The Ultimate Guide to Developing Successful Apps in 2021 is a book about custom mobile app development.

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In 2021, the app market will be a little congested. The Google Play Store now has almost 2.87 million apps available, while the Apple App Store has 1.96 million. If you’re reading this, chances are you didn’t find anything that met your needs in either store. To some extent, they’re all fantastic, but none of them provides the whole set of functionalities and features you’ll need to solve your specific business problem.

So, without further ado, let’s get down to business: from the concept and business strategy to the launch, marketing, and income of a custom app.

Build Your First Effective App with a Custom App Development Guide

Software Development vs. Custom Software Development: What’s the Difference?

Software development is a broad word that refers to all processes, stages, and activities involved in bringing a software concept to market, from concept to ready-to-use product. It contains the following items:

  • Project specification
  • Design
  • Programming
  • Testing
  • Bug fixing
  • Maintenance
  • Documentation

When you search for “software development,” you’ll come across offers from web and mobile app developers, mobile designers, QA professionals, DevOps gurus, project managers, and so on. They’re all involved in the larger process of creating software. But it is obvious; the challenge comes when the distinction between software development and custom solutions is discussed.

It may appear that all software development is done on a custom basis. True, a development team produces a new solution for a specific organization with specific specifications and based on stated requirements. There is, nevertheless, a distinction.

Software apps that are ready-to-use vs. off-the-shelf

Traditional software development can be carried out in a variety of ways:

  1. no code
  2. low code
  3. custom

Custom app creation is an off-the-shelf alternative, although the first two are usually integrated into the category of ready-made apps.

No-code development appears to be self-explanatory: it does not require developers to be code experts. There are particular tools for app building, such as Airtable or Appy Pie, that give a set of drag-and-drop capabilities. For people without a technical expertise, they feature an appealing visual design and an intuitive experience. When a simple program needs to be launched quickly and no specific features are required, no-code solutions are advantageous.

Low-code app development falls between between no-code and custom app development. Low-code platforms provide the same simple interface as high-code platforms, with app features that may be moved to the final solution. They do, however, have some modification options in terms of sequence or visual attractiveness of the final result. The low-code app’s ability to be customized to your company’s specific design is extremely limited, although it is feasible with little effort.

Custom software and app development necessitates advanced coding expertise and results in sophisticated and adaptable solutions. This method enables for the creation of an app that responds to a company’s needs and requirements, as well as the ability to adapt it as the company’s direction or market demand shifts.

The advantages of developing a custom app

The benefits of a fitted coat are apparent, and the same can be said for personalized software. Of course, a ready-made coat might occasionally suffice to keep one warm in the winter, but if you need to shine and stand out from the crowd, a bespoke option is far superior. This is why.

  • This is a multi-platform application. When a client requests bespoke app development, they specify the operating systems, devices, models, browsers, and versions of those operating systems, devices, models, and browsers the app will support. Low/no-code solutions usually feature a small selection of options. Additionally, an app built to your specifications can smoothly transfer a user’s session from a web app to an Android or desktop version. End-users always appreciate such a user experience.
  • High levels of security. Because the development team can add in any security feature you could need, this is a unique and important aspect of customization (two-step verification, blockchain, ciphered data, etc.) As a result, the risk of piracy is reduced, and customer loyalty is increased.
  • Planning. A bespoke app can be built with the goal of scaling, connecting to other services, adding new features, and so on. This benefit is most effective if you use the same development team for current and future app development.
  • A more fluid relationship. Some low-code apps are difficult to integrate with existing systems, particularly if the programming languages or codes are incompatible. This difficulty does not arise with a custom solution because the app is expressly intended to interface easily with existing and even legacy systems.
  • Location for storing items. Today, customized applications are usually kept on the cloud to allow for the app’s rapid and efficient operation, whereas ready-made versions would need to run from a server. This comes at an additional expense and increases the likelihood of the program crashing.

What is the definition of custom app development?

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Customized application development necessitates a high level of adaptation to a customer’s needs. Because it has a specific set of features specified by the client-company, an application launched after development is typically one-of-a-kind. A custom app can be created for external users (e-commerce, gaming, and educational purposes), but it is most commonly used by internal users (customer management, production monitoring, time tracking). Rather than traditional software solutions, custom development solutions frequently target individual demands through customised features.

What does it mean to create a custom web application?

Custom web development is an example of the aforementioned umbrella phrase. It focuses on the creation of web-based apps that users may access from their PCs, phones, tablets, and other devices via web browsers. The key benefit of custom web application development is that the client can ensure that their solution is accessible and responsive on all screens and browsers.

What is the definition of custom mobile app development?

Custom mobile application development is comparable to the above-mentioned web services, but it focuses on providing the greatest options for existing operating systems and mobile devices. In order for a custom mobile solution to be successful, it must ensure that the app:

  • is available on the most popular models of mobile phones, tablets, and wearable devices
  • can adapt to any screen size
  • is compatible with the top operating systems
  • will adapt to the future OSs, screen sizes, models (for example, to the foldable smartphones)

Custom App Development: A Step-by-Step Guide

Because it is tailored to the goals and requirements of the client, custom app development can take many different ways. Some businesses come to us with a ready-made MVP and a detailed list of requirements, while others have only a hazy sense of what they want in the end. The method is very dependent on the project, software, details, and client. The steps listed below can be changed in a variety of ways. If you only have a rough notion of what you want to make, your plan will look something like this when you decide to make an app.

Step #1: Brainstorming

This step is likely to be completed before you contact a custom software development firm. If you’re an investor looking for a new investment opportunity, brainstorming is a good place to start. Consider the issues that exist in your country, area, or company, and how an app could help to solve them. For example, when the Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp couldn’t find a taxi on a snowy night in Paris, they thought to themselves, “What if you could order a trip just by touching your phone?” Luis von Ahn, Duolingo’s founder and current CTO, believed that free education might change the world, so he devised a proposal for an app that would teach people various languages. Airbnb’s founders were looking for a way to make a few extra dollars when they came up with the idea, which has since grown into a $31 billion company. These concepts appear clear today because the services can help many people. Before calling a custom application development business, consider such a facilitator or difficulty for your idea.

Step #2: Identifying the target audience

Once you’ve identified an issue, you’ll need to figure out who will be affected by your solution. The preceding examples are rather universal. However, Uber caters mostly to users aged 18 to 60, Airbnb to students and low/middle-income tourists, and Duolingo to those with a limited budget but a strong desire to learn a foreign language. Of course, these are only broad definitions of an application’s target demographic, but they’re a great place to start your marketing study.

Imagine a perfect user for your future app:

  • Who are they? (gender, age, location, occupation, income, etc.)
  • How often do you expect them to use the application?
  • What makes your app unique in the market?

The easiest way to collect this data is by simply asking people around. Set up online polls and find out what the potential audience prefers. Remember to collect their data for developing your target user profile.

Step #3: Business strategy

It’s crucial to carefully determine how your custom development solutions will generate income once the user and the problem are ready. The strategy you choose for the new project will have an impact on customer satisfaction and the speed with which you achieve your goal.

Answer the following questions first:

  • How will you reach end-users? How will they learn about the app?
  • How much acquisition of one user will cost?
  • How much of a budget is needed to gain market traction?

Yes, you may believe that these responses can be saved till after your custom web development job is completed. However, the sooner you start marketing, the faster you’ll start making money after the app is published. Furthermore, the business plan influences whether the app requires deep linking, ad slots, SEO optimization (to make the app searchable in Google or the App/Google Play Stores), and other features. These characteristics are also beneficial to the application’s technology side.

Consider how the future app will be disseminated throughout the development of the business strategy: to individuals via shops or to organizations who will purchase it for in-house use. In-house custom mobile app development typically necessitates less marketing-related development in general. Still, further work is required to integrate it with the client’s internal systems and the other apps. Because of the widespread availability, more work on app optimization and adaption to a wide range of end-user devices is required.

Step #4: Specifications and core functionalities

Even if you are not a techie and cannot articulate the standards in IT words, creating them is a necessary step. The general functional and technical specs, as well as your expectations for future software, can aid website and mobile app developers in comprehending your vision and developing the exact solution you require. Here’s what will come in handy:

  • Consider who will be using the app: professors and students, self-learners, registered/non-registered users, repeat customers or new consumers, and so on. The roles are greatly influenced by the overall concept of your app.
  • Consider how each of the identified roles will use your app or how you want them to use it in the future. A flow chart with arrows and specific app pieces is the simplest method.
  • Plan the app: this simply refers to high-level considerations such as the expected number of screens and their names, buttons, and the app’s functional design.
  • Make a list of features: what you want the app to accomplish and how you want it to do it; Any linkages (with financial systems or YouTube, for example), app analytics to adjust future marketing efforts, and revenue strategies should all be planned ahead of time (in-app purchases, ads, pay-per-download, etc.)

At the planning stage, there are no right or incorrect answers because the more information you can gather and define for the mobile and web application development firm, the faster and easier the end outcome will be.

Step #5: Finding experts to develop an app

It’s the perfect moment to choose a dependable partner to develop an app now that you have an idea, technical specifications, a marketing strategy, and a business plan.

  • Start your search by looking through listings on websites such as Clutch.co, Vietnam Software Development Industry Insights, or The Manifest. To identify a custom software development firm in your area or a specific list of services, use the filters.
  • Examine the portfolio: look through the websites of a few teams to determine if they’ve ever worked on applications similar to yours. Choose companies who have already worked in your industry because they can provide more insight into market needs and trends.
  • Read the blog: A blog is a great way to get to know the team before meeting them in person. You can see the company’s emphasis by reading the articles and view their knowledge base as a sign of experience.
  • Examine the firm’s market presence, which includes its attendance at conferences and maybe any accolades it has received. Examine whether their apps are well-liked, as well as their social media strategy.
  • Check client feedback or referrals from reputable sources: working with a company that has positive evaluations or referrals from people you know is considerably easier. However, while comparing feedback, take into account online opinions as well.
  • Focus on data and technology security: this aspect can only be assessed at a face-to-face meeting with the chosen company. Find a team that can define their security strategy for you right away, as this will provide you with more clarity on their approach.
  • Focus on delivery time: be prepared for delays in software development. However, talk about the schedule and delivery time that you expect from the custom application development firm you’ve chosen. Strict time management is a positive sign (you can tell by how they arrive for your first meeting/e-meeting).
  • You’ve already decided to outsource because you’re reading this post, therefore the question is whether to hire an offshore or onshore workforce. Offshore enterprises in Asia and Eastern Europe are less expensive while offering a similar, if not higher, degree of assistance and experience. Onshore crews would be more expensive, but they would be in the same time zone, making communication easier. While there is a distinction between offshore and onshore, the former points are more valuable. Only come to this differentiation if the preceding ones have failed to do so.
  • Sign a contract: The only document that can help you in the event of a disagreement is a contract with all the information, deadlines, and technical requirements. Always read the paperwork before signing them to ensure that your firm is protected from any unpleasant events.

Of course, this is only a partial list of the important characteristics to look for in a bespoke mobile app development partner. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic start for future collaboration.

Step #6: Pre-development

This stage is termed pre-development since the outsourced firm and your team will need to meet and establish all project details before bespoke web app development can begin. From the pencil-and-paper conceptions to the designer’s visuals and UX journeys, the latter can incorporate everything from your drafts and ideas to their presentation of the app. Because it defines the entire project, negotiation is one of the most important aspects of custom software development. Before getting down to business, a development team will usually produce a fast prototype for your approval.

Make a quick prototype

Please don’t confuse a prototype with an MVP; they’re two different stages. A prototype is a section of the app with interactive features; it’s a great method to see how the app will function and feel once it’s released. Some website and mobile app developers, on the other hand, would refuse to do a free prototype because it still takes time and work. In this instance, you’ll probably get some design sketches and screenshots of user experiences to help you comprehend the forthcoming functioning prototype. This section should be sufficient to determine which team works best for your ideals and who has a better understanding of your future app in order to begin working together.

Create a minimum viable product (MVP).

A minimal viable product (MVP) is a product that meets the most basic requirements. This is a stripped-down version of your fully created program, with just enough functionality to be released and used by early or test users. Early tests may reveal that your initial app concept requires major revisions, therefore this stage is still classified as pre-development. It could lead to a significant change in the development director’s role or possibly the entire termination of the project.

MVPs check to see if you’re giving your users an enjoyable experience. Plan this trial run with the custom mobile app development team you’ve chosen and see what kind of feedback you can get. For an internal app, enlist the help of multiple employees to begin developing the new tool in order to assess its benefits and drawbacks. Go to websites like UserTesting or Userbrain and ask people to use your app if it’s a mass-app that’s open to anyone through a Google Play/App Store. Consider how many interested people respond and what they have to say, as well as demographics and analytics, before adjusting your target audience and approach as needed.

Tip: Don’t rush to finish all of the features and get them out to the public as soon as feasible. You gain your core users if you’ve already earned the hearts of certain audience. Listen to their comments, but do it carefully; if a user complains about certain features repeatedly yet continues to use the app, you’re doing a decent job. Before adding more features and progressing to full-scale custom development solutions, try to refine and master those 5-10 features of the MVP.

Step #7: Development

You already have the MVP at the start of step #7, which sets the tone for the next development operations. Given the possibility that an MVP may be a huge success or receive only favorable feedback, the design stage outlined below may not be necessary. Many custom web development businesses, however, polish or even re-brand the program after the MVP to give it a flicker of originality and entice the product’s full-scale release. The decision would be based on the budget, timeline, and preferences of the end users. In any event, the following system would be used by traditional bespoke website and mobile app developers.

  • Design . Here’s a comment from Steve Jobs that has to be mentioned: “Design is not only about how something looks and feels. The way it works is through design.” You already have an MVP that meets the majority of your users’ needs. Consider incorporating input about your app’s usability, using new design trends to update it, experimenting with minor animations for buttons and page crossovers, and so on. Make modest but noticeable adjustments.
  • Development. The magic of coding converts an idea into a working application during development. You won’t need to know much about coding, development strategies, programming languages, or specific frameworks in most cases. All of this will be handled by the custom application development business. A client should focus on two things at this point: deciding on the app handover and maintaining control over the process. The former implies that you must plan ahead of time how you will take over the app once development is complete, as well as the placement of the app’s storage (your servers or the cloud). This decision will have an impact on the forthcoming development, so make sure you talk to the developers about it. The latter entails meeting with the development team on a regular basis to monitor progress. Depending on the development sprints and prior agreement, these sessions would normally take place weekly or monthly. Ensure that the team is on track with the development timeline at these checkpoints; there should be no major roadblocks and no additional questions for you as the customer.
  • Testing. Testing is an important part of any development process. Some testers can spot severe problems with the app’s performance or functioning and notify the development team before the solution is released. Testing can be done by the same bespoke application development business that is handling the main work, or by an outside QA team. The option would be discussed when the contract was signed. Testers are often present at every step of development to reduce the negative impact that bugs and software inconsistencies have on end-users.
  • Training. This is a really important phase. Your staff should be familiar with the application before it is released and made available to end users. It’s especially important for custom apps made for internal use. Internal employees who will have direct interaction with the app should learn how it works, test it, and conduct a follow-up Q&A session. Training refers to the transfer of expertise from an outsourced development team to in-house professionals when producing an app for end users. Once the app is released, your IT department will need to know how to manage, monitor, and govern it, and end-users will have access to its information.
  • Launch. Once you’ve confirmed all of the specifics and are happy with the program, it goes live and is available in all of the stores.

App Development Best Practices

The post-development routine, which includes the best practices outlined here, is step #8 in the development process. They ensure that your app is always fashionable, as well as ensuring that it functions properly.

Pay attention to the users.

This point was already brought up in the MVP section. The gathering of feedback allows a company to remain valuable to its clients while also improving the services it provides. Voice of Customer is one of the most effective ways for determining what the market thinks of your app and what it lacks. Make sure you offer the improvements or features that people request, in addition to simply listening to them. You can demonstrate that you care about your customers’ opinions by following their voice, resulting in a considerable increase in brand loyalty. To collect the data and opinions, you can use third-party platforms like UserVoice, Braze, and Apptentive or create an in-app feedback form for that purpose.

Improvement is ongoing.

Continuous app development and enhancement is the most effective strategy to generate consistent revenue. Bug fixes, new features, improvements, re-design, and other program upgrades keep it current and relevant for your end-users. Lack of development causes a large amount of stagnation in an application, as well as a significant loss of revenue. Maintain a fresh and comfortable environment for end users, and act on any enhancement suggestions you get. If possible, bring on the same custom web development team for improvement or negotiate a project-by-project contract to keep an expert team of programmers at arm’s length.

Users can be followed across platforms.

The ability to create custom web apps is great. It provides a convenient way for users to access your app on PCs, phones, and other mobile devices. However, following your users across platforms and mediums is critical. This means that if a user purchases a web app, they should be able to carry on their activities in a mobile app rather than using a mobile-optimized website. Furthermore, ensure that you construct an app for every popular OS, as failing to account for the most popular ones will result in a loss of users sooner or later. After the initial app is released, your goal should be to have a ubiquitous presence.

Utilize cutting-edge technology

In this sense, competitive technologies simply mean that your code, chosen language, and framework can adapt to changes; modern technologies are rapidly changing and have a supportive community. Coding in Pascal, for example, makes no sense because this language exists only in the mind, whereas Java is one of the most widely used backend programming languages. Maintain a consistent and basic approach, but ensure that the technologies you use allow you to achieve perfection.

Customer information should be kept safe.

In the United States, there were 1,506 security breaches in 2019, all of which exposed users’ personal information. The number of security infraction cases appeared to be decreasing in the first half of 2020, but the total count and company losses are still rising. Every breach and theft of personal digital data has the potential to be a major scandal that many companies are ill-equipped to deal with. Rather of taking a risk, you should invest in client data security from the beginning by adhering to privacy legislation laws (such as HIPAA and GDPR), using privacy-as-a-service solutions, and following best practices (such as support of HTTPS or data encryption).

How Long Does It Take to Create a Customized App?

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The truth is that it never ends, assuming you follow best practices and continue to develop your application. But you’re presumably hoping for a more specific answer: when the app goes live and starts generating income. Depending on a variety of criteria, this process can take anywhere from four to nine months.

Timeline for developing a custom app and elements to consider

The following is an estimate of how long each stage will take:

  • Planning and requirements: 2-4 weeks
  • Design and architecture: 2 weeks
  • Development: 3-8 months
  • Implementation: 2-4 weeks
  • Tests and maintenance: 3-6 weeks
  • Production: 3+ weeks

The length of time it takes to design a custom mobile application is highly dependent on the complexity of your project. A basic time-tracking application can be completed in three months, whereas an extensive app for online shopping would only take 9-12 months to construct. A few elements that influence the complexity and length of your app’s delivery time are listed below.

  • Number of screens (up to 25 is pretty standard; more require precise planning, user journeys, and navigation)
  • Need for the admin portal besides the app itself
  • Support for multiple devices, platforms, and OSs
  • Integrations with other systems and applications
  • Data migration from the legacy systems
  • Business logic
  • Heavy reporting requirements
  • Changes of requirements/missing requirements in the process of development
  • Inconsistent data from stakeholders

What Characterizes a Successful App?

An application’s success is determined by three factors: marketing, user-centricity, and the product itself. For both users and app owners, the combination of these three components ensures profitability and high performance. Let’s take a closer look at what these variables signify.

The stage of marketing has previously been mentioned. Its most important feature is that it focuses on the proper customers. For example, if you’re targeting a high-end market, the lack of an iOS-based app will have a significant impact on sales and revenue.

User retention is aided by the user-centricity factor, which motivates consumers to return to your app and use it again and again. Among the most important user-centric characteristics to consider are the app’s general design and intuitive UX/UI. The program must follow a natural usage pattern and meet the consumers’ primary expectations. You should also have a support tool in plain sight, such as a chat, so that anyone who gets lost or needs help with a specific aspect of your program may get professional help in seconds. Also, keep in mind the app’s accessibility and voice-guided navigation. Virtual assistance technologies are predicted to be used by 8 billion people by 2023, therefore it’s critical to plan ahead and start integrating them today.

Both of the above components are included in the product, but it also provides more technological reliability. Because custom apps must solve client problems without keeping visitors waiting for a page to load, app performance of custom development solutions must be at an A-level. Users return and use the app more as a result of data protection and a stable workflow without big maintenance windows or unexpected app crashes. In a nutshell, a product’s brilliance is its complete dependability for the end-user.

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TESO’s Custom App Development

TESO is one of Vietnam’s biggest software development firms. We work with startups and companies, small apps and big problems, specialized goods, and frontline solutions. We strive to provide a flawless solution to your challenges by developing impactful and intuitive custom applications that are suited to your exact requirements.

Our team works in sprints and sends regular reports to the customer, so you can stay on top of things and engage actively in the development process. Our marketers keep up with industry trends, while our researchers dig deep into your market niche to develop a one-of-a-kind solution that meets your end-users’ expectations and ensures excellent retention rates. We at TESO understand how difficult it can be to learn new tools. Following the development of an app, we always provide full-scale training to the client’s team in order to provide a smooth transfer to the new technology and a comfortable adaptation period for all team members. We are always open to new projects!

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