Whether you’re looking to design a native app or a mobile web app (or both), there are many things you have to consider before even stepping into development. A mobile web app and a native mobile app are two very different things; especially when you weigh the differences of having to deal with different native languages, different mobile devices and screen resolutions, distribution, and updates to name a few. Your app may also require the mobile devices hardware components such as the GPS, camera, or mic.
1) What Are Your Needs?
Before going all in with your mobile app, take some time to finalize your thoughts and ideas. It’s not always about how many amazing things your app can do, but how many things your app can do correctly and efficiently. Don’t try to stuff in as many things as you think your target audience would like. A responsive, optimized, and easy to navigate app is generally easier to implement compared to one cluttered with random options, bells and whistles.
2) Design and Development
Unless you’ve been programming for years and also have a great design UI design background, you’ll probably need to hire (a) developer(s) and/or designer(s) for this stage. Design and development go hand in hand.
You should follow the design conventions as outlined by the mobile platform you’re catering too. This isn’t as important for mobile web applications as that should be universal for all devices, but you should still ensure that all elements display correctly on all devices. For example, not all HTML and CSS formats are accessible to all mobile web browsers.
Don’t cheap out on the design, as that’s where users are going to be spending most of their time. Everything should be easy to read, easy to navigate, and optimized for every device. There should be feedback and interaction with the user to let them know how to use the app, as well as alerts and notifications.
This is by far the most time consuming and difficult task for designing a mobile application. Depending on the complexity of your app, the work involved can rage from a few hours to a few hundred hours of work. A good developer can let you know ahead of time the time required through a consultation. Time and price will also depend on if it’s a web based app, native app, or a more advanced app like a game. A native app is basically an app written specifically for a given device and then downloaded from an app store, rather being accessed through a mobile browser.
If you’re more focused on learning how to develop an app from scratch yourself, you’d better prepare to invest a few hundred hours yourself in learning at least a few different languages and design conventions for each platform (i.e., iOS, Android, Blackberry , etc.) You can find several YouTube tutorials on mobile app development for beginners, or pick up some beginner programming books. Again, this is not an easy task and you should probably consult a development firm or developer(s) to get a better understanding with the work involved.
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