What Is Agile Development for Mobile Apps?

agile development for mobile apps

At Sourcebits, we often follow the agile principles of software development. Ultimately, it depends on the specific needs of the mobile app we are developing for each client. The agile approach to mobile app development focuses on customer involvement, flexible planning, constant evaluation and — of course — risk management. As a result, mobile app development projects can be completed effectively and efficiently. We strongly believe in regular communication with our mobile app clients to ensure the final product is exactly what is expected and needed.

Defining Agile Development

Agile development is defined as the ability to move quickly and easily; relating to a method of project management that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.

The practices of agile development simplify mobile app development so that the resulting mobile apps are adaptable after release. The theory of agile development is sound, and there are several common characteristics of agile development teams that help put the theory into practice.

Barry Boehm and Richard Turner provide a list of procedures that are essential to agile development in their 2003 book, Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed:

  • Simple design
  • Ability for releases in a short period of time
  • Extensive team cooperation, pair programming, and testing during development
  • Anticipating the need for change
  • Welcoming change and using it as an advantage

[Mobile apps] need to be frequently revised to meet end-user expectations … and to support frequent mobile app deployments and pushed updates … The pace of change in the mobile market presents challenges in particular to the operations team, and this pace is unlikely to slow down. — Van Baker, VP of Research, Gartner

As Gartner’s Vice President of Research Van Baker explained in a 2014 report, mobile application development is different than software development for desktop applications. The major difference between desktop development and mobile app development is the need for rapid change and constant updates. But mobile devices present an additional set of challenges based on their physical limitations.

Mobile app designers and developers are crafting software for mobile devices with small screens, limited memory, clumsy keyboards, limited battery power and less processing speed than desktop computers. Plus, the sheer number of different mobile devices, with their different operating systems and different mobile carriers, makes a universally effective mobile app even harder to come by.

Characteristics of Mobile Application Development

Traditional desktop applications are usually designed to run on a relatively high-powered computer for several years before revision. In contrast, take a look at the various challenges presented by developing mobile apps:

  • Short life cycles
  • Short development cycles
  • Limited hardware
  • Frequently changing user demands
  • Must be easily updateable
  • Must download quickly

All of these characteristics add up to a big question for mobile app design and development agencies. How can mobile app development teams consistently build high-quality applications? The answer is agile development.

Agile development is especially useful for mobile app development. The agile methodology provides our clients with a continuous feedback loop. Sourcebits mobile app design and development clients see milestones every 2-3 weeks. They aren’t left to wait until the very end of the project. Agile development for mobile apps means clients provide feedback every step of the way to ensure the success of the project.
– Joe Chen, CTO, Sourcebits

All of those attributes lead to a mobile app that is easy to use, adaptable, and anticipatory of changing user demands. One of the best ways to execute agile development is through collaboration between mobile app developers, designers, the client, and end users.

According to Gartner’s 2014 report, “The development team needs to focus on designing the optimal UI as a starting point for mobile application development, and developers need to combine this with a workflow that represents how users actually work,” because, “Most complaints about mobile apps have to do with a poor user experience.” Ensure a good user experience by testing the app with users before release.

The Sourcebits Approach to Agile Development

When we begin a mobile app development project at Sourcebits, we break down functional requirements into user stories, which then become the foundation of our app development schedule. We usually work within the framework of two-week sprint sets, and iterate continuously until we reach substantial milestones on the mobile app. Sometimes this includes an incredibly large number of business requirements. We’ve worked on projects with as many as 3,500 requirements. Agile development makes it possible to break down all these requirements into smaller, manageable chunks.

sourcebits agile development process

The Sourcebits Take On Mobile App Testing

Mobile apps live on several different operating systems across a wide variety of devices. As a result, a comprehensive testing process is paramount to the success of a mobile app. The key to each type of testing is a sense of collaboration and cooperation between testers and mobile design and app development teams.

agile methodology for mobile apps

One aspect of our full-spectrum mobile app design and development services is our approach to quality assurance and testing. We take an innovative approach and go above and beyond traditional techniques. This includes crowd testing. It provides real-world app success with “in-the-wild” mobile app testing. If you want your mobile app to succeed, you need users testing it as soon as possible.

The testing process is critical to agile design and development. It allows mobile app designers and developers to work closely with end users to understand how their app will be used. Additionally, the testing process also helps mobile app designers build a consistent application across all mobile devices.

The quintessential aspect of agile development is that development itself never ceases. A proper agile development team will continue to update and improve their application well after it has been launched. Due to the dynamic nature of mobile software, and the unique challenges presented by mobile app development, an incremental, agile approach is the best practice for mobile app producers.

Every Mobile App Needs Great Design

Want to create mobile apps that exceed business objectives and provide an exceptional user experience for internal employees, business partners and consumers? Sourcebits can help. Our mobile design and app development services bring great mobile apps to life – or fix existing ones.

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Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.