: these reviews do not necessarily mean an increased cost or time, but in the creative process, designers and developers can find ways of optimizing design and technology solutions, which can also reduce initial evaluation.
This flow is perfect for full-stock teams: this means that the business analyst has designers and developers in the process of estimating from the earliest stages of analysis and forecasting to providing a more realistic and accurate plan of time and cost. Furthermore, the professionals involved in the discussion will be able to provide a lot of knowledge and experience on the technical details and issues affecting the time and resources required for application design and development.
This is the phase when the work is based on established goals and objectives, and the UI / UX Designer begins the path with a deeper application into the future application work environment. The research phase usually moves in two directions at once: consumer research and market research.
Consumer research means that the core target audience understands their preferences and psychological traits, the logic of interaction on colors, stylistic decisions, and emotions, and the impact of a defined group’s experience, information resources, and creative performance paths. It engages customers and makes them active. Marketing research means exploring the market segment, mainly from the perspective of creative solutions used by competitors. The umes hit that visual design creates an original and recognizable style that makes the product stand out from the crowd and draw potential customer attention.
David Ogilvy, the well-known guru of advertising, emphasizes the great importance of research to create an effective outcome: ప్రకట Advertising that ignores research is just as dangerous as generals who ignore enemy code decodes. »Time has changed tools, goals, and technologies, and still important role research is more robust. Ignoring the research phase and relying solely on their creative intuition, experience, and talent, designers are at risk of failing this task because they do not know the conditions of application performance and cannot make it efficient, user-friendly and original.
UI (User Interface) Design
The user interface is actually an interactive field in which the user interacts with the product. It includes all the tools that increase usage and satisfy the needs and desires of the target users. All features of Visual Perception, as well as sound and tactile concepts affecting product usage and interaction, are analyzed and optimized for the purpose of the application or website created here. For example, a palette of colors, types, and fonts, shapes and forms, illustration and animation, and so on can greatly affect the performance of the final product in a positive and negative way.
In general terms, the UX research and wireframing phase are about how the UI looks like how a website or application works. These two phases include work on successful interactions, while the UX deals with logic, connections, and user behavior, while the UI stage provides a visual representation of all concepts. Ideally, the designer should first work on the UX component with a concentration on the layout, which is more powerful, thoughtful, clear and easy to use. Without this crucial task, you run the risk of creating a mess from the user interface.
After testing the UX component through prototype, accepted and the concept of layout, transitions, and features, the designer starts the UI design part. This is the time when your product’s new heart and brain wears its skin and bones. Here the product gets the forms and features of its true color scheme, layout details, styles, animated elements and so on.
All UI solutions directly or positively impact the user experience, so the processes of UX wireframing and UI design must support each other and follow the same strategy, otherwise, one-stage efficient solutions will not work for another.
After this stage is accomplished, the visual details approved and agreed upon, designers transfer the assets to developers who are going to do the magic of making them alive. Also, this is the good time to review the estimation once again and plan the clear sprints on development on the basis of thought-out design.
Software architecture planning
At this phase of mobile app creation, iOS developers think over the architecture of the app, write the code, integrate functionality to created UI, edit the source code, debug and finally export the app to the App Store. Also, writing unit tests and running integration testing are relevant steps in this phase. The Interface Builder is one of Xcode features and it is an alternative to hand-coding the client-side part, allowing developers to put the app code together visually. This feature allows dragging and dropping different visual controls into the app code. AutoLayout helps to control the app presentation based on the size of the user’s screen. With Storyboard, developers can see what each screen of the app actually looks like, while Preview Mode delivers a prior acquaintance of what the app will look like when it is done.
Lots of mobile app developers are of opinion that a text editor is generally necessary, even though it is theoretically possible to do the entire coding inside Xcode. Handling long and complex codes can become particularly confusing unless programmers use a text editor that supports all relevant programming syntaxes.
Recommended to read this: “10 Security Issues App Developers Need to Know“
Quality is not always a risk; It is always the result of high intention, heartfelt effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; It represents a wise choice of many alternatives ”, William A. Foster once said, and this is certainly true when it comes to digital product testing.
Testing is one of the key stages of the entire application design and development lifecycle, which helps real users find bugs before bringing the app. The App Store does not accept any applications that contain compiling errors and bugs, so a mobile app that is ready to submit is not prone to those kinds of problems. In the majority of cases, if customers have operational problems, it leaves them feeling as optimistic and attractive as possible. To meet the expectations of the target audience and to solve their problems, the right applications will be successful if they work properly and efficiently for commerce, business, advertising, and other goals.
Testing means that developers do not offer high quality. To set the analogy, the fact that every book, magazine or newspaper issue goes through the editor’s eye does not mean that journalists or writers are talented and unqualified. Different professionals have different goals and skills in the process to increase general productivity and efficiency, and it works the same way for the design and development of mobile apps. Suppose the developers did a great job and made no mistakes, the task of testing is not to find errors. Quite the contrary, it helps to understand the quality of the app and find a way to improve it through real interactions.
Automated testing is now very popular because it is effective, cheap and reliable. iOS Simulator and Appmem, Frank, Calabash and other testing tools help you run the application through the testing process and highlight issues that require attention. Continuous testing at all stages can help prevent minor bugs from becoming major problems later on.
During the testing process, the developer will usually go through the app on the device or in the iOS Simulator of Xcode by screen, to make sure that there are no bugs or errors and that everything is working properly. Fixing or debugging can be done in Xcode itself.
All aspects of the app should be tested. Points such as screen resolution, processors, battery life and memory are different and can significantly affect how the app runs, so developers should check it on different devices (iPhone, Ivatch, iPad, iPod, etc.). They also test functionality (do all functions work well?), Maintenance and loading time (does it slow down if traffic increases?), And UX (how easy is it to use?). In addition to the problems mentioned above, developers review crash reports seeing what they can fix.
Here are some types of testing applied in the process of mobile app creation:
- Functional testing. It is the most basic test for any application to ensure that it is working according to the defined requirements and there are no functions missed in the process of interaction.
- Performance testing. This type covers client application performance, server performance, and network performance. For example, it checks the performance specifications and behavior of the app under certain conditions such as a low battery, bad network coverage, low available memory and etc.
- Memory testing. This type checks that each application maintains optimized memory usage throughout the user surfing.
- Interruption testing. An app may face various interruptions while working, such as incoming calls or network coverage outage and recovery. This kind of testing shows what the app will do under these conditions. The common types of interruptions are:
- Incoming and Outgoing calls, SMS or MMS and different notifications;
- Low memory warning
- Cable insertion or removal
- Network outage or recovery
- Media Player on/off
- The device power cycle, such as low battery notification, etc.
- Security testing. It checks the vulnerability of the app to hacking, authentication and authorization policies, data security, session management, and other security standards.
- Usability testing. It is carried out from the early stages of app creation to verify if the app fulfills the established objectives and tasks getting a good response from users. As Joyce Lee, the representative of Human Factors Design at Apple mentions: «Usability answers the question, “Can the user accomplish their goal?»
Submitting / Release
Finally, there comes the day when the app is alive and ready to be introduced to its users. In order to be submitted to the App Store, it needs to join the iOS developer program. Apple reserves the right to review and approve the app before it can go live. In any case, it is advisable to plan around a week or so to have the information reviewed and approved by Apple. If the app will be used for commercial purposes, an additional steps to submission via filling in short surveys will be included in the process and will need the separate approval which is usually expected within a day.
The process of the app release in the App Store takes a few steps, including configuring the code, creating a profile, creating a listing, and then submitting it through Xcode for certification. It might involve a few fixes and re-submissions, so knowing the procedure and polishing the details from the first version can save time.
As you can see, the way, which a mobile application goes through, is quite complex and includes a variety of steps ensuring its functionality, beauty, and quality of performance. Don’t miss our next articles that will provide deeper insights into each of the stages as well as tools and tips for better design and development process.
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