Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. That’s why mobile applications are definitely worth investing in, as they can contribute to the promotion of the brand. How can you choose a mobile apps company, and what should you know in order to make a conscious decision?
Why shouldn’t you give up mobile?
Since you are looking for a mobile apps company, you probably are aware of the potential of the market. However, if you’re thinking of letting go of mobile because you love your laptop more than a smartphone, we have a few numbers for you.
According to the Pew Research Center, about 2.5 billion people in the world have smartphones. The proportions between owners of smartphones and classic phones differ depending on the country, but it is still an impressive number. The number of smartphones is followed by another indicator – more than half of the traffic on websites comes from mobile devices.
Although we read messages and use social media on smartphones, the success of mobile is also connected to the e-commerce industry. Globally, about 40% of transactions in online stores come from mobile devices, and the number is still growing.
Power of mobile gaming
Currently, mobile games constitute about 50% of the global gaming market. The global value of the mobile gaming market in 2019 was about $70 billion, which was almost half of the entire gaming market.
What’s more, the share of mobile games in the global gaming market is showing an upward trend, so it’s definitely worth trying to get a piece of the pie. Mobile games can also be a good way to promote the brand, especially for consumer goods. By way of entertainment, you can consolidate consumer awareness of your product.
Main operating systems
Only two mobile operating systems really matter – iOS by Apple and Android made by Google. However, the market share among the giants is not equal.
On a global scale, Android definitely dominates. It is installed in 72% of devices, while competitive iOS in only 25%. However, it’s important to consider what specific market we are targeting our application for.
Despite the global advantage of Android, in the US a larger percentage of the market is occupied by Apple (57%). Interestingly, iOS also dominates in China. Europe, on the other hand, definitely belongs to Android.
You should remember that the most common solution used by mobile apps companies is to create applications for both operating systems. Thanks to this, you won’t exclude any user group and will be able to reach the widest range of customers.
What are the different types of mobile applications?
Mobile applications can be divided into:
Native mobile applications are created for a specific operating system. This allows for greater performance and fuller use of the device’s built-in functions (such as notifications, sensors or camera).
The advantage of the native apps is that they are created strictly according to the guidelines of operating system manufacturers and thus better use their capabilities. They can therefore be more user-friendly.
However, if you want an application to reach both Android and iOS users, the mobile apps company you choose must appoint two teams of developers. It involves high costs and extension of the application development process. The development and maintenance of the application will also be more expensive.
The programming languages in which mobile applications are created are Java, Swift or Objective-C.
Semi-native applications are the way to deal with problems resulting from creating separate native applications for iOS and Android. In the case of semi-native apps, one team of mobile apps company programmers works on an application designed for two operating systems. This makes the development process cheaper and faster.
With one team of developers, it’s easier to organize their work. In addition, the application versions for both systems will be consistent – there will be no differences in functionality or appearance.
Semi-native applications can also be as efficient as native applications. The languages which they are created in are React Native, NativeScript or Xamarin.
The downside of hybrid applications is that they do not work offline because they are essentially websites. Their components also need to be downloaded from the web, which is why they are usually less efficient than native and semi-native applications. This can be crucial for the user experience.
Creating one code for both iOS and Android may also result in some functions of the application not being supported on both devices. This situation can lead to a prolonged development process.
Mobile apps companies mainly use Cordova and Ionic languages to create hybrid apps.
RWD = Responsive Web Design Applications
Responsive Web Design (RWD) applications are websites that adapt their layout to the screen size of the device they are displayed on. This means they work properly on both computers and mobile devices.
Due to the very high share of smartphones in website traffic, Mobile First design direction is becoming increasingly popular. Mobile First means that designing should start with the mobile version, not the desktop version.
Part of this design method is progressive enhancement, which involves adding additional functionalities displayed to users with a higher screen resolution. Therefore, the website is not designed using the browser capabilities and the computer screen size to then “cut” the mobile version. All necessary functionalities are already in the mobile version.
Currently, Responsive Web Design is an absolute must-have, especially since Google introduced the Mobile First Index in 2018. According to this, the main version of the website is the mobile version. What’s more, with Speed Update Google made the page ranking dependent on the speed of loading its mobile version.
Many advantages of RWD applications include simple implementation and the fact that they are testing-friendly. Even popular page builders in CMS such as WordPress allow you to switch the page view between desktop and mobile. You can also test how the application will cope with smartphone display by changing the size of the browser window.
PWA = Progressive Web Apps
Simply put, PWA applications are websites that behave like mobile applications. Installing a PWA application instead of using a responsive website has many advantages. This type of application uses e.g. push notifications, welcome screens and is able to work offline.
An application is also generally more convenient for the user than the website. In addition, the fact that the application is installed on the user’s device and appears on the smartphone screen and constantly reminds the user of its existence. This encourages more frequent use of the company’s services.
PWA applications are also able to work offline by storing parts of the website on the device. Additionally, PWAs are faster than responsive websites and gain full interaction in a few seconds.
Types of mobile apps companies
Mobile apps companies can be divided into:
Mobile apps design companies are focused on the design of application User Interface (UI). UI means all contact points between the user and the application and is essential for user satisfaction.
The basis of UI is the use of the graphical user interface (GUI). That means presenting the functions of the application using visual elements – buttons, menus, appropriate fonts or graphics.
UI is interconnected with User Experience (UX), because its goal is to create an intuitive and aesthetic interface that will be simply enjoyable to use. A well-designed application should be understandable and easy to use.
Development companies work on a “living organism” – they create the application itself. This is where the choice of application type takes place – native, semi-native, hybrid, PWA or web-adapted to mobile devices.
Depending on experience and competence of their development team, mobile app companies specialize in various types of applications and languages. Usually, based on previous experience, they decide what type of software best meets the needs of customers and allows the team to work most efficiently.
Design & development companies
Mobile app companies of this type combine competencies in both designing and developing applications. The advantage of this solution may be better designer awareness of the technical application development process, which is why they propose more realistic solutions. During their work they also communicate with the development department.
When choosing a design & development company, you also know that one company is responsible for the entire process. Then there is no situation in which two companies share responsibility for any problems with application.
End-to-end mobile apps companies offer clients not only design and development but also product strategy and marketing (sometimes excluding this element). It is therefore a holistic approach to the issue of creating a mobile application.
The advantage of this kind of solution is that one company is able to plan and enforce its implementation through its employees. Awareness of possible technical restrictions also makes the strategy easier to implement and therefore cheaper.
When choosing a mobile app end-to-end company, however, you should take note of its capabilities in each of these areas. The wide operating spectrum requires specialized teams that also work together efficiently.
Process of creating mobile applications
The application development process consists of many stages, which, however, do not necessarily follow each other closely. Mobile app companies mostly use an iterative approach of performing specific process activities to then assess their usability.
It happens that during the implementation of subsequent activities it is necessary to change the assumptions made in the previous stage. Automatic implementation of previous assumptions may prove to be too difficult from a development point of view or may not work during tests.
The main processes of mobile app development are:
Customer requirements analysis
Before a mobile apps company starts creating an app, it is necessary to agree the application concept with the client. The client should be well prepared for these consultations, equipped with their own list of requirements. It is best if the consultation is preceded by market research and analysis of the competition’s solutions.
It is important to have longer discussions about the project with the client. Thanks to this, you can brainstorm, which will allow you to refine the project requirements.
This stage, like the previous one, is carried out in close cooperation with the client. It happens that the client has already conducted the research himself, but the mobile apps company should also do it anyway.
During research, it is necessary to analyze the characteristics of potential users. Demographic data, motivations and patterns to keep the target matter. For this purpose, many times so-called personas are used, who are fictional characters of our potential clients, defined by specific features (like demographics, behavior, etc.).
It is also necessary to examine what kind of mobile apps have been introduced by competing companies. Their applications should be also tested, paying attention to any program deficiencies. It could help to find features that your own application might be equipped with.
Information architecture design
Information architecture is the basic scheme of the application’s operation. The design goal is to create an architecture that is understandable to the user and provides simple navigation in the application. The application should also have an open structure in order to add further functionalities to it.
The user flow means the path that the user follows, i.e. the way it moves between its elements. The purpose of user flow research is to create the shape of the application so that the user can easily navigate it and not encounter unnecessary barriers when performing tasks.
The wireframe is a visual representation of the project assumptions that allows mobile apps company to present the application structure. It defines the structure, hierarchy and relationships between elements.
The mockup is a very simplified diagram, without any unnecessary graphic elements. Its task is to show how the application will work, not how it will look. However, thanks to the model, later work on design is made possible. This is the basis for creating the interface because it defines the assumptions of the project and most important functionalities.
Technical feasibility study
Plans are one thing, their implementation is another. The project still needs to be made within the available technologies. However, the technical feasibility assessment not only determines whether the project is feasible.
It is equally important to assess whether the design of the application does not pose too serious challenges for developers. This could result in a prolonged development period and thus a larger budget. That is why it is often worth modifying the plan so that the entire project pays off.
Creating a prototype
The prototype is an interactive mockup of the application that presents the features of the actual project and its functions. However, it is still not a working application.
Prototypes give mobile apps company a chance to present the client insight into how the application will look and work. Using the prototype, the customer can assess whether its assumptions will be properly implemented in the target application. Above all, a team’s action plans can be modified as needed before the work begins for good.
At this stage, the client must be fully involved in the team’s work because they decide to accept the prototype or not. They should report their comments on the prototype so that the development company may update it to their satisfaction.
At this stage, introducing any changes into the design solutions does not involve high costs. It is much better to do it at this moment rather than during development when implementing a functionality requires time and work. In this way, we can better meet the needs of potential customers.
Creating a graphic interface design (UI)
The user interface is of basic importance for the comfort of using the application. UI project is designed to present the future shape of the application in a form with which the user will have real contact.
The project created by the mobile apps company should, obviously, be presented to the client. This allows you to more fully imagine what the finished application will look like. When assessing a project, however, you should avoid relying on your own taste and trust UI specialists.
Other than that, cooperation with the client is also very important for the final success of the application. The company should talk to the client about the solutions it proposes and in case of doubts be able to justify them.
Development is already working on the living body of the application code. Initially, the basic functionalities of the application are created and it is checked that they work properly, making corrections if necessary. Then, further functionalities are added and the correctness of the code gets tested again.
These tests usually take place within a development company and the client is not yet involved. There is time for the proper testing of the application in the next stage.
Tests of an already running application are easier the more thoroughly it has been tested in the development process. Thanks to this, errors can be avoided and, as a result, the costs of tests can be reduced.
As part of the tests, the UI values of the application are checked, as well as security, interface and performance issues. Once the team is satisfied that the application is technically working properly, it can be passed for testing to selected end users and the client.
The client’s task during the tests is to check whether the use of the application is suitably comfortable and whether it meets their expectations. It is good to involve many people in testing the application to get as many opinions as possible about its operation. The layman’s point of view is most valuable here because the target user is just that.
How to choose a mobile apps company
To find a good company, you can rely on the recommendations of friendly companies or business partners. Thanks to this, you might find out not only whether the final result of the development company’s work was satisfactory, but also whether cooperation with it went smoothly.
A good way to find the right company is LinkedIn. Many mobile app companies have their profiles there. Also, individual specialists in this field are most often part of larger companies and if they seem credible to us, it may direct us to our future partner in the project.
The right company can also be found through websites such as Clutch, GoodFirms, Toptal and App Futura. There you can read the contractors’ portfolio and, above all, customer reviews about cooperation with them.
Checking the company’s portfolio
Once you have selected one or more mobile app companies, you should take a look at their previous work.
If possible, test the applications listed in the portfolio. They are often publicly available and you can determine whether you rate them well as users. The app’s rating by other users, such as rating in stores like Google Play, is also significant.
What questions to ask the contractor
If you have already selected a contractor, you should interview them, asking questions such as:
- what kind of apps it specializes in and which operating systems it mainly creates software for,
- how the contractor’s communication with the client will take place and what involvement in the application development process it requires,
- what the approximate time of application development is and what it depends on,
- to what extent the contractor offers support and what the issue of software update looks like.
How to convey the vision of the application
When presenting your requirements to the chosen mobile apps company, you should be as precise as possible. Therefore, when planning to create an application, you should carefully prepare your requirements and goals that you set for the application. It’s good if you do your own research to know what the application is to achieve.
By passing on your vision, you should also present to the contractor your research of competition solutions in the field of mobile applications. You can show the company solutions that you like and could be an inspiration to create your application. Be free to also share your ideas with your future contractor that can be used for fruitful discussions.
Ready for the app creation? – Summary
In this article, we wrote about various types of mobile apps, different profiles of development companies, and steps of the development process. This basic information on creating mobile applications will help you talk competently with your potential contractor and contribute to the success of your cooperation and product.
Remember that depending on the profile of your partner, once you start the whole process of creating the application, you will have to get involved in at least some extent. If you won’t do it, the application might not meet your expectations and have trouble succeeding in the market.
However, before you decide whom to work with ask your connections for recommendations and opinions, look at the company’s portfolio to see if it has experience with products similar to yours, and don’t forget to ask your potential contractor the right questions.
If you want to save some searching time, need advice, or have any questions related to developing your product – don’t hesitate to contact us by clicking the banner below. We will be more than happy to help!
This article is a part of Handbook:Mobile App Development: Guide for Decision Makers
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