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How to Plan a Mobile App Development Successfully

Alekh Verma | February 27, 2023
How to Plan a Mobile App Development Successfully

Every business endeavors to create a mobile app that gets millions of downloads in a short span of time. Famous apps like TikTok, FaceApp, SnapChat, got a massive success with a huge number of downloads across all platforms. But the question arises how to plan such mobile app development that succeeds impressively like what we have seen in 2020.

Many companies believe creating an app is more important than how it is being created. But in reality, the market gamut is totally different. Strong research and planning before development decide the success of your app.

Knowing how to plan your mobile app development can enhance the chances of completing the project on time within budget while meeting your app specifications.

Here in this Blog, we are going to tell you comprehensively about how to plan mobile app development successfully.

Whether you are a B2C company wiling to boost customer reach through mobile app, or B2B company planning to improve operational effectiveness, to make your mobile app fully successful, you need to plan mobile app development in advance so you can avoid common mistakes and don’t spend your valuable resource on something you don’t need.

Our mobile app development planning will not only help you create a great app but also guide you avoid the most industry’s common mistakes that business owners make.

Table of Contents

1. Define Your App Concept
1.1 Ideation
1.2 Do Competitive Analysis
1.3 Define Your Target Audience
1.4 How Will You Monetize Your App
1.5 Create an App Flowchart
1.6 Plan Your Marketing Strategy

2. How Will Be UX Design for Your App
2.1 Define Information Architecture
2.2 Choose Wireframing of App
2.3 Plan for Clickable Prototype

3. How Will Be UI Design for Your App
3.1 Create Style Guides
3.2 Choose Rendered Design

4. Decide Technology Stack for Your App Development
4.1 What Type of App You will Choose: Native app or Hybrid app?
4.2 Choose a Programming Language
4.3 Select Database and Data Structures
4.4 Choose Hosting

5. Deployment Planning

6. Plan App Store Optimization

7. App Testing Planning

8. App Monitoring Planning

9. Plan App Security Measures

10. Plan Resource Management

11. Final words

Let's get started

Before we start our discussion on planning, take a closer look on the most common mistakes that business organizations make while developing mobile apps:

  • Developing a mobile app when there is no need.
  • Not doing strong research.
  • Setting an unrealistic budget.
  • Having too many functionalities and features.
  • Not creating a cross-platform strategy.
  • Focusing too much on the outlook of the app while ignoring customer's requirements.
  • Failing to set a marketing strategy.
  • Copying competitor's app.

This gives you an idea of how thoughtful planning can save your money during app development.

1. Define Your App Concept


1.1 Ideation

You often hear people throw around the saying “Ideas are worthless, it's all about implementation". Well, this could sound logical but what if the ideas that you have implemented was not well-planned. Will it still give the same result even after its execution? Absolutely not! Therefore, businesses need great planning before they are going to execute their ideas.

The first stage comes in mobile app development planning is to define your mobile app concept. It might be possible your app that seems best on paper may turn out to be worst in practice. Especially when you forget to analyze how your app is going to help the users.

Hence, before you move ahead to implement your idea, you must answer the following questions:

  1. How will your app solve a real challenge that someone is encountering?
  2. Who are the stakeholders that will take advantage of using your app?
  3. How is your mobile app going to make your customers’ or users’ lives easier?
  4. What are the goals of your app?
  5. What do you want to achieve by developing the app?
  6. How will it engage users?
  7. What will be the core features of the app?
  8. Will your target audience find the app useful?

Define your app's core concept and key functionalities before you start development. Doing so will help you keep focus throughout the project and will save you from making expensive mistakes. Take as much time as you need, but make sure you define the above questions.

1.2 Do Competitive Analysis

"Anytime you find someone more successful than you are especially in a competition- you know they are doing something that you aren't." - Malcolm X

Let's assume you get on the Google Play Store and choose travel & local category. You will certainly find countless options there. This is the fact that will apply similarly to your app no matter what category you end up with choosing.

Today, there are thousands of mobile apps serving similar purposes. This is where you need to do a competitive analysis before you kick off the project.

So, how to conduct a competitive analysis for app?

Step 1: Define your unique value proposition.

Step 2: Study the competition.

Step 3: Develop a competitive analysis matrix for the app.

Step 4: Access your competitor's digital strategy.

Step 5: Study your competitor's app store ratings, reviews, and ranking.

Step 6: Conduct target audience need analysis.

Step 7: Research the app industry.

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1.3 Define Your Target Audience

You don't want to just throw your app on the app store in a particular category and praying for everything else to work out. To make it better, you must define certain metrics of your target audience that include:

Quantitative Metrics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Language
  • Marital Status

Psychological Metrics:

  • Interest
  • Profession
  • Habits
  • Personality

On the other side of the same road, you should research on what are the technologies your customers are using, what platforms (Android/OS) they mostly use, what app features they prefer, etc., that include:

Technical Metrics:

  • OS Platform
  • Mobile device
  • App Performance
  • App Size

1.4 How Will You Monetize Your App

Now comes the main topic, how will you make money through the app? As you have fixed what demographics you will choose for defining target audience, it's time to figure out how you will inspire them to spend their money on your app.

Your app may play different roles in the business pipeline. Whether you want the app generate revenue directly, serving as a useful resource for your customers, or indirectly helping your sales funnel while increasing your customer reach. You need to decide the app monetization models that you are going to use:

Free Apps: These types of apps are free to download, but some features and content are restricted which can only be accessed after a purchase.

Premium (Paid) apps: Users need to purchase the app from a particular app store (Google Play Store/Apple App Store) to use it. Such premium apps add superior value compared to free apps.

In-app purchases: This is M-commerce based model that is used to sell any digital or physical products or services.

Subscriptions: This is similar to free apps but involves a recurring stream of revenue.

In-app ads: One of the simplest models, these apps have no cost barrier for the user. But make sure you never sacrifice user experience in order to increase more ad space as you will have sufficient advertising space.

Sponsorships: This model generally becomes feasible when you have established a solid user base. Such apps allow you to partner with other brands and advertisers. This type of app considered the most successful app in the market.

1.5 Create an App Flowchart

Visualization is a powerful method to analyze the overall flow of app development process. By creating an app flowchart, you can draft a simple, readable, and concise presentation of what your app will be doing and how your team is going to make it possible.

A good app flowchart includes:

  • App's concept, workflow, and functionality
  • App development budget
  • Deadlines
  • Steps of the development process
  • Technology stack
  • Team members and stakeholders

To make the flowchart more effective, you should draw out all the screen-by-screen navigation of the app to enhance project clarity. This will give your team high clarity to map out and define all the routes that users will be able to take within your app.

1.6 Plan Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing is critical for the success of your app. A common misconception is that it's too early to market your app before its development because it distracts.

But this isn't true. In fact, you should plan your app marketing a long before its development. Why? Let’s learn from HubSpot.

HubSpot had created a landing page for its CMS software. They marketed this system in advance by taking people’s feedback and review such as what type of CMS they would love to work with? And they asked for the subscriptions of the upcoming product which was not even ready before its launch.

So, what made the difference here?

As a result, people got to know there is some kind of new CMS is coming that will contain the features they expect.

In this way, HubSpot succeeded. Similarly, creating an early marketing plan for your app is essential so that you can make users excited for your app's launch and get their feedback to test your app concept and be assured before you enter the competition.

If you do this properly, you will end up with a great community of loyal early customers who can do word-of-mouth marketing for your app.

To make it happen, you need to focus on web presence, PR, and branding while making sure your marketing plan includes the following key aspects.

App Branding Strategy: It includes the app’s name, logo, scheme, and branding tone. Try to set yourself apart from the competition to attract the target audience.

Communication Channels: Determine through which channels you will reach your target users, what type of content they mostly interact with? What mobile device they use? What is the easiest way to reach them?

Content Creation: Once you know what type of content your users mostly like, for example, let's take video. Start creating more videos and share the content as early as possible.

Outreach: Reach out to your industry's influencers. If you deliver value in exchange for their help, you can build a long business relationship with them and they can help you promote your app extensively.

2. How Will Be UX Design for Your App

You might be asking the app developer or agency: ‘So, when I am going to see some screens? I really like navy blue for the primary color’.

And the developer or the agency will be replying to you like: ‘Hmm.. You can check our clients’ feedback on our UX Design’.

Such an answer may sound insipid, but this is what you usually face while developing a mobile app through an app development agency or a developer.

Even the most visually attractive app can fail to perform well on mobile device if it lacks usability and found not personalized.

Your users want to open your app quickly and feel like you already know everything - what actions to perform, where to click next, how to skip a particular place, etc. Today’s users are notorious for their impatience and switching to another app.

How to make sure this doesn't happen to your potential users. The answer is UX.

UX design is a dynamic process. With continuous updates, you will require to monitor the way people will be using your app. If an update makes the accessibility of your app a bit complex, this is the right time to review your step.

2.1 Define Information Architecture

Information Architecture is about how all the content will be structured to maximize accessibility and ease of use. This phase plays an important role to decide the user journey. In this case, you need to fix what features will help users go through the journey as well as the overall functionality of your app.

2.2 Choose Wireframing of App

A wireframe is a page schematic or a visual guide that shows the skeletal outline of your mobile app. With a wireframe, it would be easy to explain the concept of your app to the developer team, and it will give reasonable expectations from the beginning of app development process.

There are some useful wireframing tools that can help you:

  • Adobe XD
  • Omnigraffle
  • Axure
  • Cacoo

2.3 Plan for Clickable Prototype

The purpose of planning mobile app development is to prevent you from the expenditure on undesired results. Therefore, testing your UX is essential before you submit the specifications to the developer team.

UX is among the critical aspects you need to make sure that it works well. To do this, you can utilize various online tools such as InVision, Sketch, and Figma that allow you to test your prototype. That's awesome, right? Your app, however, doesn't have any functionality at this stage but that's okay because ultimately it will help you detect flaws in your app.

3. How Will Be UI Design for Your App

Don't get confused with UX and UI, both sometimes overlap each other, however, they have different functions. UX is about improving the entire user experience related to the company’s products & services, whereas UI works on the external look of app. In short, UI is a subset of UX.

Market statistics say that 94% of the first impression of a mobile app is influenced by its design. So, it is clear that UI plays a big role in the overall quality of your app.

3.1 Create Style Guides

Have you ever seen any app that uses 20 fonts, 10 different button colors, 5 different gradients? Of course, you would say, No!

This is because you know style guides are the backbone of an app's interface. You need to decide what style guide you will be using in your mobile app. This is a collection of fonts, icons, elements, and colors that you will be choosing while building the UI. You can research at your own or consult the developers as well for this.

3.2 Choose Rendered Design

Just like UX prototyping, UI prototyping is also important. You should check the feasibility of your style guide that you will choose. And you should be flexible to make the changes if requires at any stage.

4. Decide Technology Stack for App Development

You have drafted so much part of app development plan. Now, it's time to define the technical aspects of your app. As this is the major part of mobile app development, you need to plan wisely because you are not a technology expert.

Some features may appear simple on paper, but in reality, they require a considerably long development process or consumes huge number of resources. This can increase directly or indirectly your app development cost and its maintenance.

Sometimes, it seems to use a simpler solution instead, and sometimes you may find no way around this, so it becomes important that you are aware of the cost and risk ahead of time.

And to do this

Front end Development -

4.1 What Type of App You will Choose: Native app or Hybrid app?

Native App

If you want to build an app for a specific mobile platform- Android, iOS, Windows, or Blackberry, you can go with Native apps. Native app uses a separate codebase for each OS platform. Therefore, it leverages the device's hardware and software function to a greater extent. Native apps are known for providing high user experience.

You need to choose the framework that you will be using or used by the developer team that fits your budget and project cycle.

Frameworks that you can select for building Native Apps:

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid app uses a single codebase for all OS platforms. Therefore, it is compatible and dynamic in nature all across the devices. However, Hybrid apps won't give you great advantage like Native apps when it comes to providing user experience.

Choose what frameworks you will add to your technology stack if you decide to build Hybrid apps.

  • Ionic
  • PhoneGap
  • jQuery Mobile
  • Corona SDK

Backend Development

Your front-end part is ready, now you need a database in a server on the back end to store the information and control its management. In this step, you need to create a server that effectively communicates with the front end. So, you should choose strong back-end development frameworks that can meet your user's expectations and future prospects.

4.2 Choose a programming language

To build your app's API, you need to select among the commonly used programming languages which are C#, Java, Python, PHP, .NET, etc. However, you will not have to put extra effort on choosing them as most of the current frameworks come with extensive docs that ease your programming.

4.3 Select Database and Data Structures

Choose what platforms you will include in your technology stack for database management:

  • MySQL
  • MongoDB
  • PostgreSQL

4.4 Choose Hosting

Decide how and where to host your API according to your budget and app performance. You can also opt for cloud-based solutions that can scale up and down as per your user base. They can also help with server uptime, operating system updates and backups.

5. Deployment Planning

We are now ready to deploy the app. Your app is like an artificial sales agent that will drive marketing leads for your company’s product or services. Therefore, how will you deploy your app matters significantly to draft a successful app development planning. Here are some app deployment best practices that you can use for your app release.

Release Cycle: Plan a well-defined release cycle in advance to fix flawless deployment of your mobile app.

Developer Certifications: Make sure developer certificates are up to date before you deploy the app to any commercial app store.

Automation: You can also use some automation tools that can save your time by configuration and provision as per the policies and profiles.

Web API (Server): A server is needed for mobile apps to work. Choose a properly configured server that can meet the user base.

6. Plan App Store Optimization

Why people get attracted to a showroom? It's not only because there are good products, but the products are presented well. Similarly, app store is a kind of showroom where your app should be presented nicely to motivate new users to download your app.

Whether you are launching your app on Google Play Store, Apple App Store or Windows, you must plan app store optimization strategy to ensure your app gets discovered and tapped by users.

You should be familiar with the app submission process and guidelines. Google Play like Apple has its own app submission and review process. You will have to provide some app info as below:

App Name: It should be unique and easy to spell fitting within the length limit (30 characters for Android, 50 characters for iOS)

Screenshots: Ensure to use all five screenshots to highlight the inside benefits.

Description: Don't try to be long, make it concise, and convey clearly the key points by using bullet list and call-to-action words.

Preview Video: Make it short and should go straight to the point with a clean and universal message.

7. App Testing Planning

From conceptualization to creation, we have planned a lot of things to make your app fully functional. But development isn't enough to make sure the success. Testing the app is highly required to find and rectify any technical flaws that can harm after its launch. So, planning how will you assure your app testing is as important as its development. Let's look at the standard testing cases:

Functional Testing: This test is conducted to make sure that your app does what exactly it is designed for. The QA team will need to prepare a test case to check the app's features are working as described in the project plan.

Performance Testing: This test is important to check how efficiently the components operate under stress. It basically tells how fast your app loads and responds. If you find your app performance is low, you can go back in the process and improve it.

Device-Specific Testing: With many operating systems out there, it becomes crucial to ascertain the accurate functioning of the app in all mobile platforms. You should try out multiple screen sizes and OS versions in testing your app.

Usability Test (UT) and User Acceptance Testing (UAT): It may sound the same, but they are distinct in process. With UT, the QA team will ensure that your app's features meet the functional needs. On other side, UAT will ensure that features are matching the requirement from the end user's expectation.

8. App Monitoring Planning

Now we have reached our final stage of mobile app development planning. After launching your app, your work doesn't end up here but starts indeed. You need a monitoring plan to keep your eyes on the app's flow and its success pattern. Monitoring the app will help you analyze the app performance properly and allow you the right time to make any changes if requires.

Key elements to monitor:

1. Start Time and Resume Time:

You must gauge both launching and resume time of your app because it usually takes longer for the app to startup than resuming while running in the background.

2. Crashes

App can crash. Therefore, you should know the user actions that result in crashes like what type of device was used and other technical glitches. Having pre-planned knowledge will help your app work properly and prevent it from unexpected events.

3. App Analytics

Analytics is the source of all information you need to improve app performance and make it successful. You need to set certain metrics by which you will measure your app's success. It is detrimental to watch your app grow and make assumptions about the app's performance.

You can also learn some really useful metrics and valuable insights like which buttons are tapped most on the screen. Having knowledge on how to use app analytics will help you understand deeply where to invest future endeavours.

You should implement examined analytics in your app to determine KPIs. If you are still not sure what should be measured, following mobile app metrics can help you in this.

  • Retention Rate
  • Churn Rate
  • Daily Active Users (DAU)
  • Monthly Active Users (MAU)
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • Average Revenue Per User & Average Revenue Per Paying User
  • Return-on-Investment (ROI)
  • App downloads
  • Average visit time
  • App ratings
  • App store reviews
  • App abandonment rate

4. Battery Consumption

If your app drains the battery life too quickly, it will for sure frustrate the user's mood. Therefore, you should consider the factors that cause battery drainage. Research how you can deploy best practices and essential elements to keep the power consumption of your app at minimal level so that your user remains satisfied otherwise they won't take much time to uninstall your app.

5. Mobile Data Consumption

Apart from power consumption, another important factor that most app owners ignore is that how much your app consumes cellular data. This aspect highly affects your app usage. There are many countries in the world where data consumption rate is low and costly. Therefore, you need to figure out what user actions consume the most data.

9. Plan App Security Measures

And finally, security is the foremost priority that is highly needed in today's growing cyber-attacks. You should make sure that network traffic between the app and the server is encrypted and incorporate authorization and user authentication while taking sensitive information.

You should study data privacy policy of different countries like GDPR of the European Union. Prepare a privacy policy in case if your app will collect any sensitive data from users. You can either consult an app development agency or a legal counsel for this.

10. Plan Resource Management

You want to announce your app launch date ahead to create the buzz around and make people excited for it. Well, it sounds amazing, but to make this happen, you must plan your resource management. Your project plan should be flexible to accommodate the changes that might occur during development. Make sure you have the resource to manage not only the entire app development cost but also:

  • Hosting provider fee
  • Licensing fee
  • Monitoring
  • Maintenance
  • User feedback
  • Enabling updates
  • Crash logs

Generally, it takes between 6 to 12 months to develop and deploy a fully functional mobile app. So, is your project plan adjustable if development time exceeds the deadline?

Moreover, you may need to update your app in the future with the latest version of the framework and switch from unsupported versions of various solutions to newer ones. All of these are crucial for keeping your app consistent time-to-time to meet with the current practices.

Drafting the resource management will help you manage unexpected challenges and prevent emergencies and unnecessary delays and as a result, it will keep your app always attractive to users.

11. Final Words

Congrats! You have finished your mobile app development planning. We know you have gone through massive information on how to plan mobile app development.

But once you plan to follow these preparations steps, you will be ready to dive into app development without any confusion or mistake and eventually develop a stellar app.

Remember, all it takes is just a few seconds for users to give your app 0-star rating or 5-star rating. Only well-researched development planning can make your app a superstar.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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