Essential Steps to Consider Before Developing an App

Dan Cattermole, CEO, Yozobi
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Are you considering having an app developed? Whether the intention is to support the growth of your business by generating revenue or by providing another resource for your customer base, this short guide will focus on what you need to know before developing an app.

By undertaking the correct steps at the right time will help you maximise your app’s chance of success.

Read on to learn more.

apps on a screen

Research your target market

Even with a solid idea, before developing an app for your business, it is crucial first to understand the market, any underlying trends, and customer demand. Market research is a vital first step before any technological consideration takes place, and a market analysis report can provide insights allowing you to optimise your app from the very beginning. Market insights include:

  • What is the popularity of similar apps?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What strategies do they employ?
  • What is their USP?
  • Do you know their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Analyse competitor’s reviews to understand their customer likes, dislikes, preferences, and future demands.

Proper research will allow you to avoid your competitor’s mistakes, employ strategies which work, and define a problem and how to solve it. It will help to prepare for the development of a robust app right from the beginning.

Identify your target audience

Identifying the correct audience for your app is crucial. The success of the app depends on a well-targeted set of users. Getting answers to tightly focused questions will reduce targeting the wrong groups of people and minimise wasted resources on unneeded app features. It is at this point that it is essential to identify:

  • What does your app do?
  • What problem will your app solve?
  • Who is the audience that would benefit from the app?
  • What does your target audience crave?
  • How will the application help you achieve your business targets?
  • How often will your audience use the app?

By understanding your target audience will help guide how you develop an app to tightly align to their needs.

Employ the correct development methodology

The development methodology is an essential technical decision to make early on before starting the app development process. Selecting between a native, web or hybrid app will impact on budgets, time frames and available expertise. It will also impact on the way you market your app and whether you will operate on multi-platforms such as the App and Play store.

Native Apps

Installed through an app store like Google Play, a native app dedicates to a single platform like Android or IOS. A native mobile application installed directly on a tablet or smartphone can often work offline without an internet connection.

Web Apps

A web app is a website designed to look like and function like a native app. Typically written with HTML code, it is browser operated, and like any website, you navigate to a URL. A web app needs an internet connection to work.

Hybrid Apps

A hybrid app is a part web and part native app. It is a web browser which is embedded in an app and is a wrapper for a web page. It allows a business to get onto an app store and allows cross-platform development.

Once an app type is decided upon, it will become much easier to budget for and plan the entire app development project.

App monetisation considerations

An app can be employed in a variety of roles for your business. An app may serve to generate revenue directly; alternatively, it may be another resource for your customer base or indirectly serve other parts of your business’s sales funnel. If you intend to make money directly from your app, you need to consider different app monetisation models which include:

  • In-app purchases: The model uses the app to sell physical or digital products like a mobile commerce sales channel
  • Freemium apps: An app which is free to download but some features are locked and only accessible through purchase
  • Paid apps: The user purchases the application from the app store in order to use it
  • In-app ads: The simplest model as there is no cost barrier for the user
  • Subscriptions: A model that provides a recurring revenue stream
  • Sponsorships: Partnering with specific advertisers and brands, this model becomes possible with a substantial user base

It is vital to fully understand the different monetisation models and move your app development to the option that best aligns with your business.

Formulate an action plan

Ahead of building an app, it is crucial to understand the whole application development process, from engaging an app developer to learning about the different development stages and associated time frames. Without knowing the app development process, it will be challenging to accurately announce your app launch date and assessing when to create the necessary buzz around it.

An app can take anywhere from 3 months to a year or more to develop and deploy. Starting a dialogue with app developers as early as possible is essential to map out the entire project efficiently and create timelines across the various stages.


Choosing an app developer

It is vital to identify whether an app development company is a right fit to undertake your app project. Five considerations to keep in mind ahead of any engagement include the following:

  1. Look at current and past client reviews and feedback, whether on a review platform like Clutch or contacting the client directly. It will help you understand the quality of service provided by a developer.
  2. Make sure the app development company adheres to strict security measures to make sure the app idea and concept remains confidential ahead of launch.
  3. Effective delivery management is vital to keep a client up to date with the progress of the development cycle. Any development company worth their salt must have first-class communication throughout the development journey.
  4. App development companies must adhere to the latest quality assurance and testing processes to ensure that your application is error-free once it deploys.
  5. App design is an essential factor for the app's success. Consider engaging a company that has excellent UI and UX designers who can deliver a first-class app to your clients.

Understand the phases of app development

There are five different app development stages that you should know about ahead of the development process:

Discovery phase

It is essential to make sure that both you and the app developer fully understand and agree on the scope before the development of the application takes place. It allows exploration of the project feasibility, understanding how system components will work and connect, identifying a minimum viable product (MVP) and mapping out the delivery timescale by way of a series of sprints.

Design phase

Ahead of the development phase where coding starts, it is vital to understand how an app looks and works. It is done in the design phase, where the user experience design (UX) and visual design, which incorporates the user interface (UI) all come together to create a clickable prototype.

Development phase

The results of the design phase are used by the development team to begin the development process. It includes an alpha and beta phase, including light testing and design and user experience updates where client feedback may see changes.

Testing and deployment phase

Extensive testing is vital to ensure glitches and bugs are kept to a minimum when your application launches. Testing falls under five main areas which are compatibility, functional testing, performance, usability and security testing. The deployment or launch of the app follows testing.

App maintenance phase

Following deployment, the maintenance of the app on an ongoing basis is essential to make sure that it is always up to date and compatible with upgrades on the underlying operating system, server updates and checked for security bugs.

Know your Budget

Investment, as well as knowledge and strategy, are essential to developing a mobile app successfully. Knowing your budget and allocating it properly throughout each stage of the application development process is vital. App development, maintenance and scoping all require a part of your budget and by knowing the available financial resources early on will prevent delays further on down the line.

The cost to build an app can start from £10,000 for a basic app rising to a starting price of £75,000 for a more complicated application. A simple formula to calculate development costs is to multiply the hourly rate that an app development company charges by the total development time.


Costs are broken down by phase; for example, the design phase for a native integration can be as much as £20,000 with the cost of the ongoing app maintenance phase following launch being 10% to 20% of the app development cost.

For further information on app costs, read our detailed blog post on how much to develop an app in the UK

Develop your marketing strategy

Now that you understand the timeline involved with the app development process, it is possible to build your marketing strategy and plan your pre-launch. Any plan will depend on analysing your industry and potential user base, only then can you formulate an idea on how to promote it. Take the following into consideration:

  • What are the channels where your target audience mostly hang out?
  • What is the type of content they like the most, written or video content?
  • Outreach – Who are the leading influencers in your industry, and how can you get them to put your app in front of their audiences?
  • How will your corporate branding set you apart from other mobile apps? Make sure it is consistent over all the different platforms.

Putting the strategy in place for a warm launch will make it easier to promote your app when the launch comes.



Once you have covered off all the preparatory steps in the process of developing an app, you will be in a strong position to move forward knowing you have undertaken the due diligence required to give your application the best chance of a successful launch.

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