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6 tips for building your first App

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 12 Sep, 2016
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The key things to remember when developing a mobile app

In a world where 80% of Internet users choose their smartphone as their primary means of connection, there’s a need for creative and innovative app ideas.

The best news about this rising number comes when you break it apart. Smartphone use is breaking the age barriers as well. In fact, 27% of the 65+ population has begun using smartphones as a means of staying connected.

What that means to you as a creative entrepreneur is that there is no limit in the type of app you can create. So, if you have an innovative idea that can service the needs and solve the problems of any generation, there’s no limit.

You just need to commit the steps of getting your app from your mind to the shelves. Here are 12 easy steps to follow in order to do so.

1. Set an Attainable Goal Then Create a Draft

Look at what you want to create. Ask yourself, “Would my app be best in an Android or an iOS market? Or, should I launch in both markets?”

Then, set an attainable goal on paper so that both you and your team can clearly understand what the big picture is. Most businesses leave this step out, or they don’t make it clear.

This results in 50% of your team feeling lost and overwhelmed during the process. You can’t make gains when this occurs. So, set clear and attainable goals before you begin anything. Then, make sure you clearly communicate them to everyone who will be joining you on your app endeavor.

After that, you can begin your app development experience.

For some reason, drafting is a part of this step that so many people skip, overlook, or shrug off as some bad advice. But, speaking from experience, it’s probably one of, if not the most important step in this tutorial. With 62% of businesses in the process of building apps for their niche, you need to make sure you are prepared to compete. You can’t do that unless you think things through.

You have to draft your ideas on paper. That’s right, I am suggesting that you walk away from your digital environment, and go all 20th century in this step. Find a quiet corner, and draft your idea on paper.

You have several questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to use ads to generate income?
  • Are you going to offer in app purchases to make money, or are you going to have a paid download or will your app be free?
  • Are you building an app for the purpose of exposing and marketing your small business?
  • What features do you need to incorporate into your app to make sure it services your business’s needs?

See why this step is so important? You have to do this on paper so that you are not tempted to use technology and overshadow your own thinking process. As much as we would like to see one, there is no app for getting creative. You have to go old school with this approach.

2. Do Your Homework

With your ideas in place, you can go to the computer and see what your competition is offering. Keep in mind that 27% of the small business population is also planning on developing an app for their business as well. This means you have to make sure yours is better.

  • What ideas did others have that you did not?
  • How can you modify your ideas to make them better that what’s out there?
  • What are the reviews of your competition?
  • How can you plan to outrank your competition with your app’s performance?

By examining what is out there, you are setting yourself up to outdo your competitors right from the start.

3. Wireframe and Make it Functional

Now, you have to storyboard your app. You have to lay out how each different screen is going to function. This process will ensure that your app has a logical flow for users.

There are many free wireframing software solutions that can help you get your ideas from your head onto a functioning visual prototype. Make sure you select one you are comfortable using so that you can fully think through how your app functions.

What makes sense in your head may not make sense when you are looking at it. This step will solidify your navigation plan.

Now you can get techy. After you’ve wire framed your app, you log into your host and delineate your servers, APIs, and data diagrams.

If this seems scary, choose a WYSIWYG app builders that hosts everything for you. Then, it’s not something you need to worry about. For a small monthly fee, all the hosting and data collection is done for you.

4. Solicit Functionality Feedback and Then Apply It

Even though your app is simply a demo at this point, you need to call in your friends and ask for feedback. Host a small gathering of people who are not afraid to tell you what they think, and ask them to test the functionality of your app.

You need to do this before you apply the skins so that they are not lost in the design. Keep your focus solely on the function.

Now with the backend secure and some solid feedback about your idea and its practical deployment, you can start to build your app. If you are going to have a custom developer do it for you, make sure you give him clear directions.

If you are going to opt to use a plug and play online app builder, you can start to drop and drag the different components you wish to use onto the development platform.

Now is also a good time to register for a shelf in the Android Market and the iOS store. You will need a Google Play account as well as develop account from Apple. These can take a few days to get off the ground, so starting now will ensure you have a space to launch your app when the time comes.

5. Fashion the Design and Then Test Again and Revise Again

This is the fun part. Here’s where you get to design the look of your app. There’s a lot of debate about whether people prefer design or function when it comes to their apps, so don’t take this step lightly. Function breeds loyalty. You want your users to pick your app as their go to app to meet their needs. But, design solicits downloads. You need your app to get downloaded in order to create that loyal following.

functionality feedback

Statistics show that people have five go to apps on their phones, you need a design that will get your app download so that the odds of it becoming one of the “fab five” increase.

Many people choose apps solely based on their icons or their looks, so put some time into making your app look as great as it functions.

Now that you have things looking the way you want them to look. You have to test your app again. So, call your same group of trusted friends again (you might have to bribe them with food and drinks). This time you need to make sure that the revisions you made from you last feedback session make your app more functional.

You also have to make sure that your design does not interfere with functionality. Basically, you need to see that your both your app and its design are functioning well together.

Again, take the feedback you got from your brutally honest friends, and apply the changes that you think will benefit your apps performance and style.

This is a tough step because you may really think one feature of your app should be different than the feedback is telling you.

Keep in mind why you built your app, was it for you or for others. Use this train of thought as your guideline for making decisions with regard to revisions.

6. Beta Testing and Send it to Market

So, you’ve got your friends’ feedback, and you’ve made revisions to your app to reflect what you think will help it succeed. Now, it’s time to put it out there in a live environment.

Depending on the platform you are using for your app, you have different options for beta testing. Android’s beta testing process is much simpler than Apple’s.

An Android app can simply be uploaded to any Android device for testing. You don’t have to jump through too many hoops to go live. Apple, on the other hand, can be a bit of a challenge—but one you must conquer nonetheless.

In order to beta test for iOS, you need to use Apple’s Testflight platform. You can get very specific directions from Apple about how to use this platform to test your app.

The cool thing about this platform is that you can solicit people to try your app. They actually employ testers who will offer you valid feedback about your app. So, while getting your app to beta testing may be a bit more challenging, you will get real feedback from real users.

Now, it’s time to get that app onto the shelf you set up in the store. If you opted to use Android as a platform, you can simply upload your app to the store. That’s it.

iOS, on the other had, will have to review your app before it is launched. This can take about a week to do, so don’t be alarmed if it’s not instantly available right after you upload it.


At this point, you should be feeling some type of relief. You may even feel like you are done. But, there’s still a lot more to do. Consider your app creation as phase one on a list of new and effective ways to keep your business in the black. The next phase is marketing.

So, don’t think that just because you’ve got your app in the stores that you are ready to start making big gains. Now, you need to work on a solid marketing plan. After all, you’ve got a lot of time, energy, and resources invested into your app, you need a good plan for getting it onto the devices of users.


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