It is estimated that by 2021 the total number of apps downloaded worldwide will be close to 352 billion. These are impressive numbers, but they give a good idea of how important these platforms are for any organisation or business.
Due to the importance of apps, many people think that designing them is a rather simple and inexpensive task, but the reality of the situation proves otherwise! Even if you have the skills and tools to develop an app, it is not certain that it will become a successful app that receives positive feedback from the public.
In order to create a successful application, you need to know what types of applications exist, which ones are right for you, which app stores you want to make it available on, and the characteristics of the target audience you want to reach... in short: to make a difference, you need to have a 360° view! Let's try to explore all these issues in more detail in this article.
Before developing an application, it is important to have a clear idea: are you willing to invest time and resources in the development of this project? Is it a project aiming for immediate profit or long-term success? Which audience do you want to reach? Do you already have an idea or concept for your future app? These are just a few of the many considerations to make before embarking on an app development project.
Other factors must not be overlooked, such as the type of app to be made, the stores where it is to be presented (Android or iOS), which category of app to choose, what and how many resources to deploy... but above all, how to create a structured project that also includes all the marketing and promotion activities required for an investment of this kind.
With regard to all these aspects, we would like to focus our attention on Web Apps, which are applications based on a mobile-optimised version of a website. Compared to native or hybrid apps, web apps are less intuitive and simple, and require a constant connection to the network in order to work. However, they are less expensive and simpler to make, while still providing a great user experience. But what are the steps involved in their development? What are the timescales and costs involved? Let's find out now!
What are the development phases of a web app? Timing and costs
In this section we will focus on the development phases of an application. The main reason why an app is not successful in the long term is because there is no proper planning behind the development process.
In order to develop a successful application it is essential to work according to these steps:
Every success story starts with a good idea! It is certainly not easy to come up with an original and potentially successful idea, and for this reason it is essential to know and identify precisely the target audience your app will be aimed at. Why should a user download it? What needs should it satisfy? What services should it offer? These are all questions that need to be asked in the app design phase.
An idea, even an excellent one, must always be feasible and economically sustainable. This is why, at this stage, it is necessary to try to structure a business model that manages to reconcile development needs with economic and financial requirements. Will it be paid for? Is it better to have a free app but with advertisements inside? Will it contain a dedicated e-shop? These are all the main models for increasing the revenue generated by an app.
An application must be simple and intuitive for the user, but despite this, there are a multitude of elements behind its design, some of them very complex. Push notifications, geolocalisation, integration with social networks, contact methods, etc. are just some of the elements that need to be decided whether or not to implement in an app.
User experience is not only design, but much more! This term defines the overall experience of the user who interfaces with the application. The small size of a mobile device compared to a PC makes the simplicity and speed of navigation more important than ever. An unpleasant experience, in fact, will lead the user not to use the application any more, and with high probability to uninstall it, wasting all the efforts and resources spent in its realisation.
When developing an app, one of the first choices to make is on which platforms to distribute it. Today there are two main platforms: Google Play for devices with Android OS, and App Store for devices with iOS; these two have recently been joined by AppGallery for Huawei devices and the brand new Harmony OS. Thus, a key stage in the development of an app is closely linked to the guidelines of these platforms in order for their distribution to be authorised.
It is estimated that on average each user has around 80 different applications installed on their smartphone. It is therefore not easy to make your own stand out from the crowd of different icons. Designing and studying an original and appealing brand is therefore one of the main secrets for the success of your application.
The success of an app is basically translated into the number of downloads on the different platforms. It is well known that Apple's App Store offers better results in a short time, but in recent years Android apps are completely turning the tables. But good results can only be achieved if a major promotion activity is also implemented, activating all those effective marketing and communication strategies that can intercept the most suitable target for your app.
When defining the business strategy behind the development of an app, the definition of the budget needed to finance the whole project also comes into play. The question that might arise at this point is "how much does it cost to create an app?". The answer is only one: it depends!
It is not easy to define the cost of an application a priori; there are many factors that affect this variable, and they are closely linked to the characteristics of the application itself. The cost, in fact, is linked to the type of application chosen, to the operating platform for which it is to be developed, to the number of functions we intend to include, to the backend and administration infrastructure of the app, to future updates, and to all the related data analysis and monitoring activities.
While it is not possible to define a precise cost, it is possible to provide an indicative cost range: according to industry research, a 'standard' app can cost around €20,000. However, more complex apps may require much higher figures, ranging from €30,000 to €60,000.
Every day, thousands of new apps are published on download platforms. Yet it is not easy to define a standard timeframe for developing an app. According to some estimates and research, it takes on average 3 to 5 months to develop an app from scratch.
The terms CI and CD refer to those software development practices, and hence applications, that aim to speed up the deployment rate of digital products and applications through the use of automation mechanisms.
Lo sviluppo di un software segue un ciclo ben definito che prende il nome di SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) e comprende un costante processo di costruzione e aggiornamento del codice per garantire all’utente finale il massimo livello di qualità e stabilità del software stesso. Questo flusso costante di operazione prende il nome di pipeline CI/CD: il termine CI viene usato per indicare il lavoro di integrazione continua del software; il termine CD sta a indicare il “deployment continuo”, ossia il rilascio automatico delle modifiche apportate dallo sviluppatore dal repository alla produzione.
Una pipeline CI/CD si suddivide in diverse categorie di attività, ognuna delle quali costituisce a sua volta una fase di pipeline:
Questo è l’esempio più classico di pipeline, ma non deve intendersi come uno schema fisso e immutabile; la successione delle diverse fasi può essere modificata in base alle esigenze della tua azienda.
Ma quali sono le ragioni che spingono allo sviluppo di strategie CI/DC per la realizzazione di un applicazione web? La ragione principale è che queste attività portano ad una drastica riduzione dei tassi di errore nel codice, riducendo i tempi e i costi di sviluppo del software. La CI spinge verso uno sviluppo continuo, ossia verso un’integrazione nel software costante attraverso modifiche e aggiunte frequenti, rendendo più semplice l’individuazione di errori o problemi apportati dalle modifiche stesse.
Ma non basta avere uno sviluppo e un’integrazione continua; successivamente all’automazione delle build e ai test di integrazione tipici della CI, la distribuzione sarà efficace se adeguatamente integrata nel flusso di sviluppo. Attraverso la DC, quindi, è possibile disporre di un codice base sempre pronto per essere distribuito in un ambiente di produzione.
In conclusione è possibile affermare che le procedure di CI/DC offrono l’opportunità di rendere lo sviluppo di un’applicazione molto più semplice e meno rischioso. Queste due attività correlate consentono di rilasciare le modifiche dell’applicazione in piccole parti e non tutte in una volta. Tuttavia, si tratta di un processo di sviluppo piuttosto impegnativo nelle prime fasi di implementazione, e questo è dovuto al fatto che è necessario scrivere test automatizzati che siano adatti alla vasta gamma di fasi di test e rilascio previsti dal flusso CI/DC stesso.
Oggi, per decretare il successo di un’applicazione, è necessario che le aziende siano in grado di reinventarsi e sappiano offrire costantemente un’esperienza d’uso gradevole e ottimizzata. Distribuzione costante e miglioramento continuo sono i due fattori principali che stanno alla base del successo della tua app nel tempo, senza i quali al giorno d’oggi è piuttosto difficile emergere e distinguersi rispetto all’infinità di applicativi digitali che gli utenti possono trovarsi di fronte.