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Regardless of how long or short an app development timeline is, there are over 2.8 million apps available for download, both on Google and iOS app stores. It’s an impressive number that’s continuing to rack up downloads in a month-over-month fashion.

If we were to backtrack a little, we’d know that the average app user is oblivious to the app development timeline.

At most, they’re concerned with highlighting bugs in the application with an occasional draft of negative reviews. For as long as a mobile or desktop application meets end-users’ expectations, the app development timeline, or the ‘how long does it take to make an app’ analogy doesn’t really matter.

But, what if you are an aspiring app developer looking to make a career out of application development?

Moreover, if you’re looking to set app development milestones as a solopreneur, or looking to hone your skills under a mentor’s tutelage, this post will help to set your expectations straight.

We’ll talk about the app development timeline in a stage-by-stage format, to give a clear overview of the level of effort and the balance to expectations vs reality scale.

Let’s get started.

7 Stages of App Development Timeline That You Need To Know

A woman using a smartphone app

1. Pre-Planning and Business Analysis

Pre-planning and business analysis are extremely important steps in the app development timeline.

If you are working as a solopreneur, i.e. looking to create a few mobile applications, such as a 2D game, on a whim, this stage probably isn’t highly critical.

You can research the market, and just come up with a few mock-up design ideas. Afterward, you can go along and implement your cursory-level plan.

However, when we are looking at a full-scale app development timeline – and that too, for a contracted company, or as a brand, app planning, and business analysis need to be taken into account.

In that order, before a developer starts to code, it is essential to ensure that their product meets the business objectives of a client or customer.

Business analysis helps to identify the needs of an application, define the goals and objectives, and create a roadmap for development. 

Pre-planning involves making decisions about the technology stack, design elements, user experience, and other factors that will have an impact on the success of an app.

This stage also involves creating an effective strategy for marketing and monetization. By taking these steps at the beginning of an app development timeline, developers can be sure that their apps are meeting all of their customer’s needs to maximize success.

Time To Allot To This Stage: 2 – 3 Weeks

2. App’s UI / UX Design and Preliminary Development Stage

When it comes to designing and pre-developing an app, quality is key.

During the design and pre-development stage of your app development timeline, it is important to properly plan, strategize, and research. Doing all of this helps ensure that the app you are creating is optimized for users and will be successful.

Designing a user-friendly interface is essential to any app’s success.

During this stage of the timeline, it is important to create a prototype that communicates how the user will interact with the app. This involves carefully considering colors, fonts, icons, images, animations, and more to create an aesthetically pleasing interface that also provides a smooth user experience.

Additionally, user testing should be conducted on the prototype so that any potential issues can be addressed before full development begins.

The pre-development stage also includes researching the market for potential competitors and creating a plan for achieving success in your target market.

It’s important to consider what features are necessary for success as well as which features may not be necessary but could help differentiate your product from similar apps on the market. 

Additionally, understanding your target audience will help you create an effective marketing strategy that will help draw people to your app once it launches.

Overall, these two variables serve as pain points during the early stages of an app development timeline.

As far as development is concerned, a basic frame should be erected that’ll give potential in-house team an idea about the looks, and level of key points on how to interact with the application.

Time To Allot To This Stage: 3 – 4 Weeks

3. Dedicated Back End Development

When it comes to app development, the backend is just as important as the front end. However, for the sake of making an argument, we’ll focus on the backend aspect for now. The reason is the varying size of mobile app development teams.

Smaller teams with a non-agile framework focus on one aspect of app development at a time. Meanwhile, larger teams with an agile workflow setup, focus on simultaneous development – i.e. both frontend and backend aspects.

During the backend development stage, developers will build the core infrastructure of an application, including server-side programming, database design and integration, and API creation. This infrastructure is essential for a well-functioning application since it will control how users interact with the application.

For example, if an application requires a user to log in with their email credentials, then the backend must include a database that stores and verifies this information. Without this backend setup, logging into the application would not be possible.

Additionally, any data processing or calculations needed for an application must also be implemented during this stage. For example, if an app needs to calculate a user’s location based on their GPS coordinates, then the necessary algorithms must be programmed during this stage of app development.

To sum up, having a dedicated backend development stage during an app infrastructure development process is critical for ensuring that an application functions properly and efficiently. 

Investing time in setting up a secure and reliable backend system during this phase of development will ultimately save developers time in debugging their applications later on.

Bear in mind that if an in-house stakeholder – i.e. a product owner is involved, he or she will have actual feedback from time to time. This needs to be incorporated to keep the app development timeline in check and aligned with users’ expectations.

Time To Allot To This Stage: 3 – 5 Weeks

4. Frontend Mobile, Desktop, or Any Other App Development

One of the most important aspects of app development milestones is front-end development.

It is an essential stage of the app development process. This stage involves creating a user-friendly interface, laying out the visual elements, and making sure that all of the features work as they should.

This stage is crucial because it sets the tone for how users interact with your application. Without a strong frontend design, your app may be difficult to use and may contain bugs or glitches that can turn away potential customers. 

During this stage, developers must consider user experience and usability so that users can easily navigate their way through the application’s features and functions.

By implementing best practices in front-end design, developers can create an app that is intuitive and enjoyable to use.

Furthermore, by taking into account customer feedback during this phase, developers can ensure that their app meets customer expectations.

All in all, having a dedicated front-end development stage in your app infrastructure development is essential for success in the mobile market.

Time To Allot To This Stage: 4 – 6 Weeks

5. In-House App Testing Towards MVP (*Minimum Viable Product) Level

Testing is an integral part of the application development timeline.

It ensures that the app meets quality standards and successfully delivers a positive user experience. Doing so is also important to ensure that the app performs properly on different platforms, devices, and operating systems.

Now, if you are working as a startup business in the app development market, you might be on a shoestring budget alluding to hiring third-party app testers.

Whether that’s the case, or not, testing can be done by appointing a technology champion from within the team. That person can work with other appointed QC (*Quality Control) personnel to test the UI, UX, and other workability aspects of the application.

Additionally, this practice allows developers to easily add new features or update existing ones as needed.

Testing is also important for pushing toward the minimum viable product (MVP) stage during the app development timeline. The MVP allows developers to quickly build a prototype of their idea, test it with real users, and receive feedback before investing too much time or money into the project.

This allows them to iterate quickly and create an app that meets all customer requirements while minimizing risks associated with expensive projects.

Further testing can be done by running simulations against various scenarios, so developers can understand how users interact with their applications in different contexts.

Time To Allot To This Stage: 6 – 7 Weeks

6. App Finalization and The Breakthrough Launch Stage

The app finalization and launch stage is one of the most critical stages of app development milestones.

The entire team has moved to that pinnacle of app completion, where it’s been thoroughly tested, re-tested, and run through different simulations. At or during the final launch phase, user stories are created and fulfilled to see how certain scenarios will play into the post-finalization and launch phase.

The interesting and equally important thing is the realization that this is where all your hard work and dedication come together to create a finished product.

It’s not just about getting the app out there; it’s also about making sure that it functions properly and performs as expected. It’s where the team needs to test your app for usability, compatibility, performance, security, and other factors.

You will also need to ensure that the app’s design is suitable for its intended market and has all of the necessary features.

Finally, you will have to submit your app for approval with whichever store you plan on launching on – Apple App Store or Google Play Store. After this step is complete, you can finally launch your app and start enjoying the fruits of your labor!

7. Post Launch and Feedback Incorporation Stage

Once a mobile or desktop application has been launched, it is important to take and incorporate feedback from users.

Feedback from users can be incredibly beneficial in helping to improve the user experience and fix any potential bugs or errors in the application. Additionally, feedback can help identify new features that users may be interested in having added, as well as provide valuable insight into how the app is being used.

By taking and incorporating user feedback, developers can ensure that their applications are continuously updated with new features and bug fixes to keep them running optimally. Furthermore, regular updates can help boost user engagement levels as users will be more likely to use an app that they know is continually being updated and improved upon.

Taking and incorporating user feedback is therefore essential for maintaining a successful mobile or desktop application.

Time To Allot To This Stage – It’s a Continued Process Until The App Has Reached Maturity Stage

Beware of Indulging in Abandonware Practices During App Development Timeline

Abandonware Practices During App Development Timeline

Many applications are developed with the sole intention of treating them as abandonware.

And this analogy isn’t only restricted to mobile applications. There are numerous video games on Steam Store, that have been in the Early Access mode. The developers incorporate initial feedback from users while yielding enough revenue to break even. Then they move on to the next project, and the next one.

Meanwhile, users are left disappointed and normally harbor ill views about that certain app development studio.

If you are looking to follow the app development timeline and the app development milestones to the code, be mindful of providing continued support to the user community. Don’t abandon the application at the first hint of incorporating new features. Sometimes, doing so might be a little hard, but it’s definitely worth it when creating a solid reputation is concerned.


App development is more of a practice that needs to be mastered over time.

The biggest advice that we can give you is to improvise and improve the workflow concerning the app development timeline. Don’t be afraid of embracing new technology and taking in feedback from people down the hierarchy.

Keep your ear to the ground, whilst looping in your entire app production team on customer feedback. It’s a proven practice that’s been known to yield great results.


frequently asked questions

Are the aforementioned weekly stages supposed to be followed in the letter?

We have summarized the app development timeline from a general perspective. There’s no telling about the project requirements, your team size, and other variables in your organization. As a result, the app development milestones and timeline will vary accordingly.

Is game app development a profitable venture?

Of course, it is.

This theory not only applies to games but applications from different categories, for as long as you are capable of surveying the online app store market and coming up with unique ideas to keep potential userbase interested.

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