When you encounter a great app, the thought of being able to create one, too, can be very exciting. And if creating a mobile app is something you really want to do, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot.
Before you get carried away and start working on an app that in your mind would deliver financial success, make sure that you know what you’re getting into. Instead of asking “How much can I earn when I make an app?”, you should ask first “ How hard is it to develop an app?”. Don’t panic. Here are all the basics that you need to know about developing an app.
Overview of App Development in 10 Steps
Generate an App Idea
It all starts here. If you have no clue yet what kind of app you want to do, you have your work cut out for you. Don’t stress yourself too much trying to come up with an original idea. With over 4 million apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, it’s safe to say that someone has probably thought of your app idea way before you have. The best thing that you can do is try to improve existing apps, add a new twist, or combine elements from different apps.
Perform Competitive Market Research
Once you have the idea for your app, the next thing to do is to find out if other apps similar to yours are already solving the problem you want to address. If so, don’t be disheartened. Do your research to know how well those other apps are doing their jobs. Prepare a spreadsheet where you can store the results of your research. Include the following information:
- Name of the App
- Last Update
- Reviews and Ratings
- Number of Downloads
These should give you a fair idea of what you would have to compete with when you launch your app and what you should improve.
Validate Your Idea
If for some reason you find that there’s really not much competition for your app idea, it could either be because a.) the idea is really novel or b.) it’s not viable.
What you can do is develop your idea into a mini-presentation that you can pitch to your family and friends. Ask them to give you honest feedback and if possible try to find loopholes in your idea.
Once you’ve done this and you still feel your idea has potential, you can move on to the next step.
Determine the Features That You Want Your App to Have
Here is the part where you can go wild with your imagination. Try to come up with all the features that you think would make your app perfect.
Of course, you have to know that the app that you visualize will still change based on the results of the tests that you will do later on. But for now, get crazy with all your ideas and make sure you write them down so you won’t forget anything.
Create Design Mock-Ups With UX in Mind
Design is a big thing when it comes to mobile apps. The goal is to come up with one that is attractive and easy to use. Put yourself in the position of the users and figure out how you as a user would want to interact with an app.
Tools that You Can Use
Good Old Pencil and Paper
If you feel more comfortable doodling on paper first before you do mock-ups digitally, go ahead. There’s nothing wrong with using what you know best.
This browser-based tool can be used on both Mac and PC. There are some awesome collaboration features that you can use if you are working with some friends. The best thing about it, perhaps, is that it’s free to use and you only need to pay if you are going to do collaborative work.
Sketch is known in the industry for prototyping and mobile app design. It’s vector-based so you can scale your work to any size you want and the quality won’t suffer. Sketch, however, is just for Mac users.
Start Working on Your Graphic Design
Now that you’re done some mock-ups, you are ready to start designing how you picture your app in its final form. When you’re designing, remember that it should look as close to the final product as possible. It should look professional enough to show to potential partners and investors.
Keep in mind that both UI and UX of your app will greatly depend on how well you do during this part of the process. It’s highly recommended that you seek help from pros who have already designed mobile app UIs that you approve of.
Testing and Prototyping
This is the part where you are to test your model and work on refining your concept. There are tools that can help you create a functional mock-up even without coding and you can even interact with your mock-up app like an actual user.
When prototyping is done, it’s time to move on to testing. This will take a lot of work but it’s necessary if you want to eliminate technical flaws. Here are the common testing scenarios:
- Functional Testing – This is done to ensure the app functions the way you intend it to.
- Performance Testing – This will test how well users get around the app and how well the components of the app work under stress.
- Edge-Case Testing – This is a more extreme testing condition that involves unit testing and functional regression, among others.
- Device-Specific Testing – You want your app to work on any device so you have to test it on all platforms using different OS versions and screen sizes.
- Usability Testing and User Acceptance Testing – These tests are done to ensure that all the features of the app meet the requirements set by the QA team and the users.
Done testing your app? Then it’s time for deployment. This stage is made up of a series of steps that you need to follow to ensure success. Here are the things that you need to do:
- Establish a solid release cycle plan to ensure that your app will be deployed smoothly.
- Use continuous deployment to avoid large download files and lessen downtime.
- Make sure you secure and update your developer certificates before you release your app to any app store.
- Save time and money by automating things like configuration and provision based on standard policies.
- Prepare the production and testing environment of your hosting environment.
- Check every feature of your application, including the compatibility, version, and signature. Doing this can help prevent any delays.
- Deploy your API into a scalable production environment or use the App Store or Play Store for the launching of your app.
Choose a server that is properly configured that can handle the potential user base. If you are submitting your app to the Apple App Store, you will have to go through ta manual review process to ensure that your app complies with their system. Google Play has its own version of this which is an automated algorithm that tests your app before launching. Prior to submission, you should prepare all necessary app info including screenshots and a complete description of the app.
Note that after you launch your app, you will have to continuously enhance it and fix any issues if you want your app to be successful.
How to Make an App – Required Skills
Option #1: Just Learn How to Code Everything
Most of the time, a person who wants to be an app developer likes coding. It is not actually a requirement but definitely the best route, especially if you want to be really hands-on with the development of your app. If this is what you studied in college, then you’re probably all set. If not, there are actually some resources online that can teach you how to code. You may invest in those online courses or search for some free tutorials.
Option #2: Hire Freelancers/ App Developers
An option for you if you’d rather have someone else do the coding for you is to outsource the job. This is for you if you don’t intend to make a living out of app development and you just have a great idea for an app that you want to see to fruition. The good thing here is that you can choose someone who specializes in the kind of app you want to build and the platform you want to use. It may also be cheaper than getting the services of an established app development company.
Option #3: Use App Builders
If you are not really an app developer but a business owner who wishes to have an app for your company, it may be wiser for you to try app builders – unless it’s no problem shelling out around $200,000 for a pro to build an app for you.
It’s also an excellent option for freelancers who want to start a business building apps for other people.
Option #4: Hire an App Development Company
Hiring an established app development company is your best option if you don’t know how to code and you want to make sure that the final product you’ll get will actually live up to your expectations. App development companies have access to the best technology, have a clear understanding of what you really need, and have an entire team dedicated to ensuring that every element of your app is working.
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You reading this post means that you are planning to develop a mobile app. That’s great! Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of how hard it is to develop an app and provided you with information that can help you prepare for the challenge that is mobile app development.
Ready to build your first app? Tell us all about it!