Most of the projects we take on at our mobile application development services company are somehow related to mobile. There's no wonder that in the 1st quarter of 2021, mobile devices generated 54.8% of global website traffic. So every business that goes digital wants to be available on your phone as well.
However, what is the best practices for developing a mobile app? In most blog posts, you'll read tips like break tasks into smaller pieces, focus on the user experience, gather feedback, do the testing, and so on.
But these are not best practices. These are just "practices.” Indeed, you need to satisfy your users, so you'll want to get rid of the bugs, collect feedback on the suggested user experience, and approach big milestones with small achievements.
Best practices are about decisions and approaches you can make and take in your endeavor. "What" to do is obvious; the question is "How":
- How to approach product design?
- How to make an app secure and accessible?
- How to keep track of all the details and make better-informed decisions?
To answer those questions we, as a mobile app development agency, introduce five but top practices you should be aware of in your endeavor. After naming them, we’ll do our best to explain both what to do and how to do it best.
1. Go Strategic
Before you get your hands on the actual development of the app, think about organizing the process. It is an often underestimated part of the project that includes:
- market research to figure out users' needs
- competitor analysis to decide how your product stands out among others
- customer profiling to understand your target audiences
- business goals to keep track of your progress - those will be the starting points for defining technical requirements and KPIs
If you want to know our approach to that in more detail, check out our blog post "Takeoff with EGO: How We Start Working with Our Clients.”
Going through this process will help you understand the best time to hit the market, what features are the most important, how to gather user feedback, and so on. With such data, you can then decide on team composition, product roadmap, and development speed and methodology.
This is where there are no guaranteed formulas or best practices working for every case.
For instance, let's take the aspect of the target platforms. We always consider three options: Android, iOS, and web. Of course, you'll want to cover all of them, but there are budgets, deadlines, and other kinds of limitations that you must consider.
Now, you often can find tips or even posts from app creators for hire convincing to build hybrid apps like it's some kind of a cure-all. Yet sometimes, you want to get your idea to the market ASAP for rapid feedback, and building a native app for a single platform will get you there more quickly. Or you might already have a web app and want to convert it to mobile apps without writing them from scratch.
These are pretty common cases, and we often tell our clients about app conversion possibilities. So if you want to know a bit more about it, check out these blog posts of ours:
- How to Convert iOS App to Android: An Essential Guide
- How to Successfully Convert Your Web App into a Mobile App
- 5 Major Differences Between iOS and Android App Development
And here are three best product strategy practices to consider implementing when going strategic about your product:
- SCRUM. We widely adopted SCRUM for all our current projects. SCRUM is one of the AGILE methodologies that fit the projects with complex requirements and aggressive deadlines – i.e., all projects that are thoroughly planned and thought through.
- Continuous Integration. Proven to improve the app quality, ratings, and, ultimately, revenue, it's the way of automating the development->testing->deployment process. CI is a perfect approach for a team with a few developers that help you streamline the maintenance of the coding process.
- Product (update) roadmap. Thinking about the future of your app helps you understand how early you want it to be scalable, how costly the updates will be (and if they require code refactoring), and, most importantly, your possible expenses for app maintenance.
2. Pay Attention to Security
Gone are days when security was an important yet not critical aspect of the app. A few years ago, entrepreneurs and app makers for hire could think: "First we gather a userbase, then we'll work on protecting their data.”
Today, the market is entirely different.
First, there are GDPR, ePrivacy Directive, HIPAA, and other law requirements your digital product needs to follow from day one.
Then, there are security breaches being detected every day with all kinds of devices and products now, so hoping to remain unnoticed with your product is no longer a possibility. Besides, with Tesla cars being hacked from drones and millions of Dell computers having 12-year long BIOS driver flaws, no extra security can be too much.
Again, below we'll list the best practices in securing mobile apps, but that doesn't mean you should use each of them: select only the ones that fit your needs most.
- Obfuscate and minify your code.
- Use code signing and code hardening.
- Encrypt all data (preferably with 256-bit AES encryption and the SHA-256 hashing algorithm).
- Use trusted third-party libraries and authorized APIs only.
- Go with solid authentication – suggest multi-factor authentication to users and enforce using complicated passwords if possible.
- Implement algorithms that will help detect and stop wrongful intrusion into product operation or code tampering.
As a mobile app agency, we cover the security aspect of software development a lot in this blog.
3. Keep Accessibility in Mind
The number of people with disabilities relying on mobile apps in their everyday routine constantly grows. In 2020, UsableNet analyzed digital lawsuits and found that as much as 20% of them are filed due to the apps being inaccessible for ADA (Americans with Disabilities).
Improving mobile app accessibility in most cases also improves user satisfaction in general. And you'll see why by reading the following list of best practices:
- Make content readable on various screen sizes. If you can avoid the need to zoom in\out to interact with content, not only users with low vision will thank you.
- Make interaction elements big enough and easy to reach. Consider that your users might interact with your app with one hand, which might be left or right hand. The minimum size of elements such as buttons should be no less than 9x9 mm.
- Go for gestures that are as simple as possible.
- Allow canceling last actions. Usually, cancellation should be available via the same action (pressing the same button again) or the mirrored action (if you swiped right, you could get back to the previous screen by swiping left).
- Avoid letting users type data whenever possible. Instead, suggest menus, autofilling, checkboxes, etc.
And, of course, make sure you are aware of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, as some of them apply to the content in mobile apps.
While making an app accessible might seem burdensome, there are quite a lot of handy tools to streamline this process, from WCAG checklist apps to UX/UI design pattern libraries that will help you get the look&feel of accessible apps.
P.S.: we're going to cover the accessibility aspect of mobile apps in a separate blog post soon. Feel free to subscribe to our blog via the form at the end of the page if you’re interested.
4. Don’t Underestimate Documentation
This is one of the most underestimated practices in almost every mobile application development services company.
At EGO, documentation is not just a bureaucratic burden where we keep various details on the project. It's a way of communication with the client, a knowledge base, and the central data node for everybody involved in your project.
If your project is properly documented, you get the following advantages:
- Process transparency
- The team focus on the outcome
- A clear understanding of various aspects of the product
- Flexibility in project management
At EGO, we've been polishing our approach to project documentation for a decade now, so here are our best practices:
- The place where you're going to have your documentation should be the only place for that or contain links to other project resources.
- Ensure you cover the project details and changes on product environment, architecture description, project dependencies, and requirements. Those will help newcomers with onboarding and help you keep track of the changes made to the project over time.
- To make documentation useful for managers and stakeholders, implement the Management section. With it, your team will keep track of meeting notes, write project status reports, and log lists of changes, milestones, and things to do to finalize the project.
You can learn more about our take on documentation by reading "How We Document Our Projects ant EGO [+ SCREENSHOTS]" on our blog.
5. Be Wise With Analytics
Since we're talking about digital products, you can measure everything today – from LTV and ARPU to CPA and ROI. The bigger your product, the more indicators you will want to measure, but when you start, it's important to spend your resources wisely and measure the things that you want to check and find out in the first place.
If we're talking about hypothesis check, you will want to start with measuring how positive are users about your idea. If you want to identify users' pain points, you can track user behavior to see where they get stuck and why they get frustrated.
To approach analytics wisely, we suggest thinking about analysis tools when planning the product roadmap. The functional requirements on every new stage should include your needs in measuring various aspects of the app and how users take advantage of it.
Since you can measure almost everything, you can find lots of excellent practices in mobile app analytics, depending on your current goal. Here are the best general practices we follow as a mobile app company:
- When we have a business partnership with our client and responsible for the app's success, we define and track KPIs for every step of the user journey to quickly identify the problems and address them.
- When we measure an app's performance, we do it on as many different devices as possible to exclude functionality bottlenecks.
- If we need to improve user-related metrics, we experiment through A/B testing to make sure that no other factor (except the one we experiment with) was involved in the outcome.
Still, in the end, it’s always a unique blend of practices that helps you stay informed on both the effectiveness of the development process and the performance of your app on the market.
Every app-making company will have a unique list of the best mobile development practices to recommend. However, they are considered best not only because they proved their effectiveness or performance, but because they were initially liked by the executives, fit the team’s spirit, and corresponded to its expertise.
As an entrepreneur, you will go through the same process as well. Some of the best practices will appear useless for you, while others will be invented from scratch to fit your needs. So be cautious when reading such posts and selecting the practices to follow.
If you’re doing anything for the first time, it’s always best to have a consultation with the expert first. We offer a free consultation for our potential clients – feel free to hop on a call with the EGO professionals of your choice.