Top 11 Challenges for Mobile Application Development

11 November 2021
Michał Sułek
Michał Sułek
Mobile team-leader
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  • Intro

Not so long time ago, mobile phones were used mainly for phoning or sending text messages. Of course, we did have a few applications on our phones already, but those were very simple ones, like a calculator, contact app, or a Snake game. Now though, it seems like there’s an app for every single thing you might – from productivity apps to finance managers and from health trackers to games. 

The number of people who own a smartphone is already at 6.37 billion as of 2021, and this number is only expected to increase. By 2025, there may even be well over 7 billion mobile devices in the world.

And with $935 billion in revenue expected from mobile apps by 2023, it’s no wonder every business wants a piece of that pie. That’s including yours.

But designing and launching a hit app isn’t that easy. The Google Play Store already has over 3 million apps available, while the Apple App Store has nearly 2 million apps. Since new apps appear virtually every day,  the battle for consumers’ attention and user experiences is becoming increasingly intense in a sector that is already very competitive. 

In order to attract mobile users, you must create a user-friendly app that will solve their current problems, make their lives easier, or simply give them fun. However, before your new mobile app solutions can be released, you will have to overcome a number of challenges and obstacles you are likely to come across during mobile application development.

Read about Top 7 Mobile App Development Trends.

The way in which you will deal with those can determine whether your mobile app is a success, or maybe it will disappear from the stores shortly after the launch. What are the main problems you will need to solve for your app to be launched successfully? What to be aware of when running a mobile app development process? Let’s find out.

Top 11 Challenges for Mobile Application Development

#1 Understanding the Scope of the Project

Have you heard that 56% of users uninstall apps within 7 days of installation? Low retention rate is one of the biggest problems in the mobile app industry – especially with so many other apps available straight away. 

If you don’t want to waste your time, resources, and energy on creating an app for which there’s no demand or is quickly uninstalled from your customers’ mobile devices, you need to start by doing proper research on your future app. Having a list of your needs for the app will also make it far easier for you later to choose a mobile app development company if you will be searching for one.  

On what should you focus?

  • How much demand there is for your app idea, and who are you targeting with it 
  • What is your desired code base and business model
  • How do you imagine your users using the app
  • What goals do you want to achieve with your new app
  • What features you would like to include in mobile development
  • What are mobile devices that are to handle the app
  • What is your current budget for mobile app development process
  • How do you plan to promote your app after the release

It might look like a lot of things to consider and research but believe us, it will save you a lot of time in the long run Not only will this make it easier for you to decide if you should even pursue developing your mobile app, but it will also simplify communication between you and the developers. 

#2 Determining What is Important to the User

Failing to understand what their app users might want to do is actually one of the most common mistakes companies make while running their mobile app development process. They have created a spectacular app, released it on the app store, and… there’s silence. 

Barely anyone downloads the app, and if they do, they are quickly removing it from their phone. Here’s the second place where thorough research will come in handy. Simply, it will be much easier for you to focus on making the app work as your users want it if you first think about what your users might need the app and how they might be using it.

Knowing what your users might expect from the app will also help you decide what features to add and which may not be as valuable. In this way, you can give them the features they need without overwhelming them with too many choices. 

#3 Coding for Multiple Platforms

Choosing between native and cross-platform code apps will also be a key decision to make. Native apps are faster, more stable, and support all in-built features of the phones (like a camera), while cross-platform apps are easier and faster to build and can help you reach a wider audience. So which one should you pick for your mobile application development process? A clever way to find out would be to check whether your audience prefers one platform over another. 

If most of your future users are on mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS, then it might be a good idea to first focus on creating a digital product for that one platform and then add support for the other one. However, if they use both platforms or if you want to reach both platforms’ users at the same time, then you should carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of native development versus Flutter cross-platform app development

This is especially important as you will need different specialists for each option. For example, if you want a native application, you will need to look for developers who can work with programming languages such as Java or Swift, whereas for cross-platform code, you should reach out to people who are both adept at designing cross-platform development but also understand the differences between Android and iOS. Picking the right set of programming languages and software development kits is crucial in this step. 

#4 Designing a Functional Interface 

Take a look at some of the most popular apps today. What do all of them have in common? They all have a simple and straightforward user interface. 

A user’s first impression of an app is largely determined by its design guidelines and how easy the mobile app is to use. With an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, users have no problem finding and learning how to use the app’s various features, so they keep using the app more often. That’s the purest form of user engagement.  

But sometimes, businesses or mobile developers are going in a bit different direction – adding as many features into the app as possible, hoping to create an “all-in-one” app. But instead of wooing their users, they only irritate them with a confusing, laggy interface that makes finding anything on it a pain. 

Results? It’s as simple as that: people will not use the app for too long. With so many other apps in the market, users can simply delete the app they don’t like using and look for another one. In fact, 52%  of users said a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company! That means that the poor user interface design of your app might directly lead to a high abandonment rate, lower retention rate, and a low conversion rate as well.

How can you design a good interface for your app? One thing you can do is to read about other apps like yours and see how they work and what you like and what you would like to improve. Take notes, create a mood board, and organize all your ideas. As a result, you’ll be able to provide the developers with plenty of information about how you want the app to look.

#5 Testing and Debugging 

Do you know that fixing an error after development is even up to 100x as expensive as it would have been before development? We didn’t make this up – dealing with an error after a project is already finished takes far more time than during the development stage, especially if the error is related to one of the main features.

What’s more, releasing an app with a severe bug inside that causes the app to crash regularly or not work as intended will result in you having to deal with a flood of negative comments from your users. Even if you fix the bugs in the applications straight away, you might not convince those users to return to your app – and those negative reviews might put off other people from trying out your app as well. 

So before releasing your mobile app, you should thoroughly go through mobile app testing and debug it. From checking the app’s main features to its performance, compatibility, speed, usability, security, and how it performs under load. The more time you spend testing the app in various conditions, the higher the chance you will find things that don’t work as they should. 

Here are a few examples of mobile app testing you can run:

  • beta testing (before the launch)
  • platform testing
  • performance testing
  • configuration testing
  • certification testing
  • functional testing
  • manual testing

Going through precise testing can help your viable product reach your development milestones and business goals quicker, and adjust application programming interfaces to what users actually need. 

#6 Working with Users, Testers, and Developers 

Whether you create the mobile app in-house, with an independent mobile app developer, or hire a mobile app development company, you have to make sure that all parties know exactly how the app should function and look. Otherwise, you might find out after the app is finished that it doesn’t work the way you wanted or that the design is entirely different from what you discussed with the developers.

If only minor adjustments are required, that’s one thing, but what if the entire app needs to be reworked? That will take time and will most likely also require extra funds for further mobile application development process. To avoid these sorts of misunderstandings, you should explain your ideas and expectations to the development team in detail – a flowchart or sketches might come in handy here. Taking the time to discuss details during the project is always better than doing so once the app is launched since fixing bugs and implementing new features will be much more difficult at that point in the mobile development process.

Don’t neglect to gather feedback from your future users, either. By releasing functional testing of beta or manual testing of MVP of your app, you can determine how they feel about the app and what parts need to be improved. That way, you’ll know exactly what to change in the app to make it more user-friendly and have better chances of a successful launch. Don’t be afraid to ask your early adopters for platform testing for their own benefit. 

#7 Maintaining Code Quality Over Time 

As you keep adding new features or updates to your application, the amount of data on it grows, and you might find it getting tough to keep the code clean and free of errors. But leaving it “as it is” is out of the question – everything, from your app’s compatibility to its security and performance, depends on its codebase. 

One of the best ways to have high-quality code in your app is by using coding standards. Through those, every developer will use the same coding style, which will improve both the consistency and the readability of the app’s code. Ideally, your code should also be checked as soon as it’s written.

By writing clean and well-organized code, you can ensure that any updates you add to the app won’t cause more issues later. Plus, it will make it much easier and quicker for your developers to perform regular app maintenance and fix unexpected bugs.

#8 Ensuring Security Throughout Development Processes 

In their survey, White Hat Security found that roughly 50% of applications in industries like manufacturing, public services, healthcare, retail, education, and utilities are vulnerable to a cyberattack because of one or more serious bugs in the code. And the consequences can be dire. Not only could hackers steal data from inside your app, but they could also infect your app with malicious software that later installs itself on your users’ phones.

To ensure your app is as secure as possible, you should use as many methods to secure your software application as possible, such as:

  • Using encryption for user data
  • Encouraging your users to use multi-factor authentication
  • Triple-checking all third-party modules you want to use in your app
  • Securing all data transmission

What’s equally important is that your app is tested regularly for any security issues or vulnerabilities in the code. As cyber criminals develop new ways of attacking almost every day, your app’s security features should also be regularly updated to prevent hackers from exploiting an out-of-date (and thus accessible) aspect of your app.

#9 Finding Creative Solutions to Problems that Arise During Development Processes 

No matter how detailed and carefully planned your app project is, it’s pretty likely that at some point, you will run into trouble. And the more complex your project is, the more likely it is that something won’t go according to the plan. For example, you might be forced to change the project’s scope or hire more team members due to unexpected technical difficulties. Or maybe the planned way to add a new feature to the application fails. 

Whatever the problem is, it’s essential to stay calm and think about how you and your developers could tackle the problem on a product roadmap. First, you should find out the actual cause of the issue so that you are focused on it rather than just the symptoms. 

Next, you should gather information on what you could do to fix the issue.  If you want to solve it creatively, you might want to brainstorm with your developers. This way, you can present your ideas to your team and think together about how best to fix the situation. 

#10 Resolving Issues With Data Integration Between Mobile Apps and Web Services

Most of the apps we use on a daily basis allow us to create an online profile on the server and that way, access the service on whatever device we are using. Mobile users love this feature as it allows them to switch the devices quickly they are using the app and have access to the same data. 

But to give your users this option, you need to add a data connection and synchronization feature into your app, which comes with its own list of challenges. There are many things to plan here, from ensuring the data is in the same format and of good quality to ensuring that all data passed through both applications is secured and that the central server can stand up to any hacking attempts.

#11 Estimating how much funding you need for the app

The last (but not least) challenge on our list is estimating the budget for digital solutions such as mobile apps. As there may be no similar mobile apps, the cost of developing one can vary drastically based on its complexity, platform, type, and features. You also need to remember that building mobile platforms isn’t a one-time investment. Once you launch it, you will still need to pay for regular maintenance, development environment, updates, security testing, mobile strategy, native features, marketing, and fixing any bugs that may appear. 

Having a rough estimation of how much you can pay for the app will help you in two ways. One, you’ll be able to manage the entire project progress better and prevent the so-called “scope creep” from hurting your budget as your project grows far beyond the initial estimation. In case of any unexpected issues that need more funding, you will be more at ease knowing that you have set aside funds for such situations as well.

But there’s one more benefit that will be visible if you decide on hiring a mobile application development company instead of working on the app with your own team. By giving the team a rough estimation of your budget, the development team can determine whether your budget is realistic and, if not, suggest what should be changed in it.    

With only vague information about your project and requirements, meanwhile, they might only tell you how roughly the pricing and payment models work within their mobile app development services. That brings the risk that once the team understands the full scope of your project, the actual cost of your app project might be much higher.

Over to you

Developing mobile apps can be extremely beneficial for your business, but only as long as you won’t fall into one of the many traps you might encounter. When you’re working on your app, you’ll need to consider many factors: choosing the right mobile app development technologies and designing an intuitive interface, through functional testing, certification testing, configuration testing, to make sure the app is bug-free and secure.

The good news is that most of those problems are preventable if you do thorough research on the expectations of your audience and keep gathering feedback about how your app works. That way, you and your team will have an easier time developing and launching your app with success on the market.

If you can’t solve those challenges in your software application development project yourself, though, how about reaching out to us? We’ll surely think of something together.  

Don’t forget to check back for more information and tips related to the development of mobile applications.

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