What Can We Expect From A Custom App Development Company?
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Sigma Software is featured as one of the Top Mobile App Development Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile!
The popularity of mobile apps these days is quite evident. All people using smartphones or tablets spend most of their time playing with their mobile devices. The mobile app market is growing rapidly and is projected to reach an astonishing $935.2 billion by 2023.
The app world is booming and many companies consider creating an app aimed at either coping with a certain business challenge or unlocking a new revenue stream for their business. At the root of things every app idea is based on resolving certain pains of your target audience–either typical or unique ones. For typical problems, there are already off-the-shelf solutions offering ready-made functionality that can be purchased as a service or as a product from third-party providers. When it goes to unique needs–custom mobile development is the approach that can help you build the app required.
Custom software development is gaining momentum and is becoming an appealing option for businesses that want to gain a competitive advantage. This happens also because custom solutions can be a great alternative for addressing typical challenges when out-of-the-box solutions don’t cover all the functionality you need or have certain integration limitations. Developing a custom app may turn out to be even more cost-efficient than investing additional time and effort into fitting the ready-made app into your infrastructure and extending it with additional functionality.
Whether you are driving digital transformation, working on an idea that will revolutionize the way someone gets things done, or simply increasing your presence, a mobile app development company will help you to achieve your business goals in a fast and effective way.
What Is Custom Mobile App Development?
Custom app development assumes building a unique app in full accordance with your business model and takes all the peculiarities and preferences of your target audience into account. Such a software solution may contain various third-party components that cover certain functionality, but in essence, the application itself is still unique and tailored to your specific requirements.
As mentioned before, custom mobile and web apps can be a good alternative to commercial off-the-shelf solutions (COTS). The difference between custom apps and COTS is important. COTS can be bought from a third-party provider, white-labeled if necessary, and set for internal use. Such products have a set of ready-made features designed to address certain business needs.
An example of COTS would be Workplace, a solution from Facebook that allows you to easily and quickly create a social network for employees within your organization. However, if you need something more than a corporate social network, e.g. if you want to let your employees schedule meetings and work together on classified documents, you will need a custom solution because Workplace does not have such functionality.
This said a custom-designed web application is a perfect fit for your business if you’re looking to streamline your business operations, provide a superior and personalized user experience, or automate non-standard flows within business operations.
Top 5 Benefits Of Custom Software Development
So let’s get down to business and see what are some of the most noteworthy benefits of a custom solution.
Ready-made solutions often cover only some part of the required functionality or they have wider functionality that will not be relevant for your business case. Custom software development in turn is performed with your business in mind incorporating all the functionality you need to be successful. A reliable mobile app development company will translate your business needs into functional and provide you with a solution where all the features are catered to your specific business ways.
Any application must be built into the company’s existing infrastructure. Custom software is always designed about your IT ecosystem specifics and tailored to fit it seamlessly. The application development company will help you choose the technology stack that is easily compatible with your existing systems and provide for easy integration with external software solutions such as CRM, PayPal, Google Play, etc. via API, for easier maintenance in the future.
In the case of a ready-made application, you will need to adapt to the existing architecture and tech stack, and this can bring additional difficulties at the integration stage. With custom application development services, this will be less of a problem.
A trusted custom development company will take your growth plans into account and develop the solution to meet the exact level of scalability you need. Ready-made solutions may be either too large at the start or will not be able to scale with business growth. Many businesses tend to outgrow their off-the-shelf software over time. With custom development, you have more room for maneuver.
Enhanced security and compliance
It is your business that determines the required level of security when creating a custom app. If the application you need is mission-critical or subject to additional regulations such as GDPR or HIPPA, you can define additional security features and get the application developed according to advanced security standards. Healthcare, fintech, and e-commerce companies are often switching to custom software solutions because their apps may handle sensitive personal data and they need to ensure full compliance with all security standards.
Cost-effectiveness in the long run
Ready-made solutions are a great option for smaller companies or startups with typical needs as they let get the app in place rather quickly and with a limited budget. However, business growth, new requirements, and the need to scale would require additional customizations. Those customizations require additional investments and make the system more expensive from a maintenance perspective.
Over time, many businesses end up in situations where the ready-made solution no longer meets their business requirements and face the need to rewrite everything from scratch. From this point of view, a custom solution tailored to your business and having a sufficient margin of scalability and customization will be cheaper to operate in the long run.
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Custom Mobile Application Development Steps
Although each app development company may have its approach to custom solutions, the general development process boils down to the following steps:
Defining the requirements
At the beginning of the cooperation, the development company will hold several series of workshops with you as a client to define the project requirements. This is the time when designers and developers can understand the project specifics, target audience preferences, and future functionality. Market research will help you to figure out what problem is solved by competitors’ applications, their strengths & weaknesses, etc., so you can gain insights into what your unique selling points should be.
At this stage, you will also need to understand the value of your product by identifying its core functionality and non-functional requirements. Finding the right features for your app is key to creating a successful app. At this point, the client’s needs are translated into a strategic plan to make sure that the two objectives are aligned.
The design phase of application development has many components, so we will cover just a few of the most essential ones. First of all, UX/UI designers should finalize the approved wireframes. Wireframes represent a schematic preview of the future UI. Then the design team will come up with user flow diagrams. They are the visual representation of the path a user takes while using your product.
At this point, you should create mockups that your developers can then turn into a working app. You can also come up with a brand guide so that your app’s branding is sequential and understandable to both your design and development teams.
During the development phase, custom app development companies start writing the code. The three essential parts of mobile app development are the back-end, the API, and the front-end.
Depending on the requirements and restrictions, you can build native or cross-platform applications. Native application development is the process of building a mobile application exclusively for one platform. The application is built using programming languages and tools specific to the platform chosen. For instance, you can develop your Android app using Java or Kotlin and choose Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps.
Cross-platform development is about creating a single application that can run on several platforms, instead of developing multiple versions of an application for each platform. This is done using tools like React Native and Flutter, where the apps can be deployed to both Android and iOS. You don’t need to go into details about these types of apps as the custom app development company will manage it all.
Last but not least, before development begins, you need to agree on how you will take control of the application after development is complete, as well as where the application will be stored (your servers or the cloud). When each application development milestone is finished, it will be submitted to the application testing team for review.
As a rule, a custom app development company takes over the responsibility for building the application, and testing and fixing bugs. Development and testing go in parallel to make sure major issues are identified early in the process when they are less expensive to fix.
The testing team will carefully analyze the objectives, constraints, and requirements specific to your business and develop the testing strategies that best suit those. They will test every feature developed by the software development team to find out if there are any bugs or vulnerabilities. This can be done both manually and with automated tools.
Once the functionality is complete and the application is considered ready to go, the team will conduct another round of deeper testing to check the functionality, usability, and stability of the application before it finally goes live.
Deployment and maintenance
At this point, developers should have fixed most of the major bugs the testers found, so that they can deliver it to customers and make it available in App Store or Play Store. Deployment usually involves configuring a so-called “production” server where the software will operate. This server can be one of the company’s servers, or it can be hosted in the cloud using, for example, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.
After the release of the production version of the software, the IT company creates a maintenance team that will look after the application and makes sure it functions as required even in the long run. This includes troubleshooting and keeping the app up-to-date with the latest operating system patches.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Custom Application?
It all depends! The actual development time for custom mobile applications is highly dependent on the scope of your project, as well as the required functionality. However, in our experience, a small application can be completed in three months, while a complex application usually takes six to 12 months from product idea to release.
While this may seem like a long time to some people, the truth is that a custom software solution requires careful development to ensure it is robust and scalable. Although timelines differ, on average here are the estimates:
- The Discovery Stage (a set of activities aimed at comprehensive development of the product idea, covering four main aspects: product, UI/UX, technology, and delivery) usually takes two to six weeks.
- Development Stage (The development of both front-end and back-end parts of the application) can take six to 12 months on average.
- Prototype – one month
- MVP – three to five months
- Custom app development – six to 12 months
- Acceptance Testing (The point where you as a client test and validate the application to make sure everything works exactly as it should accept the project as done). It typically takes two to three weeks.
The more carefully you elaborate on the requirements, the more accurate the estimate of the development time will be. If your requirements have not been worked out and are at the level of an idea, it makes sense to first start with a separate discovery phase to analyze the requirements, and then start development.
Mobile App Development Services Can Pay Off
Custom software development helps organizations meet their unique needs to grow their business. While the cost for custom development may initially seem higher in comparison to off-the-shelf products, the investment in custom software will certainly pay off in the long term. More organizations are moving from off-the-shelf software to custom software with the help of an experienced custom mobile development company.
Before hiring an outsourcing agency, check out their portfolio to see how well they performed on similar projects. Portfolios can help you identify if they have enough experience and skills to develop applications for your specific domain, how they approach problem-solving, and the design strategies they apply. You could also go through reviews to check if the client was happy with the final product if the developers met the deadline, how good their communication skills were, etc.