App development challenge: A must-follow checklist for developers

It is a fact that while project planning, we are always operating off assumptions and expectations. Some of these may be right, and some may not. It is natural that while we thoughtfully plan our projects for a successful wrap, we think through the multiple scenarios that could unfold at a moment’s notice. “What may happen if the client’s backend resources fail to deliver the API web service per the agreed spec by X date?” or they think about the backup plan if it is found out that the manufacturer is unable to get the hardware sample by the promised week.

This does not mean that we are being pessimist and gunning for the “worst case”, but reframing our options.

Thus, we need to be prepared with our backup plan(s). Here is a checklist that a developer must follow to be able to achieve success in the app development process.

 

    Third-party API dependencies

It is common that integration dependencies are witnessed coming up on projects without clients doing due diligence to ensure their web services are standardized and “integration friendly.” This means that there is little to no documentation, API standards are in flux, or best practices are not reflected. What can happen here? Last-minute changes to the backend services can create a ripple effect on the front-end and more time will have to be spent working to address these changes. This reduces the time designated to focus on feature development and UI polishing.

 

How do you do it: It is important to plan for a significant buffer between front-end development of API-dependent features and hand-off of API services. This creation of buffer will let your development team steal some time to research, test, and work with your backend team on any changes that may arise before relying on those services.

 

    Hardware/firmware dependencies

Try and lock down your firmware and hardware specs as much as possible before agreeing to a prototype or production sample delivery date. Firmware requirements are ever-changing which will divert your team’s efforts as you then need to continually update the app to support these changes.

 

How do you do it: It is realized that firmware development may require iterating to lock in final capabilities and troubleshoot bugs. So, build a plan for revisioning and an open communication channel between your agency and factory. Moreover, have a fluent, on-site product/project manager who can support with this throughout.

    Development or design plan doesn’t include user testing

 

Prototype or mockup is the surest way to miss the mark on developing what your users actually need. Entrepreneurs often shy away from sharing a WIP product because of their consideration towards idea theft. Sometimes they are confident of what their users want. This might be true. However, it is always advisable that prior to a public launch, you are sure of what your users want especially if you are updating an existing product with a sizable user base.

How do you do it: Build a plan for usability checking and user testing during all core project phases. Once you have an MVP, you will need a soft/beta launch to a larger group of testers. If there are any flaws, they will be picked up during testing and will meet a much more forgiving audience than the general public. Remember that stringent algorithms of the App Store and Google Play will penalize poor-performing apps.

 

    Make your app interactive

There is a need for the developer to make the app as interactive as possible. The mobile devices today feature excellent sensors. Thus, a good developer should be able to make use of these features and make the apps more interactive.

However, the deadline is the real challenge in doing this because interactive apps mean more time-consuming apps.

 

How do you do it: Always go for a comprehensive app solution and try to deliver a tangible interactive experience that is beyond the swipe and tap traditions. Incorporate tilting, shaking, and flipping makes it easier for the user to handle the app.

 

    Make your app easy to navigate

No matter how hard they may try, some developers find it challenging to make apps that are easy to navigate. The user interface might become too complicated or the user might find it difficult to find the right buttons.

 

How do you do it: One trick could be to make a simpler user interface that can be handled by everyone. You can make sure that your developers use UI patterns that are already incorporated in Apple, Windows, and Android devices as the users will already be familiar with them.

 

    Select a development approach

A major challenge faced by the developer is to decide on which development approach to adopt. Before deciding on this, ­­­ask yourself these questions: are you looking for a native app, a web app or a hybrid app? Do you want your developers to devise a cross-platform native app to enable users to open it in JavaScript, HTML5, Android, and iOS?

 

How do you do it: Use of platforms like Open Source Cordova SDK can be made as it provides a possibility of making an app using C/C++ or HTML5. In turn, this will allow your developer to incorporate a single API across various platforms.

 

Conclusion

Agile project management lets you respond to complications that arise during the whole app development process. Still, a typical mindset is always set to build an okay scenario. However, to be successful, it is always ideal to design for the best-case scenario. This can be motivating for the team and the client as well because it lays out a strong vision and roadmap of what is possible.

However, being aware of the drivers of failure can act as a preventive. Hypotheticals help you to shake out the worst scenarios by the time you get your MVP to market. Thorough preparedness will make your product robust, refined, and ready to delight.