How to Optimize Your App Development Process

Application development. It’s a necessary part of every project, and as such, it can’t be something you freestyle at every stage of production. Because developing an application is a perpetual process involving keeping the program alive and well, building a set of practices that you follow throughout the stages of development is critical. To assist, we’ve compiled some advice to make your development structure a bit more efficient.

Before we begin, though, we should establish that “applications” are not just the countless little blips you have installed on your phone, but also things like websites and desktop applications, and they all follow the same core principles when working behind the scenes. With that out of the way, let's go ahead and dive right in.

Build Up

When starting a new application, you want to first figure out the project's essentials and prioritize those. Jumping right into the fun parts or the stuff you think you already know how to accomplish can be very enticing, but the goal is to make a functional application, not a fun application. You need to find the overall goal of the application and get it in a working state as soon as possible. 

Once you’ve got your fundamentals in place, your next step should be making sure they’re running efficiently. Your immediate solution may be effective for the specific use, but does it apply to broader use cases? If your app will have a lot of concurrent users, does your solution scale? Do you have tech debt in parts of the system that might slow down key operations or make it difficult to add features? These are just some of the things that you should be putting into consideration.

Believe it or not, this tactic is important not just for starting a project from scratch, but also for continuing to update already existing applications. You want to find the hierarchy of urgency, so to speak. When dealing with user feedback, try to deal with the most important issues first. You don’t want to solve a tiny issue and then move on to a bigger one only to discover your small fix made another issue even worse. Ultimately, you and your team are responsible for finding the best solutions and putting them in place, so once you’ve solved an issue, take a step back. Make sure that the solution actually solves the initial problem and see if it applies to solving other problems as well.

User Experience

Remember when we said, “the goal is to make a functional application, not a fun application?” Well, we still want to hold onto that advice, but for this part let's loosen our grip on it just a smidge. When working on an application, one of the most important things to keep in mind is what the user is going to see. One of the best ways to start on this is by talking with a UX designer. Collaborate and build your application from what they give you. In addition to making things work effectively, you want to make sure that it’s also being conveyed to the user in a helpful manner. Without the users, the application serves no purpose, so if they’re having a bad experience, then the application is ineffective, even if it functions as intended.

This doesn’t always mean only pushing forward fully polished content. Sometimes, when working on an application, you’ll have features that will still need tweaking when they reach the users, and that’s okay! This is where minimum viable products (MVPs) are really able to shine. An MVP is a fantastic, widely-used tool that lets your customers access a version of your product that has just enough features for them to give you feedback for your next stages of development.


As is frequently the rule in development, keeping tests implemented in your application can greatly help the process run smoothly. Whenever you’re building tests for an upcoming feature, try to keep things small and concentrated.  Each test should really only be focused on one function or aspect of the program. Don’t broaden your scope past what you can quantifiably test. This is one of the core principles of test-driven development. And with that, you want to try to orient your strategy around the standard Red-Green-Refactor cycle. Make your code fail a test, then make it pass, and then polish up your changes. 

The idea of meaningful changes in this sense also ties back in with the other points we’ve touched on. Only update things that really need changing, unless they’re things that would improve the experience for a wide array of users. You don’t want to clutter your application with unnecessary features, but if they’re things that make sense to add for what the program is intended to do they may be worthwhile. Your job is to maintain an application people will want to use for its functionality. Your job is not to give the users everything they want all the time, especially if it conflicts with what the application is intended for.


One of the most important aspects of app development is communication. While a lot of the application development process is centered around the codebase,  the most important aspect is how this code interacts with its users. 

The Users

Again, users are the reason that an application exists.  Listening to whatever form of audience your application is reaching and what their needs are is crucial. Following through on their requests in ways that let the users see that you’re listening to them ensures they’ll keep coming back.

Your Team

You won’t always have the same people working on the front-end side of an application that are working on the back-end, so having a clear stream of communication between all members of the team on the project is invaluable. Be aware of the changes that other people are making, and make other people aware of the changes that you make. Keeping everyone involved in the application in the loop of what the next steps are will keep things running smoothly for everyone. Nobody likes trying to help solve a problem they are missing context on.


As we mentioned earlier, you must be willing to change your ideas if they aren’t working.  One of the worst things that you can do for the process is to get stuck in thinking there’s only one way to solve a problem.  Criticism can be valuable both to you and to the project, and willingness to accept that is important. Don’t be afraid to be the one to take the first steps when initiating communication with other parts of the project.

To Wrap Up

Let’s do a quick recap. We’ve talked about building from the bottom up to find the essentials of the project, prioritizing user experience to provide the ideal service, testing to keep things running smoothly and as intended, and communicating with every side of the development process. With these practices, we hope that you’ll be able to take your app development to the next level and keep creating quality solutions.