Mobile App Architecture: How to Make the Best Mobile App
Mobile app architecture is a critical factor for developers when creating new mobile apps. It’s how the mobile application design and the layout are structured to maximise performance on a particular device.
According to a report released by Statista Research Department, as of the first quarter of 2021, Android users could choose between 3.48 million apps with over 2 billion users, making Google Play the app store with the most extensive number of available apps.
The Apple App Store was the second-largest app store with roughly 2.22 million available apps for iOS.
The app architecture design takes into account things like scalability, security, and performance.
How a developer handles these aspects will affect how easily they can develop for different devices and their ability to create an app that works well even with limited network connectivity or processing power.
So if you’re interested in learning more about Mobile App Architecture, then read on!
What is mobile app architecture?
Mobile App Architecture is the process of mapping out your app idea to include all aspects of the user experience.
This includes what it will look like, how users will interact with it, and any other feature you expect from a typical application.
App architecture is like a skeleton of an app project, so it’s a vital part of the app design and development process.
It has multiple layers, which are also referred to as components of mobile app architecture.
The layers include:
The presentation layer includes the User Interface (UI) components that your app will look for users.
These components include visual elements like icons, fonts, logos, splash screens, text boxes, and menus for navigation.
A different design can make or break an app.
You may have seen apps with a great foundation, but its presentation layer is what determines whether people will continue using them or not.
They can also be used as backdrops for certain pages to show how they work. For example, a small background image of a video can help users understand what will happen when they click on one.
A well-designed presentation layer can help people find their way around your app more easily and quickly – which is why many designers spend time making sure these are pixel-perfect!
The Business Layer of mobile app architecture is made up of databases, resources, and business logic. It’s the code that facilitates data storage and ensures your app functions following your company’s needs.
It can be separated into two major components: Data Management and Complex Business Logic.
Data Management consists of code that provides for the storage of data locally or remotely.
The complex business logic component deals with more complicated tasks like calculations, algorithms, exceptions to rules, etc.
Data Access Layer
The Data Access Layer comprises three components: Data Access Logic Components, Data Helpers/Utilities, and Service Agents. This layer enables your app’s interaction with data stored outside of the device.
The Data Access Layer is used to send data back and forth between the device and the backend servers storing or providing your app’s data services.
Data access logic components are the basic scripts that allow the connections to be made without any additional work on your part.
Data helpers/utilities are code that provides for more complicated tasks like calculations, algorithms, exceptions to rules, etc.
Service agents are executable files that reside on either the server or client-side of your app and act as request brokers for data transfers between them.
The Service Layer is what your app communicates with to use features that are outside of its control. It’s made up of two components: Service Interfaces and Message Types.
The Service Interface includes the Contracts that define the proper interactions from both sides and any Data Models that might be necessary.
The Message Types component defines the different types of messages sent back and forth between the client and server.
What is a mobile app architecture diagram?
A mobile app architecture diagram is a set of visuals that show how your app’s components are connected.
It can be separated into four main layers: Presentation Layer, Logic Layer, Data Access Layer, and Service Layer.
It can be software-based diagrams or even physical ones, as long as they convey the information you want.
When choosing a diagram type, it can be helpful to think about whom you’re presenting the work to – engineers might be more interested in a software-based diagram.
At the same time, mobile developers might gravitate more towards a physical one.
Factors to consider while building a mobile app architecture
There are many factors to take into account before designing an app architecture. Alternatively, you can hire a mobile app development company to take care of all the work so you can focus on the business side of things.
Determine the device type
This will affect how you design your app and what kind of architecture you’ll need because not every device runs the same software or can access all features, like Bluetooth.
So make sure to include iOS and Android devices when deciding this and any other types that might be relevant for your app.
User interface design
It’s essential to design your app with user experience in mind, considering whether your interface will cause the phone to overheat.
To do this, think about how different people interact with apps and what their preferences are – is it more beneficial for you to have a one-handed interface that minimises scrolling?
Or should it be a two-handed interface that doesn’t require the user to scroll as much because they might be holding onto something while using your app?
Consider the bandwidth
Mobile apps need to be optimised for low bandwidth connections to ensure they function properly when out of wifi range.
Make sure you design features that require less data usage if possible, such as video conferencing over Skype rather than FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
Real-time updates or push notifications
If you want your app to be fast and responsive, make sure there’s a way for it to communicate with users in real-time.
This means putting the user at the centre of your design process. If you don’t have much budget or aren’t familiar with technology stacks, consider building an app that relies on push notifications instead because these are just as effective.
You’ll need to consider how people will interact with your app in terms of navigation. For example, if you think they might use it primarily one-handed, that might be better for a vertical interface where you can scroll up and down, rather than horizontal where users would have to swipe left and right.
Make sure to include both iOS and Android devices when deciding this and any other types that might be relevant for your app.
If you’re looking to design an app that requires the user to go back to the home screen, it should be designed for a single view.
Then there’s no need for switching between different screens because you will contain everything in one window.
If you have more than 3-5 widgets, consider a split-pane design pattern where widgets are segregated into different panes.
This will help you manage complexity because it will allow you to compartmentalise widgets only in certain places or states within your app.
If you want to use a navigation bar that’s stacked vertically, this means your app will be more horizontal rather than vertical.
This makes it easier for users to move left and right through their phones because they can access everything in one window instead of scroll up or down.
If you want a horizontally-oriented app that has multiple panes, consider using a tab controller.
Different screens are separated into their tabs and accessed through swiping left or right on the screen.
If you want to use vertically-oriented scrolling views, consider using a stack view. This is specifically for the same kind of data contained in tabs, but it will allow you to dynamically add or remove items so you can optimise your app for when people are online or offline.
If you’re trying to build a search-driven app, it means you’ll need a different kind of architecture than one that requires users to go through menu options.
This is where your data is categorised in contextual elements based on the application’s state and what people are doing at any given moment.
Model controller pattern
If you’re using a model controller pattern, it means your data is separated into its objects. Then you can use different controllers to represent the different states in your app and how your modules interact.
This will help you manage complexity because it allows for fewer calls between screens.
If you’re using gesture-based design, this might work better if your app is one where people are using their fingers to navigate through it.
The problem with this kind of interface is that not all users are coordinated enough to use the same gestures, so you should consider making them customisable instead.
How to choose the right architecture for a mobile app
Conduct user research
You’ll need to conduct user research before you can choose the right application architecture for your app.
This will help you determine what kind of functionality people are looking for in general, so you can design an app that will meet their needs in terms of how they use it.
Decide on a platform and design pattern
Next, you’ll need to decide between iOS and Android and what kind of platform and design pattern you’ll use.
You can do this by deciding between single views or multiple screens, split-pane designs or stacked navigation bars, tab controllers or scroll views, search-driven experiences, or navigational ones with menu options.
Consider industry-specific requirements
This means looking at how people are using your app in general and what they expect from it.
Otherwise, they may not enjoy everything it offers because it doesn’t suit their needs or expectations.
Decide a development time frame
Once you’ve conducted user research, figured out the design pattern and platform, and considered industry-specific requirements, this will help determine how much time you have to build your app.
You may need to bring in additional people if you don’t have enough developers to accommodate what you’re trying to do within a specific timeframe.
Develop an MVP
This is the minimum viable product, which will help you decide how much time and what kind of features need to go into an app.
You’ll be able to determine if your MVP can successfully convey what you’re trying to accomplish within a specific budget and timeframe.
Improve critical functions of the app
It’s also essential to think about what will make your users enjoy your app more and what they want out of it.
Since you’re planning on developing an MVP initially, you can then add new features and functions based on their feedback and how it will make people better able to accomplish tasks or get information from the app in different ways.
Testing and iterations
To create a successful application, you’ll need to prioritise user needs and wants and then meet those expectations in your MVP.
After this, you can use iterative design to improve upon it further by testing it with users until you get the expected results of any app released into the market.
Just because you’re using an iterative development process doesn’t mean you should use more money than necessary.
You can do all of this within a specific timeframe and within your budget, but it will require testing the MVP with users first to see what kind of returns they expect from it.
Important mobile app architecture principles
Many important mobile app architecture principles can help you develop a better app. Some of which includes:
Since you’re designing something meant to be portable, it should be easy for users to interact with it.
This means they should be able to comfortably tap specific areas of the screen whenever they want to go back to a main menu or switch between screens in an app.
You’ll need to make sure your app is maintainable so that you won’t have to develop it again if there’s a problem.
It should be adaptable enough for new features or functions while allowing users to update the app themselves when necessary without needing assistance.
When you’re developing your MVP, this means not just thinking about how people will be using it now but also in the future as well.
That way, you can develop an app that’s more adaptable and maintainable to work better for those who use it later on or if there are any changes to how they do things with the app.
You’ll need to think about how users are accessing the app, any sensitive data involved, and so on.
That way, you can make sure people’s information is safe, which is especially important with apps that do with financial transactions or sharing personal information.
You should check your app’s performance by using live user tests, then looking at how it’s responding to various factors like screen size or memory.
This will help you determine if any aspects need improvement, like speed and ease of access for users.