An easy beginners guide to develop your own app from idea to launch
The feeling of creating something from nothing that you can see and hold is a great one. Developing apps can give you the same feeling especially if they solve an irritating problem that you come across time and again.
It seems everyone’s making them these days, from the experienced adults to young children still in primary school. But what’s actually involved in making an app? Are they very expensive or time consuming? Getting into app development seem like a pretty daunting experience, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s a quick step by step guide to introduce a total beginner to the process of creating an app.
Get your idea clear. Your idea should focus on something specific you want to achieve or a problem you want to solve for yourself, a niche group or the general public. If you find it hard to remember your ideas, try and capture them all in a single notebook or online document that you can access from any device. The beauty of this simple technique is that when a great idea strikes you can empty it out into your ideas “container” and then resume your previous task. Then, when you need to pick an idea, you won’t have to worry about trying to generate one as you should have a few to pick from right away.
Once you have picked your idea, start thinking about the business model your app will use. You have a number of options to choose from:
- Is your app and all its features going to be free?
- Or, is the main download going to be free but any add-on features will require in-app purchases?
- Will you have a free app but use ads (there are a number of different ads you can use here depending on the experience you want to give your users)?
- Will you require users to subscribe monthly or yearly?
- Or, will it just be a one off payment?
The business model you decide to use will mainly depend on your motivatation.
- Are you trying to build a profitable business?
- And your audience, what price are they used to paying for apps?
Feel free to use my app design brief document available in my Resource Library to help you to pin down and define your idea in enough detail.
Search on the app stores that you want to release your app to for similar products. Observe the UI and UX that they use and think about how you can use anything similar. Using similar designs for the UI and UX means that users will have a smaller learning curve when using your app. And a smaller learning curve may mean they enjoy (or at least won’t dislike) using your app and are less likely to uninstall it straight away. This is one of the hardest hurdles to crack with mobile development. So when it comes to the design phase and testing your product, ensure you get a lot of feedback and early to help you avoid building an app that doesn’t engage users immediately.
Unless your app idea solves a problem just for you it’s important to get feedback on your idea from others. Try and ask strangers over direct friends or family for their opinions. Strangers won’t care about your feelings and will give you their honest opinion on their thoughts about your app. If you’re not a social butterfly try and talk to friends of friends, colleagues at work or via online groups such as Facebook groups or forums. Ask these people a specific set of questions that will help you validate your idea. Try and collect a contact email address if they are interested in learning about the project updates. Developing a good survey can mean the difference between useful results and a lot of wasted time from you and your surveyees. Read my post about how to develop a survey that gives you great results to help you craft a survey for this stage.
Design it and work out flow
Once you’re sure what you’ve got is worth making and is in demand, grab any graphics tool you’re familiar with to create a prototype. This could be as simple as hand drawn sketches or higher quality images produced with Photoshop. The goal of this phase is to mock up all of your screens so that you can go through the flow of the app. You can use these to show your initial ideas to users and get their feedback. Contact me if you need any help putting a working prototype together (no coding required!). Ensure you design your app and it’s features to keep your users engaged, in some cases, even when they don’t have the app open.
It’s important to refine your initial document to include any design changes that arose during the validation and design phase. By this point, you should know your app inside and out. What colours you want to use, what each button does, where each element is located, the monetization methods you’re implementing everything. This should produce one comprehensive document that contains your full design. If you need someone to review your document, I’m here to help.
If you haven’t got the skills or time to develop the app yourself, I recommend you outsource development. Contact me and I can secure you a 10% discount with a great outsourcing company that I not only recommend but have used myself.
If you choose to outsource your app’s development bear in mind that while your workload for this phase has been reduced, your role has now changed to project manager. You need to keep on top of when builds are released, whether the builds fulfill their specification and if you are on track for your end of project deadline. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved in managing a project especially if your development team is external and across different time zones.
You may also want to sign up for developer accounts with the appropriate app stores during this phase as outsourcing companies may need to test features connected to your account. Remember to change your password before you provide them with the login details.
Testing is a commonly overlooked stage in the development process because you’re so excited to have a physical version of your idea. But, this stage is just as important as bringing the app to life during development. If you outsourced your project, when you receive your app back from outsourcing companies, ensure you test each feature against your documentation. Everything should function just as you have described. If it doesn’t send it back to be developed again. Be prepared to justify your smaller bugs as you’ll most likely have a different interpretation of what a bug is compared to your developer. To alleviate this issue, before the process begins, make it clear what are classified as bugs are new change requests. I’ve put together a helpful guide on my Resource Library to help you with this task.
Once you have the release build, gather your metadata and screenshots, schedule your app release and upload the build. If you used an outsourcing company they may upload the build for you but find out their process before this phase. Don’t forget to change your app store developer account passwords once the outsourcing team have completed their job.
And that’s it!
Not as hard as you thought right? Be aware that when doing anything new there are always learning curves but hopefully this guide will help you on your journey.
If you need any advice, feel free to contact me.
If you want to hear more about my app development process and specifically how I developed my latest app RenewMe, please listen to my first podcast interview with the lovely Veena V on Mum 2 Millionaire.
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