How to create your first mobile app?

Jan 21, 2017
How To

Ideas for mobile apps have become extremely common among the average person. While ideas are plentiful, the ability to build and execute a launch is the difficult what differentiates between a thought and a product. Whether for a mobile game or an app which is designed to solve an issue of larger magnitude, the process associated with creating an app can be daunting, deterring many from engaging altogether under the notion that it is only for engineers or those with thousands to spend. However, given the vast resources which are available online for learning and contracting work, this article discusses step-by-step how to get started when turning an app idea into reality.

Setting a Goal

Before starting the development process, one of the most important steps that are overlooked is to set a realistic goal. The app that is in mind should be unique compared to existing competitors while also providing its users with a high degree of value. With this, writing down the features, intended goals, where your app is able to provide value, along with the applicable research regarding competitors and user behavior can immensely help to redefine the idea. Furthermore, it is better to do conduct extensive research prior to jumping to the development stage blindly in order to identify any issues or niches that may be missed. Determining which market to pursue is another part of setting the goal. Whether to launch on the Google Play Store, App Store, Windows, or all three should also be considered given resource and time restraints.

Create the Wireframes

After determining whether an opportunity in the market exists and if the app is able to accommodate its needs, sketching the wireframe either by hand or utilizing software such as wifeframe.cc can help to explore the design and how usability would flow. In designing these wireframes, features, differentiating values, and a model is available once development begins for a more streamline process. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the wireframes will become the initial foundation of the app development process and should therefore be as detailed as possible.

Minimum Viable Product

Most first-time app developers will, at this stage, have a handful of functionalities which they plan to implement into the app right away. It is important to note that apps go through many iterations during the development and execution stage. Hence as opposed to trying to deliver a final product, app developers should aim to launch with the minimum amount of features necessary to test the market and then build upon this framework. The reason for this is how a developer initially anticipates their users to engage with the app may differ from how the app is actually used. As the idea evolves with market needs, features that were planned may not be necessary at all. Removing these extra features until later will help to save on development cost and time as well as allow developers to get feedback quicker.

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Development Process

The most daunting process of app creation, the development process itself, is seen as the biggest deterrent for those with app ideas. However, given the countless resources which are available online, nearly everyone can create mobile apps even without prior experience in programming or thousands to spend.

The first option is to develop the app by yourself or with an in-house team. While many developers may have a background in computer science or programming, online resources such as Udemy.com or YouTube tutorials provide comprehensive guides with step-by-step instructions on how to develop mobile apps. While this process takes much more time dedication for those who are initially learning, having this skill will allow for the creation of other apps in the future. Depending on the platform which the app was initially planned for in Step 1, different languages will be applicable depending on the market. For example, while iOS apps require Swift, Android apps require Java. For those working alone, it is therefore suggested to learn one language before moving onto another.

An often overlooked method of development is to outsource the work to a third-party as a contractor. Companies are able to provide complete app development services from designing, to development, to marketing at highly competitive rates. Given the professional nature of these app development companies, it is extremely rare that idea infringement occurs which can be further alleviated with a simple non-disclosure agreement. Furthermore, services provided by the company include app development for several platforms so that developers can get their app to different markets without having to learn multiple languages. In bundling services such as designing and development with a single company, discounts are often given for the project which is extremely helpful for smaller budgets. Despite this development method being more expensive than learning how to develop the app from scratch, service companies are able to get products to market faster and are suitable for those looking to launch quicker.

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Launch and market

Once the app is finalized, the next step is to create an account with the Google Play or Apple developer console.  Each developer account is associated with a different pricing scheme. For example, with the Google Play developer account, a one-time fee of $25 is incurred while an iOS developer account is $99/year. Once the app is available on their respective markets, marketing is a crucial step to ensure its success. This step is often overlooked as many developers adopt the mindset of “if I build it, people will come” which often leads to underwhelming results where the app does not receive as many downloads as initially anticipated. Therefore paid marketing can be done though several channels such as hiring the initial development company or doing it in-house using different resources. Depending on the nature of the app, utilizing specialized marketing tactics to reach niches can yield significant results. Search engine optimization is also a large source of organic installs but requires a lot of testing and trials. Finally, don’t forget to get your app reviewed by Appolicious!

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Kevin Chau

Following my passion in the realm of business and entrepreneurship, I am always eager to develop skills that enable me to learn, build, and grow. My previous projects, both academic and personal, reflect my dedication towards expanding and applying my theoretical knowledge for practical results in these fields.

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