7 Fundamental App Development Principles You Need To Know

Jerry Wallis
17 min read
Team discussing app development issues

Developing an app that delivers the intended value is far from a simple process, and many factors need to be considered to ensure that the app you built is successful. From ideation to launch, many fundamental steps in the overall app development process must be carefully trodden to ensure the end product is of the highest quality.

It’s safe to say that apps have become a modern digital phenomenon and are taking the world by storm. As a result, more and more businesses are using apps to augment their digital assets and provide a more catered customer experience guided by better performance and data retrieval than a website. 

According to a recent analysis by Statista, the revenue of mobile apps worldwide is expected to grow to over US $613 Billion by 2025. This rapid growth is forcing businesses to prioritise the need for a mobile app. In addition, they are starting to see that more than just a website is needed from a competitive and customer satisfaction standpoint.

That said, building a great app is something you can only do with proper planning and execution strategies. Moreover, it requires many different pieces to fit perfectly into place. So before you start looking to work on this puzzle, ensure you can afford it in the first place since app development is an expensive endeavour. 

Of course, the cost to build an app largely depends on the scope and complexity you’re willing to take on and the level of resources and expertise you employ to do the heavy lifting. Still, before kicking the app development process into gear, ensure you have the financial resources to undertake this unique digital transformation. As such, a cost-benefit analysis could be the best place to start before moving to the nitty gritty of app design and development.

⚙️ The App Development Process

Woman engaged in app development

From a high-level overview, a general app development process would go something like this:

  • The obvious first step is strategically brainstorming a great app idea. This may seem daunting and too much to undertake at first, but the key is to think outside the box and develop an original concept that will appeal to your users in a way that benefits them in some way, shape or form.
  • Once you have an idea, the next step is to start scoping and then lay down the visual components of your app. Here, you’ll need to consider the user experience and how you envisage users interacting with your app. 
  • Scoping is also an integral component of the app development lifecycle. This is when you start to thoroughly analyse, study and predict the technical aspects of your app, such as which platform you want to develop for and the specific features you want to include. 
  • With the prototype approved and given the go-ahead, the obvious next steps in the process are related to building and launching your app. This is where you’ll need to put your planning and design into the ultimate action and see the project through to the finish line. 

Ideally, if you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a successful app. But realistically speaking, if you’ve had any experience with app development, you know it’s not as straightforward as it may seem.

What you may need to be aware of is the fact that within these significant phases fall sub-phases that pose different intricate challenges and demand specific solution strategies.

So, what’s the catch? What can you do to put yourself in the best possible position when building your company’s new app? Well, that’s what we’re going to help you with. So, sit back, relax, and read on!

In this article, we’ll explore 7 fundamental app development principles in greater depth to help you understand what it takes to build an application that blows the competition and provides a fantastic customer experience.

#1: Validate The Demand 🙋

Does your business even need an app? Perhaps, it’s too early for you? But, on the other hand, what do you think your customers will like? So, before commencing your app development journey, you need to ask these questions. It is vital to properly clarify the need and demand of the app within your target audience.

If you’re just building an app for the sake of it or to replicate your competitors, then you’re probably not using your marketing budget wisely. Furthermore, ensuring that the app serves a purpose for the business and the end-user is equally crucial. At a minimum, a good app should add value to your user, be easy to use, and fulfil the intended business purpose.

To validate the need for an app within your user segment, you must understand your ideal user well. Only then will you be able to strategically determine whether or not an app makes sense for your business.

In addition to conducting customer interviews or feedback surveys to understand pain points and potential improvement areas in your business, try to step into your customer’s shoes to see what can be done to improve their experience with your brand. 

If an app will bridge that gap and deepen their connection with your business, then go for it. The point is, don’t use square pegs on round holes. Instead, use a solution that makes the most sense for your business’s current customer experience strategy goals.

Furthermore, If your audience is calling out for a solution that your website cannot provide, then an app, whether on mobile or the web, depending on your user’s preferences, can be the answer. The critical takeaway is to ensure it is the right concept at the right time to get the most bang for your buck. 

#2: The Feedback Cycle Is Underrated! 🔃

You’re bound to constantly communicate with your agency during the app development process to create the ideal application that matches your business’ vision. This back-and-forth process can be gruelling and sometimes tiresome, but you must ride the wave and commit to it if you want an app that delivers exceptional results.

Asking for reviews and feedback during the development process is the only way for designers and developers to understand your app’s requirements, needs, and objectives. The input is then used to make necessary changes and improve the app before it is released. Furthermore, a well-executed feedback cycle also ensures an end product of better quality and fewer errors and bugs upon release.

A group of people pointing at a screen reviewing a webpage

This gives us the perfect segue into the fact that the review and feedback cycle doesn’t end after launch. In fact, in many ways than one, it never stops. Therefore, even after launch, you should ask your customers to provide feedback on their experience using the application to ensure a continually improving application. 

Not many of your app’s users will go out of their way to leave a review or provide feedback, but it’s essential to try to have a steady influx of customer reviews and invaluable feedback. This post-launch optimisation process is fundamental for the app’s overall success. 

Your app may look amazing and perform brilliantly for you, but only after exposing it to a large enough sample size will you be able to uncover any underlying issues or improvement areas. Lastly, customer reviews are not just a measure of user engagement but also a means of social proof and search engine visibility, both of which can maximise downloads and sales.

#3: Scoping! Scoping! Scoping! ✍️

We are big proponents of scoping because of its potential to make or break a project. You might have all the ideas in the world, but unless you document them in a detailed manner, you won’t be able to turn them into working prototypes.

Furthermore, not all ideas are important or may be necessary for the first version of your app. However, each of them may take away from the core features of your app and hinder its development. On the other hand, if you focus on just the right components and stray away from distracting and superficial elements, your app may turn out differently than you initially may have wanted it to. Still, it will perform the intended purpose well and save you time, resources and money. 

Scoping facilitates the process of clearly defining the specific features and functionalities of the app, which information developers use to prevent pitfalls during precarious phases of the project lifecycle. Suppose the app is intended for a particular group of users, such as business owners or project managers. In that case, ensuring the features, interface, content and functionality are geared towards these user groups is essential to provide a personable user experience. 

If the app is intended for a broader audience, you need to make sure that it is accessible and user-friendly accordingly. For example, accessibility features such as closed captions or dark mode could be thoughtful inclusions. 

Scoping also allows developers to set realistic expectations for the project regarding timeline and budget. Without a clear plan, it is easy to get overwhelmed or bogged down in the development process. 

By scoping out the project upfront, developers can increase their chances of creating a successful and innovative app. Too often, apps fail because they try to be everything to everyone and need to be more straightforward. By scoping out the app before beginning development, it is more likely that the final product will be successful.

Creating a detailed plan of what you want your app to do can save you time and frustration later on. Planning will also help you identify potential problems and develop solutions before they become roadblocks. 

In many instances, an MVP version will be sufficient, but companies tend to be over-ambitious and end up hurting themselves by taking on too much than they can handle. So instead, stick to the core features and build from them based on user reactions and feedback.

To summarise, scoping is crucial in ensuring every project stakeholder is on the same page and is aware of the project’s goals, requirements, objectives and specifications.

#4: Be Picky With The Platforms 🌐

What kind of app do you want to build? Web or mobile? Which technology will you use and for which platforms? Native or Hybrid? iOS or Android? These are the questions you need to answer and fully scope out before fully committing to the design and development phases.

As a rule of thumb, stick to the platforms and devices that are most popular within your target market. Then, use analytics data to get this information and prioritise accordingly

Typically, there are three main types of app development: native, hybrid, and web app development.

📱 Native App Development

Native app development involves creating apps specifically for a single platform, such as iOS or Android, using platforms like Flutter or React. Native app development is typically more expensive and time-consuming than other app development modalities. Still, it can provide the best and most catered user experience since the apps are specifically designed for the target platform and device.

An Android phone to illustrate native app development

⌨️ Hybrid App Development

Hybrid app development uses a combination of native and web technologies to create apps that can be deployed on multiple platforms. 

Hybrid app development is a good compromise between native and web app development, offering the flexibility to deploy on multiple platforms while providing a good user experience. It is the jack of both trades without being the master of either.

💻 Web App Development

Web app development focuses on creating apps accessed exclusively via a web browser using platforms such as Next.JS and Strapi. Web app development is the most affordable and quickest way to develop an app, but it’s important to consider whether your target audience can access it via a web browser. As a simple example, mobile apps make more sense than web apps if mobile traffic is the crucial constituent of your overall web traffic.

Each type of app development modality has its advantages and disadvantages, so carefully choose the right approach that fits your project and, more importantly, your business offerings and customer preferences. 

#5: User Experience Is The Be-all & End-all 🙋

Who are you building your app for? Your customers, right? They may be internal in the case of an enterprise operations app, such as an HRM portal or external in the case of a commercial app, such as an eCommerce store connected with an ERP system.

App development is more than just code. Yes, the code is essential and is the foundation of your app. But to create unique user experiences, you need to think beyond the code. 

You need to design your app with your users in mind. What will they want to do with your app? What will make them keep coming back? How can you make their experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible? Answering these questions is essential to building a fantastic app.

Video Courtesy: NAM Design | YouTube Channel

No matter who your customer is, you need to ensure that your app provides a seamless and joyful experience. How’s that done? Master the UI/UX by including features that assist the user in every step of their journey.

Simple yet effective, smooth and snappy yet easy and convenient. A great user experience can make an app addictive and keep users coming back for more, while a poor user experience will quickly lead to frustration and abandonment. So how do you create fantastic user experiences with your app? For starters, ensure your app development project includes some form of UX strategy within the framework. This process can be included within the initial planning and scoping phase or during the design and prototyping phase.

When it comes to good UX, users should be able to intuitively navigate your app without getting lost or confused. Users should never feel like they are waiting for your app to catch up with them; instead, it should feel like an extension of their movements and thoughts.

Your app must provide value. Users need to feel like your app is worth their time and attention, whether it’s entertainment, information, or utility. By keeping these critical considerations in mind, you can develop an app that provides a fantastic user experience and keeps users coming back for more.

Of course, you will also need to have a great product or service. But even the best products can fall short if the user experience surrounding it could be better. This is why your app should be well-crafted and offer something unique that users will love. So, take the time to think about your users and how you can give them an incredible experience with your app. It’ll be worth it in the end.

#6: Safety And Reliability Can’t Be Underestimated! 🦺

Data breaches are becoming increasingly common, and personal information is more valuable than ever. As a result, it’s mandatory to make security a top priority when building an app.

There are many ways to do this, from encrypting data to using secure authentication systems for registration, log-in and payment. Use strong encryption for all data storage and communication. This will help to protect user data from being accessed and potentially breached by unauthorised users and cyber threats. 

The key safety precaution in an app is to focus on controlling access to the app carefully. This requires authentication features to be included where users have to authenticate themselves before accessing any features or data. It is also a good idea to regularly test the app’s security. This can be done by conducting penetration tests and using other security tools. 

By taking the time to implement these security measures, you can ensure that your app is safe and secure for everyone who uses it.

#7: Integrate To Extend Your App’s Capabilities 📢

Integrating third-party platforms can add freshness and enrich your app’s overall value proposition and user experience. Furthermore, it can also add a sense of familiarity for your audience by integrating with other more commonly used applications. Finally, integration can also mean quicker development time as you could just use the platform’s API to build a new feature instead of creating it from scratch.

It’s important to note, however, not to go overboard, as not all third-party integrations are the same, and some will require a ton of customised coding to function correctly. So, weigh the pros, cons, and overall value before integrating with other applications.

Application-based integration is the data synchronisation process that is implemented when integrating software applications with one or more databases. In a data integration system such as this, the software is built to do pretty much everything on its own in terms of cleaning, transforming and loading data from multiple sources. 

For example, imagine if your eCommerce store was connected to your ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) system housing all of your product data. Every time you update your product records, that will be reflected on both systems. How cool would that be? It would make inventory management a whole lot easier, for starters!

App Development Principles: Key Takeaways 🤗

There you have it! Seven app development principles to master to build an app that provides serious value to your customers. Of course, a lot goes into making a successful app. But if you can focus on these seven fundamental app development principles, you’ll be well on your way to making an app that not only users will love but one that will also help you achieve key business objectives.

Designs during the app development process

To summarise – App development is a process that requires careful planning and execution to ultimately build an app that can stand toe-to-toe against your competitors. Certain principles should be followed to achieve this goal. 

First, validating the app concept by monitoring alignment with business goals and consumer demand is vital. Next, hone in on your fundamental value proposition. What are your customers looking for in an app? What features would they find most helpful? Once you determine this, making phenomenal user experience your guiding compass throughout design and prototyping is essential.

An app that is easy to use and navigate is the bare minimum and a base-level expectation from all stakeholders. Try to think outside the box, include intuitive features and solve problems for your customers while engaged in app development. To add to that, it’s a given that the app is visually appealing and offers something unique that sets it apart from other competing options. 

Finally, apps need to be continually tested, reviewed, updated and optimised based on user feedback to ensure that it remains the best option for customers. 

Are these the only app development principles essential for creating a successful application? Of course not! This is just the beginning – your success ultimately come downs to how well you execute them. But if you’re starting from scratch or feeling lost in today’s crowded app landscape, we hope this article provides some guidance.

Creating genuinely exceptional customer experiences with an application is no small feat for any business, so we are here to help and guide you through every step. If you want help turning your idea into an app that delivers exceptional value, book a discovery call with our team, and we’d be happy to chat and discuss further.

Published On

November 24, 2022