When people think of app development, coding is the first thing that comes to mind.
But in reality, that’s just one aspect of app development. There are plenty of other tasks and activities that are just as critical—if not more.
Thus, when you’re searching for a potential app development agency, versatility is the name of the game.
They should be competent in a wide range of app development skills to tackle every challenge you’ll encounter.
Here are some top services you must expect from a top-notch app development agency.
Product discovery is the process of validating and refining an app idea to give it the best chance of success when launched. For this reason, it’s the most critical stage of app development.
For one, product discovery can prevent you from making a costly mistake.
You gauge if your idea is flawed and save yourself from spending thousands of dollars developing something that will become a failure.
It also lets you understand your users. A big part of product discovery is conducting market research, which lets you gather demographic and psychographic data.
This gives you more insights to tailor-fit the app experience to their preferences and behaviors.
Product discovery also helps you improve your efficiency. It will help you prioritize the exact features and requirements your app needs while eliminating the unnecessary ones.
Thus, you can focus your time, money, and effort only on the tasks that have the biggest impact on your app’s success.
The product discovery timeline varies, but it typically takes four to ten weeks to complete and involves a multi-stage process.
For example, here’s
DECODE’s 4-step product discovery approach:
At the end of the product discovery phase, you should have clear requirements for your project, including the scope, budget, and roadmap.
You should also have a list of all the core features necessary for your app’s vision.
These pieces of data are invaluable when putting together a software requirements specification, which will become the blueprint during development.
Since product discovery is the foundation for your app’s success, it’s critical to get a skilled, experienced agency to do it for you.
Ideally, the agency should boast years of specialized experience in product discovery.
Remember, when your product discovery is flawed, your app will be too—so don’t skip this process.
Product design is a critical service as it’s required to create an excellent app experience. If you can’t deliver this, then your app will most likely fail, no matter how innovative or powerful it is.
Indeed, statistics back this up:
Product design aims to create a smooth, intuitive, and enjoyable app experience that users will look forward to. This might be a simple objective, but achieving it is surprisingly complex.
Here are some activities involved in product design.
UI and UX design
The initial step in product design is to conceptualize and create the user interface (UI).
It’s critical to note that all UI/UX design decisions should be based on market research and user personas gathered during product discovery.
That way, the app design will fit well with the market’s needs and preferences.
The UI/UX design phase kicks off with the
A wireframe is essentially a rough sketch of your app. It uses simple shapes like squares and circles to represent the various UI elements, often without color or artwork.
Text is used to label components for clarity. And In most cases, the navigation flow is also depicted using arrows, like so:
The goal of a wireframe is to visualize your app design as quickly as possible (hence its simplicity), so it can be shown around and get feedback.
We then incorporate that feedback into the next wireframe version, improving the UI design with each iteration.
Once we have a layout we’re happy with, we flesh out more of the details. We might add colors, logos, artwork, and properly rendered UI elements at this stage.
This more detailed sketch is called a
A mockup is a more accurate depiction of what the final app would look like. In fact, it should look like a screenshot of the final product.
Like the wireframe, the mockup also goes through a series of reviews with the client, gathering feedback and iterating it.
This process results in the final design assets that are handed off to the developers.
However, in many cases, an additional step is done—
A prototype is an interactive version of your app used primarily to test the design and visual elements.
It also helps you determine if the sequence of steps from point A to B in your app makes sense from the user’s point of view.
It’s created by taking the mockup, then coding the UI elements like buttons to icons to react when clicked.
in a prototype, everything is just simulated. There’s really no code running underneath the UI that processes the app logic.
For instance, in the prototype from the
Marvel app, shown below, the user isn’t actually chatting with a live person.
That conversation is scripted—the user clicks on the Send button, and pre-written messages will appear to simulate a real chat.
A mere simulation is sufficient for a prototype because it only tests the layout and navigation flow of the app.
That also makes it a relatively cheap and fast way to test your app, short of creating an MVP (
minimum viable product).
Prototypes are especially useful for user testing, another crucial aspect of product design.
User testing involves getting real product users to evaluate your app design, usually through a prototype.
The goal is to improve the app design’s user-friendliness and ease of use through accurate feedback from end users.
User testing starts by getting testers that are part of your target market or at least share the same persona.
This step is critical, as selecting the wrong users will not result in accurate insights.
Testers are then asked to perform a series of tasks designed to evaluate specific aspects of your UI.
For instance, testers may be asked to check out an item from an e-commerce store, so UI designers can check how smooth the process was from a UX perspective.
User testing is almost always moderated by a facilitator. Their job is to guide the testers through the tasks properly without influencing their decisions or behavior.
Sometimes, the facilitator will also ask the testers questions while they’re performing a task.
For instance, if they tried checking out an item, the facilitator might ask if they encountered problems or if the steps were too tedious.
These insights can then be used to refine the product design further.
In cases when major flaws are discovered, the UI designer might make changes and conduct user testing again until testers are happy with the result.
Software engineering involves developing, testing, and launching the app to end users. In other words, this is the part of the process where your idea comes to life.
In terms of the entire app lifecycle, this stage comes right after product design. Once the UI/UX team has the final app design, they hand that off to the developers for implementation.
Here’s DECODE’s process for reference.
As you can see, software engineering takes the biggest chunk of the development process—roughly 12 to 24 weeks.
That’s because this is where most hiccups happen, and technical problems surface.
Thus, picking a reliable and highly-skilled provider is crucial if you want to make development as smooth as possible.
Here are the key software engineering services you’ll need.
This is the main event in app development, where the software is actually coded.
Sounds straightforward. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
For instance, different teams have different methodologies—or how they develop the app. This impacts the development timeline and even the quality of the results.
DECODE uses the
Agile methodology, an approach where development is divided into shorter periods called sprints.
Each sprint is like a mini-development that contains all the phases of the full development lifecycle, from planning to testing.
Another thing is that each project would require a different tech stack—the tools and technologies required for development.
Deciding on the tech stack will depend on several considerations.
One is the operating system—whether iOS, Android, or cross-platform. For example, iOS requires Swift or Objective-C, while Android is primarily Java or Kotlin.
On the other hand, React Native is popular for cross-platform app development.
You might also need specialized technologies for specific use cases.
Solidity is a programming language designed to create smart contracts and decentralized apps. This is useful if you plan to create a blockchain-based project.
Mostly, apps use a client-service architecture.
Here, the app you install on your device (called the front-end) is just a shell that contains the UI and basic functions.
Most of the application logic is instead processed on a web server called the back-end. These two components then communicate via an API (application programming interface).
The front-end and back-end code would be written simultaneously during development, then integrated later.
Quality assurance (QA) is one of the most critical services for ensuring the stability of your app. In a nutshell, it ensures that your app launches with as few bugs as possible.
Ideally, quality assurance should happen alongside app development and not just after coding is complete.
This ensures small mistakes are detected and fixed as early as possible while they’re still cheap to revise.
QA is accomplished with a mix of automated and manual testing.
In manual testing, the QA team prepares test cases—the inputs, conditions, and actions used to evaluate a specific feature or module.
Here’s an example test case for an app login page:
The tester would then record the results of their actions and see if they matched the expected output.
Manual testing is effective, but it’s also time-consuming. Hence, in some cases, it’s preferable to automate the process.
In automated testing, testers feed the test script to software, which executes the action and observes the outcome on their behalf.
The benefit here is that the automated tester can evaluate test scripts rapidly, allowing you to evaluate the software more thoroughly in a shorter period.
It’s also more accurate as it eliminates human error.
Here are some other factors where automated testing wins over manual testing:
However, there are some things automated testing can’t tackle. For instance, it can’t be used for subjective tests like usability testing because they require judgment only a human can give.
Thus, the best quality assurance service uses both of them.
Need any of these services?
Whether you need product discovery or app development services, DECODE is one of the best options.
We have years of experience and an impressive track record of successful projects to boot.
For instance, we’ve been coding advanced Android apps since 2012, so we really know the platform inside out.
So why not
check a list of our services or contact us for more details? We’ll be happy to help with your next project!