When you are aware of how long it takes to create a high-quality app, you save time and development resources. Unrealistic deadlines for every app development stage like research, product design, and others cause delays in the final app release on the market.
If you don’t want it to happen, you should know the exact time frames for your project such as discovery, UI/UX design, development, deployment, and so on. By doing so, you can make an app that will stand out among 2.2 million of iOS and 2.1 million of Android products available on the market.
In our article, you’ll find out 7 main phases, their exact time frames and what core factors affect them.
Key Factors That Influence App Development Timelines
To estimate the app development time frame and do it right, you should consider the following factors:
- Project size depends on a team size (it consists of several developers, a project manager, UI/UX designer, etc.) and app complexity. The latter defines how much your application will cost and how much time it might take to build it.
- App scope is determined by screen sizes, the number of features, and on how many platforms your app may function (iOS and Android, or both). In the research conducted by GoodFirms, such factors as screen sizes and platform types don’t affect the app development process significantly. In contrast, the number of features requires more design and development effort.
- Third-party integrations or APIs are one of the must-haves if you want to expand the app’s functionality. Imagine that you work on a food ordering app that needs to have a chat. With convenient third-party integrations in hand, you shouldn’t create the aforementioned feature from scratch as you can find a suitable API and integrate it into your application.
- Tech expertise of hired app developers is one of the most important factors that influence both project deadline and app quality. If you need to build a cross-platform mobile app with React Native, make sure that every software engineer involved is experienced in this framework.
7 Core Phases of the App Development Process
Sometimes the app development process may be slowed down by such a pitfall as building a complex app within a short deadline, and many others. To avoid possible problems, you should evaluate time frames for each app development phase.
Read the list of 7 key stages with approximate time frames and steps needed for Uber-like app development:
1. Discovery Phase
Time frame: 1-1.5 months
About 70% of software development companies don’t omit this stage because it helps to clarify the project scope and determine its exact timelines.
In general, the length of the aforementioned stage depends on clients’ requirements for the project like app complexity, the range of app features, etc. To figure out what your client wants to get in the end, you need to conduct a market research of the potential app competitors, assess users’ needs, and create a visual app prototype and confirm it with the client. Once you’ve completed these steps, you may move to a product design stage.
2. Product Design Phase
Time frame: 1-1.5 months
Product design is an integral part of your app development process. At this stage, you’ll find out how your application may look and function to meet the needs of your target audience. The core points to discover are:
- Find out users’ motivations, problems, and expectations of how they want to use your product.
- Draw the probable user flow – a path that shows how your users navigate through your application.
- Identify the key app features to shorten your app development time.
- Decide what app functionalities to design.
If you managed to complete all these steps successfully, you can start working on UI/UX design to create both visually appealing and easy-to-use mobile functionalities. The framework for this process includes user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) parts.
During the UI design (user interface) stage, designers create simple yet interactive user interfaces for applications. To ensure the aforementioned qualities, it’s essential to pay attention to visual (color, contrast, and brightness) and textual aspects (bold type, italics, space, etc.).
UX (user experience) design is the second important part of product design that shouldn’t be omitted. At this stage, UI/UX designers need to find the balance between a product and what value it brings to the target audience.
3. App Development Phase
Time frame: 3-6 months
The app development stage focuses on front-end and back-end components. During this phase, designers and developers work together to ensure that a created app meets users’ needs and works seamlessly on both front-end and back-end parts.
To develop a back-end system, software engineers consider:
- Server-side logic refers to operations that occur on the web servers.
- Data storage is a system that records and retains app data.
- Data integration is the way of processing large data sets and combining them in separate organizational units.
In the case of front-end development, the key elements are:
- Caching is the process of storing a copy of the web resource and serves it back upon a user’s request.
- Synchronization is when several copies of a particular dataset are consistent with one another.
- Client-side rendering relates to actions performed by users on their devices.
- UI development refers to analysis of designed UI features on app analysis. Also, it’s a stage when UI/UX designers and software engineers work closely to make sure that created UIs and user actions work perfectly together.
Once you’ve finished an app development stage, you must check how it functions and implement user acceptance testing (UAT).
4. User Acceptance Testing Phase
Time frame: 2 weeks
User acceptance testing (UAT) is a crucial stage of the app development process that verifies whether a product fits your business requirements and users’ needs. This phase shouldn’t be neglected because it helps you understand if your app works smoothly.
During user acceptance testing, you apply real scenarios related to life situations of your target audience. For example, you developed a taxi app and want to discover if a car ordering system or a geolocation feature work perfectly. In this situation, you have 2 options to test it:
- Launching beta testing through special software like TestFlight (you can use it for iOS-based applications only).
- Involving your potential app users directly to check if your taxi app functions in the way you expect.
By applying the aforementioned options, you can detect errors, bugs, and other imperfections to eliminate them before your app release.
5. Deployment Phase
Time frame: 1-2 weeks
Deployment is the final stage of app development where software engineers prepare it for release. During this phase, you can implement these activities:
- Built-in updates.
- Version tracking.
6. App Release Phase
Time frame: 1-2 weeks
The app release is the final stage of the app development process. And you can start it once you’ve completed successfully the previous phases, such as deployment, development, and user acceptance testing. But before releasing your app, keep in mind the fact that publishing requirements for the App Store and Google Play are quite different.
For releasing your app on Google Play, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Check Google Play’s requirements and make sure your application doesn’t include illegal content (bullying, intolerance to diverse social groups on the basis of race and religion).
- Create the account in Google Play Development Console.
- Prepare marketing materials like an icon, app screenshots (JPEG or PNG formats), a text (4000 c. as a maximum), a promo video, APK (Android Application Package), etc.
- Follow the requirements for a digital signature as store password, key password, and a key alias (the key’s name in the store).
- Set up payment gateways for the app considering popular payment systems in your targeted region.
- Send your app for publication.
The reviewing time from Google Play to publish the app takes up to 7 days or longer. Once it’s approved, you’ll get a notification on your email address.
To publish your app on the App Store, you should check the next things:
- Make sure that your application follows the App Store Guidelines regarding design, app performance, user safety and experience.
- Sign up in the Apple Developer Program.
- Check your app for bugs and errors doing beta testing via TestFlight.
- Create app listing through App Store Connect.
- Prepare your marketing materials like app description (4000 c. maximum), nearly 3-5 screenshots, uploaded video in MOV, M4V, and MP4 formats, etc.
- Upload your application with XCode.
- Submit the app on review.
When your application meets the key criteria of the App Store (a unique, top-notch, and user-friendly product) and goes through all the stages, the Apple’s App Review department will send you an email letter. On average, a reviewing process takes up to 3-4 days but on special occasions like Christmas holidays, it may last longer.
7. Support & Maintenance Phase
The exact time frame of support and maintenance stage is hard to estimate. It depends on the number of updates needed for the app, changed user needs after release, and so on.
The app maintenance or post-launch phase shouldn’t be neglected by businesses as a CEO of Dom & Tom – Dominic Tancredi – thinks:
Just have a look at figures. In 2019, a mobile abandonment rate was abandonment rate was 25%, which is rather higher for the software development industry. Thus, keeping pace with the progress is a must for all players if you don’t want your app to be the next flop on the global app market. Negative user experience and a lack of positive reviews are among a few reasons why most applications fail.
If you don’t want to frustrate your users and leave your application abandoned, you need to invest your time and money in the post-launch stage (e.g. marketing, scaling your app further, adding new features, etc.). By doing so, you’ll reap numerous benefits for your business like increased app revenues and a high user retention rate.
How Can You Shorten Time Frames for App Development?
There are 2 key tactics on how you can save your time and launch your app faster on global markets:
- Creating an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for your product. The principle of this approach is simple: you create a small version of the app with core functions your app cannot exist without and then, ask users for feedback. The key steps of an MVP are forming hypotheses, implementing A/B tests, conducting user interviews, and assessing the results. Once you’ve completed them, you can evaluate your app in terms of design, usability, functionality, and quality.
- Applying a successful product strategy of renowned apps. If you’d like to make an app in the ridesharing or dating spheres, Uber and Tinder are great examples to keep an eye on their functionalities and app architecture. Let us explain why.
Uber is probably the most successful car booking app. Since its inception in 2013, it has operated in 69 countries and generated $14.1 million of net global revenues. The main reason why Uber reached such grand success is its app architecture. So whether you want to build an Uber-like app, keep in mind it should include real-time geolocation, trip history, reviewing and payment sections as the core features.
Tinder is a top dating app launched in 2012. After that, its revenues amounted to $1.15 billion in 2019. Among the core Tinder’s functionalities, there are swiping, messaging, and filtering options based on the chosen demographic preferences and locations. Thus, if you think about creating a Tinder-like app, consider the aforementioned features of this renowned application.
Plan Your Smart App Development with LITSLINK!
Now, you know the average time frame for your app and the 7 core stages it takes to build it. Also, you are aware of the factors that influence each of these stages like project size, app complexity, tech expertise of developers, and how many third-party integrations or APIs you need.
If you bear in mind a great app idea, but you’re not sure about its timelines and costs, you can easily assess them with an app development calculator from LITSLINK. You can get a ballpark estimate quote for your app project or by filling out a form with your contact details or by answering 27 multiple-choice questions.
Thus, with our app cost calculator, you’ll estimate how much money and time you may spend on your app project.