You’ve got a great app idea that might be the next big thing and help millions of people. But you don’t know how to make an app!
That’s alright. This article will let you know how to create an app step by step in just 10 easy steps. In fact, this might be the easiest way to make an app! (totally subjective)
Table of Contents
This is what you are going to know in this step by step process of making an app:
- How to finalize your app idea?
- How to find an audience for your app idea?
- How to make sure that your app idea works?
- How to create an app workflow and design that works?
- Easy way to build an app step by step on your own without coding.
- How to launch/publish your app in the App Store and Play Store?
- How to market your app idea and your app?
- How to test your app?
- What to do after you launch your app?
- How to outsource the entire process to experts to scale your app business?
So, without further ado I present to you the 10 steps to make an app:
Define your app idea
Most times we dribble with our ideas and let them go because we think that they are ordinary and not worth an app or appreciation. We always see the successful model of apps and think that they blossomed out of greatness from the beginning.
Your app idea need not be perfect and it never will be because people get bored of everything including perfection. The only thing people love is change and especially the ones that they hope for.
We will come to that later in this topic but you, yes you, need to work on your app idea as soon as possible.
Write your app idea on a blank page and try narrowing it down to all the things that your idea is capable of doing. The goal is to make the idea tangible. This will help you define how your app works and what its features can be before you start developing the app. If your app idea looks as much good on a piece of paper as it did in your head then go on with it!
Listing the features is a tricky part where you do not want to overdo but also not underplay. Try creating two lists: features that your audience wants and features that your audience needs. The former will have the features that your app can’t do without, and the later to fit their convenience.
When you are creating an app, you will want to create an MVP first. What is MVP? MVP i.e Minimum Viable Product stands for an app that is so trimmed down that it primarily consists of things that your app cannot do without. It is basically the simplest version of your app with all the money-making features in it i.e the essentials; the ones that will become the unique selling point later on.
Do not make an app with too many features. I repeat, DO NOT make an app with too many features. Leave out the temptation that will ruin our app. You need to remember that an app is like a human being. An app with too many features seems like a self-obsessed app that barely provides its users the space to understand it.
Be wise enough to spend quality time on this process. The clearer you are with defining your app, the better the chances are of it being successful.
Also, making an app that works well is more important than finding an idea that is perfect. Don’t bother finding a unique idea; it’s not required for success.
Market research your final app idea
Market research is important. PERIOD.
App developers often undermine market research and skip it even though it’s an important part of the app-making process.
You can save yourself time and effort down the line by doing research upfront.
Before you make an app, you want to know if your app idea suits your audience. You’re asking questions like:
- Do the people I am trying/planning to sell the app to need it in the first place?
- What is going to be my app story? (This matters a lot)
- Who are my potential clients/customers?
- Does geography and demography matter when it comes to my app?
- Who are my competitors in the market and the app market?
- What are the alternative apps offering?
- How can I make their features look and work better in my app?
- What do my potential customers want? What are their needs and desires?
- How much should I charge for my app? What’s a good business model?
You can always check out online marketers like Neil Patel and learn how to use Google Trends and Keyword Planner to measure demand for a simple to-do list app. The best part about Neil Patel is that he’s one of the best in the world and will keep updating you on the advice according to the latest trends to help you stay ahead of your game.
Finding insights also serves another purpose. Also, if you want to walk in the shoes of your customers you should get out there and talk to people instead of just fixating on their needs and desires while sitting safely in front of your computer. ‘Go both ways’ is what I am saying.
Sometimes you just want to make an app for yourself. And that’s alright!
You can still do research for the fun of it, and to practice your craft, and make your app however you see fit. Don’t underestimate the importance of preparation, research and insight, though!
Create user stories
A user story is a software development tool that will help you and anyone involved in making your app to understand a software feature from the end user’s perspective. In short, a user story will describe the user type, what that user wants, and why.
User stories provide an excellent way to define your product with clarity for the purpose of communication and clarity and helps you in basing the app according to what the user wants and not what you are ready to provide.
Note that you may have more than one type of user for any given software product including an app. Create personas for each of your customer types. Personas are avatars for your customers and help you better understand needs, wants, and constraints. They also help you focus on a specific person (albeit a fictional person) instead of a vague notion of a customer group.
User stories are quite easy to write and are usually written on index cards or even sticky notes (although I would never suggest sticky notes). You need a proper system to help you manage, enrich, prioritize and share stories.
Let’s get on with the technicalities! The general structure of a user story is ‘As an [end user role], I want [ability or feature of the product] because [the benefit/function of the feature].
But I would rather suggest you to refer to George Krasadakis’ blog How to and why to write great User Stories?
This blog covers every aspect of user stories and will guide you to the next process i.e.
Create a priority list of functionalities (Being MVP ready)
In mobile app development, an MVP is a development method where you develop only the core functionalities to solve a specific problem and satisfy your primary and early customers.
The main goal of an MVP is to develop a working product that provides immediate value quickly, while keeping your budget in check. Starting with an MVP will allow you to learn more about your end-user and the market you aim to enter as you test your assumptions.
MVP development follows a build-measure-learn process, which allows you to release a product that can be continually improved as you validate (or invalidate) assumptions, learn what users want, and build future iterations for your app.
When building an MVP, keep the Pareto principle in mind which says that: 80% of the features you build require 20% of your efforts, whereas, the remaining 20% of the features will need 80% of your efforts. So, while building an MVP pay your attention to those 80% and take from them the most relevant ones.
Begin by creating a list of features for every stage of the development process. Then prioritize the list of features inside the list. Answer yourself the following questions: How important is this feature? How often will it be used? How many users do you expect to use this feature? and so on. In fact, grade the features from 1 to 10: 1 being the least important and 10 being the most.
Create a Prototype (wireframes and mockups)
What is a wireframe and why is it important? Because 83% of iOS apps are deleted soon after being installed and up to 90% of android apps are abandoned quickly with almost 30% within ten minutes after being downloaded.
So how can you possibly avoid losing your 30-second chance before a user deletes your app? First and foremost, don’t skip the prototyping stage in your app development process!
Wireframes are the blueprints of a mobile application. Their task is to bring clarity to what goes where in the design, but only as a basic draft.
Wireframes are not to be confused with “mockups”. While wireframes show the app architecture, mockups are more about the design layer. Their role is to show how the app will look like before you arrive at the final version of the design.
Wireframes and mockups collectively become a prototype and prototyping is one of the most important processes in app development.
Wireframes and mockups can be a little time consuming but it is one of those things that might look trivial but should never be skipped if you are serious about creating an app.
Do not panic over the wireframe images you see over the internet. They are usually created by professional app designers who have to make visually clear and appealing images for the development teams and operations teams to understand.
You do not have to be Da Vinci or Rembrandt to create your own wireframes. You are okay even if your wireframe looks like Bean’s ID card from Mr Bean’s Holiday.
Do not worry, I’ve got your back covered. Here’s the step by step guide to creating user-centric wireframes to help you out!
Build your MVP using Appy Pie app creator
Ah! I know you have been eagerly waiting for this and you were surprised with a whole bunch of other things that you weren’t expecting. But I told you, I HAVE GOT YOUR BACK.
It’s time to build your app!
But what is Appy Pie app creator?
It’s going to save your money, time, energy and from other troubles. Appy Pie AppMakr is an app creation tool that lets you create apps without any coding!
In fact, you can build your MVP using the Appy Pie app creator in 7 easy steps:
Victor Mangur, the Chief Editor of ThinkMobiles, who named Appy Pie AppMakr as the best app creator had to say this about them:
Appy Pie, a company from India, is an app development software that allows to build mobile-friendly versions of websites for free. That’s why it is quite popular, and pro-plans for native apps start at just $15 per month. They offer a plenty of industry-specific ready templates, for example, dating apps, church apps, restaurant apps, SMB apps. And they made the process clear and understandable for everyone: choose design, add features, publish. Really user-friendly!
You can easily learn to use this app through their step by step process of create a free app tutorial video on YouTube titled:
Test your app on various devices
Just because you got a readymade solution to create an app, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can go live with it!
No first-time product can be flawless enough to skip the process of testing and let me tell you one thing if you do not know this already that just because the app you created worked on your device doesn’t necessarily mean that it will continue to do so on every device.
So, when you build your own app yourself, it is important that you spend some time in testing the app diligently.
Developers who skip or skimp out on this step have often suffered heavily for it. It may seem that you are saving up on some precious time by skipping this step, but the problem arises when an untested app goes live and is full of bugs, suffers through countless crashes and is tossed over by your audience, all of which could have been avoided altogether if you’d invested your time on it.
Alright, alright. I am not emphasizing anymore. But even testing has two layers to it and the first one, the one I’m addressing in this point is called Alpha testing or in-house testing.
Alpha testing is mostly a simulated or in some cases actual operational testing carried out by potential app users or independent testers at the developers’ site. You can choose to do it on your own or hire resources to do so. It’s quite cheap and won’t chew on your budget.
Are you ready to launch your app? Now that you’ve built the app, it is time to launch it in the App Store.
When you’ve published your app, the work doesn’t stop. In fact, it has only just begun! Once you’ve gathered some early adopter feedback (see below), you go back to the drawing board to improve your app.
You do some market research, improve your mockups and designs, and build new features. You launch the next version of your app in the App Store, and the cycle restarts again. This is an iterative process.
You also need to promote your app. I recommend you start promoting your app before you launch it. You generate some buzz before you launch, so you hit the ground running when you actually launch.
Here’s some ideas:
- Start a blog and use content marketing to tell people about your app
- Submit your app to curated platforms, like Product Hunt
- Get local publicity and build a connection with influencers in your field
- Create an onboarding campaign for new app users
- Optimize the keywords of your app with App Store Optimization
- Focus first on getting 1 user, then 10, then 1000, then 10.000 – don’t try to make an impact on thousands of people from the start
- Use the network effect to build a product that gets better when more people use it, and help people share your app with others
- Set up an App Install campaign on Facebook, or use Search Ads in the App Store
- Use SKStoreReviewController to ask app users for a review (which subsequently boosts your App Store ranking)
- Improve your app meta data and screenshots, and tell people about the benefits of using your app (instead of just listing features)
Whatever you choose to do: stick with it. I don’t fear the warrior who has mastered a 1000 techniques, but I do fear the warrior who has done one technique a thousand times. The same goes for marketing: consistency is important!
- Time: Publishing takes an afternoon, tops.
- Cost: $99/year to publish in the App Store.
Publish/Launch Your App In The App Store
Are you ready to launch your app?
Now that you’ve understood how to build the app, it is time to be familiar with launching it on the App Store and Playstore.
How to launch your app on App Store?
The process to publish your app in the App Store is as easy as this:
- Create an Apple Developer Account
- Prepare your app’s title and meta data with App Store Connect
- Upload your latest app to the App Store
- Apple will take a day or two to review your app, (follow App Store Review Guidelines)
- When your app is approved, it’s published live in the App Store and it’s DONE!
How to publish your app on Google Playstore?
Google makes it even easier to publish your app in the PlayStore through these steps:
- Create your account on Google Play Console.
- Click on Create Application and fill out the necessary details..
- Add images of your new app followed by its category.
- Go to App Releases to create one.
- Upload App Bundles & APKs.
- Confirm your email & app category.
- Finish the Questionnaire, set pricing, & distribution in its menu.
- Let them know if your app has ads and save the draft.
- Set target age group & appeal and then publish it once you review the app.
Making an app, and publishing it is quite thrilling. Put it out in the world, for others to see and experience!
You have done it!!!
But that’s not all.
“Oh man! Does this ever end?”
No, it doesn’t. Just like I said, apps are like people and your app is your baby. You need to make sure that it grows and no product can grow without marketing it. Remember, marketing isn’t selling. It’s making people aware of your product’s existence. Your app will market itself if you know how to make it work on the basis of what the audience is telling you.
Market your app to the right audience
App developers are problem-solvers. Your app provides a solution to someone’s pain, and that’s why they install and use your app. But how do they know about the existence of your solution?
Begin by asking yourself ‘how do I promote my app?’
Just like I said, marketing is about creating awareness and how do you create awareness? By creating a digital presence. If you don’t exist in the digital world, you don’t exist at all!
So, begin by creating an app landing page for your app. You can use Appy Pie to create one with complex functionalities or even use wordpress to create a simple one for free.
This app landing page will need to have these things within them:
- A precise headline at the top of the page
- A brief intro or video explaining the USP of your product
- A demo video or screenshots of the app or both
- A call to action, i.e. to sign up or install the app
- A list of all the app features and benefits
Once you’re done with creating the app landing page then you need to know what platforms to market on i.e find where your audience hangs out.
You know what to do when you find out eventually.
Do not oversell the product though. Never be a salesman asking your customers to install the app. Instead, let them know what it is capable of and how it can help. People will come on their own if they tap into your story.
Beta test your app through user feedback
Beta testing consists of releasing the beta versions of the app to a limited audience (not a part of the programming team), also referred to as beta testers.
These are your initial audience and they will give comments (sometimes nasty) or feedback. This actual feedback will help you improve your app in such a way that it will help the later audience to adopt and adapt to your app better and easier than the initial lot.
You don’t always have to rely on their abuses to better your app. There are other ways as well that are less demotivating than the one I mentioned. You can
- Use app analytics to gather quantitive data
- Use surveys and interviews to get qualitative data
- Talk to your users regularly and build a personal connection
The easiest way to get feedback from the users of your app, is to simply send them a personal email to ask how they’re doing, and how they’re using your app. You literally ask: “How are you using my app?”
The key is “how”. You don’t ask if they like your app, or how they want to see it improved, or what they think about a new feature. You can ask those questions, but they’re likely to give you opinionated answers. What you need are real-world answers.
Once you have the necessary data, compare your expectations against the real-world results and see if they add up. If they don’t, you either need to change your expectations or make changes to your app.
Make a list of important improvements and divide them into two categories:
- The ones that are obvious mistakes
- The ones that are easy to fix
The key to working with user feedback is experimenting with actions and results.
No one knows what works best until they have tested it. At the end of the day, it’s the result that matters and not the amount of time or hard work put on it.
Change is an inevitable part of the success and the more frequent you are at testing the better your chances of survival and dominance are.
After all, a rolling stone gathers no moss.