Android has been an exceptionally valuable platform for SMBs. For in-house apps that employees can use to improve workflows, Android devices are far cheaper than the iOS alternatives. And for apps that target consumer audiences with services or marketing messages, the Android audience far surpasses iOS in size.
These aspects make Android an attractive solution for expanding small and medium businesses. If you’re thinking of taking that route for your business, here are some tips for getting the most out of the Android app development process.
1. Detailed low-level concepts
Like anything, app development benefits greatly from careful planning. The more detail you can provide early on, the better. Working with an experienced project manager is ideal, because they’ll take your ideas and fill in the technical details that ensure stable execution.
When you first start the project, you might not have much more than an elevator pitch and some sketches on napkins. Before you hand it over to the designers and the programmers, it needs to be much more robust.
“Why not just do all of this on the fly?” you might ask. “Wouldn’t it be faster to rush into the programming and nail out the details as they come?” Well, in a perfect world that might work. But app development is a bit like building a house: you build a foundation, erect walls, put in electrical and plumbing, windows, doors; if you discover after the house is finished that you need more electrical outlets it’s a huge pain to fix.
Similarly, if the scope of an app development project is unclear or constantly changing you’ll find that code or designs that worked last week can become obstacles to implementation of this week’s new ideas. It’s less efficient overall because you end up redoing portions of the app to improve compatibility with the ever-evolving concept.
Now, sometimes making changes partway through the process happens. Even as a team, we can’t foresee everything and sometimes pivots have to be made. The idea behind the planning phase is to limit the number of question marks on our design sheets so that the designers and programmers can plan ahead as much as possible.
The planning will be a collaborative effort, taking your vision for the product and merging it with expert understanding of UX design and Android development tools. Creating a careful plan for the app’s design and functionality will keep the project running smoothly, since the team will be able to view the whole scope of the project and avoid painting themselves into corners, so to speak. Here’s a free beginners guide how to make an android app from scratch.
2. Deliberate roadmaps & goals
At a higher level, it is important to have deliberate objectives. This is less about detailed planning, and more about giving the project purpose and direction. It’s especially important on Android, where Android apps have more flexibility and variety in how they work and who they work for. Setting clear goals and a deliberate path forward is essential for keeping every member of the project in tune and contributing efficiently.
For instance, if a designer is creating wireframes for the app layout, they don’t want to be doing that in a vacuum. They want to know who the app is meant for, and what value it provides to users. These high level goals inform the designs. Without understanding the goals of and roadmap of the app, the designs will require more iteration to dial in on the right feel.
Meanwhile, a programmer is coding a feature and realizes that there is a conflict: perhaps there are two possible implementations of a proposed feature, each with its own pros and cons. If the coder knows the app and understands what it is trying to achieve, they can make an informed decision about how to prioritize their solution. If they have no context, they can’t proceed. They have to take the decision to someone else, perhaps to the client, which delays production.
These little delays add up. Keep everyone on the same page. Keep them in sync with the general roadmap, and inform them of the app’s goals. Your app development process will go so much smoother this way!
3. Design & develop under one roof
A team that can communicate and work together seamlessly will be far more efficient in completing a project. Design and development go hand in hand for successful projects.
Generally speaking, after the concept details have been worked out you pass the baton on to the designers who construct the flow, the branding, and all the visual pieces. Then you pass all of that to the developers who build the app and make the design functional. If everything goes perfectly then it’s a very linear process.
But reality is never perfect. Odds are that elements of the design will need to change. You’ll decide to increase the size of a button, or discover that your nav bar formatting is messed up on large devices, and the design team will need to step back in to make changes. You may do something as drastic as adding new screens or changing the color and branding of old ones.
Even if this kind of problem only comes up once or twice, the amount of hassle it causes can be extraordinary if there is no clear path of communication between developer and designer. If you find yourself mediating between two separate companies to complete these changes, you’re in for a headache.
Keep your designers and developers together. Make sure they can communicate. The best assurance is if they are all part of the same company. Ideally, your developer can stand up from his desk, walk to the next room and show the designer what he needs. It makes everything go so much smoother. Insights and facts reveal that Android apps and startups go hand-in-hand.
4. Test as you go
Testing is one of the big obstacles for Android in comparison to iOS. While Android has fewer hoops to jump through for getting approved, it has its own share of problems stemming from the fact that there are so many Android devices which can raise compatibility issues. The bulk of these are easy enough to weed out with proper testing on a handful of major devices. Issues might slip past testing, but they are typically edge cases.
In order to improve efficiency, testing should be done concurrently throughout development. If you wait for the product to be feature complete before you begin testing, it will take a lot longer to fix each bug and issue that is discovered.
Testing as you go ensures you’ll catch most of the problems while they are still open on the operating table. With a Scrum methodology, iteration is built-in to the process, and it doesn’t hurt to deviate and correct issues as they come along.
Building Apps for SMBs
If you’ve got an app idea that can boost your business, feel free to get in touch with SDI’s strategists at 408.802.2885 or set up a meeting by email at email@example.com. Software Developers India is a top app development company in Silicon Valley, Bay Area. We provide free consultation to start the planning process, and help you get your Android app development project off on the right foot.