Launching Web Apps with Flutter: A Comprehensive Guide
When it comes to mobile and web app development, many enterprises are now gravitating toward cross-platform development.
The reasoning is simple: building an app for multiple platforms in one go is faster and more economical. With technology narrowing the performance gap between cross-platform and native apps, the case for the former is now stronger than ever.
Apps built for multiple platforms are only as strong as the development environment they’re built in. Today, one of the strongest cross-platform development frameworks is Flutter.
Flutter is Google’s open-source cross-platform app development framework, and is the foundation for apps for marquee brands including BMW, Google Pay, ByteDance, eBay, and Toyota amongst many others.
Flutter has also been voted by thousands of professional developers as their programming language of choice for cross-platform development. So, what makes Flutter the top choice for building apps for web and mobile platforms?
Why build a web application using Flutter?
Here are four reasons why you should build your application(s) with Flutter.
1. Cost-effective development
Flutter’s most powerful capability is cross-platform app development using a single codebase. This means developers can reuse up to 90 percent of code for building apps for different operating systems, devices, and browsers.
With reusable code, enterprises can save development dollars by hiring only one dedicated developer or team to build multiple applications. What’s more, Flutter apps are easier to maintain, reducing post-deployment maintenance costs and further optimizing return on investment.
2. Rapid time to market
Flutter enables developers to write code faster for multiple platforms. Developers can also make adjustments more quickly with Flutter’s ‘Hot Reload’ feature. Further, a library of ready-to-use widgets means that UI development is made simpler and more rapid.
In addition to this, engineers can quickly access Flutter’s vast developer community and extensive documentation to come up with quick fixes for otherwise challenging issues.
Expedited app development with Flutter means that enterprises take their minimum viable product to the market faster.
3. Multi-platform presence
Smartphones are modern consumers’ gateways to the digital world. The smartphone space is dominated by two operating systems: iOS and Android, with the latter accounting for 70 percent of the global market share.
With Flutter’s cross-platform app development capabilities, enterprises can build multiple apps within the budget of one, reach more users—even on non-mobile smart devices, and build a much stronger and wider brand presence.
4. Outstanding user experience
Flutter apps are built on Dart—a programming language that supports ahead-of-time (AOT) code compilation. This means apps start up and run faster, and are more secure. Flutter apps are also directly compiled into native code, needing no code interpretation. This means applications run noticeably faster.
Further, a massive library of widgets and a powerful rendering engine means apps built on Flutter have expressive and stunning interfaces. This, combined with top-drawer performance means outstanding and consistent user experiences on any device!
How to build and launch a web application using Flutter
Building a web app with Flutter? Here’s a seven-step strategy to get the most out of your investment.
1. Define your objectives: what do you want to accomplish?
Before beginning the app development cycle, it’s vital to establish why you’re building a Flutter web app in the first place.
Is the app’s business objective to increase revenue, augment customer retention, improve brand awareness, collect data, or a combination of these and other factors? How will it help your users achieve their objectives?
By establishing these objectives, you can either build a strong case and roadmap for app development, or you can find alternative digital solutions such as a well-designed website.
Must Read: Top 10 Amazing Apps Built with React Native
2. Conduct competitive research: what are other industry players doing?
There are millions of existing web apps out there. To make your product stand out at least within your industry, competitive market research can pay off.
To begin with, what features do the apps of key industry players and direct competitors offer? What problems do the apps solve successfully, and where do they fail? What can you learn from user reviews and feedback?
At this stage, it can also help to speak with users of competitor apps to get a deeper understanding of the gap between supply and demand, and how your solution can fill this gap.
Read Next: Kotlin Vs. Scala: The Right JVM Language For App Developers
3. Establish app features: how will users extract value from your Flutter web app?
When it comes to outlining features for your app, value—not volume—is what can help your app stand out from the competition. In a bid to outdo competitors, businesses bloat their apps with features they don’t need, compromising performance, overwhelming users, and ruining user experience.
Supernova, a web-based design-system-as-a-service platform, is built using Flutter (Source: supernova.io)
Instead of building a large and complex Flutter web app that defeats its own purpose, it’s vital to perfectly align core features with primary use cases. Here, the knowledge that simplicity trumps complexity can be invaluable.
4. Select a development path: will production be in-house or outsourced?
Flutter makes cross-platform app development easier on your budget and your development teams. But a powerful platform is rendered useless if your company lacks the technological infrastructure needed for timely and economical development, or if your teams lack the time or the skills to get the job done well.
In such a scenario, hiring an experienced Flutter web app development agency like Successive Digital can help you save the cost of hiring and training engineers, and can help you build a remarkable app, minimize failure risk, and seamlessly launch the final product.
5. Test a mockup: what will your app potentially look and feel like?
Your Flutter web app idea sounds good in theory. It’s now time to validate your idea by asking your development team to build an app mockup. This precursor can help you visualize the final app from a UI and UX standpoint, and help you add or omit features to optimize the final user experience.
6. Develop and test the prototype: how close is the product to your vision?
At this stage, your engineers will transform the mockup into a functional and dynamic prototype. This prototype is now ready to undergo a series of tests to validate app functionality and identify critical and minor issues.
It’s important to keep in mind that cross-platform apps can be challenging to test, given the variety of devices and platforms they must be compatible with. The fragmentation of operating systems makes this even more difficult.
Given the complexity of this process, it’s important to ensure that development is completed early on and the prototype reaches the testing phase as soon as possible.
7. Stabilize and deploy the app: how will you distribute the app to your users?
The testing phase may throw up some major and minor bugs in your app. At this stage, developers must constantly keep improving the application till all existing bugs are fixed and user acceptability test results are in the green.
Originally built only for iOS devices, iRobot’s STEM education app is now available for Android and web as well, thanks to Flutter’s cross-platform capabilities (Source: flutter.dev)
Once all functionality has been built and bugs have been fixed, your app is ready for deployment! At this stage, you must plan and implement your distribution strategy, accounting for app store approvals. You must also plan for post-deployment monitoring of your app performance, usage, and revenue.
Before you begin, define a clear strategy for your Flutter web app
Building an app is a mammoth undertaking for any business. Between ideation and implementation, there’s a lot that can go wrong, even with a framework as powerful and reliable as Flutter.
To reduce the risk of failing to build a successful product—or worse, releasing a flawed product—businesses must create a clear plan of action to build an app that serves as an extension of their brand and puts its users at its core.
Next, read about Choosing Your Cross-platform Mobile App Development Framework: React Native vs. Flutter vs. Ionic