Right now, somewhere in the world, a team of mobile app developers is building an app that could change your life. It could be the next Venmo or Instagram or Tinder, all popular apps in the United States. Worldwide, the most downloaded app is a Chinese music video app called TikTok, which was downloaded by 45 million people in the first quarter of 2018.
While laptop and desktop computers changed our lives, smartphone apps allow us to access almost limitless information by reaching into our pocket or purse. Here are the basics of what you need to know about mobile app development.
How long does app development take?
The most basic apps can be completed in a couple of weeks, or maybe even a few days, depending on just how rudimentary the app is. But according to one survey of 100 developers, it takes about 18 weeks on average to build an iOS or Android app. First, you have to figure out what you want to accomplish with this app. If it’s a mobile banking app, you probably want some sort of mobile deposit function. If you run an online retailer, you likely want a function that allows users to order directly from the app.
Creating a mockup or prototype of your app is a process known as wireframing. Upwork defines wireframing as the creation of “a simplified visual concept of the future app.” You’ll also create a storyboard that displays how you want different display screens to look within the app. For instance, you might create a storyboard for the main menu, then a storyboard image for how the screen will look when a user goes from the main menu to the “About Us” page. It can be a long, painstaking process, but it’s essential to figuring out how the app will work when it’s done.
You also need to build in time for testing the app. You should plan on multiple rounds of testing. The number of people who test the app depends a lot on what your long-term goals are for the app. At some point before launch, you’ll need to let an outside team of testers try out the app’s beta version.
How much does it cost?
App development isn’t cheap. Or, to be more precise, good app development isn’t cheap. A company which designs apps for small businesses will probably charge you a few thousand dollars to develop your app. But the top app development agencies are working for major corporations and developing apps which will be used by millions of people. Developing those kind of apps can cost more than six figures easily. Paying $1 million or more for an app may seem ridiculous to the layman, but the people leading these companies know that a lot depends on developing an app that appeals to customers and brings in new business.
Take out your phone and open it up to one of your favorite apps, ideally one that you use either every day or most days. Countless hours of labor went into getting the app from the developers to the app store to your phone. And more work is required whenever an app has problems or bugs that need fixing. If an app’s security is breached and customers’ payment info is exposed, then that means something went very wrong at some point in the development process. Fixing those kinds of errors is costly. It’s rare for an app to be released without at least some minor glitches, but an app closing without warning is a lot better than an app that can be hacked into by bad actors looking to cause trouble. So be prepared to invest in the extra quality.