App design and development is one of the most profitable industries in this day and age. Mobile apps are pretty much a business necessity if you want your customers to treat you seriously.
Regarding the industry itself, even with a recent rapid sweep of web and hybrid app development, native applications are still going strong. There are primarily two types of those - Android and iOS apps. Today, we’ll focus on the latter.
Did you know that iOS mobile app design and development strategies are continuously updated every year when there’s a new guideline update, a framework, or a user experience standard? We have analyzed those to present you with a new and improved iOS app development guide.
Speaking of frameworks, here’s our recent piece on top mobile app development frameworks to get you well-versed in what’s trending in mobile application development. Now let’s go back to the iOS app development process.
iOS app development and design process
There are a few common factors that influence iOS app development. Our time-tested and proven iOS mobile application design and development strategies will guide you in making the process more straightforward and smooth.
We’ll focus mainly on the app design process and the inner workings of planning iOS development strategies.
Create an app development strategy
Since every development process is different with unique requirements, an app development strategy should include a detailed plan on what frameworks and libraries you should use, what programming language, what experience your team has with those, etc.
An app development strategy includes requirements gathering, stakeholder interviews and workshops, the study of current best practices of mobile application development, business rules planning, etc.
With requirements, pay special attention to the essential list of features your app should have and how they would meet your customers' wants.
Be sure to also check out Apple’s tips on how to plan your iOS application development.
Research your audience and competitors
Market research is crucial in any sort of digital product design and development. 1) Know your target audience and b) thoroughly research the apps your competitors have created. By studying your audience, you’ll gain insights on how to make your application user-friendly and tune in to the needs of your particular audience.
Furthermore, by doing a competitor’s research, you’ll figure out how to add a novelty factor to your product while also addressing the needs of your customers. Being aware of the market gives you a competitive edge and grants you an opportunity to avoid mistakes your peers have made before you.
Become familiar with Apple Store guidelines
When creating an iOS app, developers have to remember that they need to promote it on Apple Store. However, it has policies you must consider for safe, legal, and business-fitted app development. There are a few App Store guidelines you need to follow:
- App Store review guidelines will help align your application with the latest design, technical, and content criteria that Apple uses to review all apps and not get rejected;
- App Store identity guidelines for product image, photography, badges, and other visual marketing identity integrations;
- Promotional artwork guidelines will help you prepare for showcasing your application on Apple Store;
- HCI (Human Computer Interface) guidelines contain best practices for designing an excellent iOS application. Use these to get guidance for various user experiences, actions, system-defined components, input methods, platforms, used technologies, etc.
- Apple Wallet and Apple Pay marketing guidelines to learn how to seamlessly integrate Apple Wallet into your app and show your customers they can use Apple Pay.
Design your mobile app and create a basic wireframe
When it comes to starting your application’s design, proceed with creating a low-fidelity wireframe, which means the basic blueprint of the interface, its primary features, and interactions. It’ll help you plan out all the necessary parts of your app and help you out throughout the development process.
Wireframes are terrific for planning the development costs, showcasing your idea to potential partners and investors, letting stakeholders in on your vision, etc. Wireframes are still very basic, though, and the next step is expanding on them by adding functionality and interactivity and making them into high-fidelity prototypes.
Develop a prototype of your app
Once you have a schematic representation of your app, where you’ve set the structure, layout hierarchy, design architecture, etc., it’s time for prototype development. They simulate almost the entirety of the user experience and your application’s workflow.
Your prototype will include the final interactive version of your user interface with clickable elements, buttons, spacing, graphics, detailed design, content, etc.
The higher the fidelity of your prototype, the more time-consuming and expensive it is, but, in the end, it will enable more feedback, a better testing process, and better presentation value for your partners and stakeholders.
Test and refine your design
The most important thing you should ensure in your application’s design is user experience. Seamless UX is one of the guarantees users won’t quit your app from the get-go. You can’t predict if your product will satisfy your customers' every need, but you can provide them with the best experience possible.
For that, test your design. Test your prototype for bugs, test if the user interface is too complicated for the average user, and determine whether or not the features are exactly what your customers need. Then refine your design - polish the animations, and check if the data flow between app screens is smooth enough and logical.
The next thing is the development itself. Here’s what you have to work with to create an iOS mobile application:
- Choosing an iOS development method and a programming language - Swift and Objective-C are the most widely used ones;
- Setting up an integrated development environment (IDE), for example, Xcode or AppCode;
- Adding frameworks, libraries, APIs, and other software development kits that will make your development process much more optimized;
- Testing your iOS application;
- Launch and deployment.
Common challenges of iPhone app development
iPhone app developers face a few challenges on a regular that make the development process more complicated than initially expected. The following are the most common ones.
App Store rejection
Strict standards from Apple about following their own guidelines sometimes lead to rejection. Beware if your app has too little information about itself, poor performance, safety concerns, bad user experience, or lack of originality.
With each new iPhone version, there are both major and minor software and hardware updates. Your app has to accommodate those and update frequently. Otherwise, you’ll lose a significant portion of your customers.
One of the significant difficulties developers face when creating an iOS application is that the IDE is only compatible with Mac. So, you must have an Apple computer or laptop to develop an iOS app.
Managing memory within the iOS application is another hassle since iPhones don’t have a method for garbage collection, which is basically automatic memory management.
The performance of your application can impact the battery of your users. Too heavy and feature-rich of an app with poor performance optimization will drain the battery super fast, and your users will most likely notice and uninstall it.
iOS applications, in general, are expected to have cleaner and more elegant user interfaces and a smooth user experience. Failing to meet these expectations is a sure way for your app to get flopped.
Benefits of working with an app development company
Sure, creating a mobile application can be fun and rewarding, but it’s also an extremely time-consuming task that requires lots of specific knowledge and skill. So, how about delegating? Here’s why you should work with an app development company instead.
Outsourcing your mobile app development comes with extra convenience and cost-efficiency. Whatever your budget is, within reason, you can find a partner that will complete your project and meet your requirements.
Choosing to work with an app development company instead of developing your app yourself gives you access to a much broader skill set, especially if you also search outside of your local partners.
Quality and reliability
App development companies have a reputation to maintain. In order to do that, they will be very inclined to deliver a quality product that meets legal and professional standards. Same with reliability and consistency of deliverables.
By hiring a mobile app development team, you will still have almost complete control over them and the results they produce by monitoring their work. Progress tracking will give you peace of mind that your app is being taken care of.
Customization and post-maintenance
Most development companies offer customization options to make your app unique and tailored to your brand. Post-maintenance services will ensure regular updates and bug fixes.
Mobile app design for iOS in a nutshell
Overall, mobile application design for iOS is influenced by Apple guidelines, system features, specifics of iOS devices such as display or ergonomics, and the availability of certain features that can be found only on iPhones and iPads (gestures, keyboards, voice control, interactions, etc.)
To create the most elegant and practical design solution for your next iOS application, make sure to review the best practices, adapt to all the recent software and hardware changes, and, most importantly, choose an app development partner that has proven experience in creating timeless and user-centric iOS apps.