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How to Make an App: Nine Steps to Follow
You’ve got this genius idea for an app that you can’t get out of your mind. Imagine waking up to an app that’s number one on the App Store, raking in money, and making your brand famous. But right now, you’re struggling to even start the development process. You’re not alone. Many business owners find themselves stuck in this exact spot.
The Pain Points:
- Overwhelm: You think you have to know how to code, what tech stack to choose, and juggle a million things.
- Lack of Information: A sea of blogs out there, but no straightforward guide on how to make an app.
- Time-Consuming: Balancing regular business duties while also researching how to make an app.
- Money Drain: The fear of pouring your money into something that might not take off.
- Emotional Turmoil: Constant stress about competitors getting ahead of you.
Surprising Reasons WHY You’re Stuck
You might think the problem is your lack of technical skills or the massive start-up cost. Wrong. Do you know what really keeps you stuck? Lack of a clear, step-by-step plan.
Real Root Cause:
Inadequate Planning: Every app needs a solid plan. Most people think they can dive straight into the coding part. That’s why so many fail.
WHY Most Common Solutions Fail
You’ve seen those blogs claiming “learn how to code in 30 days” or “make an app for free.” But what they don’t tell you is that you can’t create a successful app just by knowing how to code or using a free template.
Randomly Picking a Tech Stack: Doesn’t solve anything if you don’t have a plan.
Outsourcing Without Understanding: Can result in huge financial losses and wasted time.
The Real Plan You Should Follow
Forget those generic tips and expensive coding boot camps. The real key is a well-planned roadmap, focusing on ONE specific area—strategic planning and execution. Jane, a small business owner, shifted her focus from coding to strategic planning. Now, she owns a top-rated app in the food delivery sector.
Nine Steps to Make an App
Certainly, understanding the steps involved in creating an app is vital for ensuring the successful execution of your project. In this section, we’ll thoroughly explore eleven key stages of app development, enriching each step with valuable advice and insights.
1. Create A Team
Creating a team is a critical initial step in developing an app. You’ll generally encounter three primary types of teams:
1. In-House Team: These are employees within your company, covering roles from developers and designers to project managers and QA engineers.
2. Outsourcing: Here, you contract the entire development process to an external company.
3. Freelancers: These are independent professionals hired for specific roles within the project.
|Time to Market||Medium||Fast||Fast|
|Availability||Dependent on local market||Global||Global|
|Security||High control and security||Managed security||Unknown|
|Team Dynamics||Easier cohesion and alignment||Cultural and working style varies||Individual working style|
|Collaboration Tools||Easier access to tools||Varied tools and systems||Depends on freelancer|
|Accountability||Direct to company||Contractual||Contractual|
|Management||Internal management required||External management required||Self-management|
|Training and Support||In-house resources||Limited options||Limited options|
|Intellectual Property||Owned by the company||Negotiable||Negotiable|
|Project Flexibility||Easier to adjust scope||Requires renegotiation||Requires renegotiation|
|Risk Management||Higher if members leave||Mitigated through contracts||High if freelancer underperforms|
|Cultural Fit||Aligned with company culture||Potential misalignment||Potential misalignment|
|Workload Distribution||Easier internal management||Requires external management||Self-managed|
1. In-House Teams offer higher control and security but come at a higher cost and can take longer to go to market.
2. Outsourcing provides a quick and often less expensive route to market but may sacrifice some control and security measures.
3. Freelancers offer the quickest and least expensive option, but with reduced control, potential security risks, and self-management requirements.
2. Research Your Competitors
Absolutely, getting the lowdown on your competition is critical for carving out your own space in the app market. Here’s how to nail it:
1. Scour the app store and analytics tools to pinpoint who your real competitors are. Take note of things like their features, who they’re targeting, how they’re ranked, how many downloads they’ve got, and what users are saying about them.
2. Actually download and play around with your competitors’ apps. This way, you get firsthand experience of their UI/UX, plus you can spot what they’re nailing and where they’re dropping the ball.
3. Dive into their marketing game. Check out how they’re using app store optimization (ASO), what their social media looks like, and where they’re putting their ad dollars. This will clue you in on what keywords they’re banking on, the types of ads they’re running, and which platforms they’re using to reach people.
4. Sift through user reviews and ratings for some raw, unfiltered feedback about what users love and hate about these apps. This can show you what problems you could solve with your own app.
5. Finally, identify the gaps that your competitors are missing and see how your app can fill those in. Think about how you can set your app apart from what’s already out there.
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3. Define Core Features
Certainly, defining your app’s key functionalities is a critical step that requires thoughtful planning. Here’s a rephrased guide to nailing it:
1. Start by asking pivotal questions: What gap in the market or user need does your app fill? Who are you aiming to serve? What advantages will your app offer its users?
2. Compile a comprehensive list of all the features you’d like to see in your app.
3. Organize these features into three categories: ‘Must-Haves’ for essential functionalities, ‘Nice-to-Haves’ for features that are beneficial but not critical, and ‘Future Additions’ for elements that could enhance the app down the line.
4. Sketch out the user journey to get a clearer picture of how users will navigate and interact within the app.
5. Garner feedback from your intended audience, key stakeholders, and your development team to refine your list and prioritize features effectively.
By taking these steps, you’ll not only clarify what your app needs to include but also ensure that it resonates with users and delivers genuine value.
4. Create Mockups
Creating mockups is an essential phase in app development, serving as a visual guide represented through wireframes and interactive prototypes. These mockups provide an opportunity for early user testing, enabling developers to pinpoint user experience issues and areas needing enhancement. This pre-development step allows for design iterations that can save both time and resources down the line.
5. Choose A Platform and Tech Stack
In the realm of mobile app development, the choice of platform and technology stack can be a game-changer in terms of performance, scalability, and ongoing maintenance. Consequently, developers must weigh the pros and cons of going for either a native or a cross-platform approach, factoring in the device preferences of their target user base.
Exploring Cross-Platform Development
Cross-platform development allows you to create software that operates seamlessly on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android. By writing the code just once, you can deploy it across both ecosystems, which often results in reduced development time and expenses.
If you’re looking to develop an app for both Android and iOS, there are multiple avenues for achieving cross-platform functionality:
Flutter as an Option
Google’s Flutter is a prominent framework for cross-platform mobile app development, allowing you to craft high-quality native interfaces for both iOS and Android using a single shared codebase.
Some of the notable apps developed using Flutter are Google Ads, eBay Motors, The New York Times, and the My BMW App.
Flutter leverages Dart as its programming language. Dart code is compiled directly into native code, and the framework employs Skia, a graphics engine, to render UI components independently. This ensures that even intricate animations run smoothly.
Dart combines elements of both static and dynamic programming languages. Those familiar with languages like Java, Swift, and C# will likely find transitioning to Flutter relatively straightforward.
Considering React Native for Cross-Platform Development
Some popular apps built using React Native are Instagram, Skype, and Airbnb.
Comparison Between Flutter and React Native
Below is a restructured comparison table illustrating the differences between Flutter and React Native across various metrics:
|Initial Release Date||May 2017||March 2015|
|Supported Platforms||Android, iOS||Android, iOS, Web apps|
|Performance||Robust, 60 frames per second||Near-native quality|
|Native Appearance||Superior, with device core access||Lower, relies on third-party libraries|
|GUI Design||Proprietary widgets||Utilizes native UI controllers|
|Time-to-Market||Generally faster||Typically slower than Flutter|
|Code Reusability||50-90%||Up to 90%|
|Testing Environment||Mobile device or emulator||Mobile device or emulator|
|Community & Support||Limited but rapidly growing||Extensive and well-established|
Common Misconceptions About Cross-Platform App Development
The field of cross-platform app development is rife with misconceptions. Here are some commonly held but often misleading beliefs:
1. Cross-Platform Apps Lack Performance: While it’s a popular opinion that apps developed on cross-platform frameworks can’t match the performance of native apps, that’s not always the case. Frameworks like Flutter and React Native use native modules to access device-specific features, making their performance almost indistinguishable from native apps in many scenarios.
2. Security Concerns Are Higher in Cross-Platform Apps: The myth suggests that cross-platform frameworks are inherently less secure. However, the truth is many of these frameworks come equipped with a variety of security features, including data encryption and robust authentication and authorization measures, which can make the apps just as secure as native ones when implemented correctly.
3. Managing Cross-Platform Projects is Challenging: Contrary to popular belief, managing a cross-platform project doesn’t have to be more complex than a native one. Effective planning and communication, combined with a well-defined project roadmap, can streamline the development process, ensuring that everyone involved is aligned with the project’s goals and objectives.
Native App Development
Native apps are tailored for specific operating systems like Android and iOS, and as such, they are developed using platform-specific programming languages. For Native Android development, Java and Kotlin are commonly used, whereas Swift and Objective-C are popular choices for iOS. Native apps boast high performance and provide full access to device hardware, making them ideal for HD gaming and animation-heavy applications. While native app development tends to take longer, it often results in higher quality and a better user experience.
Well-known native mobile apps include Google Maps, Pinterest, Spotify, and WhatsApp.
Comparing Cross-Platform and Native App Development
Below is a table that compares the pros and cons of cross-platform and native app development:
|Criteria||Cross-Platform Development||Native Development|
|Development Time||Quicker: 2-4 months||Slower: 3-6 months per platform|
|Cost||Lower: $20,000-$60,000||Higher: $40,000-$120,000 per platform|
|UI/UX||Less responsive, limited customization||Seamless UX, highly customizable|
|Performance||Acceptable but generally slower||Faster and smoother|
|Code Reusability||Up to 90% with frameworks like React Native and Xamarin||Lower reusability|
|Device Features||Limited, may require third-party plugins||Full access to device hardware|
|Development Tools||React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, Ionic||Xcode and Swift for iOS, Java or Kotlin for Android|
|Support & Maintenance||Easier, one set of updates applies to all platforms||Requires more resources; updates must be done per platform|
|Popularity||Gaining traction for less performance-intensive apps||Preferred for performance-intensive and complex apps|
Factors to Consider Before Making a Choice
When deciding between native and cross-platform development, keep the following in mind:
1. UI/UX: Native development allows for a more fluid and visually pleasing user experience. Cross-platform may offer limited customization.
2. Time and Budget: For MVPs or projects with limited funds, cross-platform development could be more feasible, as you only need to create one version of the app.
3. Target Audience: If your user base primarily uses one type of device, going native might be a better option.
4. Performance: If your app demands high responsiveness and speed, native development is likely the better choice.
5. Technical Requirements: Native apps allow for unique functionalities specific to an operating system. If your app needs such features, going native is advisable.
The Growing Popularity of No-Code and Low-Code Platforms
As the demand for speedy and efficient app development continues to rise, no-code and low-code platforms are gaining traction for their user-friendliness and rapid development capabilities. These platforms are especially useful for small businesses and individuals who lack technical expertise but are keen to create an app without the financial burden of hiring a specialized development team.
These platforms empower users to create functional apps without requiring any coding skills. With an array of ready-made templates and intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, users can design app layouts and set up workflows effortlessly. Notable platforms in this category include Bubble, Glide, and Adalo.
While low-code platforms do necessitate some familiarity with coding, they significantly expedite the app development process. These platforms come equipped with a variety of pre-configured modules and elements, which can be tailored and pieced together to establish intricate workflows and interfaces. Popular options in this space are Microsoft Power Apps, Mendix, and OutSystems.
6. Front-End and Back-End
In the realm of app development, there are two fundamental components: the front-end and the back-end. These elements work in unison to deliver a seamless and engaging user experience.
Operating behind the scenes, the back-end handles the core logic and data management of the app. It includes the server architecture, databases, and the nitty-gritty of the app’s underlying functionality. Back-end developers commonly use programming languages such as Java, Python, or Ruby to craft the server-side code that powers the app.
7. Quality Assurance and Testing
A crucial phase in the app development process is testing, which aims to ensure that the application is not only operational but also aligns with its intended goals and provides a satisfactory experience for users.
Key activities during this stage include:
1. Component Testing: This involves examining specific elements within the app, such as buttons, navigation menus, and input fields, to make sure they function as expected.
2. Performance Assessment: At this point, the app undergoes tests to measure its speed, responsiveness, and ability to scale, confirming it can manage high levels of traffic or large data volumes.
3. End-User Validation: Also known as user acceptance testing, this step gauges the app’s overall usability and user experience to ensure it meets the needs and expectations of the target audience.
By meticulously going through these layers of testing, developers can ensure the application is both robust and user-friendly.
8. Collecting and Applying User Feedback:
One of the key elements in refining an app is the collection and implementation of user feedback. App Developers often employ a variety of techniques, such as user surveys, focus group discussions, and beta tests, to gain valuable insights into user behavior, likes and dislikes, and any encountered issues.
After amassing this feedback, it’s critical to sift through the data to discern recurring themes or common suggestions. These can guide subsequent development phases.
Actioning this feedback can take several forms. This might involve rectifying bugs, enhancing performance, streamlining the user interface, or even introducing new functionalities that users have explicitly requested. The key is to prioritize these updates based on their potential impact, thereby ensuring the app’s continuous improvement.
9. Launching on the App Store
Prior to submitting an app to an app store, it’s essential to ensure that it meets all the store’s guidelines and standards. This includes being bug-free, having suitable content and appropriate ratings, as well as adhering to all applicable laws and policies. Once these boxes are checked, the developer can proceed with submitting the app for the app store’s review process.
The time frame for the review can vary, ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on both the complexity of the app and the specific app store. Should the app be flagged for any issues during the review, the developer receives feedback and has the opportunity to address these concerns before submitting the app for another round of review. Upon receiving approval, the app becomes publicly available for download in the app store.
It’s also crucial to have a promotion strategy in place to optimize the app’s visibility and user acquisition. This can include social media campaigns, paid advertisements, collaborations with influencers, and other marketing tactics.
Developing Mobile Apps for iOS and Android
Crafting apps for iOS and Android requires a deep understanding of each platform’s distinct guidelines, development tools, and ecosystem nuances.
Android App Development:
Android Studio serves as the cornerstone for Android app development. This robust IDE, backed by Google, allows developers to use Java or Kotlin to write their code. Android Studio provides a wide range of libraries and APIs that facilitate various functionalities like UI design, network communications, and database management, thereby speeding up the development process.
To launch your app, you’ll need to create a developer account on the Google Play Store. This involves carefully setting up your app’s listing and complying with Google’s rigorous quality and policy guidelines. Post-launch, it’s crucial to continually monitor user feedback and app performance. Regular updates are needed to fix bugs, introduce new features, and adjust to Android OS changes or varying device specifications.
Given Android’s vast range of supported devices, your app should be designed with broad compatibility in mind. This might mean occasionally sacrificing advanced features to ensure your app runs well on a wider array of devices.
iOS App Development:
For iOS development, your primary programming language choices are Objective-C or Swift. You’ll set up your development workspace using Xcode, Apple’s designated IDE for iOS development, which offers a comprehensive set of tools for coding, design, debugging, and testing.
The key to a successful iOS app lies in its responsiveness, resource efficiency, and smooth user experience across different iOS devices. Once your app is ready, you’ll use Apple’s App Store Connect to manage its listing, including metadata, screenshots, and pricing. After that, you can submit it for review, and once approved, it becomes available for iOS users to download.
Just like with Android, maintaining an iOS app means regular updates to fix bugs, roll out new features, and ensure compatibility with the most recent versions of iOS.
By focusing on these aspects, you can navigate the complexities of developing apps for Android and iOS.
Creating an app involves a series of crucial steps, from initial planning and choosing the right development approach to rigorous testing and store submission. The key to a successful app lies in careful planning, strong execution, and ongoing improvements based on user feedback. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, following these nine steps provides a structured roadmap that can guide you from the idea stage to a successful launch.
Need help navigating the 9 steps to build your app? We’re here to guide you from idea to launch. Contact us today to turn your app dream into a reality!
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