What To Expect: How Long Does It Take To Develop A Mobile App, What Is The Process?
In a competitive era where everyone spends most of their screen time on a mobile device having a mobile version of your product is an increasing necessity. This is a “must have” that no business should neglect.
So if you are unfamiliar with mobile application development and are considering digitizing your business, this article will help you to understand the process and help you optimize your time and costs more effectively.
How Long Does It Take To Create An App?
Each mobile application is unique, so it is difficult to determine the exact time to create an application. There are a few applications that can be completed in just 4 weeks, but not most. If the application is more complicated, it may take between 12 and 18 weeks. The time only really depends on the type of application as well as the experience of the development team and the development processes of the company that runs the project.
It’s important to understand that the cost of mobile apps will be proportional to the time it takes to develop them. It is a good idea to carefully understand the development process and stages as well as the time required for that type of application. After that, it will be easy to schedule an app launch. Here is a high level summary of the app development process we follow at Groove Technology:
The Discovery Phase – Establish Your Vision For The App (2-6 Weeks)
The purpose of the Discovery Phase is to understand your vision and tightly align ourselves with it. This involves working with you to understand your requirements, obtain a general understanding of your market, your users, your problem, and what is required to make your app successful in your market.
To kick off the process we will typically ask you to write a one or two page project brief describing your business domain, who your customers or target users are and what problems you solve for them, we will use this as a basis to begin discovery of your applications requirements.
The output of the Discovery Phase is a set of detailed Functional Specification Documents (FSD) which at a high level will contain:
- Users/User Roles: What are the different types of users who will use your app and what will each use your app
- User Stories: A list of functions/features your app must do for your users.
- Acceptance Criteria: A list of what will be implemented to satisfy each of the apps user stories.
- Wireframes: A rough idea of your apps layout, flow and how each screen will look, transition and navigated.
- Behaviour and States: How your app will behave under all possible conditions and what states will be used to handle each condition.
- Notifications: What notifications will be received by the app.
A iterative review and feedback process will follow the discovery and functional document process to ensure that your vision is tightly aligned with what we will deliver.
Design Sprint (2-3 Weeks)
Once we have established and understood your vision for your app from a functional point of view, we will then embark on designing the look and feel and user experience of your app.
You may already have an existing styleguide or branding guidelines that you would like applied to your app which we will work with, or we will design a styleguide for your app as the first step.
The style guide will contain your primary logo and logo variations as well as the colour palette and fonts to be applied to your app and your apps marketing material.
Not everyone is able to communicate their visual/design expectations as easily as they can functional requirements so as part of the style guide and app design process our designers will be asking you a set of succinct guided questions designed to help you establish and communicate your vision and to provide them with inspiration for your apps design.
With the style guide established our designers will then turn to designing the apps splash page (launch screen), navigation, screens and your apps user experience.
Like with the functional documents we will then go through an iterative review and feedback process to tightly align the design with your vision.
After the designs are completed, the designers will hand over everything to the developer. Do not forget! Application design time depends on the number of screens the application has, the number of devices (tablets or phones), and the complexity of the design.
Development Milestones (8-16 Weeks On Average)
Based on the functional requirements we will break down the development of your application into equal length milestones of around 4-6 weeks. By breaking the development effort into milestones we can periodically demonstrate to you what we have implemented at the end of each milestone to keep you involved in the development process and to maintain your confidence that we’re building the app towards your vision.
The development phase includes both backend and frontend implementation of your app, depending on the scope of your app, there will be backend, also referred to as server side requirements. The back end/server side of your application will be hosted in the cloud and will handle some centralized functions for your app such as,
- Data storage: storage of your apps data so that it can be accessed by multiple devices and or by multiple users.
- User management: APIs to authenticate users and store their personal data, manage passwords and registration and control permissions and subscriptions.
- Third party integrations: connecting your application to any number of third party systems and services for retrieving and distributing data related to your application and the third party service.
- Push notifications: The service that allows notifications to be sent to your apps users’ devices from the server.
- Business Logic: The logic that drives your application including any calculations, transformations and manipulation of data.
- Versioning: Helps developers to work on and deploye new versions and implement new features for your application without affecting existing versions.
While the backend/server side is what drives your app, the frontend is your application itself, the backend and frontend work will be coordinated carefully to take into account any dependencies between the two so that each team can work efficiently together without ever having to wait for the other to finish any part of what they’re doing so that they can continue with what they’re responsible for.
We develop our mobile applications using React Native which is a cross platform app development technology which allows us to develop your application once and deploy it to both Apple iPhone and Android devices. Traditionally native applications would have to be developed twice, once for each of iPhone and Android which incurs a much higher development and maintenance overhead. By leveraging React Native to develop your mobile application we are able to achieve the same result as traditional native app development with only about 60% of the work effort.
React Native is an open source mobile app development technology originally developed by Facebook, some notable apps that were also built using the React Native mobile app development technology are the Facebook app, the Instagram app, the Shopify app, the Skype app, the Pinterest app, the Uber Eats app, the Words With Friends app and thousands more applications many of which you probably use every day.
User Acceptance Testing/Uat (1-2 Weeks)
This is the final stage and critical to the process of the development of your application. User acceptance testing of your app give you the opportunity to test the app against the functional requirements and design you approved in the first two phases.
We will release the application to you and others nominated by you to perform UAT against a test version of your app.
Functions and features of the implemented app that have not met your functional or design expectations will be corrected at this stage in the application development process.
Application compatibility verification is a key part of the testing process. And together we will verify the performance and behavior of your app on an array of supported devices under an array of different conditions (network/no network, power saving modes, various permissions enabled/disabled).
Deployment To The App Store (1 Week)
After going through the steps of close inspection in the user acceptance test phase, it’s time for your application to be made available to your users. Your application will go through an additional review and verification process on each of the app stores following each app stores guidelines.
In the Apple App Store especially, your application needs to adhere to very strict guidelines if you want your app to appear there.
Apple App Store
The policies at Apple are very tight. Reviews of the app’s design, content, functionality, and, in particular, the security are rigorously tested by apples app reviewers. Apple wants to avoid filling their store with lots of buggy, low-quality apps that cannot guarantee their users safety, security and satisfaction.
There are a number of factors impacting the length of time Apple will take to approve your app, typically it’s within 1 to 2 days but when a new version of the iPhone or iOS is released longer review times can be expected due to the volume of apps updating and resubmitting to the app store to support the new versions. The complexity of your app can also affect application review times as well as the reviewer themselves as it’s a human process and no 2 reviewers are equal.
Google Play App Store
In Google Play is similar to the Apple App Store, they have strict quality guidelines, but they follow a different process that allows your app to be available immediately so that you can share the app download link, it will however take a few days until your application becomes searchable and discoverable through the Google Play search and category features.
Post-launch Support And Continuous Improvement
We will work with you to handle and plan continuous improvement, maintenance and enhancement of your application as additional phases of work which at a high level will follow the same process as outlined in the above sections.
Shorten The Application Development Time? Is It Okay?
By leveraging the React Native Mobile Application development technology to develop your app across platforms we are able to drastically reduce the development and maintenance time for your app by up to 40%.
If you are working to a tighter deadline than our development timeline can achieve for the features and functions, we have established for your application we can work with you to descope some features and push them into a later phase of the apps development to allow you to get your minimal viable product (MVP), your most important app features into the hands of your apps users as soon as possible.
In Short, How Long Does It Take To Build An App?
The answer is: It depends on many factors.
Simple applications will take about 2 months increasing with complexity up to 5-7 months for very complicated and feature filled applications.