Steps of Developing Mobile Apps

16 July 2016

So, you’ve made up your mind to get your business a mobile app. With all its potential benefits, development is surely going to take quite a time.

Now, if you go ask about app development process, developer or an agency will tell you how much time and money you should invest, and the answer will likely begin with a long Ehmmm… or they’ll ask you several questions in return (honestly, just as we do every time). There is actually no average number and no one-size-fits-all attitude. Process of developing an app is complex. You’ll need at least basic understanding of mobile app development to estimate the costs and timeline for your case. So what are the steps to develop an app?

This article will walk you through every step of app development from creating a concept to marketing. Each of them is described in terms of tasks, resources, and outcomes. We’ve also given examples of industry practices and some of the solutions we provided to our customers.

Step 1. Creating a concept

Goals: At this stage, you need to define a problem of your target audience and the exact solution that your app is going to offer. This is enough if you plan to work with an agency like Softermii. We’ll take care of the rest by helping you figure out whether you need a full-stack product or just an MVP. A strong, cost-effective strategy can only be defined in cooperation with an experienced team.


Time and people: a week to a month, product manager (the must), developer (we typically ask an experienced developer to assess strategies and timeline of work). A thought-out concept will save you weeks later.


  1. Clear and detailed business model that will help you coordinate work and keep your team motivated.

  2. Specifiation document describing the overall business logic and results of marketing research.

  3. Technical specification document with the list of all necessary features and technical aspects.

Step 2. Building a team

Obvious as it is, this step is often overlooked in most of app development guides. In general, you will need people for the following:

Time: If you are going to hire people on your own, get ready to search for no less than 2 weeks. With an agency, however, this step will take much less. We at Softermii offer a team of several developers almost instantly at the initial stages of work. In addition, a PM of this team will help you shorten your time to market. 

In general, if this is your first project, we’d recommend outsourcing it to an agency anyway. Why so? Browse through the important points:


Step 3. Wireframing

Goals. At this stage, product owner or product manager creates a map of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) of the app together with a designer. You’ll have to figure out where and how it takes the user in all possible cases.


Outcomes: a wireframe that defines content blocks and the flow of user experience. 

Step 4. Setting up the back end

At this stage, servers are delineated, as well as APIs and data diagrams to direct teamwork. To put it simple, it is needed to define how the data will flow between the server side (business logic, databases) and user side (things users see on their screens). Data flow happens every time a user is logged in, a push notification is sent, etc. 

Time and money: We set the deadline for this stage depending on the following factors:

If you are making app on your own, this step means hiring a developer or buying mBaaS (which still cannot be integrated without professional support). The prices for mBaaS will vary depending on the number of users, and they are usually no less than $50/month. Some platforms provide limited-time free trial for 50 or less users. 

With our help, you won’t have to delve into these complex matters or pay extra money for any services. Our back end developers will support you all along the way.


Outcome: a clear diagram of back end/ front end data flow, databases and APIs set up. 

Step 5. Setting up developer accounts

Goals: It’s all about creating an account where your app will actually live. 

Time and money: An account will cost you $25 (Google Play for developers) or $99/year (Apple app store). Our agency includes the price for this in the overall check and does everything for you, so there is no need to worry at all.

Outcome: developer accounts ready for publishing.

Step 6. Designing mockups

Goals: Your designer will need to create high-res mockups for every page of the wireframe.


Time and money: In our experience, the time is from 80 hours (delivery apps) to 400 hours (complex shopping apps). Freelance designers specialized on mobile marketing will usually charge around $50/hour. User tests may cost you some extra money depending on the type of testing; we will give you this service together with others at an hourly rate of our QA.

Out?omes: high-quality graphics for all the components of your app such as action bar, contextual menus, and material design.

Example: Screens of the app we’ve done - Dollar Shave Club.

dollar shave club example.png

Step 7. Development and integration

Goals: At this stage, we put your mockups to life by translating them into a functinal code.


Time: In our agency, this stage will take from a month (for the simplest apps) to a year (enterprize apps, games etc.).

Outcome: code of your app and a document describing all its elements (some call it the Manifest).

Step 8. Testing and debugging

Goals: The testing phase includes running the app beta on different devices (or their emulated versions), networks, and operating systems (or versions of one operating systems if you’ve chosen one). You will also need to apply Google and Apple standards by using TestFlight, Android submission requirements, emulators and other guidelines and environments. 


Time and money: On average, 20% of our total project development time at Softermii is usually devoted to testing. Sometimes it can take even more, up to 40%. On the market, prices may be set on hourly basis (starting from $50/hour or the rate that you pay your developer if he/she is responsible for the job) or in packages (per devices, per users, etc.). You will also need the costs to cover the use of emulated and real devices. We simplify that all for you by adding the testing price to the total check.

Outcome: a bug-free application and detailed record of testing and debugging for building future versions.

Step 9. Release and marketing

Goals: Make your app available to users and start selling it. This means creating and executing the entire marketing strategy. 

Softermii assists you with the release and support at the stores. The rest is up to you, though we consult our customers on product-related matters.


Time and money: Total cost of your marketing efforts will depend on the country and your plan. Researhers at suggest that marketers spend at least $15000 on ads only. It is hard to estimate the time, since marketing activities are as iterative as development activities: you will be adjusting your app to the end users along with adding features according to your plan.

Outcome: a fully-developed marketing strategy ahead of the release.

Product management

The accelerator of all these steps is professional project management. That is why, we devote to it 20% of our efforts. If you want to free yourself from the worries (which, as you can see, managers have at practically every stage), just contact us. Our product manager will help you make important decisions, keep everything in perfect order and report to you about every sprint. Enjoy!

Get on board

We are just one click away from helping you develop an amazing application! Let’s get in touch. Drop us a line in the form below, and we’ll reach out to you as soon as humanly possible.

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