You’ve taken a big leap and decided to create a mobile app to put your ideas come to life. That’s a tremendous start. A cocktail of emotions is surging through your heart now. Where to begin has become more elusive.
Creating an app is a challenging endeavor. Without an organized system to do it, you will be frustrated. It will be taxing and unnecessarily time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be that way. Challenges, when handled with thorough care, are rewarding.
A high starting point is to think of creating an app as managing a project. Hence, careful planning, organization, execution – and even outsourcing – are vital. So, I’ll ease you into the basics you need to be comfortable.
In this beginner’s guide on how to create a mobile app, you will be armed with the fundamental concepts and tools. It will increase your confidence and increase your success from building and launching your mobile app.
A word of encouragement: Start.
The items guides below will make you prepared.
1. Brainstorm your App idea.
You are a creator. Hence, you are responsible for the creative process. You would like to create an app because you want to solve a problem that doesn’t have a solution yet. You like it to be up there because nobody has thought of it again. It is a product that you see a future in it.
Take your time
Get a notebook. Get a pen. Jot down your ideas. It’s a process. The longer that you do it, the better and the more original the ideas you will have it as you would do with a regular exercise. Don’t rush it as great ideas can’t be hurried.
While brainstorming, ask questions. Some examples:
- What makes your App unique?
- What makes it stand out?
- What problem does it solve?
- What are key-selling points?
- How can it not be another mess?
You define what it shouldn’t be. Work it out from there. Don’t get too excited, however. In being so, it can lead to some disappointments.
Focus on substance
Start with creating a simple app. Focus on the substance and function before you preoccupy your mind with the bells the whistles. The priority is putting together the basics to build a functional app.
2. Define your target market
Ask: Who will use your application? Who will significantly benefit from it?
Okay, the App plan is ready. Its functions are crystal clear. What comes after that?
You may have a great product. Even then, it’s not enough. People need to know about it. No matter how good it is, if it’s hidden behind the curtains, nobody will use it.
Although you would like as many people know about it, your resources are limited. The least that you want is to put them into an audience that offers low probability return. Hence, the importance of targeting your market is you can concentrate your efforts and focus on the ways that can get you success. Reach out to the ones who are on the same boat as you are, those who you think have a similar need that you have.
If they have the need, all you will have to do talk out your app to them. Convince them that it is the resolution to their problem. If you succeed in doing this, you will win them over. By knowing your target audience, you are not only able to effectively communicate your product. You also can communicate it efficiently.
3. Create a mockup and plan your design
This is the exciting part. We’ll switch up your league. More than being a creative thinker, we’ll start to get your hands dirty. So, you’ll now begin to doing it like a pro. Having gotten to this point, you may now have a rock-solid idea of what your app will bring the community and what role it will play.
Next, you will need to have a way to organize, how they will look like visually. To put that to life, you will need to do a mockup for your app.
What is a mockup?
It is a sketch of how your app will look like based on its framework. It’s the layout of the User Interface.
What is a User Interface (UI)?
The User Interface of an app is the visual output a user sees through which he/she navigates to use the app.
The mockup planning and arranging are essential. In building a house, it is the blueprint and the skeletal backbone. In the same vein, this is where you decide on the design and theme. It’s the way how your app will look on the eyes of the user.
In this area, you will not have to concern yourself with how our app will be functional. (In the next section, we’ll talk about making it fully-operative.) If you have a knack for design, you will tremendously enjoy this part.
There are different software that you can use to create a mockup, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Microsoft PowerPoint. If you are looking for non-paid services, you can use Canva. There are more than you can search for around. As long as it lets you put in shapes and move then around, that will allow you to put things together and create your mockup.
4. The technical side: iOS (Apple) vs. Android
Let’s dive into greater depths and conquer the elephant in the room. After going through the lengths of defining the use of your app, your audience, and your design, one thing remains clear. After a well-thought-out game plan, developing your app still involves programming. With that, you will need a language to write your code.
As far as mobile apps are concerned, there can only be two major Operating Systems participants in this battle: Android and iOS.
You must know where you would like your app to run in because these two big guys here are written in different programming languages. This is also where targeting your audience will come vital.
You are writing your code will be the meat of your App creation. This will take some time before you get comfortable and skillful with it. If you put in time and effort, the fruits will be rewarding. Create, create, and create.
Developing for iOS devices
Mostly if you are an Apple user, what you have in mind is creating an app for iPhones. It is the ecosystem that you know. To gear you up, let me share with you a few essential tools you can play around.
- It is the official Apple programming language. It is where you will write your code. Apple provides a fully-detailed and intuitive guides and tutorials to get you adept with this language. Mind you; you will still need to study it well.
- Apple provides official documentation that you can find on the Apple Website. It’s easier to learn, so do not feel intimidated.
- It is an IDE or Integrated Development Environment for macOS. It has a suite of development tools that will help you kickstart your project. You can download this right from the Mac App Store.
- So you can create an app for iPhone, you will need a Mac computer. There may be alternatives, but ideally, it needs to be done on a Macbook or iMac.
There will be more than those above three you need to knowledgeable. Know the basics first. Know them well; then, the rest will percolate into your mind seamlessly.
Developing for Android devices
When dealing with Android devices, app creation can be less straightforward than it is with iOS. Instead of Swift, you will have to learn other programming languages. Generally, you will have to use Java. There are languages that you can use, however.
Like with iOS, there are developing tools available for developers. Google also provides comprehensively detailed documentation, tutorial, and support.
A must-know tool: Firebase. What is it?
Firebase is Android’s app development platform. It is a cloud-based service wherein you can build and grow your app. In the simplest sense, it’s where you can do everything that concerns your app, from creating and launching to managing it.
How and where you can learn to code for your app
Have you ever heard of MOOC? It means Massive Open Online Courses, where an innumerable number of courses are available for you either for free with a certification that has a premium feel. Two examples would be EdX or Coursera. These are just two of the many things that are you can sign up with.
It is highly suggested that when learning any skills, you start with the basics. In doing so, you will not miss any remarkable and critical concepts. If online courses aren’t your cup of tea, you can buy yourself a book and follow it. Immerse yourself in the ideas and practice the exercises. Like with any other disciplines, in programming, you will need to earn the skill.
5. Test, launch and market your app
Right before you launch your app and make it available to the general public, one necessary step is to test if it’s free of any technical glitches. Keep in mind that when you put your creation up there, you are making a brand for yourself. Nobody wants to end up in a fiasco. For iOS apps, TestFlight is an Apple-owned tool that can be used to test if the app is working well. The Android equivalent for this testing service is called App Engine.
If the testing to a few potential long-term users, you can finally launch it. Even then, you need to get people to know that your app is now available, Marketing is your answer to this. It’s how you communicate, position your app to the frontline, promote it, and get the public’s attention. Through your marketing approach, you build your app’s credibility and brand. You must take this seriously.
In this regard, you don’t only talk about your product; you also let the public know the people behind the app. The idea is to build a connection and get their trust.
Now, enough of marketing empowerment. Let’s touch on a few ways how to market it effectively.
An obvious way to do it is to create a website purely dedicated to your app. So if someone is interested to know more about it, there’s a webpage that the potential user can turn into and find out more about the app. It can also be brought to social media, such as a Facebook page or a 1-minute Youtube teaser.
The bottom line is to be a communicator in as much creative way as possible.
6. Continue to improve, get the users’ feedback and innovate
Build user engagement. Know their opinions and their thoughts. Look for opportunities for improvement. Work on the areas that they are unhappy about. Peek through the slits that cause your users’ dissatisfaction and address it. As just with any products, continuous improvement is mandatory to thrive in the ever competing world.
The final note
Yes, you got it now. Creating an app is synonymous with creating a product. You need to think it through. You might not be planning on monetizing it yet. Nonetheless, you still want it to be a great one.
There’s always to learn, know, and gain. The more time you put in, the more ropes you will learn. Enjoy the process. It will be challenging at times. Stick to the process and commit yourself to understand all the complexities. With practice, you will be a competent app developer.