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Application Development

The Four Stages of Modern App Development

By Jennifer Marsh | October 13, 2021

As the process of app modernization becomes a more widely accepted, streamlined way to update legacy and existing applications, it's only natural that developers and app engineers alike discover an equally streamlined and concise way to describe an otherwise complicated process. You may have heard someone refer to the app development phases in 4 simple terms: define, design, develop, and deploy.

Each step in the application development process - - from design to deployment - - is critical to success. Both small and large apps need the right strategy to offer all necessary features to users and ensure development is cost-efficient to businesses. After deployment, applications must be maintained. By following the four stages of modern app development, maintenance overhead will be reduced and run more smoothly. 

Whether you're not yet familiar with the four stages of modern app development or you're a seasoned app designer, we invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts about this tried-and-true process of app modernization.


What is Application Design and Development


But first, what is application design and development? And how do these two steps fit into the web app development process as a whole? Application design and development are two relatively straightforward concepts related to the process of building a computer program to perform certain business tasks, like budget forecasting and management, generating reports, and more.

Application design and development are arguably the most important components in a successful application. All phases of application development start with a plan. The planning stage will drive application development and design and ensure that all important features are included so that end users are satisfied with results. While design and development are both integral parts of the overall web app development process, they are only two of four stages needed to complete the total equation.


Define, Design, Develop, Deploy


While there are many variations of the web app development process that include anywhere from four to seven steps, we identify the following stages of modern app development: define, design, develop, and deploy. These four words make it possible for both the seasoned cloud engineer and the coding novice to speak the same language and share an understanding of an otherwise complex process.



The "define" stage of the web app development process, sometimes referred to as "pre-design", is the stage in which the app engineer and the client meet to nail down the objective of their project. In large enterprise businesses, a project manager might work through the define stage of the process with clients. Features, UI elements, business logic, and data that must be stored are defined during this phase, and all necessary application elements are communicated to developers.



The design development stage is one of the most multifaceted steps in modern app development. At a high level, this phase often involves determining user flow, creating detailed wireframes for developers to begin coding, and finalizing the UI appearance. A project manager will work with designers to flesh out necessary UI elements and approve the layout before it's incorporated into the application.

The user interface also includes user experience (UX) elements. The UI and UX work together to ensure a convenient flow for anyone who uses the application. UI is the elements that make up the layout, and the UX is the ease of flow and ability for users to intuitively engage with features.



Once the team has agreed on the initial design and strategy, the project can move into the most hands-on of the app development phases: development. In development, developers begin writing the code for the software product based on the final wireframes and design. This is also where teams can factor in the development methodology of their choice, like agile, waterfall, or RAD. 

Agile is the most common methodology used in modern application development. The methodology used will determine the way development is carried out and how change requests are incorporated into development flow. Every developer on the team is assigned a feature to code in the application. The developers determine the effort necessary to code the feature, and the time is reported so that project managers and clients have an estimated time for completion.



Many development teams will incorporate testing into one of the stages of app development to identify any bugs and ensure the code is ready to go live and handle the requests of real users. Once testing is completed as part of the last step of the development phase, it's time to shore up the web app development process and deploy the app on the appropriate server. 

The deployment phase of application development is the very last stage, and only happens after client approval. Deployments can be automated or manual. Continuous integration and continuous deployments (CI/CD) tools will automatically test and deploy applications, but most automation is created after a single manual deployment to identify and remediate any bugs.

Server equipment, including cloud infrastructure, must first be provisioned. Databases, servers, storage space, and networking equipment must be provisioned before developers deploy the application. Once the application is ready to be deployed, a plan is created to determine the best way to upload the application to production without interfering with user productivity. Downtime must be limited so that users can still work normally. This might require deployment to happen during off-peak business hours.


What Our Experts Say About Define, Design, Develop, Deploy


Our experts promote all four stages of modern application development, from the planning stage to the final deployment phase. We want to see your application become a success, so we help streamline your development procedures. Our cloud connections help bridge the gap between your ideas and a community of people who can support your development process.

Scaling the enterprise with new application ideas and provisioning cloud components to support them is no easy task. Our community of experts can answer questions and support your new ventures. The cloud is a vast environment with hundreds of options, and it's difficult to identify the right ones for your business. We can make these decisions easier for you by helping you connect your application with the necessary cloud infrastructure.

Join our community of experts and find out how you can more easily navigate the waters of all four modern application development stages, so you can ensure a successful launch of your next software idea.

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