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Future-First: The Complete Guide to Business App Development in 2024

February 21, 2024

Business app development process, costs, timelines, how to choose a developer and how to fund it – this is the complete guide to building a new app for your business in 2024

Looking to build an app for your business?

There’s never been a better time, since app downloads have more than doubled from 2016 to 2024, with over 3.8 billion using 9–10 different apps per day, generating global revenue expected to exceed $900 billion (R16.8 trillion) this year.

But, of course, there are apps for many different devices and uses – both work and personal – and as a business, you have a multitude of different ways to use, fund and monetise applications and software for your business.

To truly unlock value from an app for your business, you need to know:

  • Where to start when you have an app idea/need
  • How to validate your concept and turn it into a strategy
  • The app development process, costs and timelines
  • How to choose the right app developer for your needs
  • How to optimise, ensure quality and maintain it, long term.

Here’s what you need to know about business app development for 2024.

First: What is App Development for Business?

Business app development means building applications to solve specific problems, introduce innovative solutions to your customers, enhance operational efficiency, or provide new consumer experiences. 

Unlike commercial apps aimed primarily at entertainment, such as gaming apps, business apps are strategic tools, intended for: 

  • Startups developing new tech solutions and bringing them to market
  • Corporates venture-building new tech solutions within their stable or eco-system
  • Businesses looking to optimise operations or consumer experiences to retain, grow, optimise or unlock new revenue sources. 

These applications are built with clear, business-oriented goals in mind, making them a crucial part of any modern enterprise's toolkit. And unlike high-risk commercial apps, business development apps require you to partner with a reliable expert in the field.

Business App Development: Planning & Strategy

First and foremost, applications are expensive and time-consuming to build, and any business would want to see a clear reason and strategy for investing so much into a new project.

Start with Clearly Defined Goals

What do you aim to achieve with the app? Whether it's improving customer service, generating revenue, or streamlining operations, having a precise objective will guide your development process.

See the 9 key questions to ask before you start developing an app.

Do Your Market Research First

Understanding your target audience's needs and preferences, as well as analysing your competitors, provides invaluable insights that shape your app's features and functionalities. This research, commonly referred to as concept validation, will help you identify what works and what doesn't, enabling you to craft a unique value proposition for your app.

Discover the 7 reasons why you need to test your app idea first.

Ensure You Build on the Right Platform

Depending on whom you’re developing the app for and the functionalities you require, you might choose to develop for iOS, or Android, or opt for a cross-platform solution. Each option has its pros and cons, and the right choice depends on factors such as market share, development cost, user demographics and accessibility.

Some applications are for specific devices only, such as Checkers’ Sixty60, where you have to download the app to your device first before you can use it. On the other hand, OpenAI’s famous Chat-GPT is a web app, meaning anyone with an internet connection (regardless of the device) can log in and just start using it.

Explore different options such as mobile app development, as well as web app development.  

App Design & User Experience

Design and user experience are at the heart of successful app development. A user-centred design approach ensures that your app is intuitive and easy to navigate. This involves understanding your users' behaviour and preferences and designing an interface that meets their needs.

Discover the full app design process, as well as your app design costs and see how long the UX/UI design process will take with our in-depth guide to app design time allocation.  

The App Development Process

After concept validation and UX/UI design comes the actual development, which requires a very strict and precise methodology to manage. App development is a multi-week or even multi-month-long project that needs to be completed by various teams and people in short, day-to-day or week-to-week bursts (where any slight error in code could impact the entire project as a whole).

Managing the Project

That’s why every app development company uses project management systems like Agile, to promote ownership and cohesions across a multi-sprint build. It’s also why tech companies have special roles such as product owners and scrum masters, which you don’t see in traditional companies but are absolutely vital in app development – see what it takes to build your own app development team.

At Specno, we use an Agile system – see what a week in an Agile development team looks like.

The Coding, Testing & Deployment

When it comes to the actual building of the app, your best-choice developers are professional teams who put your business needs first by designing a project that minimises the risks and maximises the benefits for your company.

You don’t want your entire system to have to go offline during development, so quality app developers use approaches such as Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) and rigorous testing and quality assurance, including testing the app for functionality, performance, and user experience to ensure it meets high standards.

Get the full picture with our in-depth look at the entire app development process.

How Long Does it Take to Build a New App?

Normally, a new app can take anywhere between 3 and 12 months to fully complete, depending on the complexity of the project. But that doesn’t mean you have nothing to show until the end – apps are built progressively, in stages, meaning you have some features coming online as early as month 1, and then more features can be added over time.

At Specno, for example, our efficient processes and skilled teams help streamline this timeline to deliver high-quality apps promptly – not to mention we have alternative solutions that help you build prototypes and internal tools and apps 3 times faster.

Get more insights on how long your app will take with our in-depth guide to app development time.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a New App?

The cost of building a high-quality, top-end app can range from R1.2 million to R4.3 million, depending on the app's complexity and the development time required. Note: This is for South African pricing, which is already around 25% more affordable than the cost of building in Europe or the US.

At Specno, for example, our specialised teams and strategic approach help ensure you get a game-changing product. We even take it a step further with a unique low-code option that allows you to build simple apps for a further 90% less.

Get the full picture of app costs in South Africa and how much to budget for with our guide to managing app development costs.

How to Choose the Best App Development Partner for You

Selecting the right app development partner is crucial to the success of your project. The ideal partner will not only have the technical expertise but also understand your business goals and vision. Start by evaluating their portfolio to see if they have experience with projects similar to yours. Look for diversity in their work, indicating versatility and the ability to adapt to different industries and requirements.

Specifically, consider:

  • Their development process: A good partner should follow best practices in planning, design, development, and testing, ensuring a seamless and efficient workflow.

  • Communication is key: Choose a partner who prioritises clear, transparent, and regular communication. They should provide frequent updates, be open to feedback, and ensure that you are involved in every step of the development process.

  • Their team composition: A strong development team typically includes specialist front-end and back-end developers, UI/UX designers, a scrum master, and a product owner. A development agency should have many teams or this composition and more.

  • Their post-launch support and maintenance services: The best app development partners offer ongoing support to address any bugs, updates, or new feature integrations that may be needed after the app is live.

  • Check their portfolio & read reviews about them: For example, we at Specno have an app development portfolio featuring work for some very big and respected clients, and we have officially been recognised as a top-performing app developer in Africa on the Clutch platform.

Need to build an app for your business?

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Specno Team