Think building an app on your own is impossible? It’s not – in fact, it’s actually pretty easy when you know how. Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, which means the market for apps and the audience of app consumers is almost endless. App purchases are expected to generate over $77 billion and keep over half a million people employed in the next year, too. It’s undoubtedly a very lucrative area to get into. But how do ‘apprepreneurs‘ get started? Here’s the steps you need to take to build your very first app, from start to finish.
Step 1: The Million Dollar Idea
This one is a no-brainer; an app that’s going to generate money has to have a clever idea behind it. If you already have one, then you’re all set. If you don’t, then find a solution to a problem – in app form – that doesn’t exist yet (hey, we said building the app was easy, not conceptualizing it).
Next, you need to do research, more research, even more research, and then some more research. Analyze top trending apps, learn every little thing about your market, use as many mobile apps on a daily basis as you can, look at similar apps to yours and find ways to improve them, examine copyright restrictions, find possible roadblocks, decide how to market and monetize your app. For a start, research keywords on Google to find out what exactly your potential customers are looking for (and what exactly they need), then take it from there.
Step 2: Form and Function
So you have a fully formed idea and plan for your app. Now, you need to start creating. This doesn’t start with jumping right into writing code. First, go back to basics with a pen and paper. Sketch out your ideas for how you want your app to look, from the opening screen to the end point of the user’s journey. This doesn’t have to be a set plan; it’s all about developing the idea. When you’re happy with your sketches, turn them into more solid wireframes. When you’re happy with those, it’s time to start making decisions about back end design.
You’ll no doubt already have an idea of what tools and languages you’ll need to build your app, but here is where you’ll really plan them out and start finding solutions to inevitable problems (before they occur). Think servers, APIs, data diagrams, or just use a do-it-for-you app builder. It’s also where you’ll nail down the finer details of functionality. Don’t skimp on this step; it’s what everyone (or just you) will use as the blueprint to create your app.
Step 3: Build a Prototype
Now the real fun begins. Before you start building your prototype, you’ll need to gather your materials. Specifically, images – if you’re using any. As always, they need to be lawfully obtained. The last thing you want is a copyright headache moments after you’ve launched your app.
Once that box is checked, you can start building your layout. Remember to include every possible journey your user will take through your app. Next up, you can finally write your code! Utilise libraries as much as possible, get yourself a good code editor and IDE, and don’t let anything distract you. Don’t forget to annotate, and don’t ignore any small details – they’ll soon turn into big problems if you let them. If it’s a big project, consider collaborating to take the pressure off.
Step 4: Test, Retest, and Test Again
By now you’ll have basic functioning demo of your app that’s ready for testing. As well as testing every aspect and scenario yourself, there’s an additional valuable test that’s perfect to conduct at this stage. Give your app to friends and family, and just let them loose. You’d be surprised at the feedback they come up with. We guarantee there’ll be at least a couple of niggles or problems that you didn’t foresee, and it will all be immensely helpful (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time).
Even when you think there’s nothing else you could possibly test – keep going. Refine as you go, and don’t stop until every little thing works perfectly. Your users will expect this as a given. It’s tedious, but it’s necessary.
Step 5: Polish and Publish
After your app has passed the family and friends test with flying colours, it’s almost ready to go. Dedicate as much time as possible to refining both the back and front end. Add your desired finishing touches like screen transitions, improved graphics and functionality with finesse. Then, all that’s left to do is get it published!
It helps to learn the nuances and regulations of publishing on both the Android and iOS platforms, regardless of which one you choose (and especially if you choose both). Android tends to be slightly less restrictive – no surprises there. Basically, publishing your app consists of adding it to the app/play store and waiting for it to be reviewed. You’ll figure it out without us telling you every little detail, trust us. From there, it’s all about kicking your marketing machine into gear to get the cash rolling in…. and that’s a story for another blog post.