In the mobile app market there used to be a time when businesses would outsource their app development services due to restricted budgets and shorter deadlines. However, due to multiple development platforms and software programs, developing mobile apps in-house seems feasible for small businesses now as compared to earlier times.
Following that, small businesses are adopting the utility of mobile app development either for customer use or internal reasons. Even though it can be quite complex to develop an app for the first time, it can be a truly rewarding experience if you manage to develop one. Below is a guide that explains how to make an app.
Guide to Developing an App
To start with app development you need an original project, skill, time, and aim. Below is a list of reasons why you should create an app:
- Increase brand visibility and improve reputation
- Provide your customers with client-specific features.
- Build interactions based on your business requirements.
- Use mobile devices to your advantage.
- Enhance speed and quality for your customers.
1. Write your idea on paper
According to Statista, the first half of 2023 saw approximately 77 billion downloads of mobile apps worldwide. This was an exponential growth from the previous year by three percent as back then there were 74.4 billion apps downloaded. Following this, it can be ruled out that there is a highly competitive market when it comes to the world of mobile apps. Since the app market has been saturated in numbers, quality is something that app owners prioritize and ensure that they offer unique and inimitable features to their users.
Setting goals for your app is the first step that app owners need to sketch out for app development. Make sure to study the market and figure out what the user needs from an app that your competitors fail to deliver and incorporate those features on your own.
Make sure to consider the following things while determining the aim of your app:
- The target audience and the elements to be designed specifically to cater to them.
- The most desirable features that will increase user retention and engagement.
- Keep an eye out for other mobile apps providing the same features as you in the app market.
- Review other competitors and analyze their strategies for their products.
- The monetization of your app. Should you do it or not?
- Deciding on your app design by developing a mockup design. Your users find it more engaging if your app has an interactive design. Studies were conducted to conclude that it takes only 50 milliseconds for an app design to make a decent first impression on the user. Once the user decides to engage with the app, he/she will decide in the next 5-10 seconds if they want to read the entire content.
To determine if a user will qualify these conditions depends on two factors: Visual Complexity and Prototypicality. They are defined as the degree of visual design complexity and how well a design is represented for a set of categories, respectively. This implies that to make your app successful amongst your target audience, you need to have an app design that is minimalistic and simple. This also means avoiding any unusual or out-of-the-box design and following a generic mobile app design template to provide the user with the feeling of being on a mobile app.
App design utilizes UI and UX in a synchronized manner that helps the user not only navigate through the app effortlessly but also offers visually pleasing design on screen.
- Planning the Wireframes of your app will help you handpick the significant parts of your interface before choosing the elements and styles of your app design. The first such element to focus on is the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which allows you to determine where to place the key components of the app to make them visible to your users. It is much more feasible to work on wireframes to make final adjustments than to do the same in the final product.
- User Interface Design (UI Design) is the user’s perspective while utilizing your app. User experience is the quality of the user’s time on your app for the entirety of it. This incorporates instances such as the quality of the user experience, app structure, loading time, content depth, and navigation control. It determines the quality of your brand. As a result, make sure to pick the right choices considering that your user is engaging through a screen of a few inches.
- The 3-click rule allows the user to understand the app and how it functions by not clicking more than thrice. An app must be designed in such a way to ensure its success. The app does not necessarily have to be explicable under three clicks but the idea is to make the user understand the app in the least amount of clicks possible.
2. Build a Native or a PWA app based on your needs
Multiple app development approaches take place in mobile app development, however, there are two that are mainstream- Native and Progressive Web Apps (PWA).
- Native apps run on an operating system which they are specifically designed for along with a specific type of device. Due to its device-specificity, it has the capability of utilizing that device’s hardware and software resources to the fullest. They offer better performance than PWAs. There are two main kinds of OS- Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
- Native apps are the face of mobile app development due to their high performance and reliability they can acquire a wide range of features and native APIs available on smartphones and tablets and utilize them seamlessly. Making a native app implies creating individual outputs for every operating system that offers a refurbished interface for multiple devices.
- When it comes to mobile traffic, native apps account for more than 80%.
Progressive Web Apps
- A PWA app utilizes web features to offer the user a similar experience to a native app. However, the distinction can be made from native apps by PWAs being a hybrid of mobile apps and general web pages.
- They are a combination of web and native technologies as they provide a similar experience to using a native app. However, they can also be downloaded on the user’s home screen and you do not need to go through the complicated process of stores’ publication.
- 67% of mobile traffic comes from the web for a PWA app which ensures a mobile experience for all devices.
Before picking one make sure to consider the following factors:
A PWA app accumulates 3x more traffic than a regular native app however, the features available depend on the type of browser it is being used in.
- There is much support from native apps for geolocation features such as geofence and beacon technology, however, there can be additional publishing costs and third-party permissions.
3. Make sure to select the most suitable method to develop your app
Once you have decided on picking the right app for your business, it is now time to develop one:
Building an app requires a lot of skill and expertise. Executing your app idea with the device’s capabilities can prove to be severely time-consuming. It is also a costly experience. The app builder is a service that allows the user to create an app without coding. Both these options are explored below:
There are three ways to develop an app:
Do It Yourself
There is always the option of you developing the app by yourself. However, it requires a significant amount of skills and time. Native apps support a single platform which is why skills in programming languages are required. For Android: Java or Kotlin and iOS: Swift and Objective-C. To learn any of these programming languages, you need to refer to a coding app that has tutorials and practices for app development.
Recruit an app development agency
It is fairly easy to find Mobile app development services over the internet. The thing to consider for such an approach is the hiring cost of the company. It can be quite excessive to hire an app development agency to create your app but if you have the resources, it is certainly a viable option.
Utilize an App Builder
Synonymous with WordPress, an app builder is a software that does not require any code for building an app and allows the developer to distribute it to multiple App Stores. They also provide features such as a visual drag-and-drop editor in their UI to let viewers make significant changes as they view the app in real-time. This is the most feasible option to save time and money for businesses. However, keep in mind that such software cannot handle developing complex and specific solutions in your app which requires separate customization solutions.
- Assuming that you go with one of the three solutions mentioned above, once the app creation process is nearly complete, you will have in your hands a near-finished version. However, make sure to analyze your app through a series of tests on different platforms to determine the feel of the app while using it on those platforms. You will have to test all the versions of the app that you have planned to create such as native iOS, native Android, PWA, etc on multiple OS and browsers as well.
Make sure that you also hire a bunch of beta-testers who will help you in pointing out the elements or points you may have overlooked and also provide a fresh perspective of their own. Some of these elements are:
- General app speed
- Minimal crashes while engagement
- App performance during poor internet speed.
- Functional operations to be executed perfectly to finish a task
- The design is eye-catching and is calibrated for all devices
- It has an interactive and simple navigation experience
- The name of the app perfectly describes its function
- An app maker generally provides the developer with a test app on which you can run preliminary checks. The best way to test your app is by analyzing its Ad-Hoc version, which is the real file of your app that will be submitted to the stores that will be run on the users’ devices. It is the replica of your app which your users will engage with and allows acute testing on what could be the final version of your app.
6. Publish your app on stores
Now comes the time when you publish the final version of your app on multiple stores. It is always a smart choice to submit your app to as many stores as possible since it will attract a wider range of users. However, it can be a tenuous task to publish an app on a store as a developer.
- Developers’ Account- Apple devices provide the option of registering to the App Store developers’ program which amounts to $99 per year for a single membership. Apple states clearly that the owner of the content in the app must match the profile of the developer’s account. As a result, developing multiple iOS apps for different projects will require a developer account. On the other hand, a Google Play developer costs a one-time fee of $25 and you also need to have a Gmail account.
- Apple’s App Store- It can be a bit complicated to submit an app on the App Store. There are strict guidelines and rules set up by Apple to keep the App Store a safe and secure ecosystem providing their users only with the best-in-class apps.
A. App Store Review- Apple reviews every app before publishing it on the market. Make sure to enter the right information and metadata to lead your app to its approval.
- Google’s Play Store- There are multiple options offered by Android to distribute mobile apps. However, due to the massive user base of Google, it is the most trusted platform for Android users. As a result, it is a great choice to publish your app on the Google Play Store.
A. Store Listing– Once registering on Google Play Console, you need to enter the information that will be showcased on Google Play. Information such as metadata, and short and full descriptions need to be entered since the optimization of your app ranking depends on this.
B. APK file and releasing app– After the store listing comes the uploading process of your .apk file. Once done, follow your guide on the Google Console to publish your app.
7. Make sure to update your app consistently
- Make sure to look out for feedback and app KPIs with analytics tools offered by Google Play as well as the App Store.
- Make sure to always release new content and features in your app. This is the only way to keep your app engaged with its users and keep it from being deleted due to reduced use.
- There is no limit to the number of times to update your app, however, sometimes you will need to publish a new version of the app if any big modifications are implemented.
Creating an app is certainly not an easy task. Multiple factors need to be considered to make a good one. However, before anything can be done, make sure to determine the aim of your app and the solutions it would provide to your users. This will help build your brand and increase your business growth.
To cap it all, these are the steps you need to follow to develop a well-functioning app made solely for your target audience. Based on your financial needs and business demands, you can create your own app, hire an app development company, or develop your app using an app builder.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the cost of creating a mobile app?
The cost of developing an app depends on multiple factors. Some of these factors include the size of the development team, resources utilized, and additional development costs. You can also outsource app development however, it costs more than in-house app development.
2. Can you create an app without coding skills?
There are means to create an app even if you are not a developer. Just use App Builder which is a software that allows people without coding skills to develop an app that functions smoothly. However, note that for complex, feature-specific apps there needs to be much customization which the app builder cannot provide.
3. How long does it take to build a mobile app?
It depends on the size of the app. For a small-sized app, it takes about one to two months while for a larger-sized app, it takes much longer due to the complexity of the app design and certain other factors.
4. How to monetize the app?
There are multiple ways in which you can monetize your app such as in-app advertisements, freemium offers, one-time purchases, subscription plans, or even affiliate marketing.
5. What programming languages do app developers use to develop apps?