Mobile App Development Archives - BuildFire

Getting Started With App Development: Actionable Steps For Day 1

Taking an app idea and turning it into a reality is a dream for entrepreneurs and business owners across the globe. But app development can be an intimidating venture for people who have never been through this process.

I see this all of the time. Someone has an amazing app idea but just doesn’t know where to start. 

Should they hire a developer? Should they hire an app development company? When is it too early to start with market research or app marketing? How much money will it take to build your own apps?

The list of questions and uncertainties goes on and on. 

If you’re new to app development, I want to help you get started. Before you start to overwhelm yourself with the app interface, user feedback, new features, and things of that nature, there are some actionable steps that you can take right now. The steps in this guide will help you get started and build momentum with app development. 

Mobile App Development Preparation

Whether you want to create an app development business from scratch or you’re launching an app as an extension of your existing business, there are several things you must do to prepare yourself. Don’t overlook the preparation phase of the app project, as this is crucial for everyone—regardless of the app’s complexity. 

First, you need to define your role. Are you going to own and operate the app? Or are you leading the project management team? 

Next, formalize your reason for starting this endeavor. Maybe you have an existing company and want to leverage a mobile app to improve the customer experience. Or maybe you’ve identified a market need that you’re filling with a completely new concept or idea. It’s also possible that you’re running an agency and want to learn how to start an app business as a way to extend your services to clients. 

In all three of these potential scenarios, the path to creating a successful app will look a bit different. 

Arguably the most important part of the preparation phase is narrowing your focus to a single feature. So many app developers out there want to create an app that does everything. But they lose sight of the app’s core purpose.

Ask yourself this question—what’s the most important feature of your app? 

Here’s a great analogy that showcases this point. Take an app like Uber or Lyft. What’s the most important feature here? Is it the ability for riders to choose the quality and size of the vehicles? Or is it a way to help them get from one location to another? Obviously, the latter is the most important feature. 

The final part of preparation is equipping yourself with tools for success. You’ll need some form of project management software and communication software to do this the right way. This graphic from Kissflow highlights some of the top benefits of using project management software. 

Whether you’re building an app on your own or hiring a team of ten developers, project management software is a must-have. It’s the only way to stay organized, track progress, and keep everyone on the same page.

Your development method will ultimately impact the type of software you should be using here. For example, if you’re using a no-code app builder, you can use a solution like Trello or Asana. But if you’re coding the app from scratch with a development team, you’d be better off with a solution like Jira Software.

In addition to the team collaboration features within a project management solution, you may decide to use a tool like Slack for communication as well. 

Once you have these preliminary things in order, you can move forward with actionable steps. 

How to Build an App — Getting Started in 5 Days

Everyone has different app ideas. Whether you’re launching free apps on the Apple App Store, paid apps on the Google Play Store, or planning to build the next killer app that’s downloaded by tens of millions of app users worldwide, everyone starts from the same place. 

Below you’ll find a five-day sequence of steps to follow. This will help you build momentum, and you can use it as a preliminary app development checklist. 

Most apps fail in the early stages because the project owner doesn’t have a concrete plan of action. But with this sequence below, your first week is completely outlined for you: 

Day One Steps

Anytime you create an app (or any type of software development for that matter), it means you’re starting a business. So you need to treat your app business the same way you would any other type of new startup. 

With that in mind, these are the actionable steps you need to take on day one:

  • Define the target audience and potential customers for your mobile app business.
  • Create a value proposition or unique selling point to show how your app will benefit the target users.
  • Decide what platforms your app will be available on (iOS platform, Android, web app, etc.).
  • Come up with a monetization strategy. How will your app make money? (will you offer in-app purchases, have a paid app and a free version, generate app sales through a product or service, etc.)
  • Identify the key resources you need for your app to work properly after it launches. For example, do you need push notification servers or authentication servers?
  • Identify necessary integrations that your app needs (third-party GPS apps, databases, etc.).
  • Assess the costs involved with your mobile app business.

Everyone will have different answers to these questions. But it’s important for you to take the time and understand the best course of action for your specific app. 

Using an app maker like BuildFire will really make your life easier when it comes to the steps above. That’s because our platform has everything you need to create, launch, and maintain your app are built-in on the backend. 

You won’t have to worry about servers running on the backend or struggling to write custom code for third-party integrations. BuildFire has all of those capabilities out-of-the-box. 

Plus, our cost structure is much more affordable compared to traditional development. 

Additional Resources:

Day Two Steps

Next, you can start to focus a bit more on the development process itself. Here are the actionable steps you need to take for your new app on day two:

  • Look at similar apps on the market and compare your app idea to these other apps. 
  • Research prototyping tools that you’ll need to map out your app design and architecture.
  • Look back at the core features you defined during the preparation stage and use that to think about your minimum viable product. 
  • Outline your fastest past to launch, with the fewest barriers to entry. Focus on what’s important, and all the features that aren’t in this category can be added in later.
  • If you’re coding a native app from scratch, decide what programming languages you’re going to use.

The most important part of this day is getting a rough outline of what your MVP will look like. Focus on your core features here, and think about how your core features should look in the user interfaces.

For example, let’s stick with the Uber and Lyft analogy we discussed earlier. Rather than forcing the user to select the car type each time they create a ride, you can have a default option that’s automatically selected for them. This reduces friction within the app and enhances the user experience. 

A secondary feature could be the ability for users to select a premium vehicle (like a newer car with extra legroom in the example above). But this isn’t important to the mobile app’s core function, which is getting users from point A to point B.

Day Three Steps

By now, you should have a clear understanding of the primary screens vs. secondary screens within your app. Then about how users interact with these screens from their mobile phones. Then you can use this to improve your initial app sketches with the following screens:

  • Decide what your app login screen will look like. Will users log in just by a username and password? Or will you incorporate biometrics like touch ID or facial recognition? 
  • Create a password screen and password reset screen.
  • Set up your user registration screen. Do your users need to create a profile from scratch, or can they register using a Google account or their social media accounts?
  • Design a screen where users have the ability to control notification settings. You must give them the option to opt-out or control what types of messages are being sent to them.
  • Outline your mobile app’s terms and conditions and privacy policy statements. You may need to consult with an attorney for this one, but most of the text will be fairly boilerplate. 
  • Create a “Contact Us” screen and map out what that will look like. What contact information will you include here?
  • Design user profile pages and what they will look like when the user logs in and adjust their settings.
  • Create “empty state screens.” This is an often overlooked step, but it’s important for pages within your app where something isn’t showing. For example, let’s say your app relies on GPS technology, but the user has their GPS settings disabled. Will the screen just say “nothing here, try again later,” or will it prompt them to enable GPS through a CTA popup?

If you’re using a tool like BuildFire, this step will be really easy. You can start planning your app screens directly within our platform by taking advantage of our existing templates. 

Every aspect of your app design and its screens can be fully customized with BuildFire. 

The best part, you won’t need to write a single line of code to do this, and you don’t need any development experience. You won’t have to hire an app developer either.

Day Four Steps

Now that you have the main aspects of your app outlined, there are a few other things you need to consider about the business side.

  • Do you need to raise money from outside investors?
  • What type of formal business structure are you going to set up (LLC, corporation, etc.). This will help shield your personal assets from the business. 
  • Formalize everyone’s role in the app business so that all of the partners and stakeholders are on the same page.

I won’t spend a ton of time diving into the formal details here. But as I said before, mobile applications are still a business. So you need to go through similar steps to legally form the business, just like you would for any startup.

If you’re launching an app as an extension of your existing business, then you probably won’t need to go through this. The only reason will be if you want to treat the app as its own company.

For example, maybe you own a restaurant and want to create an app to improve your delivery process. But you ultimately want to white label the app and license it to other restaurants. In this type of scenario, it would probably make sense to treat the app business as a separate company.

Day 5 Steps

On the fifth day of the week, you should spend some time getting other things in order for your app. Even though you won’t be launching quite yet, it’s still in your best interest to get ready as early as possible.

  • Create developer accounts on both app stores. You’ll need these to get your app live and available for download.
  • Secure a domain and create a landing page for your app.
  • Brainstorm your marketing materials for YouTube videos, social media content, and other ways to connect with the app market before your app officially launches.

The great part about using BuildFire is that we’ll get your app to market for you. All you need to do is create your developer accounts, and we’ll take it from there.

So once your app is ready to launch, just let us know and our team will take care of all the heavy lifting required to get it published on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This is just one less thing you’ll need to worry about.

Additional Resources:

Final Thoughts on Getting Started With Mobile Apps

App businesses are exciting. But they can be intimidating when you’re starting from nothing. 

I hope the steps in this guide will provide you with the blueprint you need to get started and build momentum with your development project. 

Rather than starting from zero, you should consider using an app builder as an alternative to traditional development. Platforms like BuildFire have everything you need to design, develop, and launch your app. 

This drastically reduces your development timeline, lowers your development costs, and eliminates your need to hire a developer. The vast majority of the steps explained in this guide can be handled directly within the BuildFire platform.
For those of you who are seeking a bit more assistance and want custom development done for you, BuildFire Plus might be a better option for you to consider. This is our all-inclusive development service that includes planning, design, wireframing, competitive analysis, strategy sessions, and so much more. Request a free consultation to get started.

10 App Categories That Will Dominate 2021 and Beyond

The world is changing. Recent global events have changed the way businesses operate—some short-term, and some forever.  

As an entrepreneur or a business owner, you need to recognize these trends and adapt accordingly. 

Some of you might own a business in an app category that didn’t require an app in the past. But based on circumstances out of your control, consumers now expect to see apps in that category. 

Other entrepreneurs might be looking for an edge in a new industry or business venture, and certain types of apps are better than others. 

We created this guide to show you the types of apps that make money based on recent and future trends. You can use this guide to brainstorm app ideas and take your business to the next level by creating a new app in a popular category. Let’s dive in

1. Medical Apps

There’s a significant demand for mobile apps with a wide range of use cases in this category. 

Doctors and physicians can use apps for scheduling appointments, check-ins, appointment reminders, and more. Apps great for post-appointment surveys as well. 

One popular feature that we’re seeing in this category is health education. There’s so much misinformation on the web regarding different illnesses, vaccines, etc. So medical professionals are using mobile applications to provide patients with accurate and relative information.

For example, you could create a symptom checklist for various illnesses. You can also provide useful resources on what patients should do if they’re experiencing certain symptoms. Apps can also serve as a resource for doctor information, addresses, phone numbers, and even doctor bios. 

According to a recent study, 90% of US adults use at least one digital health tool. Statista estimates the mobile health market to reach $189 billion by 2025. That’s not all. A whopping 93% of doctors believe that mobile health apps can actually improve patient health. 

Statistics and trends like this truly speak for themselves. If you’re a doctor, dentist, OB/GYN, pediatrician, podiatrist, dermatologist—basically any professional in the medical field, your practice can benefit from a medical app. 

2. Health and Wellness Apps

Let’s stick with a similar trend but with a different point of emphasis. Beyond medical apps for doctors, several other types of businesses can dominate the health and wellness space. 

Anyone running a fitness business should be looking to go mobile.

The possibilities here in the health & fitness space are seemingly endless. Use cases and examples in this app category include:

  • Gym apps
  • Personal training apps
  • Cooking apps
  • Apps for dietitians and nutritionists
  • Weight loss apps
  • Meditation apps
  • Yoga apps

The list goes on and on. There are countless ways to expand your fitness business and make money in this app category. I’ll quickly cover a few specific scenarios that we’ve seen explode over the last year or so.

Virtual personal training is on the rise. Trainers are using apps to create 30-day workout challenges with custom videos and lessons. App users find this extremely useful, as they have access to these training sessions on-demand. 

Gym owners are using apps to manage memberships, share class schedules, set up training sessions, and facilitate mobile check-ins. 

According to Statista, there will be 86.3 million people in the US using health and fitness apps by 2022. That’s up from 68.7 million users back in 2019. As you can see from the trajectory of this trend, health and fitness apps can be huge money-maker moving forward.

For more information, check out our blog post on how mobile apps are transforming the gym world.

3. Grocery Apps

Years ago, ordering groceries online was a pretty niche category. But that’s no longer the case.

As big players like Amazon, Walmart, and Target have started offering grocery delivery and grocery pick-up services, consumers have quickly adapted. 

Today, anyone with a grocery store should be developing a mobile app. From large chains to small mom and pop shops, specialty stores, and everything in between. Just take a look at how online grocery shopping has penetrated the US market, based on a recent study from Business Insider. 

Mobile apps give businesses a significant advantage in this space. 

First of all, forcing people to open a laptop or desktop for grocery pick-ups or deliveries is a pain—everyone wants to use their phones. Mobile sites alone won’t get it done. They’re not as user-friendly as an app, and they can add frustrations to shoppers. 

But arguably the biggest win for grocery stores is the ability for users to save information in the app. This simplifies the checkout process and allows for higher conversion rates.

The user’s name, address, phone number, email address, and payment information can all be safely stored within the user’s profile. So when it’s time to place an order for pickup and delivery, it’s just a matter of clicking the buy button—no need to re-enter this information for every order.  

There’s a growing demand for mobile applications in the grocery space. Businesses that adapt quickly can make a lot of money in this app category. 

4. Education and E-Learning Apps

Remote learning trends are on the rise. This has increased the demand for education and e-learning apps. 

Beyond traditional schools and universities, there are lots of use cases for educational apps.

Tons of people are using e-learning apps to attain new skills or credentials. For example, Udemy saw a 425% increase in online course enrollments last year. Duolingo, a mobile app for learning new languages, experienced a 148% increase in new user signups during a single month in 2020.

There are even lots of new educational and e-learning apps on the market targeted towards children. Kids Learning Tube is a great example of this. 

Kids Learning Tube is an online learning resource for children. Kids learn about subjects like geography, nutrition, the solar system, and more through animated videos and music. These videos have more than 615+ million views on YouTube alone. The videos were so successful that the online learning company decided to launch its own dedicated e-learning mobile app.

The app was built using BuildFire, and you can read the full Kids Learning Tube case study here. 

With so many possibilities in the online learning space, we’ve just barely scratched the surface in terms of potential for educational apps. Expect a significant spike in the release and user adoption for these apps in the coming years. 

5. Restaurant and Food Delivery Apps

The food & drink industry has been faced with significant challenges over the last year or so. Most of this has been driven by lockdowns, government regulations, and consumer behavior. But the restaurants that have adapted will continue to survive and thrive moving forward. 

Just take a look at the US food delivery app revenue from the past six years. 

Revenue reached $26.5 billion in 2020, up from a modest $8.7 billion back in 2015. As you can see from the graph, these numbers were trending upward long before a global pandemic rocked the world. 

But consumer usage and preferences for food delivery go beyond the big names like GrubHub and UberEats. According to Statista, a whopping 67% of people in the US prefer to order food directly from a restaurant’s website or mobile app. 

This is great news for restaurant owners nationwide. It gives you full control over your margins, as you won’t have to pay the fees associated with third-party services. 

A dedicated restaurant app also allows you to manage reservations, send targeted promos, set up a customer loyalty program, and more. Customers can keep their payment information and address on file for quick checkouts and as well. 

6. Dating Apps

30% of US adults have used an online dating app. This percentage increases to 49% for people between the ages of 18 to 29 and 38% for adults between 30 and 49. 

The stigma associated with dating apps has changed over the last several years as well. Many people are using these platforms to find a committed partner, and it’s working out. 

Take a look at this graph based on research from Stanford. The data shows how couples in the US met over the last 60 years.

As you can see, just one of these trend lines has a significant upward trajectory, and its growth is exponential—online dating. 

According to Statista, there are 44.2 million online dating users in the United States. This app category generates $602 million per year.  

There’s lots of money to be made in this lifestyle app category. Even beyond the big players like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid, and more, there’s plenty of room for smaller niche dating apps as well. 

7. Finance Apps

The demand for finance apps is skyrocketing. Over the last several years, the overall fintech market has been trending up. 

Mobile banking apps, mobile payment apps, asset management apps, personal finance apps—all of these are seeing a rise in user adoption and usage. 

According to Google, 73% of smartphone users have used a mobile app to manage their finances within the last month. Investment and stock trading mobile app searches are growing 115% year-over-year.

In 2020, finance apps saw a 90% increase in install market share worldwide. 

People like the idea of using an app to track expenses, pay bills, save for big purchases, trade stocks, and more. These apps allow the average person to feel more in control over their finances, and it’s going to continue trending upward for the foreseeable future. 

From Android apps on the Google Play store and iOS apps on the Apple App Store—finance apps and subcategories in this space are popular on every operating system. 

8. Pet Apps

If you look beyond social networking apps, productivity apps, and entertainment apps, you’ll find a niche target audience that’s primed for spending money. Americans are obsessed with their pets. This obsession is causing them to spend more and more money on animals. 

There’s more awareness around pet health and quality foods. The days of dogs and cats eating bulk, cheap foods stored in the closet are slowly moving behind us. 

Pets are even getting gifts. In fact, 92% of Millennials buy their pets gifts—and 51% buy their pets gifts at least once per month. Pet apparel is one of the fastest-growing ecommerce app categories as well. For example, pet hoodie sales grew by 622% in just a one-year period. 

Between pet grooming, pet food delivery, dog walking, pet insurance, and more, there are countless ways to make money with a pet app. 

Believe it or not, 45% of pet owners in the US spend the same or more on pet healthcare than their own healthcare in a given year. 

It’s safe to say that people are willing to spend money on their pets, and there’s lots of room for apps in this space. 

9. Ecommerce Apps

It should come as no surprise to see ecommerce apps on our list. This is a category that has been growing exponentially for years now, with no signs of slowing down. 

Compared to online shopping from a mobile site or desktop browser, an app offers significantly more advantages for users and businesses alike. Just look at the conversion rate comparison between mobile browsers and mobile apps in the ecommerce space. 

In terms of personalization, speed, convenience, customer support, offline access, user experience, engagement, and checkout optimization—apps have an edge in every category. 

For those of you with an ecommerce presence, a mobile app has become a must-have feature. 

Even if you’re a small retailer interested in increasing your online presence, ecommerce platforms like Shopify allow anyone to create an ecommerce site with ease.

From there, BuildFire has a simple Shopify integration. App development has never been easier—with a few clicks you can turn your Shopify store into an ecommerce app. No coding, technical experience, or formal app developers required. 

Check out our guide on how to increase Shopify sales with a mobile app to learn more about this concept.  

10. Internal Communication and Employee Apps

Beyond apps for general consumers, we’re seeing a huge spike in demand for internal business apps and workforce apps

HR apps and employee communication apps have become the new normal for the modern workforce. With so many remote employees and field service workers out there, apps make it easy for businesses to stay in constant communication with their employees from anywhere.

Workers love the employee self-service functionality of the apps, like quick access to crucial information, company news, and more. Lots of businesses even add a social media style function to the app, where employees can informally communicate and share stories.

You can use these apps to facilitate schedule changes, training lessons, employee safety, compliance, employee onboarding—the list goes on and on. 

Here at BuildFire, we’ve seen a significant increase in requests from businesses of all shapes and sizes that need a mobile app with these types of features. From small businesses to enterprise organizations and everything in between, employee apps will continue to grow in popularity in the long run.  

Conclusion

There are tons of ways to make money with apps. But targeting app categories that are trending up is the best place to start. 

As you can see, these categories weren’t just pulled out of thin air. They’re all based on recent trends and statistics. What separates the best business owners and most successful entrepreneurs from average is identifying these opportunities and adapting accordingly.
For those of you that want to take full advantage of creating an app in one of these categories, book an app strategy session with BuildFire.

Project Management Methodologies For Mobile App Development

Mobile app development has lots of moving parts. Each team member has unique responsibilities, but all work towards a common goal. 

It’s easy for this process to get derailed if you don’t have the right plan—and proper planning all starts with project management. 

But there are several different project management methodologies and frameworks to choose from. Some work well for mobile apps and software product development, while others aren’t so useful. 

If you’re building an app and you’re not sure what project management method is the best, then you’ve come to the right place. I put this guide together based on years of first-hand experience managing project teams—specifically in the mobile app and software space. 

Best Project Management Methodologies For Software and Apps

A quick Google search will yield dozens of project management methods. Exactly how many project management methodologies are there? It depends on who you ask. 

You’ll see terms like agile, scrum, waterfall, kanban, lean—the list goes on and on. There are even hybrid management methods, like scrumban, agilefall, and more. Between the different methodologies and specific frameworks within those methods, it’s easy to get confused. 

Rather than wasting time explaining every project management methodology under the sun, we’re going to focus specifically on the methods for app development. 

The following sections will teach you more about each method, how it’s used, and why it works so well for software teams.

Agile Project Management

The agile project management methodology prioritizes maximum value against the business goals within an allowable time and budget. This method empowers team members and supports the constant delivery of value to the project.

As an iterative approach to completing a project, agile management promotes velocity and adaptability. 

In short, the agile methodology is flexible. Rather than following a linear path from start to finish, different incremental steps and iterations are delivered in shorter bursts. This allows for maximum flexibility, as things can change throughout the project life cycle. 

Agile project management is comprised of multiple stages—requirements, design, development, testing, deployment, and review.  

These stages help reduce and mitigate potential risks, which is crucial for app development.

Instead of looking at an app from start to finish, the project is broken down into shorter cycles, usually about two or three weeks each. Your project team will follow these stages for each cycle, which has constant testing and review throughout. 

Agile works well for client and stakeholder collaboration, as the results of each iteration will be reported back to the stakeholders. This allows them to have more control over the development process.

For example, let’s say you’re building an enterprise app with an in-house software team. Rather than just telling them what you want and waiting for the finished project, agile project management empowers you to be involved throughout the process. 

Some of the top advantages of agile project management for app development include:

  • Ability to fix bugs after each stage
  • Easy to make quick changes throughout the development project
  • Constant collaboration with clients and stakeholders
  • Breaks the project up into multiple stages
  • Prioritizes budgets and timelines

The biggest drawback of agile PM is working with a difficult stakeholder. If they’re unable to review things after each sprint, it can push back your initial timeline and drag things out longer than they need to be. 

Agile project management requires a bit more planning from the start as well. The project manager needs to identify the top priorities of the software that should be handled first. 

Scrum Project Management

Scrum is a project management methodology that follows the same core values and principles as agile. So you’ll want to keep those agile concepts in mind if you’re using this method.

All work gets completed in short cycles, called sprints. Scrum teams meet on a daily basis to quickly discuss the current tasks they’re working on and any obstacles they’re facing. 

Daily scrums are also known as stand-up meetings. The idea here is that the meeting is so short that nobody has to sit down. Even if your software team is working remotely, it’s important that you stick to the daily scrum. 

Another crucial component of scrum is the product backlog. This is essentially a list of prioritized tasks that must be completed. These product goals are broken down into sprint backlogs, and ultimately turned into increments when they can be marked as “done.”

Kanban boards are useful for managing these backlogs. It allows everyone on your team to clearly see what’s being worked on, what’s been completed, and what needs to get done—all in real-time. 

In addition to the daily scrum, there are several other meetings that help make scrum project management so effective for software teams. 

  • Sprint Planning —  The tasks of highest priority are defined before each sprint. Product owners or stakeholders explain the backlog to the software team, removing all ambiguities. The team communicates how much work they can get done within the allowed timeframe. Sprint goals and sprint backlogs are created by the end of the meeting.
  • Daily Scrum — Held every day, usually for 15 minutes max. Each team member will quickly explain what they accomplished yesterday, what they’re working on today, and define any roadblocks or bottlenecks they’re faced with. 
  • Sprint Review — This meeting is held after each sprint to determine what’s been achieved in the past few weeks. The product performance is also measured against the goals that were initially defined during the sprint planning stage. 
  • Spring Retrospective — What went right and what went wrong during the sprint? This meeting allows teams to reflect on what they’ve accomplished and prepare for future sprints. 

Overall, this methodology works great for mobile app development due to its flexibility. The constant meetings and communication keep everyone on the same page.

By breaking the work down into tasks for completion during sprints, it allows your team to work quickly and complete the app in stages

Other advantages of scrum project management for software development include:

  • Ambiguities are removed during meetings
  • All tasks and completion of tasks are clearly organized
  • Responsibilities are clearly divided
  • Any roadblocks or obstacles are identified immediately 
  • Quick releases keep teams motivated and satisfy stakeholders

Scrum project management doesn’t work well if the team isn’t committed. It’s easy for things to get off track, especially if the backlogs pile up and teams are expected to complete work in an unrealistic amount of time. 

This methodology works best with small teams. Some members might be annoyed by the daily meetings, but it’s important to hold them regularly and ensure everyone stays on task. The scrum master needs to be a problem-solver to complete successful projects.

Extreme Programming (XP) Project Management

As the name implies, extreme programming is another ideal solution for app development. It’s agile framework designed specifically for producing high-quality software.

Of all of the agile frameworks, XP has the most specific use case with principles for software development. The stages of XP typically include:

  1. Planning
  2. Managing
  3. Designing
  4. Coding
  5. Testing

Here’s a visual overview of the extreme programming lifecycle:

There are five core values of extreme programming, which each contribute to the framework’s success for app development:

  • Communication — Team members must transfer knowledge to each other. Visual tools like whiteboards or other drawing mechanisms can be extremely helpful as teams explain ideas and concepts to each other. 
  • Simplicity — Avoid waste at all costs. Keeping the system and design as clean as possible makes it much easier to maintain the software, provide support, and fix bugs down the road. Focus only on what you know right now, without trying to predict the future. 
  • Feedback — Teams must get constant and immediate feedback about their effort. This helps everyone identify areas where they can improve, and continue doing what works well. Feedback loops also allow you to adjust the final product product going forward.
  • Courage — Software teams must have the courage to accept feedback, even if it’s difficult to swallow. They also need the courage to stop doing something that isn’t working, and move forward trying something else. If there’s an issue or problem, team members must have the courage to speak up. All of this helps improve the team’s efficiency, even if these decisions can be uncomfortable. 
  • Respect — Respect ties all of these values together. It’s impossible for software teams to provide feedback and speak up in certain scenarios without respecting each other. XP relies so heavily on constant communication that respect needs to be a priority. 

Again, XP is specific to software development. It can be challenging to implement with inexperienced developers. The methodology doesn’t always work if teams are working together for the first time, as they may not be comfortable communicating with full transparency. 

Waterfall Project Management

The waterfall methodology is the simplest way to plan any project. It’s not necessarily the most common methodology for app development, but it can work well for basic apps. 

It’s also worth noting that the waterfall project management methodology is arguably the easiest to implement. So if you’re a new project manager and just getting your feet wet managing teams, this could system can help you build confidence.

Following a sequential order of steps is the primary concept of the waterfall method. Tasks flow in order, and one step must be completed before the next one starts.

Just like a waterfall, everything flows down—you can’t turn around and go back upstream. 

It’s easy for teams to understand the waterfall process because everything is straightforward. But it doesn’t work well with larger teams.

Waterfall project management doesn’t typically work for complex projects because the framework isn’t very adaptive. It doesn’t allow for changes throughout the development project, and many developers find it pretty limiting.

With that said, there are definitely scenarios where the waterfall project management methodology is perfect for app development.

Let’s say you’re building an app on a no-code development platform, like BuildFire. If you’re doing this on your own without a dedicated software team, the waterfall method will work fine. It’s not like you can work on two things simultaneously anyways—you’re just one person. So the waterfall method will keep you on track and give you a clear list of sequential steps to follow as you’re creating an app from scratch. 

Kanban Project Management

Kanban project management is another simple concept to grasp, and the methodology can be used for a wide range of projects—including software. 

This methodology gives you and your team a visual overview of the tasks associated with completing the app. Deliverables are typically categorized into three basic categories—to-do, in progress, and done.

It’s common for kanban boards to be used in other types of project management methodologies. For example, we briefly touched on this earlier when discussing scrum. Lots of scrum teams use kanban boards to manage sprints. 

While kanban isn’t quite as technical as some of the other project management methodologies, it’s still trusted by software teams.

Even Jira Software, one of the best project management tools for software development, has kanban project functionality. 

The project manager here is responsible for assigning tasks to different team members on the board. Then each person will move the tasks to the “done” column upon completion. 

Kanban also works well for managing bugs post-launch. As new bugs are reported, a new task or card can be generated in your to-do backlog. Then developers can clearly see what needs to be fixed, and move those cards from in-progress to done. 

The downside of using kanban alone is that there isn’t a great way to prioritize deliverables. You can assign due dates or use a color-coding system for priority. But the methodology itself doesn’t have those types of principles built in. Kanban also doesn’t support dependencies between tasks. 

Conclusion — What’s the Right Project Management Methodology For You?

So, what’s the best project management methodology for app development? It depends. 

Most software teams tend to use an agile framework, as these are more flexible than some of the traditional project management and rigid PM methods. Some of you might decide to use a combination of these options. For example, scrum project management using kanban boards to track sprints is a popular option. 
In addition to finding the best project management method for your app, you also need to have the right team in place to execute development. So download our free ebook on building an expert mobile app development team.

Everything You Need to Know About Software Vulnerabilities

Mitigating software vulnerabilities is crucial for your business continuity. Breaches and attacks by malicious agents can cost companies thousands or even millions of dollars on average, which could greatly impact business operations, as well as its finances. 

Software vulnerabilities must be nipped at the bud before it causes damning damages. To effectively do this, you must first understand what these vulnerabilities are, how they come to be, and how to successfully address and prevent them.

What is a Software Vulnerability?

In a nutshell, software vulnerabilities are flaws that exist in a code and are often used by malicious agents to get unauthorized access to networks, steal valuable and sensitive data, and compromise company systems.

How Vulnerabilities Get into Software

The truth of the matter is, application vulnerabilities are a top concern for security professionals, but it’s not getting prioritized by businesses and developers. It’s often just an afterthought once a breach or attack has already taken place and the network has already been compromised. 

Insufficient attention to identifying and preventing software vulnerabilities is a result of numerous things, including inadequate comprehension of application security. Hence, companies need to have a clear understanding of the main sources of vulnerabilities to make sure they’re better prepared to create an effective mitigation strategy.

Insecure Coding Executions

Especially now because of the pandemic, countless companies rely on software for day-to-day internal operations as well as their main source of innovation for external products and solutions. Oftentimes, businesses put an immeasurable amount of responsibility and pressure to developers to build functional software in the shortest possible time. 

Security is usually jeopardized because the focus is primarily on speed and functionality during the development process. This fact is supported by a study published by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2, 30 percent of companies never scan for vulnerabilities during code development.

Since they’re in charge of creating the code, developers usually take the majority of the blame when security vulnerabilities cause issues in an organization. Of course, developers must ensure that the code they create is safe and doesn’t have flaws, but being obligated to quickly create usable and unique code can cause them to be more negligent on secure coding best practices. They also tend to overlook the importance of security assessments altogether to meet their deadlines.

Ever-Changing Threat Landscape

Numerous software is developed without thinking about how the threat landscape constantly changes. During the early phases of the development process, despite following best practices and using strong cryptographic algorithms, developers will realize that once the software is complete, the algorithm is already broken. 

Malicious agents are highly motivated to find weaknesses in a company’s network. This causes them to become more innovative in uncovering ways to find even the smallest flaws to infiltrate applications quicker than developers are producing methods to keep them safe.

Reuse of Vulnerable Components and Code

Most third-party and open source components do not undergo the same strict security assessment as custom-developed software. This is an issue that industry organizations like OWASP, PCI, and FS-ISAC are attempting to fix by recommending clear policies and control. 

Enterprises that utilize many code repositories will find it troublesome to specifically define every software wherein a jeopardized component is applied. This puts countless web and mobile applications at risk, especially when new vulnerabilities are publicized. 

It’s a common occurrence for developers to take code from open source libraries rather than to build specific codes from scratch. So even if there are weaknesses found in the code, they are not as burdened by it.

Top Software Vulnerabilities

Injection Flaws

Injection flaws allow an attacker to compromise systems by transmitting harmful code from one application. It’s one of the most common types of software vulnerabilities out there. These threats consist of different factors such as the use of third-party programs via shell commands, calls to the operating system, and SQL injection.

Unprotected input fields due to missing input filters during development are compromised by these attacks. 

Broken Authentication

By pretending to be an authorized user, broken authentication allows malicious agents to access systems, creating critical security weaknesses. Authentication flaws jeopardize a company’s sensitive data, network files, and operational systems.

Sensitive Data Exposure

When a company’s database is poorly secured, businesses endanger their sensitive data. Attackers who have a hold of an unencrypted database can easily exploit the exposed information. Taking advantage of this flaw is easy for hackers, especially since the system lacks a layer of protection.

Broken Access Control

Access control is a policy put in place to define and limit user functions. Therefore when it’s broken, it can bring about data tampering, information leaks, system interference, and more.

Security Misconfiguration

In a nutshell, security misconfiguration is the inefficient implementation of security controls for software. These flaws are regarded as an easy target for attackers since they’re quick to detect and exploit, which can cause a great deal of damage, such as data leakage for businesses.

Cross-Site Scripting

Cross-site scripting flaws are exploited by hackers to administer malicious scripts in a targeted application. For an app that holds sensitive data, the consequences are more critical. Attackers utilize XSS to steal a user’s login information, perform unauthorized activities, or even gain control of software.

Insecure Direct Object References

Insecure direct object references take place when an app shows a reference to an internal implementation object. This weakness allows a user to get the information of other users and serves as a vital issue in application security, especially since a lot of industries are using apps to collect user’s data, such as medical and banking apps.

Cross-Site Request Forgery

Cross-site request forgery is a threat that compels a user to carry out malicious actions on an application in which they are authorized. For normal-level users, the victim can be prompted to perform state-changing requests like changes in login credentials, funds transfer, and more. However, if admin users are compromised, this puts the entire application in jeopardy.

Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities

When you use unverified code from untrusted sources, you risk being vulnerable to numerous software flaws. Components that have vulnerabilities allow malicious agents to breach and compromise your existing network. 

Instead of taking the risk, it’s a wiser decision to utilize third-party software that has Code Signing  so you can be assured that the component is authentic, trustworthy, and safe.

Insufficient Logging & Monitoring

One of the main reasons businesses have difficulties in efficiently managing security breaches is insufficient logging and monitoring. Your system then becomes open to tampering, extortion, or destruction.

Unfortunately, improper logging and monitoring give attackers more time to compromise your data and system as much as they want since you will have difficulties tracing the breaches. Hence, addressing the malicious activities would take even more time.

Benefits of choosing a trusted software development vendor

Innovative and secure software development is vital for a company’s success. That’s why hiring a trusted and experienced software development vendor is a must.

If you’re still wondering if outsourcing software development is the best choice for you, these reasons might help you conclude.

Efficiency

An expert software development vendor will improve your company’s efficiency by helping you uncover business needs, communicate them to the development team, guarantee functional and secure code, and also train your employees to use and maintain the new program. 

Cost Savings

It’s often assumed that hiring third-party vendors are more costly compared to hiring an in-house development team. However, outsourcing your development project is a more efficient and financially sound choice since you no longer have to hire and train an entire team to create a solution.

Delegating this duty to a seasoned partner will save you valuable resources, which you can allocate for business growth.

Security

Established custom software development vendors are experts in their field, especially with system security. They are knowledgeable about the existing dangers in the industry and how to mitigate them. 

Partnering with the right development firm means you’ll have access to the best talent pool, with pros that would turn your business and security requirements into a viable and reliable product.

Expertise

Once you partner with a trusted software development vendor, they can have a better understanding of your business and steer you in the right direction that would give your company an advantage in the industry.

Your partner can propose important features for your software, how to safely collect and store data, the best platform to build on, and more. Open communication throughout the partnership is also essential to establish trust and confidence.

Support

From new user training to database maintenance and security assessment, your software provider will support you, so your organization can get the most out of your new product. 

Software vulnerabilities are not easy to deal with. However, being well-informed, addressing issues early, and facing attacks head-on, especially with the help of experts, guarantees effective mitigation of weaknesses, ensuring the safety and success of your business.

15 Mobile App Development Trends of 2021

The mobile app development industry is continuously evolving. Technology advancements, consumer demands, and a wide range of other factors have a direct impact on mobile app trends.

Staying up to date with the latest trends is arguably the most crucial aspect of success in this space. As a member of the Forbes Technology Council, I’m constantly researching patterns and communicating with other tech leaders about gaining an edge. 

Mobile app resellers need to keep up with new trends to better serve their clients. The same goes for content creators and producers ready to take their brands to the next level with mobile development. 

Are you prepared for the mobile app development changes in the coming year?

The list below is more than just a hunch or my personal opinion. I’ve used fact-based research to come up with the top app development trends that will dominate 2021. 

1. Internet of Things (IoT) App Integration

The IoT is far from a new concept. But the rise in mobile penetration across a broad range of sectors and categories has created seemingly endless opportunities for the Internet of Things.

People have grown accustomed to using technology to improve their everyday life. 

The IoT describes the growing network of devices connected to the Internet, providing convenience and automated control to consumers. Smart home technology is a perfect example of the rise in IoT and mobile app development. 

Mobile apps can be used to adjust the thermostat in a house from a remote location, lock or unlock a front door, and connect to home security systems. Refrigerators and other household appliances can also be connected to mobile apps. 

The global Internet of Things market is expected to reach $222 billion in 2021. $161 billion of that estimate will come from software, like mobile apps. 

Global IoT revenue

That’s a 14% increase from 2019. As you can see from the graph, the IoT is poised for steady growth in the coming years with software leading the way. The number of IoT devices out there is growing, 

According to Statista, the revenue from technology associated with the Internet of Things will eclipse 1.6 trillion by 2025. 

In 2021, I expect to see more mobile app development with the IoT in mind. Household devices, automobiles, display devices, smart devices, and healthcare are all markets to keep an eye on. 

2. Apps For Foldable Devices

It feels like a lifetime ago, but one of my first mobile phones was a flip phone. Mobile phones have clearly changed over the last decade. Touch screens with one or no buttons have taken over the market. 

But over the last couple of years, foldable devices have begun making a comeback. 2019 saw the release of foldable devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Huawei Mate X, and the new Motorola Razr. 

These smartphones fold to compress or expand the screen size based on user preferences. For example, a user might make a call with the device closed, but watch a video on a larger screen by unfolding the device. 

From an app development perspective, resellers and content creators need to account for these devices when building or updating an app.

The idea is that an app should seamlessly adjust its display as the screen folds or unfolds. 

Right now, foldable devices are just a sliver of the overall smartphone market share. But this will change in the coming years. According to a 2019 study by USA Today, 17% of iPhone users and 19% of Android users are excited about buying a phone with a foldable design. 

According to Statista, roughly 3.2 million foldable phones were shipped in 2019. This forecast is expected to reach 50 million units by 2022. For that growth to happen, 2021 will be a big year for foldables, which means app developers must plan accordingly. 

3. 5G Technology

The rollout of 5G will have a major impact on 2021 app trends. For developers, resellers, and creators, this technology is poised to change the way mobile applications are used and created.

Take a look at the expected growth of 5G smartphone connections over the next four years.

Worldwide 5G Smartphone Connections

2021 will have roughly 3.5 times more 5G connections than in 2020. These connections will nearly triple by 2022.

What does this mean for mobile app development?

Speed and efficiency will drastically improve. In fact, 5G is expected to deliver a 10x decrease in latency, while boosting network efficiency and traffic capacity. Compared to 4G, 5G will be up to 100 times faster, depending on the mobile network operator. 

The penetration of 5G will ultimately boost the functionality of mobile apps. This will allow developers to add new features to apps without negatively affecting the app’s performance. 

Developers and mobile app resellers should also use 5G network speed during the testing and development stages of building an app. 

4. Development For Wearable Devices

Wearable technology has been trending upward for years now as well. This isn’t necessarily a breakthrough in the market. We’ve seen smartwatches, trackers, and fitness bands for a while now.

But wearable devices have yet to reach their full potential. 

Take a look at this graph from eMarketer about the penetration of wearables in the United States. 

US Adult Wereables Users

While we’re not seeing a staggering jump year-year-over year, the growth is still steady. The wearables trend has changed and will continue to change the way that mobile apps get developed.

For instance, Apple made a big announcement about wearables and app integration at WWDC 2019. The new watchOS 6 has brought the Apple App Store to Apple Watch. Independent apps are being built specifically for these devices. This has created an enormous opportunity for app resellers and content creators.

In 2021, more mobile apps will be made with wearables in mind. Users will be able to download tens of thousands of apps directly from their wrist. 

We’re just beginning to scratch the surface with wearables and mobile app integration. The coming years will be exceptionally progressive in this category. 

5. Beacon Technology

Beacon technology has been embraced by a wide range of industries. From retail to healthcare and hospitality, beacons can add advanced functionality to nearly any mobile app.

The first mobile app beacons were developed back in 2013. But over the last few years, significant advancements have been made to this technology. 

Here’s an example of how beacons work with mobile apps. Let’s say you’re a mobile app reseller that builds apps for retailers. Your clients can install beacons in their stores that connect with a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth if the app is on their device. When a user passes by a beacon, they can be instantly notified about a sale or special on products in that store.

Beacons can also help track buyer behavior in stores. They can detect if a user is spending a significant amount of time in a particular aisle. The app can automatically trigger a push notification to entice a sale at a later date related to those products. 

The main benefit of beacon technology is proximity marketing. It ultimately improves the customer experience within a mobile app.

According to Statista, the beacon technology market is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 59.8%. The estimated market value will reach $56.6 billion by 2026. That’s more than ten times higher than the $519.6 million worth from 2016. 

6. Mobile Commerce

I can’t make a list of 2021 app trends without mentioning mobile commerce. This trend has been dominating 2019, 2020, and will continue to thrive in 2021.

It seems like everyone is leveraging mobile apps to increase revenue. From large retailers to individual content creators and personal brands, there is plenty of money to be made in this space. 

Mobile ecommerce functionality is a top feature for mobile app resellers to showcase during client pitches. It seems like every day another business is launching an app to drive sales.

We’re not quite at this point yet, but we’re almost reaching the age where you need a mobile commerce app to stay competitive. Every single person and business selling online is competing with giants like Amazon. To keep pace, you need to replicate what makes those brands so successful; an app is at the top of that list. 

By the end of 2021, more than 72.9% of total ecommerce sales will come from mobile devices. Apps play a significant role in the current and future success of mobile commerce.

Mobile Ecommerce Growth

I could go on for days listing dozens of trends about mobile commerce. But in an effort to keep things brief here, you can check out our complete guide to mobile ecommerce statistics. 

2021 will continue to be a big year for ecommerce app development. Plan accordingly. 

7. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence and machine learning both penetrated mobile app development years ago. But we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface with how these advanced technologies can be used. 

When we first think about AI, virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa come to mind. However, the use cases go far and beyond this for app development.

Last year, Apple released Core ML 3. This latest version of the iOS machine learning framework was built to help developers embed AI technology into their apps. 

Examples of AI features that can be implemented into a mobile app include:

  • Image recognition
  • Face detection
  • Text and image classification
  • Sentiment recognition and classification
  • Speech recognition
  • Predictive maintenance

Artificial intelligence can make apps smarter, and ultimately improve the performance at every level. From the backend development process to the frontend user experience, AI will change the way apps are built-in 2021. 

8. Mobile Wallets and Mobile Payments

We’ve already discussed the role of mobile commerce for app development in 2021. But the way people pay using their mobile devices is evolving as well.

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are trending upward. 

According to a recent report, there was $6.1 billion worth of transactions from mobile wallets in 2019. This is expected to reach $13.98 billion by 2022. 

In short, the mobile wallet market should double in the next two years. 

Smartphone users are slowly but surely adopting mobile payments. They’re even leveraging app functionalities for payments on connected wearable devices. In coming years, all the mobile apps out there need to account for mobile pay.

Mobile wallets must be taken into consideration for app development in 2021. Wallet integration should become a standard feature for every app that processes transactions. Currently, that’s not the case. But the mobile wallet penetration rate in apps will grow significantly in the coming years.  

9. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality will continue trending upward in 2021. Mobile apps can use AR features for a wide range of use cases.

Pokemon Go paved the way for AR in mobile app gaming. But today, the applications for AR have become more practical for other apps as well.

L’Oreal Paris uses AR for their Style My Hair app. 

Augmented Reality Examples

The app uses AR technology to showcase different hair styles and colors directly on the user. L’Oreal has also created a virtual makeup app using AR to see what makeup looks like on the user’s face. 

Even Google Maps rolled out a feature called “Live View” where users can see turn by turn directions in real-time on real-world imagery. By pointing the device’s camera at buildings and street signs, the app can figure out exactly where a user is. 

While these examples may not necessarily be useful for the majority of apps developed in 2021, there are plenty of other ways to use AR in mobile apps. 

For example, workforce apps can use AR-based training programs for employee learning. 

AR adaption is a top app development trend for content creators. You can use this technology to get creative as Instagram and Snapchat do with face filters. 

Virtual reality is also shaking things up in the world of mobile application development. This is especially true for gaming apps. VR technology can connect with phones, apps, and wearables to enhance the gaming experience of fully functional mobile apps. In terms of virtual reality and AR, these mobile application development trends cannot be ignored if you’re in the industries mentioned above.

10. Chatbots

Chatbots have been around for more than a decade. I remember my first interactions with these bots in the late 1990s on AOL Instant Messenger.

Over the years, chatbots have evolved and become much more advanced. Chatbots on websites have increased in popularity due to consumer demand. It’s becoming the new standard of customer service.

But of the millions of apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, just a small fraction actually use chatbots. This will change in 2021.

Since chatbots are driven by AI technology, their responses are becoming more human-like. We already discussed how AI will continue to trend upward, and this is one of the reasons why.

The global chatbot market is growing at 24% each year. It’s expected that 25% of all customer service tech interactions were facilitated by virtual assistants in 2020. For this to happen, chatbots need to penetrate the mobile app development market. 

11. Superior App Security

Everyone is susceptible to cybercrime. From singular content creators to multi-billion dollar enterprises, nobody is immune. 

Malware attacks designed to harm mobile devices increased by 54%. More than 60% of fraud originates from mobile devices. Of that figure, 80% comes from mobile apps. 

From an app development standpoint, you can’t afford to take any shortcuts when it comes to securing your app. If you’re an app reseller, security needs to be a top priority for your clients as well.

App users are well aware of security risks. So moving forward, people think twice about sharing passwords or providing sensitive information to third-parties, like app developers. 

Developers will start implementing features like Sign in With Apple to mobile apps. 

Rather than forcing app users to fill out form fields with their name, email address, and password, they can simply create an account and sign in using their Apple ID. These accounts are protected with two-factor authentication, and Apple won’t track the activity. 

12. Predictive Analytics

Here’s another mobile app development trend that will shake things up in the mobile app industry. By leveraging technology for machine learning, AI, data mining, and modeling, predictive analytics can forecast events using data. 

Tech giants have been leveraging predictive analytics for years now. A simple example is Netflix. The platform offers TV show and movie recommendations based on what users have previously watched. 

In 2021, predictive analytics will be implemented on a more mainstream level, for a wide range of mobile apps. The primary purpose will be to enhance the UI/UX with an app.

Take a look at how businesses across the globe are using AI technology.  

Predictive Analytics

19% of companies use AI for predictive analytics, which ranks first in the marketing category and fifth overall. 

The idea here is that no two users will have the same experience with an app. Product suggestions and preferences will be presented differently based on each user’s actions and behavior history. 

13. On Demand Apps

On-demand mobile app development is trending upward in 2021. Apps like Airbnb and Uber have shown how successful apps in this space can be. 

Users spend $57.6 billion per year using on-demand services. These are some examples of how apps can transform the on-demand industry:

  • Laundry service
  • Doctors on-demand
  • Virtual tutors and coaches
  • Food delivery
  • House cleaning
  • Maintenance services
  • Fitness on-demand
  • Pet care
  • Barber and beauty salon

The opportunities for on demand apps are seemingly endless. As a mobile app reseller, this is a huge opportunity for you to widen your customer base. By leveraging on-demand capabilities, your clients can add advanced functionality to their apps, which will increase profits for everyone. 

14. Cloud Computing Integration

While cloud technology is not new, it hasn’t quite penetrated the mobile app industry to its full potential just yet. But this is a mobile app development trend that you definitely need to keep an eye on. Cloud computing has a wide range of possibilities for mobile development, which will be exploited in 2021. 

Cloud storage technology can improve the performance of mobile apps at the user’s end. Apps can store data and carry out complex tasks on the cloud, as opposed to storing information directly on the user’s device.

Not only does this streamline development operations, but it’s also a cost-effective development solution. 

By the end of 2021, 83% of enterprise workloads will be cloud-based. If your agency is building business apps or internal workforce apps, you need to keep an eye on cloud computing trends in 2021. 

15. Instant Apps

Android Instant Apps launched a few years ago. But we’re going to see a rise in usage and development in 2021. 

Android Studio allows developers to build instant app experiences to improve their app discovery. Users can try the app without installing it. They just need to click on the “try now” button.

Instant Apps

Instant apps have size restrictions, so it won’t necessarily be a full version of the app. But these limitations could change in the coming years.

App users demand a better experience. Allowing them to use an app without downloading it is a great way to give them that. 

Hollar, a mobile commerce app, was able to increase conversions by 20% by launching an instant app. 30% of their entire Android traffic comes from the instant app. 

If you’re developing apps for the Google Play Store in 2021, you need to have an instant version as well.

Conclusion

Mobile app development is constantly changing. If you’re building apps today using information from two or three years ago, you won’t be able to stay competitive. Mobile app industry trends can make or break the success of your project.

As a reseller or mobile app development company, you can treat the 2021 mobile app trends like your bible. This is how you can gain an edge in your space. All of the mobile app developers on your team need to understand mobile app development trends and incorporate them into the app development process.

You don’t necessarily need to implement every single trend into every app you build. But you need to have a general understanding of how the market is shifting so you can adapt accordingly. 

Based on my extensive research, the 15 app development trends that I outlined above will dominate 2021. 

The 5 Ways to Build a Mobile App

Have you been thinking about building an app and doing it yourself? This guide is for you.

I’ve been a software engineer for 20+ years. Throughout my career, I’ve built five different startups. When I first started as an app developer, there were only two choices—Java and Objective-C.

Basically, you had two options with these. You could build your own app for Android with one and iOS for the other. That’s it.

But today, there are a lot more options out there that you can explore if you want to learn how to make an app. These ways range from very technical to not that technical at all.

I created this guide to show you the five different ways to build an app from scratch.

But before we dive in, I just want to take a moment to explain how I categorized these five different methods to create your own app.

One of the metrics I used was how technical you need to be in order to create an app. One end of the spectrum is a hardcore developer, and the other end is someone who is just savvy and knows how to use the Internet. The other metric I used was how flexible or rigid the solution would be for how to make an app.

For example, you could have an app development tool that’s extremely flexible; however, you need to be very technical in order to use it. Or you could have a tool that you don’t need to know how to code at all, but there might be some limitations on what you can do with it.

I’ll show you a graph with both of these metrics for each way to make an app. This will give you a visual representation of where the method falls on the spectrum. Let’s dive in!

Mobile App Development Method #1: Low-Level Coding

With low-level coding, the difficulty is pretty high. To make an app using this method, you need to be a specialized developer that understands programming languages.

But the flexibility is very high with low-level coding as well.


So there are definitely pros and cons to this option.

For the majority of the population, the biggest downside is that you have to be a developer to create an app from scratch with low-level coding—and a pretty good developer at that.

But the good side here is that the flexibility is at a maximum.

This is the best option if you’re trying to develop an augmented reality app or a game where the frame rate down to the millisecond is extremely important. Low-level coding is so flexible. Another good reason to use this method is if you’re dealing with specific hardware on a device that’s not mainstream.

Low-level coding will be the most time consuming app development process and the most expensive way to build an app, but you get the most control out of it.

 

Mobile App Development Method #2: Hybrid Apps

Hybrid app development usually relies on web technology, called Javascript.

This allows you to build once and deploy it on multiple platforms. So if you’re learning how to make a hybrid app, you’ll just code everything one time, and it will work on both iOS, Android, and potentially other platforms as well.

Examples of hybrid app development tools include Titanium from Appcelerator, Cordova on PhoneGap, Ionic, and React Native.

This method is really good when you want one set of developers, and you want to just develop everything once—then go straight to market with iOS and Android.

The difficulty here is low to medium. You don’t have to be as specialized as a developer like you would with low-level coding. Web developers can build hybrid apps because they know Javascript.

The flexibility level here is still very flexible. Here’s where hybrid apps fall on our graph:

Since you’re using Javascript to run the app, there will be a small performance hit that you need to take into consideration.

However, with today’s hardware and Internet speeds, that performance metric is shrinking dramatically. There are very popular hybrid apps out there that are UI intensive. One example is PBS Kids, which was made on Cordova. It performs extremely well.

You’ll just want to make sure that you reassess these metrics every couple of years. The dynamics of phones and network speeds will be different over time.

But as much as everyone used to learn how to make an app with low-level coding in the beginning, they are leaning more towards hybrid apps now. The main reason for doing so is the business side of app development. You can save a lot of time and money going hybrid vs. fully native development.

 

Mobile App Development Method #3: Rapid App Development (RAD)

The third way to create an app is with rapid app development tools—RAD for short.

There are RAD tools out there like OutSystems, Kinvey, and Kony. These allow you to make a mobile application using an intuitive interface.

Usually, rapid app development platforms claim that you don’t have to be too technical at all to use them.

However, if you want to do anything significant with your project, you sort of have to lean toward technical. You won’t have to be as technical as you would to create a hybrid app. But it’s around the medium level.

Here’s what I mean. You’ll have to know what you’re doing from a technical perspective, but you won’t have to learn how to code everything from scratch to build on these platforms.

So essentially, rapid app development allows you to go to market faster (hence the name) because there is a lot of pre-built functionality.

There are some drawbacks to rapid app development as well. Aside from the need to be somewhat technical in order to do anything significant, you’re also limited by the platform you’re using. You can only use whatever that platform has to offer in terms of functionality.

You’ll just be configuring their tools and options in a way that works for you.

These are great if you’re building apps internally for some type of internal process or maybe an app for your employees. It’s fine to use RAD if you don’t mind maintaining it yourself or paying someone to maintain it for you.

 

Mobile App Development Method #4: Cookie Cutter Apps

What’s a cookie cutter app? You might be familiar with some of these tools that are on the market today. A couple of popular ones include BiznessApps and GoodBarber.

With cookie cutter app builders, it’s really just one app that you’re configuring to make it look different from one deployment to another. What do I mean by this?

Cookie cutter app builders usually have a beautify app design. They have a highly intuitive user interface. You can turn settings on and off in the app to configure the app on your own. They make it easy for you to swap out images and text with your own content.

But at its core, a cookie cutter app is really just one set of functionality on a template that you’re turning on and off to make the app your own. So you can’t really take an app idea to the next level.

The difficulty level is pretty low here. Unfortunately, the flexibility is pretty low too.


This is a good option if your app is just a hobby. Or maybe you want to learn how to make an app for something that’s just “nice to have” as opposed to something that’s critical to your business. The user experience will ultimately suffer with the limited functionality.

If you just want to get to market quickly with an MVP and keep your budget really low, this is a good solution. You’ll be able to maintain everything yourself too.

However, the downside of using this app development method is that you’re probably going to reach a ceiling at some point when it comes to the functionality of your app.

There are certain things that you’ll eventually want to do, and the platform just won’t allow it. You’ll basically be waiting for the platform to catch up to your needs.

So if you don’t see your mobile app growing to the point where you’ll outgrow the platform, then these cookie cutter apps could be a good solution for your situation.

 

Mobile App Development Method #5: BuildFire

BuildFire is in a quadrant of its own.

As the CTO and a partner at BuildFire, I’m obviously a little biased here. I know the platform really well. But I still want to be honest and give you the pros and cons.

My partners and I built this app builder because we recognized that this quadrant was completely empty, and nobody was addressing it. We saw the need and built a solution.

BuildFire allows people with no technical skills to build for iOS apps and Android apps using our extensive marketplace that has a plethora of features that can be added in.

It’s also open to the app developer community, so they are constantly adding in more features.

Here’s one of the major differences between BuildFire and other app development platforms on the market today. If you feel that there’s a unique functionality to you and your app or a piece of functionality that hasn’t been developed yet, you can get your own developers to create it using the BuildFire SDK. They can build the functionality in a way that’s similar to hybrid apps without limiting your app ideas.

You can also use BuildFire to access native device APIs like bluetooth, ibeacon, cameras, and more.

Alternatively, you can contact BuildFire and take advantage of its white-glove services. The BuildFire developers can create this custom functionality for you.

As I already mentioned, I’m obviously a little biased here. But in the spirit of being fair, I’ll explain situations when BuildFire would not be the best solution for creating a mobile app.

If you’re trying to make an augmented reality app, BuildFire probably isn’t for you, at least right now. That might change in the coming years.

If you’re trying to create a first-person shooter game or develop the next Angry Birds, this won’t be the most ideal solution for you either.

Could you do it? Absolutely. I’m not saying that the capabilities aren’t there. But professionally speaking, you’re better off going with low-level development and using Swift or Java to build your app in those scenarios.

However, everybody else out there who wants to go to market quickly and wants the platform to scale with their needs, BuildFire is an extremely powerful platform.

BuildFire allows you to utilize the app building portion as well as the backend infrastructure. So you can reduce your ongoing development costs dramatically.

Once complete, you can launch your app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store simultaneously with the help of BuildFire’s team. These native apps can be downloaded by real users worldwide with Apple iPhones and Android devices. 

BuildFire’s pricing is very affordable too. The platform has been used to create 10,000+ apps, including apps for small businesses.

What’s the Best Way to Make a Mobile App?

Now that we’ve gone through the five different app development methods, it’s time to answer everyone’s burning question—which one is the best for a new app?

Realistically speaking, there is no one right answer here. The method you choose depends on your specific needs. The best way to create an app for me might not be the best way for you or your business.

It all depends on your technical skill level and how much flexibility you need to have. Here’s a quick recap of the five methods we discussed above:

Low Level Coding — Extremely technical but highly flexible. This app development method is costly and time consuming, but you can do just about anything with it.

Hybrid App Development — You develop the app once and deploy it to many platforms using technology like Javascript. It’s still pretty technical, but your flexibility is a bit lower compared to low-level coding.

It’s good for people who really want control of their platform and don’t want to outsource everything. With hybrid apps, you can bring everything in-house and not necessarily utilize a particular service out there.

Rapid App Development (RAD) — Great option for those of you who don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. It’s not too technical, but you can’t be afraid to dig in a little bit and do some work to manage it yourself.

RAD is a good solution for internal uses in cases when you’re not worried too much about UI, performance, and things of that nature. It could get pricey, depending on the platform you’re using. But those platforms will likely have an infrastructure that will aid you and a service layer that can build things for you.

Cookie Cutter Apps — These app makers are a really good solution if the app is just a hobby, and you’re trying to keep your budget as low as possible. Not recommended for apps that are mission critical to your business. If you just want to get an app out there quickly and you’re not worried about functionality, cookie cutters are usually beautiful and cheap.

BuildFire — This method allows you to create an app from scratch with no technical skills whatsoever. Even if you have technical skills, you can use BuildFire to do whatever you want with your app with limitless customization. Alternatively, you have BuildFire developers build something for you.

It also has a backend infrastructure that you can utilize. This solution ensures that you won’t have to deal with database servers, security, compliance, and things of that nature. BuildFire takes care of all of that for you.

BuildFire is the best option for people who really want to hit the ground running. The platform will save you time and money. You won’t be boxed into a platform when your needs grow. It’s great because it allows your developers or their internal developers to expand the app to make anything you want.

 

Conclusion

Want to learn how to make an app? Before you get started, you need to choose the best app development method. There are five main options to consider.

Choose the method that fits your technical skill level and needs of your app. It all depends on how flexible you need the solution to be and how technical you are. An app building platform will be the best option for most of you.

I hope this guide clearly explained all of the app development options. You can use it to choose what’s right for you and your business.

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out and let me know. Good luck!

5 Things to Consider BEFORE Building Your App

The software world is always evolving. In the past five years alone, things have changed dramatically in this space. 

When I first started out, there were very specific ways that apps had to be developed (like Objective-C and Java). There weren’t really many choices available.

But today, you have plenty of options. There are templates, components, frameworks, hybrid apps—lots to consider. How can you decide what’s right for you? 

Before you start any new app development project, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration. This is especially important for those of you who don’t have any experience with mobile app development, and arguably more important for anyone who has had a bad building experience in the past. 

As someone who has been through this process countless times, I always have this conversation with my clients before we start building anything—I try to drill this into their minds. 

I’ve identified the five most important things to consider before you start mobile app development. I’ll go over all of the different options at your disposal to ensure that you select what’s right for your business and project. 

 

Consideration #1 — Platforms to Support

This is the first thing you need to figure out from the beginning. 

What platforms will your app be available on? Obviously, you’ll want to put primary emphasis on Android and iOS, since these are the two most dominant. 

Globally, Android reigns supreme. The research displayed in this chart says it all:

But here in the US, it’s much closer to a 50/50 split. In fact, iOS controls 44.8% of the US market share, according to PCMag. Either way, you’re going to want to build an app for both.

However, you’ll also need to consider the devices that your apps will be used on—in addition to the platform itself. 

Each operating system has smartphones and tablets. Android tablets and iPads are not the same. This information will sort of give you a different dynamic of how you build your app since the specs and dynamics of each device is different. For example, devices with larger screens might not have as many limitations as a smaller smartphone. 

You should also be thinking about PWAs—progressive web apps.

More and more people are going to be accessing your mobile app and the web from their smartphones. PWAs offer an easier barrier to entry for whenever someone is exploring your product.

Another advantage of building a PWA is the ability for people to stumble upon your app via Google search. 

If someone is browsing on their phone and searching for something on Google, a PWA will allow them to enter your app directly from the browser. They can engage with it, either fully or partially, depending on how it’s built. 

While they’re trying it out, you can give them a prompt offering a more native experience, which would require a download. This is definitely something that you’ll want to think about and consider.

Consideration #2 — Mobile App Development Team

What team do you want to build your app? Most people don’t realize that they need more team members than they initially anticipated. That’s one of the reasons why software development is expensive.  

As we said before, we need to build an app for both iOS and Android. These apps will be written in two different languages. So you’ll need an iOS developer and an Android developer. 

You might find a developer that can actually do both, but I would advise against that. Why?

If you have one person building two apps, it will just end up taking double the time. Alternatively, you can have two separate developers working on it simultaneously. It will cost you the same amount of money, but you’ll get to market much faster as they work in parallel to each other. 

In addition to the two platform-specific developers, you’ll also need a full stack web developer.

Even if you opt-out of the PWA route, you still need to host your app data somewhere in the cloud. What does this mean?

Unless your app is something super simple, like a calculator that only requires a quick function and nothing else, you’ll need to make sure that your data resides in a secure and scalable location in the cloud.

A calculator or a flashlight app doesn’t have data that needs to be saved anywhere. There’s no communication between users or anything like that. But most apps will be much more complex than that.

For example, when your users register after downloading the app, where do their usernames and passwords go? It doesn’t stay on the devices. Everything is stored on a database somewhere in the cloud. When users communicate with each other, give you ratings, and when you release new updates, all of this is hosted in an infrastructure in the cloud. 

So you’ll need a full stack web developer to create this infrastructure that you need with the API so that your mobile app can access the data. 

You’ll also need a designer on your team to make sure everything looks good. 

Eye candy is the biggest selling point for most apps. It’s not necessarily always about the app functionality. If it looks pretty, it will engage with your user-base, which is extremely important—especially in such a competitive landscape. 

Your app development team needs a QA person as well. Their responsibility is to make sure that the software is properly tested. They run testing on multiple browsers, devices, and operating systems. Whether it’s the backend infrastructure or the app functionality itself, the QA has to cover all of your bases. 

Last, but certainly not least, your team needs a project manager. You can do this yourself or hire someone else. The project manager ensures that the team is hitting their deadlines, oversees the entire project, and holds everyone accountable.

So in the end, your team will be at least six people—three developers (iOS, Android, web), a designer, QA person, and a project manager. 

Consideration #3 — Infrastructure 

You’ll also need to consider where your app is being hosted. 

We’ve already established the fact that a member of your team needs to build this infrastructure. However, they’re probably not going to do it on some servers in your office; unless, of course, you’re still living back in the 1990s (but I do not recommend that). 

What you need to do is partner up with a hosting service that can host your app and its infrastructure. 

  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Reliability

These are the three most important components to look for when searching for the right hosting service to meet the needs of your app. 

Consideration #4 — Existing Services

This piggybacks off of my last point. Why would you build servers in your office if you can just use an existing service to host your app? It makes no sense.

That’s not the only thing you can leverage. There are plenty of other existing services that are currently out there. Use those to your advantage when you’re building an app. 

For example, there are already cloud servers out there that you can integrate with. There are analytical servers, push notification servers, authentication servers, and more—all of which already exist. You can just integrate them with your app.

So before you go out and try to build these services and solutions from scratch, make sure you shop around to see if there is a service that already exists. This will save you money and time; it’s much easier than reinventing the wheel. 

Consideration #5 — Existing Tools

In addition to existing services that you can leverage, there are also existing mobile app development tools. Make sure you consider all of the tools available at your disposal before you start building anything. 

Just like we talked about with the existing services providers—shop around before you begin.

There are lots of tools out there that will help you build an app from scratch. From templates to components and designs, all of this stuff is out there. You can just purchase the tools and use them on your own. 

This will drastically speed up the app development process and give you more time to focus on the business logic that makes your app different from others on the market. 

Hybrid App Development

Another thing to consider within this category is a hybrid mobile app development platform. These services allow you to write code once, and the app will work for iOS, Android, and PWAs.

You won’t have to hire three different developers to develop three different apps. 

So one app won’t be leading while the other two just follow. With traditional app development, it’s common for a new feature to get released on iOS, and then a month later it’s released on Android. Then another month passes before it’s released on the PWA. 

With hybrid app development, you just develop it once, and it’s out there. 

Now, you may ask yourself why everyone isn’t working on a hybrid app. The truth of the matter is this; it’s not the best option for all apps. If you’re developing the next augmented reality app or something that needs a really high frame rate, like a game, hybrid apps won’t be ideal. But it will still work if you choose to do so. 

Rapid App Development (RAD)

The last toolset that you’ll want to consider using is rapid app development. 

These are tools that are a step above hybrid apps and give you the ability to quickly develop an all-in-one single IDE (integrated developer environment).

This allows you to build systems rapidly (as the name implies), host them, and get everything to market as fast as possible. 

There are lots of systems out there that provide this type of mobile app development platform. But to me, BuildFire is going to be your best option. Why?

It has tons of out of the box functionality that you can use, without having to code anything whatsoever. 

Plus, if you want something very specific to your use case and need custom development, you can get your developers to work on it using code that they already know. 

If you compare this to other mobile app development platforms out there, you’ll see that they just don’t stack up. While other solutions might be good, you still need to learn them first before you’re able to actually build anything. Other tools don’t really have out of the box functionality either. Those platforms are more like rapid app development tools that you still need to be a developer to work on.

So make sure that you find the existing tool that’s best for you and your situation. 

Conclusion

Starting a mobile app development project is exciting. While it can be tempting to just dive right in, there are certain things that must be taken into consideration first. 

Before you begin, remember these quick points and pro tips:

  • What platform do you want to support?
  • What will the team look like that’s going to build your app?
  • Are there services that already exist today, so you don’t have to build everything from scratch?
  • Make sure you have an infrastructure to back everything up—partner with a hosting company that can scale with you.
  • Look for existing toolsets that will help you get your app to market much faster.

From templates to components and rapid app development tools like BuildFire, make sure you take a good look at all of your options to see what’s right for you and your company. 

Instead of doing extra, unnecessary, and expensive work to build every component of your app from scratch, leveraging tools at your disposal will be much easier. It will keep your costs down and ensure that your app is built as fast as possible.

I hope you found this information helpful. Continue to use this as a resource if you’re thinking about building a mobile app. Good luck with your next development endeavor!

11 Common Mistakes Mobile App Developers Make Every Day

Nobody is perfect. App developers and mobile app resellers are no exception to this rule. Throughout my years overseeing the app development process, I’ve seen first-hand about almost all mobile app development mistakes under the sun. 

Some of these developer mistakes are more significant than others. Whether it costs you time, money, or both, these errors can be frustrating. 

But for those of you who are just getting started with app development, whether it be as a reseller or business owner, you have a huge advantage here.

I’m sure you’ve been told to follow the path of those who succeeded before you. Well, you can also avoid the path of people who failed before you; learn from their mistakes.

Nobody intends to make a mistake during the app development process. 99% of the mistakes I’ve seen on a daily basis could have easily been avoided if the developer knew about them ahead of time. That’s what inspired me to write this guide.

Before you start a new development project, you need to review these common 11 mobile app mistakes. By avoiding app development mistakes, you’ll endure less frustration and increase your chances of building a successful app. 

Mistake #1: Neglecting Research and Due Diligence

Overseeing app development has taught me that people are impatient by nature. They want to dive in and start creating immediately, without taking the proper steps ahead of time.

If this sounds like you, I admire your enthusiasm. But you need to slow down and conduct your due diligence before you proceed.

Taking the time to find the best platform and solution for app development now will save you months or even years of frustration down the road. The app creation tool you choose can make or break the success of your project, so don’t rush this decision. 

There are so many different ways to build an app:

  • Coding on your own.
  • Using an app creator on your own without coding.
  • Hiring an agency.
  • Working with a freelancer.
  • Becoming a white label reseller.

The list goes on and on. Plus, there are different subsections within each option. For example, there are small local agencies, large international agencies, and everything in between. 

You can’t make this decision in ten minutes while browsing the web at a local coffee shop. It takes time to find the perfect app development solution for your needs. 

This process can be compared to buying a car. You don’t just show up to the dealership one day on a whim and leave with a car an hour later. You’ll read consumer reports, customer reviews, take test drives, and shop around different dealerships. 

The same process can be applied here. Read customer stories and case studies before you choose a development company. Subscribe to their newsletter. Request a consultation. Try a demo or free trial.

This is the only way to truly find the best development platform for your reseller agency or business app. 

Mistake #2: Poor Budget Management

Blowing through a budget is another common developer mistake that I see on a regular basis. There are a few main reasons why this happens:

  • Inaccurate budget estimate from the start.
  • Failure to plan for all components of the project.
  • Unexpected costs.

It’s important that you have a rough idea of how much your app will cost from the beginning. You can use tools like a mobile app cost calculator to help get an accurate estimate. 

But the initial development isn’t the only thing you need to plan for. Other phases need to be taken into consideration when you’re creating a budget. 

Your budget should also allocate funds for unexpected costs that could arise along the way.

If you decide that you want to add new features or make changes to your initial plan, your project won’t go over-budget if that was built into the estimate. 

It’s important that you set realistic budget expectations from the beginning. Lots of developers have a number in mind that they think will be sufficient to build an app, based on something they read or a conversation they had with a friend. But so many factors must be taken into consideration here.

If you keep up with the latest mobile app development trends, you’ll learn that technology is constantly evolving. Features like AI, AR, and other integrations will impact your budget. 

For those of you interested in becoming a mobile app reseller, you need to have an accurate budget to estimate your profit margins correctly. 

Mistake #3: Not Creating an MVP

Diving right into the final build is another common mistake made by app developers. 

An MVP (minimum viable product) will help you test the app and evaluate its performance. During the MVP stages of development, the app will only be comprised of essential features. 

Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you were building a car.

The final product will have a radio, a GPS system, leather seats, automatic windows, and a new paint job. But an MVP of that car just needs to have four wheels, a frame, steering wheel, and an engine. As long as the car does what it’s supposed to, it’s an acceptable minimum viable product. 

An MVP is not an experiment for your app. This is another common app mistake. 

Back to the car analogy. You wouldn’t build a motorcycle or a helicopter as your MVP if the final product is supposed to be a four-door sedan. 

So if you’re building an HR mobile app to improve employee efficiencies, a social media app isn’t a viable MVP.

Instead, you’d want to focus on the core components of the app. Such as building individual employee log-in capabilities and the ability to send push notifications for announcements. As development continues, you can add features like access to payroll information and benefits.

Mistake #4: Poor UI/UX Build

Sometimes we get so lost in development that we forget about how the app will actually be used. Neglecting the user interface of an app is a mistake that needs to be avoided at all costs.

A poor UI/UX design is one of the top reasons why people uninstall apps. 

why uninstall apps

People have certain expectations when they open an app. Follow the lead of the most successful and popular apps on the market today as an example.

All of these apps have simple navigation, a search function, and the home menu that can be easily accessed from any screen. 

Sometimes developers make the mistake of trying to get too creative with the UI, which ultimately hinders the user experience. 

Here’s an analogy. When you visit a website, you’re expecting the main menu to be at the top of the screen, right? That’s how you’ll navigate to different pages and find your way around the site.

Now, what if you went to a website, and the main menu was in a grid at the bottom right side of your screen? 

Technically, that’s not incorrect. People can design a website however they want to. But the users will be frustrated with this design since it’s not what they’ve grown accustomed to. 

The same concept can be applied to your mobile app. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and win the most innovative homepage design in the history of app development. 

Stick to what works. If the user is forced to make three or four clicks just to return to a home screen or navigate to another screen in the app, they will not enjoy the app experience. 

Prioritize UI, or else you’ll have lots of unhappy app users. 

Mistake #5: Failing to Test Properly

I briefly mentioned testing earlier when we discussed MVPs. But to have a successful mobile app, you need to take your testing to the next level.

Testing is an ongoing process and needs to be performed throughout the entire development process. Not only will it improve the user experience, but it’s the only way to work out any bugs or problems with the app.

Here’s an overview of the most common challenges in mobile app testing over time. 

As you can see from the graph, the vast majority of developers test their apps. That’s no longer a problem. 

But several challenges still remain, which hinders the testing process.

To combat some of the most common testing mistakes and barriers, follow these tips and best practices:

  • Define your testing process and procedure. (How often will you test? Who will test? Etc.)
  • Have a dedicated in-house testing environment. 
  • Use both in-house and outsourced mobile app testing experts. 
  • Get the right tools and equipment to facilitate your tests.
  • Schedule time for testing.

Using in-house and outsourced experts to test your app is crucial. A developer or team of developers working on an app every day will have a bias. They know how the app works and what it’s supposed to do. An in-house tester may not think the UI needs improvement if they were involved with the design process. 

But a third-party expert who is impartial and has never seen the app before will be able to provide much better feedback. 

Mistake #6: Building For Too Many Platforms

Depending on the purpose of your app, you might be tempted to make it available for as many users as possible. While this obviously has its upsides for mobile app marketing, it can create challenges from a development standpoint. 

If you’re going to build a traditional native mobile app, creating an iOS and Android app will likely double your budget.

Both projects will be treated as two separate development ventures. So if you’ve never built an app before, taking on two builds at the same time is a daunting task. 

Rather than accelerating your initial development costs and starting something that’s too much for you to handle, stick to just one platform if you’re building a native app.

Alternatively, you can build for iOS and Android simultaneously using an app builder. These platforms reduce your development costs and timeline while giving you the ability to create an app without writing a single line of code.  

If you want to learn how to code or work with a partner that will code a native app from scratch, that’s fine. I’d just focus on one platform if you go that route. Otherwise, using an app builder will be the best way to avoid these problems altogether.

Mistake #7: Poor Communication During Development

The majority of mobile app failures can be traced back to poor communication during the development process. 

While most people agree that effective communication during a project is extremely important, just a small percentage of people believe that their business is achieving that. 

This statement holds true for any project, but the stakes are magnified when it comes to something as important as mobile app development. 

The only way to avoid this mistake is by prioritizing communication from the beginning. 

I’ve supervised dozens of app development projects over the years. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that there is no such thing as over-communicating. Keeping your partners, colleagues, development team, or whoever else updated with your progress or ideas can’t hurt you. 

Maybe you repeat something that was already said. So what? It’s better than assuming everyone is on the same page when they really aren’t. 

If you’re hiring a developer to build an app for you, that person isn’t a mind-reader. You need to be clear throughout every stage of what your expectations are. 

For those of you who plan to white label and resell apps, your communication skills could make or break the success of your mobile app reseller business. Unhappy clients are expensive and can even give you some sleepless nights. It’s worth the extra five minutes every so often to get organized. 

Depending on the size of the app development project, you can have daily, weekly, or bi-weekly meetings with everyone involved. A quick status update from each member of the team is usually enough to get the job done. 

Mistake #8: Going Overboard With Features and Functions

Apps today are seemingly limitless. They can do just about anything that you can imagine.

With that said, it doesn’t mean that your app needs to include every app feature and function available just because it’s possible. Stick to the core features of what your app really needs to function properly.

Adding too many features will set you up for loads of problems down the road. From an initial development standpoint, it’s going to increase your budget with each new feature you add. 

Jamming your app full of features can even hinder its performance. Apps with too many features are more susceptible to bugs, errors, and crashes. 

Furthermore, adding features will impact the size of your app. Research shows that one in four people will delete an app for a lack of phone storage. 

why people delete apps

This also makes it a challenge to update your app, which we’ll talk about in greater detail shortly.

Since app development and technology is so cool, it’s tempting to add new features. But you need to think twice and ask yourself if new features are actually necessary. If it doesn’t add value to the app, then leave it out. 

Let’s say you’re building an ecommerce app. Can you add a calculator, flashlight, calendar integration, and social media log-in? Sure. But why would you?

An ecommerce app is complex enough without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles. So just focus on features needed to facilitate mobile commerce transactions. 

Mistake #9: Partnering With the Wrong Development Team

I’ve seen good app ideas fail because the wrong person developed it. This is an expensive mistake that needs to be avoided at all costs. 

Ironically, one of the reasons why people pick the wrong development team is because they are price-sensitive. They try to save money by outsourcing development to a freelancer overseas at a fraction of the rate for an agency in the US. 

Then that freelancer stops responding, falls behind schedule, or delivers an app that doesn’t meet your expectations. 

You’ll want to find a development team that will give you as little or as much control during the process as you choose. Do you want to develop the app on your own? Do you want the developers to build it for you? Do you want to do most of the work with a little bit of help and guidance along the way? Finding a developer that can meet all of those needs will be your best option.

If you want to become an app reseller, choosing the right development platform is the most important step in the process.

That development platform is your entire product. If that team doesn’t provide you with the support, resources, and materials required to service your clients, you’ll be in a world of trouble. 

Mistake #10: Not Preparing For Updates

It’s a common misconception that app development ends when the app launches. That’s far from the case. In reality, development never stops. No app is perfect, and you’ll need to make improvements on a regular basis. 

About 30% of apps are updated at least once a month. More than 80% of apps are updated every six months. 

upload frequency

You must plan for these updates from the beginning. Updates will impact your budget, as well as your decision to choose one developer over another. 

Updates are required to improve the user experience, eliminate bugs, and remain compatible with the latest operating software on various devices. 

If you’ve spent every last penny in your budget for the initial app launch, you won’t be able to make any updates without coming out of pocket.

Choose an app builder that provides full-service and maintenance even after you finish building the app. 

As a reseller, you need to keep these app updates in mind for your clients as well. Your white-label service provider must make this easy for you. At the end of the day, updates can benefit your bottom line. You can continue to generate income long-term even after the app has launched by providing updates and additional support services to your clients.

But that’s only possible if you’re on the right reseller program with a development platform that can provide those needs. 

Mistake #11: Mirroring Your Mobile Website

Lots of business owners understand the importance of having a mobile presence. So there’s a good chance that you already have a mobile-friendly website. 

After learning that mobile apps convert higher than the mobile web, you might be interested in building an app for your business. Don’t make this app a clone of your website.

There’s a reason why apps perform better than mobile sites. Apps offer features and functions that a mobile website cannot. Mirroring your app after the mobile site would be a waste of your resources and opportunity.

Plus, users have different expectations for an app compared to a website. The purpose of the app is to make the customer journey easier and provide enhanced value to the users. 

If the app isn’t different than the mobile site, why should they bother downloading the app?

Your app can have some similarities as your website, such as the color scheme, theme, and brand image. But beyond that, the app needs to create a completely different user experience. 

Conclusion

Like any big project, developing an app can be frustrating at times. Mobile app development mistakes happen to everyone, including myself. 

But if you understand the most common developer mistakes, you can avoid them altogether. 

Whether you’re building an app on your own, looking to hire a developer, or interested in becoming a mobile app reseller, avoiding the mobile app development mistakes in this guide will save you time, money, resources, and headaches in the long run. 

Will you still make mistakes along the way? Probably. But it won’t be anything that is insurmountable. 

Keep checking back and subscribe to the BuildFire blog to get the latest updates on development tips and best practices.

Why Mobile Apps Convert Higher Than the Mobile Web

Every business and every website across all industries needs to establish a mobile presence. This shouldn’t come as shocking news to anybody.

We’re living in a mobile world. There are four billion unique mobile users across the globe. 

52% of all Internet traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices. Mobile usage controls 65% of all digital consumption in the United States. 

Every mobile category has been trending upward for years, showing no signs of slowing down in the near future. 

Most businesses and websites have identified these trends and adapted by making sure their websites are mobile-friendly. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly basically can’t survive in this day and age. So this is definitely a step in the right direction.

But don’t make the mistake of assuming that a mobile-friendly website is the final solution. You’re just barely scratching the surface here in terms of mobile optimization.

The fact of the matter is this; you need a mobile app to fully optimize your brand, business, and website for mobile users. 

Why? Research shows that mobile apps convert higher than the mobile web.

As you can see from the graph, this statement holds true across all industries. On average, mobile apps convert at a 157% higher rate than the mobile web.

So for those of you who are relying solely on a mobile website to drive conversions, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. The only way to maximize conversions is with a mobile app.

At first glance, mobile apps and mobile websites might seem similar. How is it possible that one platform can convert at such a higher rate than the other? Especially when they are being accessed through the same device. 

In this guide, I’ll explain exactly why mobile apps convert better than mobile sites. By the end, you’ll understand the importance of building an app for your website or business. 

Better Personalization

It’s no secret that personalization drives conversions. This holds true whether a consumer is shopping in-store, online, or from any device. 

The best way to personalize someone’s experience is based on factors like:

  • Interests
  • Behavior
  • Location
  • Demographics

You can’t treat all of your customers the same if you want to maximize your conversion rates. A 19-year-old girl located in Hawaii shouldn’t be seeing the same content as a 50-year-old man living in New York City. 

A mobile app makes it easier for you to gather more information about users in real-time. Then you can ultimately use that information to personalize their experience.

With an app, you’ll be able to suggest products or services to users based on their browsing behavior or purchase history. 

Mobile apps make it easy for you to facilitate this because every unique user can have a profile with their account preferences. In addition to personalizing their experience based on behavior or actions, you can also use an app to directly ask your customers what they want.

Here’s an example of how Spotify uses its app to personalize content for its users.

mobile apps

Anyone can download and use the Spotify app for free. But Spotify also offers premium subscriptions. 

This strategy of personalized playlists for users will ultimately improve their experience using the app. In turn, this will increase the chances that people will convert to paying customers.

An app makes it easy for users to track their spending, view their purchase history, or monitor their status towards rewards in your customer loyalty program.

Can some of this be done on the mobile web? Sure. But it requires users to sign in to an account. This extra step can be tedious, especially from a 4-inch screen. With a mobile app, users will automatically be signed in when they open the app on their devices. 

Easier Communication

Communication is another key element that drives conversions. There is definitely a wide range of reasons and methods for a brand and customer to communicate, but all of these can be broken down into two main categories:

  • Communication initiated by the user.
  • Communication initiated by the business.

When you look at things this way. It’s really not that complicated. An email marketing campaign is an example of communication being initiated by the business. A customer form submission with a question or complaint is initiated by the user.

Both of these categories are better from a mobile app compared to the mobile web. Here’s why.

While you do everything in your power to make things as easy as possible for your customers, there will always be those instances where people need that extra level of service. 

Some people will have a question or problem-related to a previous purchase or a purchase that they are considering. Others will need some assistance with how to navigate or access content on your platform. Whatever the reason might be, you need to make sure that easy access to customer support is available. 

Live chat is the most preferred method of customer communication. 

While you can make live chat available on your mobile website, the user experience is much better overall when it’s integrated into a mobile app.

You can set up a specific section of your app dedicated to customer support. Users can communicate with you via live chat, email, ticket support, or phone, simply by selecting one of the options on your menu.

Now let’s talk about communication initiated by the brand. On the mobile web, this isn’t really possible. 

Sure, you can have an AI robot or chatbot pop up on the page. But that’s about as limited as it gets. The only other way to establish communication with mobile web visitors is by getting them to sign up for emails. 

With a mobile app, you have the freedom and flexibility to connect with users at any time via push notifications. Push notifications drastically outperform email communication.

In fact, a recent study found that push notifications have a 90% average open rate, compared to 23% for email. 

70% of people feel that push notifications are useful, and 40% of users engage with a push notification within an hour of receiving one. Push notifications have a 7x higher engagement rate compared to emails.

The only way to communicate with users via push notifications is through a mobile app. 

Utilize Mobile Device Features

Since mobile apps are installed directly on a device, it gives you access to certain elements of a user’s smartphone or tablet. I’m referring to features like:

  • GPS
  • Camera
  • Contact lists
  • Compass

Not only does this make your app more interactive than a mobile website, but it also makes things easier for the user. 

For example, let’s say your app requires users to add a credit card as a payment method. After all, how else are you going to make money?

There are 16 digits in a credit card. When you combine this with the user’s name, card expiration date, and card verification code, it’s quite a bit of information to manually type on a small screen.

If they make a mistake and the card doesn’t process, it can frustrate the user and cause them to abandon the purchase. 

But with a mobile app, you can access the device’s camera and let the user take a picture of their card as a faster alternative. Uber does this with its mobile app.

Now a payment method can be added to a user’s account in seconds. 

This method eliminates user error and makes it less likely that a customer will abandon the purchase process due to frustration. 

The opportunities are endless here. Let’s say you run a small business with multiple physical locations. You can set up your app to integrate with the GPS of a user’s device. This will allow them to find the nearest store, and potentially provide them with turn by turn directions to get there. 

Do you want your customers to recommend your company to their friends and family? By accessing the contact list of a user’s device, it’s easy for them to share promotion codes or referrals with other people.

From the mobile web, this would require people to manually enter phone numbers and email addresses. So it’s less likely that they’ll go through this process and convert with the extra steps.  

Offline Access

This is arguably the biggest difference between mobile apps and mobile websites. Simply put, users must be connected to the Internet to access a mobile site.

If they don’t have a Wifi connection, then they need to use data from their mobile plan. If they are in an area with no data service, or if they don’t have an active data plan, then accessing a mobile site is just not possible.

Lots of mobile apps might need an Internet connection to perform certain tasks. However, apps still deliver plenty of functionality while users are offline. 

For example, let’s say you have a banking or real estate app. Users wouldn’t need an Internet connection to do something like calculate taxes, determine their loan limits, or plan installment payments. 

Depending on how you set up your app, users can even access cached information from when they were previously connected to the Internet.

Netflix is a global leader in streaming video connect. Normally, you’d need Internet access to stream content. But through the Netflix mobile app, users can download videos to their device and watch them at a later time while offline. 

So a user could download a movie at their home while connected to Wifi, then access the content while they are on a plane, train, or somewhere else where an Internet connection is unavailable or unstable.

Don’t assume that all users want to use their data plan at times when they aren’t connected to Wifi. You should also look beyond smartphone users.

Roughly 164 million tablets are sold worldwide each year. The majority of those tablets are Wifi-only plans. So offline access is crucial to those users who don’t have the option to use data when they aren’t connected to Wifi. 

Users Spend Majority of Mobile Time on Apps

In order to maximize conversions, you need to reach people on the platforms that they are using the most. If you look around, it’s clear that nearly everyone always has their eyes locked to a mobile device. Even when they aren’t on their phones, they always seem to be within an arm’s reach.

But what exactly are people doing on those devices? I’ll give you a hint; they aren’t browsing the web.

90% of the time on mobile devices is spent using apps. Just 10% of mobile usage is spent on the web. 

People can’t convert unless they are accessing your content. There is a much greater chance that they’ll access your content from an app than a web browser.

Why is this?

Mobile apps are just better. Since they are already loaded directly on to a user’s device, all people need to do is click on it to access information. Driving conversions is all about eliminating friction from the process, we’ll talk about this in greater detail shortly when we discuss checkout optimization.

By having an app installed on their device, it already takes two steps out of the process. To access your mobile website, users need to open a browser, search for your site, then click on it to reach the homepage. 

To access your site from an app, all they have to do is make one click and it’s open. This literally takes seconds. 

We already discussed the benefits of personalization. With an app, the user is logged in to their account. Whereas they would need to do this manually from a mobile website. 

So it’s no surprise that mobile app usage significantly outweighs and outperforms mobile web browsing. 

Better UX and UI

While a mobile-friendly website is necessary, it’s still limited in terms of its functionality. That’s because a mobile site relies on web browsers to perform even basic functions.

I’m referring to things like the back button or refresh button. You can’t design a mobile site to override the functionality of a web browser. 

But with a mobile app, you won’t have any of these types of restrictions.

You can set it up so users can use functions like swiping, tapping, or holding down on the screen to improve their experience. This design freedom can ultimately improve the user experience. 

At the end of the day, consumers prefer apps to mobile sites. These are the top reasons why:

The number one response was convenience. Based on this information, we can definitively say that apps are more convenient than the mobile web. 

People don’t convert when things are inconvenient. If it’s tough to navigate, access information, or perform basic functions, people will just look elsewhere for their needs. 

But when you make everything as easy as possible for users, by giving them a mobile app, it increases the chances that they’ll convert. 

Speed

Refer back to the last graph about why users prefer mobile apps over mobile sites. The number two reason on that list is speed.

Mobile apps are faster than the mobile web. Why?

It’s simple. Websites rely on web servers for storing information. So it can take a bit longer for content to load on a device since the speed is contingent on factors like the browser performance, the web hosting provider, the hosting plan, and the physical location of the server. 

Just a one-second delay in loading time can cost you a huge percentage of conversions.

 

You would think that three seconds is pretty quick. But as you can see from this infographic above, it’s just not fast enough. 

Slow loading times result in higher bounce rates, higher abandonment rates, and lower conversion rates. 

On the flip side, mobile app data can be stored locally on each unique device. This means that retrieving the data to load content happens nearly instantaneously. The mobile app framework also runs faster than traditional website JavaScript code. 

The backend performance of the app ultimately results in faster speed for users on the front end.

Furthermore, the fact that app users can have their preferences stored will speed things up as well, making it easier and more likely that they’ll convert. 

Increase Engagement and Retention

Mobile websites don’t have any way to really drive engagement. The capabilities are limited, and you’re restricted in terms of when and how you can connect with the visitors.

We talked about this earlier when we were discussing communication. With an app, you can use a push notification to stimulate engagement. You don’t have this luxury on your mobile site.

Apps make it easier for you to retain your customers as well. With features like a customer loyalty program or referral program, it entices people to stay active on your app.

When a customer sees that they are being rewarded for spending or conversions, it makes it more likely that they’ll continue to convert. 

If you also give people an incentive to refer to family and friends, then those same people will continue using the app moving forward. Sharing content, driving engagement, and raising retention rates is much more difficult from a mobile website. 

Checkout Optimization

Checkouts are the ultimate form of conversions. Sure, a conversion can also be defined by an action such as a download or opt-in, but checkouts result in dollars.

Mobile apps are designed for checkouts. In many cases, checkouts can happen in a matter of seconds. You won’t get this benefit on the mobile web.

From a mobile site, there aren’t any shortcuts. A website visitor needs to find the product, add it to their cart, enter their payment information, shipping information, and checkout. This process can take minutes, and there is so much room for error.

But a mobile app can already have all of this information saved. The user can simply add the item to their cart, and finalize the checkout with just one additional click.

All of the billing and shipping information will already be saved to their account. By reducing friction in the checkout process, conversions will skyrocket. 

Earlier we looked at data related to mobile conversions as a whole. But this graph specifically covers eCommerce conversions between mobile apps and mobile websites.

As you can see, the app outperforms the mobile browser in every category. 

Users view more products per session, have a higher add to cart rate, and ultimately covert at a 130% higher rate. 

Better Branding

Getting users to download your app is a huge win in terms of your branding strategy. 

With a mobile website, people are only exposed to your brand when they navigate to your site. How often does that happen? And how long does that last for? If you’re lucky, someone might visit your site once a week, and stay on there for a few minutes per session.

But people use their mobile devices all day, every day. They’ll see your app, brand name, and logo on their screen all of the time. This gives them more of an incentive to open your app and convert.

Even if they aren’t using the app daily, they are still exposed to your name and brand. This makes it more likely that they’ll convert in the future since your company is constantly on their minds and in front of their eyes.

Conclusion

You need to have a mobile-optimized website. But with that said, a mobile website is limited, and doesn’t drive conversions as well as a mobile app.

The only way to maximize conversions is with a mobile app. Here’s a quick summary of why mobile apps convert higher than the mobile web:

  • Apps offer better personalization.
  • It’s easier to communicate with an app.
  • Apps can leverage mobile device features.
  • Mobile apps have offline access.
  • People spend more time using apps than mobile web browsers. 
  • Mobile apps deliver better UX and UI.
  • Mobile apps are faster than mobile sites
  • Apps drive engagement and increase retention rates.
  • Mobile apps are optimized for checkouts.
  • Apps improve your branding strategy.

As you can see, there is really no debate or comparison. Apps beat out mobile sites in every category. More specifically, all of these metrics point to higher conversion rates. 

If you’re ready to take your mobile strategy to the next level, we’re here to help. You can use BuildFire’s platform to create a mobile app to ultimately get more conversions.

What to Look For in a Mobile App Developer

What to Look For in a Mobile App Developer

If you run a search on mobile app development, you’ll quickly learn that the market is saturated, to say the least. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile app developers out there for you to consider. 

But with that said, how many of those developers are actually qualified to build the app you want? The number might be significantly less than you initially thought. 

Here’s the reality of the situation. Just because someone knows how to build mobile apps, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best developer to build the right app for you. 

For example, there are plenty of freelancers out there who know the basics of coding and can put together a functional app. But that doesn’t qualify them to build an ecommerce app, internal business communication app, or white label apps for agencies. 

These types of apps are more complex, and therefore, need to be built by a developer who has experience in those spaces. 

So how can you tell which developers are the best for your app? It can be challenging if you don’t know what to look for. 

That was my inspiration for writing this guide. As an expert in the mobile app development industry, I want to show you exactly what you should look for in an app developer.

Think of this guide as a detailed checklist that you can use while vetting prospective developers. Ultimately, knowing what to look for in a developer will make it much easier for you to find the perfect match for your app. 

Platform Availability

What type of mobile app are you building? Is it an iOS app? Android app? Or both?

The answer matters when you’re choosing a developer. Some developers specialize in one platform over the other. Apps for different operating systems are built with separate coding languages.

So if you know you want an iOS to be available on the Apple App Store, then it wouldn’t make sense to go with a developer who only builds Android apps.

Ideally, you want to find a developer who can build for both iOS and Android. Otherwise, you’d have to find two separate developers to build for each platform, which can lead to more problems than you could possibly imagine. 

Even if you only want to launch your app on one platform right now, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually want it to be available on both platforms eventually. 

Using a developer or development agency that can build hybrid mobile apps will significantly reduce the cost and time associated with building two separate native apps. 

For the vast majority of you, the benefits of hybrid development will significantly outweigh the cons.

Let’s say you have an ecommerce app. Your target market might have a preference of iOS over Android or vice versa. But with that said, you’re still leaving a huge opportunity for mobile sales on the table if you only launch on one platform.

Here’s another example. Some of you may want to build a human resources app to improve employee communication. 

The best and most cost-effective way to do this is by allowing your employees to access the app on their own devices. Well, it’s highly unlikely that all of your employees are using the same operating system. 

The bottom line is this—your app will need to be on both platforms. 

Even if you’re certain that you only want to launch on one platform to start, you should still look for a mobile app developer who can build both. You may eventually decide to change your mind somewhere down the line. 

Developer Availability

Lots of times cost will play a major role in someone’s decision to find an app developer. But like most things you buy, cheaper isn’t always better. 

So a common way for people to try and cut corners to save money is by looking for a freelance developer. However, I would not recommend going this route. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some talented freelancers out there who are more than capable of building an app for you. They might even do it at a reasonable rate.

But one of the most important factors of finding the best mobile app developer is their availability. Allow me to explain.

When someone builds an app for you, the communication process is crucial. They can’t develop something the way you want it if you’re unable to explain your needs. 

So it makes sense to find a developer in the same region as you. If you live in the United States or Canada, find a developer in North America. Otherwise, you’ll run into problems with things like language barriers and scheduling phone calls. 

You don’t want all of your communication to be handled via email. You also don’t want to be speaking to a developer who has trouble understanding you and is only available to talk at 2 AM local time. 

As you can see from the graph above, the cost of a higher-end freelance developer in North America isn’t as cheap as you think. You can work with an agency for less, and the overall experience will be much better.

A freelancer is just one person. They are likely working on multiple projects simultaneously, so they can’t focus all of their efforts on your app. 

An app development agency, on the other hand, will have a team of developers. All of them will be working on your app in unison. 

This means that an agency can developer your app faster, and more efficiently. 

Plus, you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket. What if the freelancer you hire gets sick? Or gets hurt?

It may sound like an unlikely scenario, but you’d be surprised; I’ve seen it happen before. 

Now your app development process has stalled because the developer is no longer available. With an agency, if a developer is sick or can’t come into work, the rest of the team is still there to work on your app. The show goes on without a hitch. 

Technology Requirements

When you’re shopping around for a mobile app developer, make sure that you ask questions related to the technology. This is a major problem that I see people run into all of the time.

Some developers just give you a base price in their bid for the development costs, but they fail to give you the rates for the back-end infrastructure of your app. 

There are certain things that will be required for your app to work once it’s live. For example, if you want to save and store information about your app users, you’ll need a database server. 

Do you want user analytics? You need an analytics server. You’ll need to have an authentication server if you want users to log in to your app, and a push notification server if you want the ability to send push notifications. The list goes on and on.

So when you’re talking to developers, make sure to clearly explain the features you want in the app. Those features will impact the technology requirements. 

Then make sure the developer gives you a transparent bid that includes the cost of all this technology.

Security

Security must be a top priority for anyone building a mobile app.

So make sure that your developer is able to provide you, your business, and your app with top-level security features. Here’s a great visual representation that shows you how to secure a mobile app. 

56% of the top 100 paid apps in the Apple App Store have been attacked by hackers. Malicious mobile app attacks are increasing by 163% year-over-year. 

When you’re consulting with a developer, stress the importance of security.

Ask them what your options are, and see what they offer. If they tell you something vague along the lines of “your app will be fine” or “don’t worry about it,” then it’s a cause for concern. 

Developers should be able to tell you, specifically, how your app will be secured. The levels of security will vary based on the type of app you’re building. 

For example, an ecommerce app that processes payments and saves customer billing info will obviously need more security than a calculator app. If you’re a business owner who is developing an app for your employees, you need to make sure that all of their information is secure. 

You may even want to restrict access for who can download or log into the app.

As a white label reseller, you’ll want to make sure that you’re delivering a secure app to your clients as well. Otherwise, it will be a poor reflection of your agency, even though you technically didn’t build the app. 

Post-Development Support

Let’s fast-forward a bit. 

Your app has been successfully developed. It’s live, available for download, and people are already using it. That’s great! But now what?

Does the developer just walk away and leave you own your own? You can’t just build an app, set it, and forget it. 

Think of your app like a new car that you just bought and drove off of the lot. You’re not done paying for that car. It’s still going to need oil changes, tire rotations, and other regular maintenance. When something goes wrong, you need to get it fixed.

Your app isn’t perfect, and likely never will be. You’ll always be able to make changes and adjustments with updates. 

As you can see from the graph, roughly 30% of apps are updated at least once a month. In total, nearly 83% of all apps are updated every six months, at a minimum. 

In short, your app is going to need updates. So find a developer who can make this work for you. How much will updates cost?

Some developers will charge you per update, either hourly or based on the resources required. Others will provide you with a content management system that will let you make those changes on your own.

In my experience, it’s best to work with an agency that has software making it easy for you to make simple changes without doing any coding on your own. 

Plus, that agency will be there to offer support if you need help with more complex changes, or if you’re struggling with their CMS. 

The best mobile app developers will not only set up your app and infrastructure, but they’ll maintain it for you as well. They’ll be available when something happens and goes wrong. 

Say your app gets a sudden traffic surge and the servers crash. Now what?

Ask your developer about the support offered from a load balancing and autoscaling perspective. Are these included in the price that they’re quoting you? Or is it going to cost extra when it comes time to scale your app?

Experience

All apps are not created equally. Someone can learn to develop a simple app like a flashlight or a calculator with basic coding knowledge. But these skills won’t translate to the type of app that you’re trying to build.

Find a developer who has experience building complex apps, and apps that are similar to what you’re looking for. Here are some analogies. 

If you were arrested on criminal charges, would you bring a tax attorney to court? No, you’d hire a criminal defense lawyer.  

Let’s say you want to get a new tattoo. Would you go to an artist on their first day of work? No, you’d want someone who has done this countless times. 

Sure, these examples may seem a bit extreme and unrelatable to some of you, but I’m just trying to illustrate a point. A mobile app is a serious commitment and investment, so you need to make sure you put your trust in a reputable professional.

If you want to build an HR app for internal employee communication, work with a developer who has done this before. 

Do you want an ecommerce app for your Shopify store? Find a developer who specializes in this type of development.

Ask the developer for references, examples, and case studies of apps they’ve previously built. 

The developer’s portfolio will tell you if they have experience making apps like the one you need. 

Timeline

How long will it take to develop your mobile app? For some of you, this will be an important factor in the decision-making process. 

Let’s say you’ve consulted with several developers and narrowed your choices down to two or three options. 

Maybe your cheapest option is a freelancer, but they can’t start working on your app for three months. Plus, it’s going to take them an additional six months to complete the process, assuming no delays.

Is it worth waiting nine months for your app to go live?

An agency, on the other hand, tells you that your app can be launched in less than four months from the day you start. While this option might be more expensive, depending on the agency, it’s worth it to get your app developed faster. 

There’s a reason why you’re building an app in the first place. It’s either to make more money or to improve efficiencies. 

If you have an ecommerce shop, you’re missing out on sales every day that your app isn’t available to your customers. If you’re building an app to improve your company’s internal communications, any delays cost you more in terms of inefficiencies. 

So don’t delay development. Look for a developer that meets all of your qualifications, and has the capacity to launch your app as soon as possible. 

Conclusion

If you’re going to shop around for a developer, make sure you do the following:

  • Ask what platforms are covered.
  • Make sure you have the technology requirements for your features.
  • Prioritize security.
  • Plan ahead for making changes.
  • Find a developer that has experience building the type of apps you want.

It’s always better to go with an agency over a freelancer. A development agency will have more availability, and be able to assist you with better post-launch support. 

Check out our case studies for some of the apps we’ve developed here at BuildFire. 

Ultimate iOS Development Tools List

Are you ready to build an iOS mobile app?

I’ve got some good news for you; iOS development isn’t as difficult as other types of programming. But with that said, it’s still something you need to learn before you can just jump right in.

Fortunately, the Internet is full of resources and tools, so you can teach yourself how to build an iOS app.

However, those tools are spread out all over the place. That’s definitely the most optimal way to learn something new.

Even if you’re an experienced iOS developer, taking advantage of different tools and resources can simplify your development process.

Rather than spending days or even weeks doing endless Google searches, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to find relevant tools. This ultimate list of iOS app development tools has been broken down into five sections.

  • Language resources
  • Editors and IDEs
  • Libraries
  • YouTube tutorials
  • Plugins

So feel free to jump around to the section that you need the most help with. Whether you’re a beginner, expert, or somewhere in between, you can use this guide to help you build an iOS app.

Continue reading “Ultimate iOS Development Tools List”

Ultimate Android Development Tools List

Developing an Android app isn’t the easiest thing that you’ll ever do. It can be an overwhelming task, especially if you’ve never done it before.

But with that said, using Android development tools can make your life much easier.

Even experienced developers take advantage of tools and resources to help them through the development process. The problem is there is so much information online; it’s tough to know which guide to follow.

That was my inspiration for creating this guide.

Here you’ll be able to find all of the tools and resources you need for Android development in one place. I’ve broken the tools down into four categories:

  • Android language resources
  • Editors and IDEs for Android development
  • Android libraries
  • Android plugins

So feel free to navigate to the section you need assistance with. Regardless of your Android development project, there are plenty of tools on this list that will help you out.

Continue reading “Ultimate Android Development Tools List”

PWA Mobile Experience is the Next Big Thing in Mobile

For years, developers and people within the mobile app industry have had a great debate. It’s the ultimate question in development technology.

Which is better? Mobile web experience or mobile applications?

Here’s my answer. Mobile applications are better. But with that said, now we’ve got a new trend that utilizes the technology of both mobile web browsing and mobile applications.

It’s called a progressive web app, or PWA for short.

Taking advantage of a progressive web app will help enhance the user experience, which is why this technology is the next big thing in the mobile industry.

But since this technology is so new, lots of people have questions about how it works. Some of you may have heard of progressive web apps, but you’re unsure if it’s best for your situation.

Fortunately, I’m here to help you out. As an expert in the technology and mobile app industries, I can explain what you need to know about PWAs.

We’ll also talk about why they are becoming so popular as of the last few years. Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading “PWA Mobile Experience is the Next Big Thing in Mobile”

17 Top Mobile Development Practices

Developing a mobile app can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Even if you’ve got some experience with this, there are still so many factors to take into consideration. But nothing worth doing comes easy.

Just like anything else, you’ll need to work at it if you want to become an expert developer.

But with that said, everything is easier if you have a guide or reference that you can follow. While there isn’t a black and white blueprint for developing a mobile application, there are are still plenty of resources that can help you.

As an industry expert who has experience as a developer, I’ve identified the top mobile app best practices for you to keep in mind when you’re going through the development process.

I’ll explain what you need to know about each one of these best practices so that you can set yourself up for success. Here are the top 17 factors to prioritize.

Continue reading “17 Top Mobile Development Practices”

Why Phone Screen Size and Resolution is So Important

As you know, there are lots of different things that you need to take into consideration when you’re building a mobile application.

With so much to keep track of, certain elements of development could get lost in the shuffle. That’s why I always say that you should stay organized with submission checklists and other tools.

But one factor that seems to always get swept under the rug and forgot about is the actual screen of the different mobile phones.

Phone screens and screen resolution are two things that you need to keep in mind before, during, and after you’ve developed a mobile app.

Why?

For starters, smartphone screens are important because there are lots of different screen sizes. Whether you’re deciding to build for Apple or Android, both platforms have tons of different devices.

Resolution and aspect ratio is also important. That’s because the resolution of different screens can affect how designers build their apps. Based on this information, there are certain tools that all app designers must have.

So as you can see, both screen size and resolution size are important, but for different reasons.

Understanding size and resolution can help you optimize your mobile app for a variety of devices. This refers to both smartphones, tablets, and even smart TVs or other screens where users can download your app.

With that in mind, I wanted to provide you with an informative guide for these topics. No matter what stage of development your app is currently in, I’m sure you’ll find this very helpful.

Here’s what you need to know.

How to calculate pixels per inch

You’ve got to understand the difference between the size of the screen and the dimensions of the screen resolution.

Screen size gets measured using inches. It’s the size of the actual screen of a particular device.

For example, here are the screen sizes of some of the latest iPhones from Apple that you’re probably familiar with.

iOS screen sizes

Not every mobile cell phone is the same. Some of smartphones have bigger screens. I’ve seen smartphone screen sizes that won’t even fit in my pocket. All of this impacts pixel density, pixel size, width, and more.

Here’s how to measure phone screen size. You need to use diagonal measurement. Start from top left corner of the screen and measure the length to the opposite diagonal corner. It’s pretty straightforward, and anyone with a ruler can do this.

This example uses inches. But if your developer or designer is using the metric system, they’d need to convert inches to centimeters.

Screen resolution is a little bit different. The resolution is measured by the number of distinguishable pixels that can be displayed in each dimension.

The iPhone X screen resolution is 2436 x 1125. While the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a resolution of 2960 x 1440.

You need to know the size of the screen as well as the resolution to calculate the pixels per inch (PPI) of a device. Here’s how you calculate PPI:

  1. Add the squares of both numbers in the resolution
  2. Take the square root of that number
  3. Divide the previous number by the size of the screen

It sounds a little bit complicated, but I’ll give you an example to show you what I’m talking about. You’re probably going to need a calculator to do this.

Let’s use the iPhone X, since it’s new, and we’ve already covered the screen size and resolution. We’ve got all of the information that we need to calculate the PPI.

  • 2436 x 2436 + 1125 x 1125 = 7199721(squaring both numbers of the resolution)
  • 7199721/2683.23= 2683.23(square root of previous answer)
  • 2683.23  5.8 (inch screen) = 462 PPI

According to the Apple iPhone technical specifications, their PPI of the 2436 x 1125 pixel 5.8 inch iPhone X is 458, so our calculations weren’t far off.

Using this formula, try a couple of examples on your own. It’s easy to find out the exact specifications of different devices by just looking it up from the manufacturer’s website.

Basically, you’ve got to realize that since screen size and screen resolution both play a role in determining the PPI, it can tell you how well an image gets displayed on that particular device.

So what happens if you try to combine this formula using two devices of different sizes and resolutions? It just won’t work out well.

For example, let’s take the resolution of an old iPhone model like the 4-inch SE and apply it to 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

iphone se 2 screen size

Follow the formula using the pixel resolution above.

  • 1136 x 1136 + 640 x 640= 1700096
  • 1700096/1303.88 = 1303.88

But now instead of dividing that number by the 4-inch screen size, like you’re supposed to, let’s divide it by the 12.9, which is the size of an iPad Pro.

  •  1303.88 / 12.9 = 101.08

As you can see. The PPI is super low, which means that if this resolution were on a larger screen, the images just wouldn’t compute well.

That’s why you need to optimize your images to account for various screen sizes, but we’ll discuss that in greater detail shortly.

Different types of screens

So we’ve already established that different devices have a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. But with that said, some resolutions are more popular than others.

Based on Internet web traffic from a global perspective, 720 x 1280 pixel smartphones are the most popular.

most popular screen resolutions

As you can see, these numbers vary based on location. However, it’s still valuable information. It’s always important to know which types of devices are the most popular when it comes to the mobile app industry.

This can be extremely helpful if your target market or the majority of people using your device are located in of the countries where these percentages are high.

You also have to account for other types of screens such as:

  • HD screens
  • QHD screens

HD stands for high definition, while QHD stands for quarter high definition.

The pixel resolution for high definition screens is 1920 x 1080. Quarter high definition screens have a 960 x 540 pixel resolution.

Some examples of QHD screens include:

  • Sony Xperia M2
  • HTC Desire 601
  • Samsung Galaxy S4

So, what’s more popular? Full HD screens or QHD screens? Research shows that QHD screens are seeing a decline in popularity.

At the same time, we’re seeing a rise in Full HD screens in terms of global web traffic.

full hd web traffic

So plan accordingly when you’re building and designing various elements of your mobile app.

For those of you planning to build an app in the future, you should be focusing more on HD screens as opposed to QHD screens.

If these trends continue, which I expect them to, QHD screens will become a thing of the past. But for now, you should still make sure your app, images, and designs can accommodate as many devices as possible.

How you can take advantage of different screen sizes

OK. So phones, tablets, and other devices have different screen sizes, resolutions, and pixels per inch. There are even different types of screens.

Now what?

As a developer, you just need to keep all of this information in mind so that your app is optimized for all of the different sizes and devices.

If you’re only building your app with one type of screen in mind, it’s going to negatively impact the user experience of other devices. Poor user experiences will hurt your bottom line, which is something you obviously want to avoid.

As a designer, you should have the freedom and flexibility to get creative with your designs and animations.

Make sure you account for various screen sizes when you’re using Auto Layout to craft advanced iOS animations.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Your app and other images still need to load flawlessly no matter how the user is holding their device.

That’s right. Besides the dimensions of their screen size and resolution, you’ll also have to make sure that there is a seamless transition between portrait and landscape mode.

Depending on the size of the screen, users are more likely to lean toward one orientation over another. Here’s some data to show you what I’m talking about.

portrait landscape orientation

This is interesting. As you can see, as we get to devices with screen sizes larger than 9 inches, there is a significant increase in the amount of users who use landscape mode.

So for the most part, we can assume that people prefer to use the landscape orientation on their tablets.

But with that said, you’ve still got to test your app, images, and design elements for both orientations and make sure it’s optimized for all resolutions.

Conclusion

There is a difference between screen size and screen resolution.

You’re going to use both of these numbers to help you calculate the pixels per inch (PPI) of specific devices.

This is important to know because it affects the way that you design your app. You can’t build it with just one phone, tablet, or platform in mind.

For users to have the best experience, your app needs to be fully optimized for as many devices as possible.

There’s also a difference between HD and QHD screens. Even though screen sizes are moving toward a standard resolution, app designers still need to be aware that their app will be seen on many different kinds of screens.

So for the foreseeable future, you’ll need to continue designing and testing for as many contingencies as possible.

How are the design elements of your app accommodating the various screen sizes and resolutions for users with different devices?

11 Best Cross Platform Mobile Development Tools

Picking the right app development tools is a critical part of building a good app.

But there are certain factors that come into play when you’re trying to decide which tool is best for cross platform app development.

Often times, the platform that you want to build for dictates which types of tools you’ll be using. You’re going to use different tools depending on if you’re building for Apple or Android.

For example, if your app is being built strictly for the Google Play Store then you’ll use Android Studio for native app development. Whereas Xcode is used for iOS apps on Apple’s operating system.

However, cross platform development framework technology means that you can develop for both platforms simultaneously.

Cross platform app development makes things much easier for developers, that way you won’t have to go through the same process twice on two separate platforms.

How do you pick the right tool for cross platform mobile apps?

There are so many different options to choose for cross platform mobile app development. It can be difficult to narrow down which ones are the best for cross platform apps.

There are four main factors that should influence your decision.

  • Speed Considerations
  • Feature Support
  • Framework Risk
  • Development Cost

You’ve got to take these elements into consideration when you’re analyzing cross platform development tools.

To help get you started, I’ve already conducted research. I used these components to help narrow down the top options available. Here are the 10 best cross platform mobile app development tools:

Continue reading “11 Best Cross Platform Mobile Development Tools”

App Accessibility is The New Must in Mobile Development

For your mobile app to be successful, you need to make sure that it can reach the widest possible audience.

When more people have access to your app, it will boost your download rates and ultimately increase your total profits.

But in order for your app to reach everyone, it has to be accessible. So what exactly is mobile accessibility?

According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), it means that you’re making your mobile app more accessible to users with disabilities. This concept refers to more than just smartphones and tablets. Other devices need to be accessible, such as:

  • smart TVs
  • smart watches and other wearables
  • car dashboards
  • airplane seat back monitors
  • household appliances

An accessible app makes a huge difference. Take a look at how something as simple as adding captions can boost engagement.

Mobile accesibility

Captioning increased video engagement by over 500% over the last 6 years.

Technology is amazing. One of the best things about the advances in mobile applications and smartphone technology is that enables people with disabilities to access the mobile world.

Plus, as more Americans grow older, there will be an increasing market for apps that take advantage of these types of assistive technology. Even basic smartphones come with these features.

The developers who are smart will get ahead of the game now and make their apps as accessible as possible for most people before they are forced to by the law. Continue reading “App Accessibility is The New Must in Mobile Development”

How to Create a RESTful API For Your Mobile App (Fast)

You finally built your mobile application.

Congratulations. I know how long of a journey you’ve gone through because I’ve been in your shoes before. You should be proud of your accomplishment.

Now that you’ve figured out all of the design and coding elements of your mobile application, what’s the next step?

It’s time to determine how your app is going to connect to a server.

The majority of apps that are out there today need to connect to the Internet in order to operate properly. APIs are an option for backend communication.

But if you don’t have much experience building APIs or other web services, this may sound like an extremely daunting task. That’s why I created this guide.

I’ll explain everything you need to know about APIs. You’ll learn how to create one and understand some basic differences between the various types and options.

We’ll also go through the process of implementing a RESTful API to your mobile app.

I’ll show you which options are the best so you can make an informed decision.

Continue reading “How to Create a RESTful API For Your Mobile App (Fast)”

Objective C vs. Swift: Which is Better? (A Definitive Guide)

I hear this question all of the time when I’m consulting with developers.

Should I be using Objective-C or Swift?

Swift vs. Objective C–It’s a common dilemma for developers. If you start asking around in the industry, you’ll hear different responses depending on who you ask.

One person may have had a bad experience with one of these programming languages, so they always steer clear of the other one.

On the flip side, some people just go with whichever language they learned first or feel more comfortable with. Everyone has their favorite.

The reality is that there isn’t always a clear choice.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the key highlights for each programming language.

different factors

Choosing your language for a project depends on lots of different factors. So I can’t sit here and decisively recommend one over the other.

But what I can do is explain some different circumstances where one may be more appropriate.

This doesn’t necessarily make it better. It just means that it will work best for that particular scenario.

I made this guide to give you some direction so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Continue reading “Objective C vs. Swift: Which is Better? (A Definitive Guide)”

What Makes an Awesome App Awesome

You don’t want to create just another app.

You want to create something that helps your customers, grows your user base, or increases your profits.

The secret to each of these is creating a remarkable app–an app people will literally remark about.

Creating a remarkable app is the secret to designing an app that people use.

Without paying attention to what factors go into making an awesome app, your creation is destined to sit unused on the third page of your users’ smartphone app list.

But of course, that’s easier said than done.

What goes into making an app people will tell their friends about? How can you guarantee your app will be a success from the minute it hits the app store?

It turns out, there are a surprising number of elements the best apps have in common. Master those and your app is destined for greatness.

Let’s dive in!

Continue reading “What Makes an Awesome App Awesome”

What Are the Best Android Apps to Build for First Timers

It seems like every day I meet people who want to get involved with the mobile app industry.

They’ve got a cool idea for something that they want to develop, but they just don’t know where to get started.

I even talk to some people who don’t have an idea, but want to start developing apps regardless.

They recognize the trends in the mobile industry and are drooling at the mouth for an opportunity to get involved.

So if you fall into one of these categories, you’re the inspiration behind this article.

As an expert in this space, I wanted to provide an informative guide on the best app for you to build as a first timer.

I remember what it was like to be in your position.

Like anything else, it’s intimidating to dive head first into something that you’ve never done before.

But you’ve got to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.

Here’s my best advice.

Start small.

You’re not going to develop the next Snapchat or Uber overnight.

The Android platform is a good place to learn development skills because of its dominant global market share.

global market share

So now that you’ve chosen your platform, now comes the question, “What kind of app should you build?”

Build something that you would want to use yourself.

Think of a problem that you encounter in your daily life. How can an app resolve that problem or make something more efficient?

That’s the best place to start. Play around with those ideas until you can come up with some basic concepts and ideas.

This will help you learn the craft of app building.

You’re definitely going to make mistakes and encounter some speed bumps along the way.

That’s OK – it happens. What’s important is that you don’t let these obstacles discourage you. Recognize that anyone who has seen success in this industry has started where you are today.

You can apply this new found knowledge later in your career to more complex and polished projects.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Continue reading “What Are the Best Android Apps to Build for First Timers”