Do’s and don’ts of iOS mobile app development

11 min read
June 20, 2023

Which is easier to develop—iOS or Android?

It’s a debate that has endured for quite some time.

Many say iOS wins thanks to its easy-to-use programming language, Swift, which is a tight ecosystem that minimizes device fragmentation, and many helpful tools.

And while that’s true in some cases, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a great app.

A successful app results from applying the right strategies and avoiding harmful ones.

In this article, we’ll cover a few you should watch out for.

Table of Contents

The do’s

Let’s first talk about the do’s, or the best practices you must consider when developing iOS apps.

Planning out the mobile app

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

These wise words from Benjamin Franklin ring true, especially with app development.

Planning is crucial for mobile app development. It ensures you have a clear direction for what you want your app to be and how you’ll make it happen.

It also helps you prepare for any hiccups you’ll inevitably encounter during development.

Without a proper plan, chances are that you’ll go beyond your set budget and timeline. The worst case is that your app doesn’t see the light of day at all.

When planning for a mobile app, you must first familiarize yourself with the technologies and tools used for iOS development.

This includes the programming languages (Swift and Objective-C), integrated development environment (XCode), and frameworks (such as CocoaPods or Alamofire).

iOS app development tools and languages

Source: Blockchain Simplified

It’s like a painter getting to know his paintbrushes more intimately or a chef studying his ingredients in-depth.

It lets you know the capabilities and limitations of your tools so that you can maximize them during development.

Once you know your iOS tools inside-out, the next is to plan the app itself.

Start by identifying the purpose of your app. What big problem is it supposed to solve, and how will it do so better than other apps? Will it use a unique algorithm or capability?

Having a clear purpose lets you plan the exact features you should include.

For instance, if you want to create a ride-hailing app, it should have minimum functionality, like an interactive map and automatic routing.

It’s also best to prioritize these features based on which will contribute best to the app’s overall vision.

You can use several feature prioritization methods to help you, like the MoSCoW matrix or the Kano model shown below:

Kano prioritization model

Source: Timeular

Also, don’t forget to plan what the app will look like. Not only is this important aesthetically, but it also helps you plan your app’s user experience (UX).

When you have all the details ironed out, the last step is to create an app development roadmap. Here, you’ll lay out all the development phases and their corresponding timeframes.

mobile app development roadmap plan

Source: Slideteam

Regardless of how you do it, you should never skip planning. It increases your chances of success considerably in a world where as much as 99.5% of apps fail.

Prioritizing the user experience

Apple is well-known for having products that delight users and deliver a fantastic experience. As such, it expects that all iOS apps also follow this standard.

There’s a very good reason for this, though. Good user experience (UX) can help keep people engaged with your app.

Even the most innovative apps would fail without a good UX because it would be too frustrating to use.

Here are some other benefits of good UX to consider:

benefits of UX design

Source: Croco Block

The key to good UX is simplicity. An interface with intuitive navigation and only the crucial visual elements can help reduce cognitive load.

This happens when users are overwhelmed with too much information, which could lead them to abandon your app.

Luckily, achieving good UX can be easy in iOS development because Apple has taken much of the guesswork, thanks to its Human Interface Guidelines.

The Human Interface Guideline is a collection of guides, tips, and best practices for achieving good UX in Apple’s platforms.

It covers every aspect of app design, from navigation layouts to the recommended sizes of buttons.

app design button sizes

Source: Apple

When it comes to UX, small details matter.

For example, your app’s copy—or the words used in-app—might seem trivial, but they profoundly affect UX.

Using simple, straightforward, and friendly language can help make users feel welcome.

Be especially wary of technical speak that, while accurate, will only confuse users.

Example below:

good vs. bad UX writing

Source: Usability Geek

You should also be wary of sending the right amount of notifications. Too little, and you risk the user disengaging with your app. But overdo it, and you’ll most likely annoy your users.

The sweet spot seems to be around one notification per day, especially when users are still new and adjusting to your app.

But these tips are just scratching the surface. If you’d like to learn more about UX design, head to our article here.

Partnering with an agency

Partnering with a reputable development agency is one of the best approaches to creating a successful iOS app.

The fact is that app development is hard.

You have to consider multiple challenges, from picking the right tech stack to hiring the right talent for your team.

And if you don’t have experience with these tasks, there’s a chance you’ll commit a costly mistake.

But when you partner with an app development agency, you can leverage their experience and skills to help mitigate some of these risks.

Thus, developing a high-quality iOS mobile app is possible while saving time and money—even if you haven’t done it before.

The key, however, is to pick the right agency. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

First, you must be clear with the agency’s scope—or the tasks they must do and the direction they should follow.

If you already made an app plan, as we suggested earlier, then you’re halfway there.

All you need to do is to break down that plan into individual work packages, which you can assign to the agency.

work packages

Source: Wrike

The next step is to browse potential agencies on sites like Clutch and Glassdoor. Be sure to check the reviews, portfolios, case studies, and testimonials of each.

Were past clients happy with the work they produced? Is their experience matched with your particular niche?

Once you’ve shortlisted a few agencies, the next step is to explore their work processes and philosophies and see if they match yours.

At this point, it helps to define the criteria for selecting your preferred agency.

Here are a few to get you started:

software agency outsourcing criteria

Source: DECODE

The two most important here are arguably expertise and experience. After all, without these two, the app will fail.

For example, DECODE has plenty of experience developing iOS mobile apps, evidenced by the dozens of successful projects we’ve finished over the years.

We also have 10+ years of experience complying with Apple’s guidelines. In fact, we’ve been developing iOS apps ever since the first iPhones came out!

But whether you pick us or not, it’s important that you be picky with the agency you partner with. Your app’s success depends on it.

The don’ts

Now that we’ve discussed a few best practices, let’s delve into some things you should avoid.

Skipping over market research

Research is arguably the most important part of app development, yet many people gloss over it. Indeed, lack of research is the top reason apps fail.

most common reasons for app failure

Source: The Web App Market

The thing is, how can you create an app that solves your users’ problems if you don’t know what those problems are?

Many developers skip over this part, reasoning that they already have a good idea of what the market wants.

Unfortunately, guesswork and intuition can only get you so far. The only way to get 100% accurate insights is to ask your market directly.

Market research is required to validate your app idea and confirm product-market fit.

You should start this process by asking the right questions. Here are a few you can start with:

market research questions

Source: DECODE

The answer to these questions will let you determine your customers’ needs and pain points. That would help you tailor-fit an app experience that tackles them effectively.

The way to get these answers is by talking with people from your market through methods like questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions.

You can also supplement these with secondary research by searching on Google, reading research papers, or analyzing user behavior on social media.

Your goal should have a complete snapshot of your market’s demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information—like the one below:

market segmentation

Source: Venngage

Aside from your end users, evaluating your competitors is also vital.

Looking at existing apps allows you to look at their strengths (so that your own product can improve on them) and weaknesses (so you can avoid them).

You should also read user reviews on these apps to spot opportunities that no one else is doing yet.

Putting no effort into marketing

Many clients make the mistake of launching an app without any plan to market it. Unfortunately, this will most likely end in failure.

The thing is, competition in the Apple App Store is getting fiercer each day. There are more than 1.96 million apps currently hosted there, all vying for your users’ money and attention.

If you don’t have a plan to promote your app, fewer users will know about and use it.

Fortunately, Apple provides several tools that can simplify the marketing task.

For instance, you can use embeddable code that links directly to your app store page. You can use these in your marketing channels like email or social media.

Developers can also utilize paid ads to further extend the reach of their app marketing campaigns.

iOS app marketing

Source: Apple

You should also focus on app store optimization (ASO). These techniques and best practices make your app more visible to the right people.

One fundamental strategy is keyword optimization, or using keywords strategically to include your app in relevant searches.

For example, if you have a dieting app, you can include keywords like “losing weight” or “healthy”, so that your app will appear when people search using these words.

Finding the right keywords is essential but can be challenging. Tools like AppFollow can help immensely.

AppFollow keyword research

Source: AppFollow

You should also take time to optimize your app store page, as it’s essential for attracting people to actually download your app.

Techniques include writing a compelling description, using plenty of photos and videos, and highlighting good reviews.

Of course, these techniques just scratch the surface of app marketing. There are hundreds of other tools, channels, and methods that you can use.

For more marketing strategies, check out our article here.

Not taking security seriously

Apple is well-known for having a secure ecosystem that isn’t easily susceptible to hacks and viruses.

This puts developers into a false sense of complacency, making them relax on app security.

This is a recipe for disaster.

iOS has strong app security, but it isn’t invincible. It has been the subject of various data breaches in the past, recently on its iMessage app.

iPhone app security

Source: NBC

Though Apple makes security easier by providing basic measures by default.

For instance, Apple uses Security Enclave that implements security into the hardware itself. This helps reduce the attack surface of software-based hacks.

But you can improve on this further by adopting a few best practices.

For instance, you should use secure code practices to help minimize vulnerabilities due to improper coding, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

Data protection through encryption is also vital.

More critically, it’s not enough to secure just the app itself. You also need to consider the security of your entire infrastructure because they also present attractive targets for hackers.

app security

Source: DECODE

The fact is that security is your sole responsibility as the app developer and owner. So you shouldn’t just rely on Apple to do it for you.


There are plenty of factors, obstacles, and challenges that shape the iOS mobile development process.

However, following the do’s and avoiding the don’ts listed in this article will give you a better chance of success.

Of course, these just scratch the surface. There are plenty more best practices and pitfalls that you need to look out for.

And if you need help tackling these, the DECODE team is more than up for the task!

Simply schedule a consultation session with us, and let’s talk about your next project.

Written by

Toni Vujevic

React Native Team Lead

Skilled in React Native, iOS and backend, Toni has a demonstrated knowledge of the information technology and services industry, with plenty of hands-on experience to back it up. He’s also an experienced Cloud engineer in Amazon Web Services (AWS), passionate about leveraging cloud technologies to improve the agility and efficiency of businesses. One of Toni’s most special traits is his talent for online shopping. In fact, our delivery guy is convinced that ‘Toni Vujević’ is a pseudonym for all DECODErs.

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