How to make an app
Daria Iniewski | Growth Marketing Manager
25 July 2021 • 15 min read
For many non-IT people (and even for some IT professionals) an app creation process might seem to be very obscure and unclear.
So what to start with? First off, take a deep breath, equip yourself with a cup of coffee and read this article on our blog. (link)
In this article, we tell you about things you have to be aware of before you even start thinking about building an app. If after reading the previous blogpost you came to an honest conclusion, that an app-building process doesn’t scare you away, please read the blogpost below.
We will illustrate numerous useful tips and tactics, as well as a step by step approach which will save you lots of hassle and help you build an app the most economical way.
Step 1 – work out a thrilling idea
Not a single startup is born without a great idea and ideally by this time you already have one. If you don’t, don’t skip this step.
You probably heard that the best businesses are born out of real necessity and solve some specific problems. Therefore, most likely if you catch yourself thinking “if only there was an xyz app my life would have been so much easier”, there is a gap that you can fill.
However, some of the necessities can be also artificially created. We buy tons of things nowadays that are allegedly useless. However, once we give them a try, they seem to be of the foremost importance and are an inevitable part of our lives. Think of routine activities that you do offline, is there any way to make an app to help you do them?
Often, there is also some space for doing something better than the competitors. One little nuance can sometimes make a project skyrocket. Do you remember all those apps you deleted because you felt that they were not good enough? Then there is some space for you to do better.
There is another scenario. You don’t have any idea, but you desperately want to build an app.
This scenario leaves a lot of room for mistakes, so you will be better off if you try to identify a gap in the market yourself, rather than building something blindly.
During the day try to notice what causes some negative emotions in you. Whenever you feel annoyed by something chances are there are numerous people like you who experience the same emotions and hence would love to have a product that will help them to eliminate the root cause of the problem.
On top of it, you can ask around your family and friends and/or post a question on social media, asking all your connections whether they have any application ideas or whether they feel like there is an unaddressed need in the market.
It is also a fantastic idea to survey people in various groups on the Internet. Questions like “would you use the app if it was in the market” or “do you actually feel a need for a product of this kind” might not yield desired results. People are not open in most cases, especially if they do not want to hurt you. Therefore, you should better ask if they can pay you for solving their problem right now, not in the future. You can even go as far as to collect some small sum of money on the basis of the promise that you will deliver your app later. Collecting feedback at every stage is THE SMARTEST thing you can do, but it needs to be done the correct way. \
It’s important to always ask users to leave their e-mail addresses below your survey, so that you could contact them once you launch your app.
Step 2 – do an in-depth marketing research
Start by researching apps similar to your idea locally. You might not find exactly the same one, but you are very likely to come across something similar to your idea. It also pays off to translate your idea to other languages and search it on the internet.
If you find interesting solutions you might reach out to the owners of the app/ developers and ask them about their journey or possible collaboration.
Perhaps you could promote a ready-made app in your own country, by translating it to your own language and doing some marketing locally. This option could save you tons of time and money!
It is also a great idea to find some people who were doing similar projects and failed and learn from their mistakes!
Step 3 – come up with a name
It can be simple, yet it has to be catchy. Remember a great app name is the cheapest marketing investment you can make. Spend some extra time, carefully reviewing different options. In fact, this investment can bring really great returns in the long run!
Don’t think in terms of apparent names as the ones that have the word “app” in them, try to think of associations that you have with the problem that you are solving. If you don’t have any nice names in mind – think of something totally unexpected such as fruit names or animals.
You can also go to different forums in order to collect feedback about your names and make people vote for different options.
Step 4 – make a plan
There are only a few jobs that would give you the flexibility to complete tasks at your own pace. In almost all situations you are required to obey a deadline.
If you don’t want your project to take years, set yourself a deadline. Of course, the completion of the project doesn’t depend on you entirely, but you need to discipline all the stakeholders and yourself from day one.
Again, be honest with yourself. Set yourself a deadline for reaching certain milestones, say, 6 months. If you feel like in 6 months time you didn’t manage to make any progress towards your project, most likely you are not motivated enough to make it happen and you just need to drop it.
Step 5 – prototype your app
As you already know from this article (link) your priority should be to work towards your Minimum Viable Solution. The app has to have a minimum set of features to be usable. It should not be the most beautiful or the most sophisticated – it should be just usable. Good enough for people to give it a try.
Therefore the mockup of the app itself should also be modest. Ideally, your mockup will consist of just a few pages. Resist the temptation to add numerous features and subpages. You will in the future, but for now focus on minimising the costs and delivering the simplest possible version of the product.
If you have never done mockups, you can either hire a freelancer for you to do it or use the services of an agency.
Technically speaking you can also make such a mockup by yourself with a piece of paper and a pencil. Nevertheless, it will be much easier to demonstrate a customer journey in an interactive way. If you are on a limited budget, there are some apps, that can help you create mockups fast and cheap. Take some time to watch some tutorials and then give it a try:
Regardless of whether you had some previous experience with mockups or not it is always a good idea to get your foot into the best UX practices. Some of them are you can read in blogs like https://uxplanet.org or on the website of some renowned companies like Apple https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/ios/overview/themes/.
Most importantly, remember mockups are not supposed to demonstrate the graphic design of your app. The mere function of them is to show the general setup and wireframe of an application.
Step 6 – make a design and code
Once you have the mockup you have to take 2 further steps simultaneously.
Choose the technology you want your app to be built in.
Take a peek into this article to find some advice on a choice of a programming language:
If you are not a developer yourself, consult your technical friends.
It doesn’t hurt to check out some app builders like:
If you have no budget/ a very limited budget to build an app, you can get into collaboration with some of the developers and offer them shares in the project for their work.
You can find someone and agree with him/ her and he/ she will take the whole or the biggest part of development on himself/ herself, while you could handle marketing, sales or legal parts of the project. In this case scenario, you can either equally split the shares or calculate approximately how many hours each of us will devote to the project and use it as a basis for a share split.
At the same time look for a freelance graphic designer or an agency. Again, you don’t have to be proficient in Adobe Photoshop to make an astonishing design. In fact, you can try to make a graphic design by yourself with one of those tools. There are so many on the Internet:
Flutter (free tool provided by Google)
Luckily, if you are on a tight budget there are numerous templates that can help you out.
Modern apps tend to be increasingly minimalistic and it can play to your strengths as for an app to look good you will not need to come up with a fancy design.
Step 7 – test, test, test!
Try every single scenario on each type of device possible. You might be extremely surprised to find out how many bugs your app has.It practically never happens that an application works perfectly well from the first try.
The best if you also test your app with your target audience or so-called final users. Chances are they will be using the app in a completely different manner that you initially expected.
Step 8 – build a simple landing page/ some social media presence or/and make a short video explainer
If your app will be first tested by less than 10 people, you might skip this step.
Nevertheless, if you want to promote it on your social media profile or send an email with an invitation to try out your app, you should have some source of information where people can find out more.
You can choose what to start with – the simplest is a landing page, that you can build on one of the website building platforms such as the ones below:
A good explainer video can also be a little costly, so you might just record a simple tutorial of yourself explaining how to use an app and place it everywhere your users might read about you.
Step 8 – let your app see the world!
Send your app to your friends, relatives and practically anyone you know for testing. Make an Excel spreadsheet on your computer and collect feedback.
In their feedback form ask them for the three most important things:
- General rating of an app (from 1 to 10);
- Ideas for improvement (features, design, loading time etc.);
- How much they would like to pay for it.
While you might not be comfortable with negative feedback, that is the only legit way for you to build a great app!
Never forget to ask your users to recommend your app to others if they like it.
If all of that seems like too much for you to handle, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we have solid experience building various startups and applications and therefore would love to help you with your endeavour!
Our portfolio includes the projects that we created from scratch and the projects that we helped to on some part of the journey.
We will also be happy to consult you if you have some doubts or questions.