So, you had a moment of genius and thought of an amazing app idea for a mobile application, but have no clue how to make an app, or even where to begin? If so, this primer guide is for you.
Unfortunately, many creative people and app inventors have great ideas, but never follow through with them because they think the process will be too difficult or beyond their abilities.
This could not be further from the truth; the overall process is not exactly rocket science.
Nevertheless, you should have a solid overview of the whole app development process before you attempt to get started. This article is just what you need in that regard.
By the way, I urge you to carefully read this entire guide because I would not want you to skip any major steps in the process.
Continue reading to learn about the 5 basic steps to create a mobile app and bring your app idea to reality.
Step 1: Set a Goal for Your App
Don't get caught up defining every last detail quite yet. Ask yourself some basic questions to help create an outline for your app:
- What is the app going to do?
- Who does your app appeal to?
- What problem will your app address?
- Why would someone download your app?
Keep the answers to these questions in mind. It is very important that these questions have clear and absolute answers. This way, the goal for your app is easily defined; a clear definition will help you stay on track throughout the development process.
Step 2: Research...Does Your App Make Sense to Develop?
Research is probably the most important step in this guide. In this step you should base your research around these questions:
- Are there other Apps doing the same thing as yours?
- If there are, will you be able to compete? What will you do better?
- Is the demographic for your app big enough to make it successful? Determine the size of your market.
- How can you market and monetize your app?
- Which platform would your app be most successful on? Apple, Android, Both?
This research will help determine whether it makes sense to proceed with your app or not and what you may have to change about your app to make it successful. Don't be discouraged by this research, you may find a lot of complications with your app but if you can adjust it accordingly it will be much more successful once it reaches the app store.
In the next step I will guide you through this research process:
Step 3: Lets Go a Little Deeper
Lets take a look at these five questions:
1. Are there other Apps doing the same thing as yours?
This one is pretty simple, just start looking around the app store. If you don't find any similar apps ask yourself why? Did you find an opportunity or is there a reason why there is nothing else like it on the market. Here's why other apps with the same idea as yours is not really a bad thing.
2.If there are, will you be able to compete? What will you do better?
If you did find a similar app to yours read the reviews. What do people like or dislike about the app?
3. Is the demographic for your app big enough to make it successful? Determine the size of your market.
Again look at the app store to gauge the size of your customer base. If there are plenty of other apps within a similar genre to your app you will know there is a decent amount of interest. If you are not finding a whole lot on the app store look elsewhere. For example lets say your app idea is database for hiking trails in your state. You may want to start researching Hiking websites, forums, or clubs in your state and begin to gauge their interest in an app such as yours.
4. How can you market and monetize your app?
Most of the apps out there are monetized in some way; however, doing it the right way is what is going to make the difference. Now you can either leave this to a professional marketing/developing company or you can take on this task yourself.
I will touch more on making this decision later, but here are some basic marketing strategies:
- Offering a free and a paid version of the app This strategy gets people interested in your app for free but can lead to them switching to a paid subscription which would include more features/services.
-Push your own business, website, newsletter, etc. through the app This will lead to revenue on your other services without having to put adds on your app. This is often a good strategy because it doesn't pester the users with advertisements while they are using your app, and it often leads to higher user retention rates.
- In app purchases We are all familiar with these, while not always the best option many times users can and do find value in "in app purchases" if they are worth it.
-Advertisements This can work very well if done correctly, be careful to not be too intrusive which will frustrate users and lead to them no longer using the app.
More on marketing:
These are the more popular of the many ways in which you can make money from your app. I believe monetizing an app is often better left to a professional in the field. Marketing experts will be able to help you capitalize on your particular market. They have copious amounts of marketing data at their disposal. You could do this research and determine these customer patterns yourself, don't get me wrong, but personally I don't think its worth your time if someone else has already established these patterns and knows how to capitalize on them.
5. Which platform would your app be most successful on? Apple, Android, Both?
Back to our example, lets say there are more hiking apps on Apple than Android.
This could mean two things:
1. Apple simply has more users interested in hiking and, therefore apple may be a better place for your app.
2. Android is lacking in hiking apps and, therefore there is possibly a gap in the marketplace you could take advantage of.
You want to put your app where ever you will have the most customers. It could mean Apple, Android, or even both of them.
Another tip: Ask your demographic which platform they prefer, you may find that more of them use Android devices than Apple or vise-versa
Step 4: Development Options
So you've set a goal, done the necessary research, and are ready to begin app development. Generally speaking there are two ways to go about this developing the app yourself, or finding a developer.
If you are at this point and simply lost or overwhelmed now may be a good time to find developer. If you feel you have a good understanding of the process so far you may be able to take it a little further and develop the app yourself. For some people it does make sense to go ahead and develop by themselves, but without coding experience this may not be a good option for you.
Lets review both options:
1. Developing by yourself
Generally, there are two different options when it comes to developing on your own. You can either physically code the application by yourself, or you can utilize anapp creation website. Basically "DIY" software that allow you to create your app without having to get into complex coding.
I won't get into coding an application, it's simply too much to get into in this guide. If you want to learn a little more about coding from scratch for a mobile app take a look at this.
Using an App creation tool:
This option is much simpler than physically coding on your own. These tools offer easy to use templates that pretty much anyone should be able to operate. You simply plug in your information into a template and you're ready to go. They also tend to be cheaper than hiring a developer.
That being said you wont get the same quality application. The main downside is most these creation tools use the same basic templates for all their projects. What this means is your app will be programmed the exact same way as hundreds of other apps, the only difference being your information is written in. This leads to an often bland application that doesn't really offer anything new. Not every creation tool functions off of this exact model but more often than not, you will not receive a truly custom app. That's not to say for some applications these creation tools won't suffice. It could be a very good option for you. Here is one of the more popular app creation tools, take a look, this is how many of these services are set up.
2. Hiring a Developer
Your other option would be to hire a professional app developer, which will ensure an application with the best design and functionality. A development company will cost more money, but once an app is launched, you only get one shot with your customer base. If your app is of poor quality on its first launch and ends up not being successful, you have essentially polluted the market for yourself. If you ever decide to improve and relaunch the app, most of the original users will not re-download the new version. This could be detrimental to your project.
Here at BrainyApps we have encountered many clients who have made these types of mistakes. It always ends up costing them more as they essentially are starting from scratch when re-designing the app. I highly recommend you further educate yourself as to what makes an app higher quality if you choose to develop on your own.
Choosing a developer:
Many of these companies aren't much better than what you can accomplish on your own, yet cost much more money. It's crucial you pick the right developer.
Here are some things to look out for when looking for a good developer:
1. Make sure they offer a confidentiality agreement BEFORE they talk to you about your app. This ensures they won't run off with your ideas. It is rare but not unheard of. With that said, most professional companies are simply too busy developing other customer applications to even bother phishing for your ideas.
2. Take a look at applications they have developed in the past. Read customer reviews on these applications. Download some of the company's apps and test their functionality. Do they look professional? Are they easy to use?
3. Ask them if they are simply a marketing firm or truly a developer. If they are primarily a marketing firm your app will most likely be sent to a third party for development. This can lead to a lesser quality end product as communication and quality control are much more difficult with a third party developer.
4. Ask them if they do both native and cross-platform coding. This is important as some apps will function better when utilizing cross-coding, while others may require native coding to meet app user expectations. It is always better to work with a developer than can do both, since cross platform development can save you money while native coding often allows for better functionality, an app that is more user friendly and that is able to utilize the unique capabilities inherent to the Android or Apple (iOS) platforms. For example: if a company only offers native coding and you are developing a game app, you may end up spending more money since most game apps are well suited for cross platform coding, which generally is less expensive. Native coding is typically more expensive but offers the ability to take advantage of all the native features inherent to either iOS or Android platforms. This results in a better user experience and more importantly.
5. Lastly, try to find a company that can code,develop, and market your app. It can become much more complicated if the goal of your app must be communicated between multiple companies. If you hire three companies: one to code, one to develop, and one to market, many details can get lost in translation leading to a poorly constructed app in the end. By selecting a company that does all three there is no lack of communication and only one clear goal in mind.
Step 5: Three...Two...One...Launch!
At last, the light at the end of the tunnel. After all your hard work it is finally time to launch the app and get it into the hands of your customers.Luckily this step is fairly straightforward so I won't get into great detail.
Basically if you chose to develop on your own you simply need to get in contact with the platforms of your choosing and release the app to the public.If you had a developer help you through the process they typically will guide you through this step or in most cases launch the app for you. Either way your app will be submitted to either Apple or Google and you will typically wait a short time for approval. You may be asked to change certain aspects of the app before it is accepted. Once approved, you're good to go!
To learn more about how to take your app idea to reality, and then how to make money from your app, you may want to check out the video in this section too.
About the Author
I'm Jack and I am an App Specialist with BrainyApps, a full service creative technology firm specializing in custom mobile app, web app, and progressive web app design and development. We make it easy for everyone to develop amazing app ideas -- you have the idea, we build your app. Learn more at our website or email me personally: firstname.lastname@example.org