Mobile Application Development
Your customers are using their smartphones to access your website already, likely around the 50% of website visitors are accessing your website with their smartphones. Building a mobile application in addition to your mobile responsive website is a great way to further enhance the user experience for your customers. Most importantly, this then opens up a world of additional opportunities by integrating with the technology that is on the user’s device such as contact lists, image galleries, photo uploads, geo-location and much more. Mobile applications allow you to fine tune the user experience which can lead to higher engagement rates and higher sales if you are selling products through your mobile applications.
Mobile applications come in two flavours primarily Apple’s iOS and Android which mainly runs on Samsung devices. What this means in practice is that to have a mobile application across two platforms, you guessed it, this requires double the work. While there are cross platform technologies available, they aren’t prefect and can be restricting which is why we don’t currently recommend those. Instead, we build high quality native mobile applications for iOS and Android.
You can view the mobile applications we’ve built under our iTunes and Google Play accounts where you can then download the applications to get a feel for the type of mobile applications we can help your organisation building.
Building scalable, high quality, secure and well optimised mobile applications that are designed to perform and work for your company requires a carefully considered approach that is strategically aligned to the goals of your organisation. As your strategic digital partner we work closely with you throughout the entire mobile application development process to ensure every aspect has been covered from start to finish. Below outlines an average process behind our mobie application development projects along which explains why following a structured Agile process as outlined below is extremely important to ensure the delivered aplication is suitable for your needs.
We understand that a mobile application is much more than a basic app that performs minimal functionality. A high performance mobile application is a core part of your business and an asset to help you grow. Successful mobile application development projects are an on-going process where features are continually added, content changed and further integrations to enhance the platform. Which is why we seek to truly understand your business goals at the very start to ensure the right foundations are being put in place for growth.
While you will no doubt have a clear idea what you are looking for from a mobile application, there are many aspects which are often overlooked when planning projects. Considerations need to be made for how your entire organisation, key members of staff and customers plan to use the application along with what this means from a marketing and promotional aspect too.
At this early stage we ask questions around Search Engine Optimisation, Pay per Click Advertising, Email Marketing, Social Media, Web Applications, Integrations and more. This is so we can truly uncover the requirements for your new mobile application to ensure that all key aspects are considered throughout. As mobile applications require a reasonable investment, it is essential that adequate planning and requirements gathering is undertaken at the start to uncover the as much as possible.
Once we understand your business goals we can start to translate this into how customers are going to navigate their way around your mobile application in the form of a user journey sitemap. By planning this we can identify improvements throughout the user journey to ensure users are being directed towards the key areas that are aligned with your business goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). To map out this process we analyse historical data from your Analytics platforms that are currently in use on your website or web application, if you have one, to see how current users are behaving, what is working, what isn’t working and where improvements are needed.
Once we understand how users are likely move around the mobile application we start to look at the user experience as a whole. This is a blended approach between what your business goals are and what your customers are trying to achieve on your mobile application. Your customers want your mobile application to be usable, useful, desirable, valuable, findable, credible and accessible. Which is why we take all of these factors into account to create relevant User Stories which link Agile development methodologies directly to users instead of focusing on the technology. For example, “As a tennant of a housing association, I want to be able to review the progress of a problem I reported with my house so that I can keep up to date with the progress of the work”. This is a User Story in a nutshell which is part of an Agile development methodology and is how we tie everything back to the end user to ensure that what is being built is valuable.
As part of this process we then take into account the rough wireframes for how each of the core screens on the mobile application are going to look and feel. Think of this like a pencil sketch of a page, which helps to discuss the general layout, the key Calls to Action and how they link in with the overall user experience. You’ll notice that we haven’t even started talking about the design or technology yet as at this point we’re working closely with you to ensure that we’re on the same page and clear about what is going to be built before we start with the build process.
Once we understand what we’re about to build, the first thing we think about it security. To keep your business data and customer’s data secure, it is essential to plan cyber security into projects at the earliest stage possible. All our specialist mobile application developers have security embedded in everything they do which is essential for delivering a secure mobile application for your company. Many inexperienced mobile application developers openly add in backdoors and security issues to the applications they build without even realising, which is why we take security seriously as mobile application development isn’t simply about writing a bit of code, it is about developing software the right way.
To keep your business data and customer’s data secure we encrypt by default, meaning that all connections between your customers accessing the mobile application and yourself are secured using SSL certificates running over HTTPS. We also consider the implications for encryption at the database level when required for additional levels of security along with a wide range of security considerations which cover all aspects of the technology stack.
Once we understand what we’re building, for whom, how we’re securing the build we then start to move onto the more practical steps. Next we look at your current web server infrastructure to determine the suitability for your new mobile application both now and in the near future. Web servers are complex and can be a complete black box to non-technical people. In essence, we’ll recommend the right technology for you.
Think about web servers like cars, they aren’t all the same. So if you are looking to win in business, then you need the right powerful motor to get you there. We’ll talk you through the finer details about the options available so it is clear in your mind. Particularly important for mobile applications is the scalability aspect. We’ll assess what type of web server infrastructure and technology is best suited to your application based on how you anticipate the growth over a period of time.
Content Management Systems
The next step is to decide on what pieces of content within your mobile application needs to be controlled via a Content Mangement System (CMS). This is highly dependent on your backend website technologies and other API and CMS integrations available. Where possible, we look to idetnfiy opportunities to hand over the day to day running and control of the mobile application to yourself and your team.
As such we’ll work closely with you to build in Content Management System functionality for the core aspects of your mobile application. This simply means that anyone within your company can login to your mobile application and make ammends as you need, without keep paying an external agency to make basic changes to your application which you should be able to do yourself. Depending on the full requirements for your mobile application development project, generally speaking we’ll choose between Swift for iOS and Java for Android as the mobile application languages which are capable of scaling with your needs.
Back End Technologies
The next step we look at is the finer technical details about how we are going to build your new mobile application. Unless you have a specific preference for commercial reasons, we’ll recommnend the best solution for your needs. Beyond the core languages we use including Swift for iOS and Java for Android, we’ll take into account the early requirements from key stakeholders throughout your organisation to understand what additional features and functionality need to be built and how we are going to do this.
This is likely to include various technology stacks specific to your organisation along with APIs and other integration with 3rd party systems to run on the back end which power your mobile application. We’re happy to explain to you the finer details if you so wish, although you can be confident in the high quality work we do that we’ll only be working with industry leading technologies which keeps your mobile application safe, secure, maintainable and scalable for your needs.
Mobile Application Content
While we’re working through the design and build part of your mobile application development project, you’ll be working on the actual content. Ultimately you know your customers best which is why we recommend that you create the actual content so you can communicate your key messages to your customers. We’ll guide you through this process about the type of content and style of content that is needed throughout the mobile application as we work collaborative throughout all projects.
Tracking and Analytics
To ensure the new mobile application delivers on your requirements we track absolutely everything you can imagine and even more that you likely haven’t even heard of before. Having staff who are qualified Analytics experts, we implement the tracking that you’ll need to determine the success of the project. This links in with the wider requirements from key stakeholders throughout your company who will also feed into this process to ensure the data that is important to them is also tracked correctly from start to finish. For companies with sophisticated analytics requirements, we look at integrating Cross Device Tracking along with App Indexing and Deep Linking for SEO.
Development Process and Delivery
In practice the above is very much an iterative process throughout every stage of the project which enables us to deliver work in stages which you sign off accordingly. Doing this ensures that your internal team are an integral part of the mobile application development project and that requirements are being met. Prior to any delivery phases the entire technolgy stack goes through rigorous User Acceptance Testing, Unit Testing and Functional Testing to make sure that what we have built actually works and is fit for purpose.
Naturally for many mobile application development projects as we iterate through this process in an Agile way, it is possible to deliver new features and functionality to your customers much faster so you can start to see business value generated as a direct result of this quick iterative process.