In this day and age, people rely on apps for a lot of things.
If they need to check emails on the go, there is an app for it. If they want to listen to some of their favorite tunes, they’ve got an app for it. If they know they’re going to struggle to get out of bed the following morning, they can use apps to set alarms.
You might even say that people take mobile apps for granted, thanks to their wide ranges of capability and thanks to just how many of them there are.
In any case, the amount of apps will only grow in the future…
…prompting plenty of people to want to create, market, and sell their own apps.
Because people have come to rely so heavily on mobile apps over the past few years, more and more people will inevitably try to make some of their own. Perhaps they’ve identified a problem that many people have, and now, they’ve got an idea for a revolutionary app.
But what goes into making an app, anyway?
A whole lot of knowledge and patience—and some elbow grease, too.
If you are interested in creating your own mobile app from scratch, here are several recommended steps you can follow.
1: Start with a goal in mind.
All right, so maybe you’ve got an idea for an app.
But what will it do?
What are you trying to accomplish by creating your own app, and who do you plan on marketing it to?
As you know, there are a ton of mobile apps out there. What’s so special about yours? What will make people want to choose your app over a different one?
How much will your app cost (compared to other apps that may serve a similar purpose), and how much will it cost you in order to make the app?
Before you leap right in to app making, you need to dwell on these few questions. Once you’re sure you’ve got the answers, you’re ready to advance to the next step.
This is a really important step, and it might take a bit of time. It does tie in slightly with the above step, but it’s not to be overlooked.
Even though it sounds boring, research is always worth the trouble…
…especially if you want to create a killer app.
This step involves considering your target audience—potential buyers of your app. Do you know what your target audience is looking for in an app like yours? What questions or problems do they have, and how can your app address or solve these issues?
After all, if your app can answer questions and solve your target audience’s needs, they’ll be more likely to purchase it, right?
Look into the demographics of your target audience so you have a better idea of who will be interested in your app. These are the people you want to market to (and this will be touched on again in step 7).
Another important part of researching is looking closely at other apps similar to yours. Learn how they work and how they solve people’s problems, and check to see how much they cost. Maybe you can sell your app for a price that’s a little more reasonable than the apps that will be competing with yours?
In any case:
You might be able to do something similar to your competition…
…but you need to show your target audience that you can do something similar to and better than this competition.
Knowing is half the battle, as they say, and once you know your competition, you can start brainstorming ideas on how you can outshine the competition.
There’s another very important element to consider as you research, however:
Talk to people who use apps. Better yet, talk to people who use apps similar to the one you will be building. Ask them what they look for in an app like this. Maybe you can ask them about the features your competitors’ apps are lacking and what they desire to see in an app.
Ask them about how much money they are willing to spend on an app like yours.
You’d better believe that all this detailed research will help you cement your goals from step 1 even more.
3: Plan your app in detail.
Great actions require plans of attack.
So this is where you break out the pen and paper (or whichever tools of the trade you use to jot down ideas) and prepare to get your hands a little dirty.
Write everything down. Write and write some more. Sketch your app and keep on sketching.
You want to plan your app in as much detail as you can, along with as much information for each of the app’s elements as possible.
How will your app be used from start to finish? Jot down the steps that an arbitrary app user would take while using your app.
The better you plan your app and the more you know about what you’re doing, the easier the whole venture should be.
Now, there’s something else important to ask yourself while you’re in the planning stages:
Are you going to create this app all on your own, or are you going to hire talented designers, developers, and programmers to give you a hand?
Once you know who will need to work on this app with you, then you’re ready to move on.
4: Gather your team.
If you’re going to take on this whole project alone, then you might not have to worry so much about hiring a capable programmer or designer.
However, it’s not always a bad idea to know a designer or programmer who can be your extra set of eyes—someone who can review your app once you’ve made a prototype and once you’ve completed the final product.
Anyway, if you know that you won’t be able to build this app all on your own, it’s time to start looking for help.
If you have personal connections, such as a family member, a friend, or maybe a coworker, that’s great. You could try reaching out to one of them first and foremost.
If you don’t personally know anyone with these skills, start searching.
And during that search, always remember this:
Ask the potential programmer, designer, or developer if you can see some of their past work.
This past work could include apps that the person has created or worked on. If you get to see such an app, make sure it works and runs smoothly.
You want to make sure that you hire someone capable of this job. And you want to triple-check that this person is right for the job now, rather than regretting it later.
Once you’ve got your designers, programmers, and developers in place, it might not be a bad idea to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement or NDA. After all, they are helping you work on an idea that’s entirely yours.
Once that’s settled, it’s time to start working!
5: Get coding.
And now, it’s time for the fun part:
Building the app.
It’s highly recommended that you begin by creating a mock-up or prototype of your app. In fact, this is another way you can put the abilities of your hired designer, programmer, or developer to the test.
Test the prototype, and if everything’s good to go, start on the back-end of your app.
Then, once you’ve finished coding the back-end, test again. Keep coding and make changes if you need to.
Never jump right in to finishing your app all in one go and without testing. It’s important that you frequently test as you progress so you can ensure that everything works properly in the end.
Besides, performing frequent tests as you go will also make you less likely to release a buggy app. It’ll also ensure that you’re not trying to spend hours upon hours trying to debug the entire app once you’ve finished building it and once you’ve realized that your app has a truckload of errors.
Once the back-end of the app is finished, tested, and ready for the next step, then you can focus on the front-end—the screens, graphics, and text that will be seen on the app.
Of course, once the front-end is finished, test the app again.
6: Make revisions.
You’re almost done.
Make changes to the app as needed, and run several more tests. If everything works as it should, then you can move on to the next step. If you need to make more changes, however, make sure you do this before moving on.
Tidy up everything as neatly and carefully as you can. Perfect your app as much as possible. Monitor the results of all the tests you perform until everything is flawless.
As a matter of fact, you can have friends and family test the app as well. Even better, you can use PreApps to get some feedback on your app before you release it.
Also remember that Google is there to help too. Chances are, if you’re building an app and if you’ve got some sort of issue, other people who have built apps have probably had the same issue in the past. You can find a lot on Google, so use it.
If your app is ready to go, move on to the final step.
7: Release and market your app.
It’s time to spread the word about your new creation.
While this step might seem pretty daunting in and of itself—as it’s pretty difficult to get your app noticed among a vast ocean of mobile apps—there’s an easy way to begin.
Remember your target audience? Start marketing your app to them—to that niche of people.
Find key areas like this to which you can market and sell your app. The more people from your target audience learn about your app, the more they will spread the word about it.
Now that you know what it takes to make a mobile app of your own, you’re almost ready to get started.
However, there is one more point that should be addressed before you run off to make your own app:
What makes a mobile app so successful?
The answer is pretty simple:
The ability to help a person accomplish tasks. The ability to solve issues that people have. Simplicity and easiness of use.
Take Asana, for example. It’s an app that allows people to make to-do lists and check off items as they are completed. It also notifies its users on which tasks are due when.
It’s simple, it helps users solve a problem, and it’s easy to use. This is what makes it such a successful app—and success goes way beyond creating a non-buggy app.
Keep all of these lessons in mind, and you’re guaranteed to make a successful app that will benefit plenty of people.