12 Easy Steps to Build Your First Mobile App
You have the perfect idea for mobile app that will not only be popular but get you loads of money. Very nice. But you are clueless how to bring this idea to fruition. You can hire a mobile app development company to get this job done. But what if we tell you with a little planning and effort you can get going with the process of building a mobile app. Read this guide to help you scale this task and get your big mobile app idea from imagination to the mobile screens.
1.Set Your Goal and Purpose
The starting point to build a great app is to get a clear understanding of the purpose and mission of your mobile app. Get to the white board or get a pen paper to figure out answers to these questions –
What exactly do you want your app to do?
How are you going to make your app appeal to users?
What problem is the app going to solve?
Your app certainly should make life easier for the end user. So, before you get into the detailed plan of app building get started with defining the goal of your app. It will guide you throughout the app building process and get you there faster.
2.Put Your Ideas in Sketch
Now is the time to give your ideas a visual representation. Draw rough sketches of the interface of your app putting all the details on the document. Include in the sketches all the main features, the probable structure and layout of the app detailing how the user will navigate the app. This gives clarity to the mission and a clear understanding in the team regarding the mobile app development project.
3.Research and More Research
You may have the brightest idea to build a perfect app but chances are there already is one in the market. Almost over a million android and iOS app are available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store respectively. Don’t get disheartened with this. Bring your focus on your mobile app and your target users. Learn about the mistakes existing players in the marketplace are making and concentrate on the key features your app should incorporate. This could be the game changer.
Basically, your research should center on these four prime questions that will shape the structure and future of your mobile app development project.
- Find out if there are apps involved in similar category
- Find a design for your app that best fits your requirements
- Find technical information regarding your app
- Find info on marketing and monetizing your app
Once you have researched existing apps leverage this information to modify and adjust your app idea and incorporate the features that will appeal to the users. There are several platforms like Dribble which provide great app design idea and also feedback to your design submissions. This will help you pick up a design which will appeal to a larger audience.
Now is the time to get information on the technical aspects of mobile app development. You need to ensure your app idea is technically feasible. There is no point pursuing an idea which will hit dead end in the long run. The research should extend to include legal aspects of the project as well. Copyright issues and other legal matters should be taken care of in case there are any. If some flaws and glitches are found these can be dealt with using alternatives. It is best to get advice from experts in the industry from the beginning of the project.
After technical feasibility study, get a marketing strategy in place to launch the app and get the users to access and use your app. Research on target user profiles can help you determine the market niche for your mobile app. Find out about the platforms to launch and promote your mobile app.
Monetization is another important aspect to consider in the entire app development cycle. You need to figure out if you will generate money by charging user for downloads. Alternatively if you have potentially large user base you can run ads on the app while you offer it for free. Determine your monetization strategy at this stage itself and modify your design to incorporate monetization features.
4.Wireframe and Storyboard
Now you put your ideas and features to develop a prototype. This is called mock-up or wireframing. It is like developing a blueprint of your app. It helps the developer team to understand clearly the purpose and functionality of the app.
There are quite a few wireframing tools available online like Moqups, HotGloo, Gliffy and Balsamig. These programs allow you to drag and drop your graphics and images and all your placeholders into place. Also you can add fully functional buttons which lets you click through icons. It makes the review of your app a breeze.
In this phase you develop a storyboard which is like a roadmap of your app. It helps you clearly understand the connection between various screens and the navigation through the app.
5.Define Back End of Your App
Wireframes and storyboards acts as the basic foundation of your back end structure. Now using your wireframes you begin defining the servers, APIs and databases and storage solutions.
Modify your wireframes and storyboard as per the technical requirements. Clear diagrams should be created at this phase which will help everyone on-board the project to understand the directions clearly. An absence of smooth flow of communication can mean lots of iterations in project leading to increase in project cost.
6.Test Your Mobile App Prototype
Get your friends, family, colleagues, experts and whoever is willing to give constructive criticism to review your app prototype. Even better, give them access to wireframes and give your app a test run. An honest feedback aimed at identifying flaws and design snags at this juncture will save you lot of pain later. You can ask reviewers to try out the prototype and take notes of their usage. Based on this you can improve the UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) of your mobile app.
This prototype testing run will ensure a flawless app before it goes into the design stage. Iterations in design are difficult and costlier later. So it is advisable to have a clear flawless prototype from the beginning to build an awesome flawless app.
7.Build the Back End of Your App
Time to get started with building of your mobile app with a clearly defined prototype app in place. The mobile developer begins with setting up databases, storage solutions, APIs and the servers.
There are few DIY app builders like Parse, Applicasa and Kinvey which will help you do this. These app development platforms create apps using predefined modules. These are big on saving your money and time.
If the technical jargon is taking a toll on you then you can employ a hosting service which will help you in data collection for usage of your app.
At this point in time you need to set up accounts with the Google Play Store or the Apple store where you will launch your mobile app. The approval and setting up of developer accounts may take few days. Avoid the left for last minute rush by planning and signing up at these app marketplaces.
8.Design Your App
Now the mobile app developer needs to deliver high resolution version for the app which was earlier your wireframe. The designer at this stage develops the UI (User Interface) of the app. You actually get the look and feel of the app here. Visually appealing skins are created for individual screens of the app. Through this design process create your app keeping in mind the feedback received in the prototype testing phase. It is of prime importance as you are building an app for your target users. This will get you a perfect UI for your app as well.
9.Test Your Mobile App. Again!
Now that you have an actual app with all the graphics and text in place, you need to go for another round of testing. Earlier you had run a test for the prototype or the wireframe of your mobile app. But this time you are going to test the actual design for its full functionality, optimisation and performance. You basically test your app for the look and feel of it.
There are very useful testing apps like Proto.io, Solidify, Pixate and Framer. You can simply import your app design and add links to test final layers, interactions and design of your app. These testing apps help you test the smooth flow from screen to screen.
10.Modify and Continue to Build Your App
Once you run your design through a test you need to tweak your mobile app and collect feedback from your future users. You can repeat the same reviewers used in step 6 to test the app. Based on the observations you can ask the designer to modify the layout or make necessary changes at the backend.
The mobile is now tested for its functionality and performance in a live environment. This crucial step, called Beta Testing, should be included in the contract with your development team. The app is examined further for bug-fixing and optimisation of UI and UX.
Android beta testing is a simple process. In this the app file is uploaded onto any android device and tested live, while Apple’s iOS insists on a test in a controlled environment. TestFlight platform is used to test the app for iOS Beta Testing.
This is the last step in the mobile app development process. You can monitor your app all the way until your product is complete.
Now you are ready with your mobile app designed and tested to make life simpler and awesome for the end user. So get going with the launch!
You can choose to release on Android or iOS platform or just any one of these depending on your target users and several other factors. These app marketplaces have different sets of policies when it comes to publishing a new app. You may have already set up your develop accounts (as suggested in step 7) with the respective marketplaces. If not you can sign up with them as an individual or company for a fee.
You can instantly publish your mobile app to the android platform on Google Play Store. It is not reviewed right away. Google android people check and review it later at their convenience. However, Apple iOS platform needs every app to be reviewed and approved before it can go live. Apple may ask for changes to be made to your app post the review. This process can take a couple of weeks’ time before you get your app published on iOS.
In the meantime, while your app gets approved, you can submit it to PreApps. This is an amazing marketplace that brings together developers and lead users who are interested in using and reviewing the latest products in the market. Access to this marketplace will get you feedback from these earliest adopters on your mobile app. These users are constantly in touch with the latest trending apps.
The feedback helps you in ensuring app functionality and usability by releasing updates. Also post launch utilise analytics to track performance, downloads, user engagement and retention. This will get you insights into improving app performance and user experience.
Once you get your mobile app published in the marketplace of your choice it is time to promote your app for better visibility and user access. You better get scouting for great marketing ideas to get your mobile on the top charts.