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August 23, 2023

Building scalable mobile applications

How to address the growth in the number of users and traffic in a constantly evolving environment

The growing number of users and traffic in an environment are crucial to the success of any mobile application. In a highly competitive market, it is important that an application can handle a growing user base and an increase in data traffic without compromising the experience of each user. This can be particularly challenging in an environment in constant evolution, where the expectations and demands of users are in a constant state of flux and technologies are evolving rapidly.

If an app is not designed to handle ever-increasing traffic and user numbers, it is likely that it will experience performance problems, downtime and errors. This in turn can lead to a decrease in user satisfaction and retention.

What are scalable mobile applications?

Scalable mobile applications are those designed to adapt to changes in the number of users and data traffic, without compromising on performance or functionality. This means that, as the user base and data traffic grow, the application can continue to provide a satisfactory user experience, without requiring a complete rebuild or a significant reconfiguration.

Scalability is a key aspect when it comes to the long-term success of a mobile app. However, it is far from a one-off project or single solution. Scalability is a continuous process that requires a comprehensive and proactive approach.

  • A comprehensive approach involves the consideration of all aspects of the application, from infrastructure and code to user experience and data.
  • A continuous process involves the implementation of constant improvements and adjustments to ensure that the application remains scalable and relevant in a constantly evolving environment. Scalability is not a one-time solution, but a process that requires constant monitoring, continuous identification of problems and improvements, and ongoing implementation of solutions.

Why does an app need to be scalable?

Scalability is essential for any mobile application whose objective is to have a solid and growing user base, as it allows the app to adapt quickly to market changes and the needs of users. It also avoids the need to completely replace the app after each significant change in traffic or use.

Advantages of scalable mobile applications

  1. Improves the user experience: Scalable mobile applications can keep up with user demand, ensuring optimum performance and a smooth overall experience.
  2. Facilitates adaptation to new technologies: Scalable mobile applications are designed to easily adapt to new technologies and trends, allowing developers to stay up to date.
  3. Improves flexibility: Scalable mobile applications allow for greater flexibility, as they can be modified and scaled according to the needs of the business.
  4. Long-term cost reduction: Scalable mobile apps require less maintenance and improvement, which reduces long-term costs.
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Types of scaling

There are several types of scaling that can be applied to mobile applications. Below, we list some of them:

  • Vertical scaling: This type of scaling involves adding more resources to a single server or node, such as more RAM, CPU or storage.
  • Horizontal scaling: This type of scaling involves adding more servers or nodes to the app's infrastructure, which allows the load to be better distributed and performance to be improved.
  • Geographical scale: This type of scaling involves replicating the app across multiple geographical regions, which allows for improved availability and reduced lag.
  • User-based scaling: This type of scaling involves dynamically adjusting the capacity of the app in accordance with user demand, which allows both the cost and the efficiency to be optimised.
  • Event-based scaling: This type of scaling involves dynamically adjusting the capacity of the app in accordance with specific events, such as promotions or launches of new functions. An example is the huge, annual Black Friday campaign
  • Cloud-based scaling: This type of scaling involves using the cloud to scale the application, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability.

Planning and design of scalable mobile applications

Planning and design are key to building scalable mobile applications. Below, we list are some important aspects to consider:

  1. Identification of requirements: Before starting on the construction of a mobile app, it is important to identify the project requirements and ensure that both the architecture and the design are scalable. This includes browsing considerations and general user experience
  2. Flexible architecture: Flexible architecture allows resources and capabilities to be efficiently aggregated or deleted as project requirements change. Microservices architecture is a good example of flexible architecture that allows for easy scalability.
  3. Use of the cloud: The cloud provides unlimited scalability and allows resources to be efficiently aggregated or deleted as needed. In addition, the cloud also allows for easy integration with other services and applications.
  4. Monitoring: Monitoring is crucial to detecting problems, and to ensure that the application is working efficiently. Monitoring also allows for rapid detection and troubleshooting, helping to ensure service continuity and the scalability of the app. One platform designed for monitoring is Firebase.
  5. Management of scalability in execution time: This may include techniques such as auto-scaling, which enables the automatic adjustment of the application's capability according to demand, and the implementation of a load balancer, which ensures that the load is distributed between servers to improve performance and availability. Another function is the use of continuous monitoring of the application's performance metrics, such as the rate of requests per second and the response rate, in order to identify possible bottlenecks or scalability problems before they affect the app's performance.
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Continuous optimisation

Continuous optimisation is essential to ensure scalability and the long-term success of a mobile app. When implementing a continuous optimisation approach, a proactive approach and careful planning are required. Developers must work constantly to identify and solve bottlenecks and performance problems, and they must be ready to implement improvements and adjustments based on data in order to improve user satisfaction and loyalty. Continuous optimisation can be broken down into these three points:

  • Maintenance and improvement of the quality of the code. There are several aspects to consider in this process:
    • Code refactoring: It is important to carry out periodic code refactoring to ensure that it remains efficient and scalable. This includes the removal of any redundant or unnecessary code, and the reorganisation of the code to facilitate its maintenance and scaling.
    • Documentation and comments: Documentation and comments are essential to ensure that the code is easy to understand and maintain in the long term. They must include detailed information on how the code works and what it does.
    • Unit tests: Unit tests help to ensure that the code works as expected and that there are no errors. This is particularly important in scalable mobile applications where the code may undergo frequent modifications.
  • Implementation of load testing and performance monitoring. The tests allow us to identify errors and performance problems before they affect end users. They are performed to measure how an application will behave under an extreme workload and to ensure that the app will remain stable and work correctly for long periods of intense use. They can simulate the user traffic and activity in a controlled environment, and therefore determine whether the application can handle large volumes of users and traffic without experiencing failures. Continuous monitoring enables the identification and resolution of problems as they arise.
  • Adoption of new technologies and trends. Mobile apps must be constantly updated and improved to keep up with user demands and expectations. Some of the most important trends and technologies currently include artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots and the cloud.


In an increasingly digital world, with an ever-growing number of mobile devices, it is essential that apps be scalable and reliable in order to meet user demands and offer an uninterrupted user experience. Scalability is essential to ensure that an app can support a greater number of users with the main goal of maintaining the performance quality.

To achieve this, a comprehensive and continuous approach is required throughout the planning, designing, monitoring and optimisation of performance, as well as in the management of scalability in execution time and the adoption of new technologies and trends. It is also important to manage the quality of the code and implement performance tests and monitoring.

In addition, designing a mobile app which is scalable from the outset can save time and money in the long term. If the application becomes popular and traffic increases, the costs relating to storage, maintenance and updates can increase considerably. If the application was not designed with scalability in mind, significant reconstruction will be required to meet demand, which translates into downtime and additional costs.

We're sure you've got some new ideas to consider in order to improve your app, and here at SEIDOR we're delighted to help you