We’re not going to harp on how important it is for businesses to have a digitized presence, through a web app, a mobile app, or both. We have spoken about this at length and you’ll find a lot of blogs that we have published covering the importance of digitization. Considering the obvious fact that almost every one today owns a mobile and has an internet connection, you probably already know the importance of having a digital presence.
So once you decide to take your business (the services and/or products) online, what next? How do you decide ‘what’ to build, ‘how’ to build it, and ‘who’ will build it? Is it your job to plan the ‘what’ and ‘how’, or should your development partner (the ‘who’) prepare this plan? These are the questions we will answer in this blog.
The Process of Building a Digital Product | The Steps & Core Responsibilities
Once you have selected an app development partner, the product development process should proceed this way:
1. The Brand & Its Services/Products
Defining your brand, the services and/or products you will provide, is obviously your number one priority when starting a business. The ‘features’ that a web/mobile app will provide will be based on the services/products your company provides. Are you a fintech company that facilitates loans? The app will have loan borrowing and lending features. Are you a retail store? The app will have a shopping cart feature. Are you a digital marketing agency? The app will have an analytics dashboard. You get the idea?
It’s important for you as a company to have a proper definition of the services and/or products you are going to provide, because this will heavily factor the features of your digital application.
It is also important to define your ‘brand’. By that, we mean the company logo, brand colours, brand styles, fonts, etc. The web and/or mobile application has to resonate with your brand so it is reinforced in the minds of the app users.
2. Defining the Audience
Before moving in to any sort of app dev tasks, the key stakeholders of your business AND the app development team you have hired must define the ideal audience for the application. Your responsibility as the company here is to explain who your current customers are and draw a consumer profile from this information, and the dev company must explain who the ideal customer could be from their experience working with clients in your domain. Together, you will create a list of ideal user personas.
3. The Features of the Application
Next, the features that the app will provide its users needs to be laid out. This has to be a joint effort between you and your product development partner. Ideally, you should define what business services/products you want sell or provide via the app, and your app development partner should define what features are needed to facilitate that process.
For example, you define the fact that you need an app for your bank, and you want to provide the following options – create savings account, check savings account details, make online transactions, and apply for loans. Your development partner will define the features – log-in for security – form for new account holder information, option to download e-statements for account details, page to add a payee, fund transfer page, form to apply for a loan, page to track loan approval progress, etc.
This process is best executed as a joint venture between stakeholders of your business, and the app development company.
4. The App Interface
Your responsibility here is only to provide the brand guidelines and caveats if any. The app development company should then design the UX (for user flow) and the UI (for aesthetics) of the application. As app developers, we have acquired the expertise of knowing what makes users engage and return to applications. Of course, the app will eventually represent your brand and not that of the app development company so you should have final veto on the UX and UI design.
The ideal process is for the dev partners to present the UX (as a wireframe) and then the UI with an explanation of why it is designed so, and key stakeholders of the business then weigh in with their thoughts to finalize the app design.
5. Choosing the Technology and Infrastructure
This responsibility lies solely with the development company, although you can weigh in on the decisions. The dev company should, based on the defined features and agreed upon designs, decide what technology and infrastructure is needed to build the best version of the application – one that is fast, works seamlessly, can be accessed by all your ideal customers on different devices, and provides all the agreed upon features.
Your budget and timeline could be a factor in this process. For example, building a front end interface on WordPress takes much less time and effort than coding one on PHP, and hence your deadline to go live could be a factor in deciding which one to choose. It is important to have the total budget and timeline decided beforehand, along with the scope (which is already defined by the features you need).
6. Building the App, Testing & Deployment
Well, there’s no explanation needed here. You hired a development company specifically to build the digital product, and the responsibility of developing it, testing it for bugs, fixing bugs, and releasing it to a production server lies with the app dev company.