12 steps to follow when you need help with app development
Let’s be honest, we all have thought about a new, revolutionary app idea, or a better version of an existing app. We’ve suddenly woken up in the middle of the night with this in our minds, but, have you actually got an idea on how in the world is an app built? Do you know what it takes to make that concept a real, tangible thing? In this article from Forbes we saw how to, but getting right to the point of it, we’ve come up with a better looking, up to date (these guys wrote the article in 2013) and better approach to this task.
So, until that can happen, here are 12 easy to follow steps (for newbies) into the path of app building.
Step 1: Make about a thousand liters of coffee
Having that idea in the middle of the night is a great start and all but without a specific goal or purpose, an app idea is just a waste of gray matter, an empty space (like the upper part of a cupboard, if you are shorter than 5’2”).
Start your app development journey by establishing a defined mission for your app. What exactly is it going to do? What about it will appeal to your buyer's persona? What problem is it going to solve, or what part of everyday life is it going to make better or easier?
If you do this, getting the expected results will be easier, and faster.
Step 2: Time to get creative, go for your pencil and notebook.
Sketching will help you a lot. You’ll be able to develope your app’s foundation for its future interface. The point is to conceptualize the main features and some kind of layout and structure for your app, think as an architect would, imagining a building about to be designed.
This step will help your team A LOT by showing them what you really want and will be used as reference for future steps of the project
Step 3: Every Journey starts with some background check
A serious research has to have at least four main purposes:
- Find out if there are apps doing the same thing you want to develop.
If there are any, back to square one or think how can you improve on that idea
- Find design inspiration for your app.
You may think it’s a bad idea, but it’s not, even Burj Khalifa was inspired by a regional desert flower, the Hymenocallis, so… why not have a look at your favorite app store?
- Find some intel on the technical requirements you need for your app
Like restrictions, parental advisories, and so on, if you know someone in the industry, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for some insights.
- Find out how to make bucks with your app
It may sound cold or greedy, but let’s face it: money makes the world spin. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that your effort should be rewarded, so finding out how to gain profit from your idea has to be in you to-do list. Doing this requires some brain work, are you going to charge people to download or offer some in-app purchases, or would you rather have ads inside the app? It’s up to you.
Now, a good place to go and show off your idea is Dribbble where lots of designers post their work and give feedback to others, Reddit can be a good place too if you’re ok with some honest -almost too honest- feedback.
Remember, there are more than 2 Million apps according to statista.com meaning that maybe your “revolutionary” idea isn’t as revolutionary as you thought, don’t get your hopes crushed, it just means you need to go back 3 steps.
Step 4: Making a Wireframe (whatever that means)
Ok, time for some word library building. Wireframing is the process of creating a mockup or prototype of your app. This is the moment your money-making killer app starts assembling into a clearer, more realistic picture. Out of all the hundreds of wireframing tools found on the internet, we’ve selected Figma as the best, we love that it lets you interact and work with your team in real time. Skecth is another powerful tool to wireframe your app.
Step 5: Defining the Back End of the App
The wireframes that you’ve created (after long hours of sleep deprivation and more coffee cups than you’d like to admit) now have become the foundation of your back-end structure. Draw more sketches, now of your servers, APIs, and data diagrams. This will be highly thanked by the developer, and as more people join the project you will have an almost self-explanatory diagram for them to study, learn and pray to.
Modifications to your wireframes will happen if there are any technical limitations, so don’t worry about it.
Step 6: Time to test your little baby.
Go and ask your friends, your SO, your neighbors, even the crazy cat lady next door to test your app. Grant them access to your wireframes and watch them use it even if it means stalking them from their window while taking notes as if you were a discovery channel journalist – We will not be accountable for any stalking related issues, though.
Gather all the feedback you can and twitch details before going into the design process.
Step 7: Building the Back End of this thing.
Now that almost everything has been set, it’s time to wrap it up and start some serious code-writing, get in touch with your programmer and tell him what you want (also, handing sketches and pre Back End is a big plus).
Step 8: It’s not what you say but how you say it.
This step is a tricky one; defining the way you app looks, here you’re going to design the “skins” for your app. Remember those sketches from Step 1? now it’s time to render them into some nice looking graphics.
Try to add those very insightful comments from the people who tested the wireframes (don’t add any cats. Even if the crazy cat lady said so). After all, you’re making an App for people, so add whatever you think its best.
Step 9: Testing! (Again)
Practice makes perfect so when it comes to App development, testing makes perfect so try again after your friendly, neighborhood designer guy has finished the renders. Now, people will be able to try, click and really use your app.
But if you’d rather stay away from people, there are some apps you can use to test your app, Solidify and Framer still are the 2 best options for it.
Step 10: review feedback and fix mistakes
Being realistic is part of the equation. Mistakes, bugs and other things will surface in the previous step, so take time to fix, change and revise your Back End.
Step 11: Time to refine and polish
Constant testing, refining and polishing will ultimately bring your midnight idea into a brightful reality, so don’t be afraid to keep on twerking and twitching your app, if you’re making an Android App, you can easily install it in any device and see what’s it like, but iOS is a totally different story, try using apps such as HockeyApp and TestFairy. They are your best options to “upload” and test your iOS App.
Step 12: Lean back and… Nope!
You’re not out the woods yet, our final step is releasing the app to the real public, sending it to the different marketplaces. Though some policies apply, Android is best here basically because they don’t review new apps right away, they eventually go by and review it, then again, iOS does not let your app on air just because it kicks ass, they have to review it, test it and then, about a week later or so, they’ll contact you.
Now it’s just a matter of branding, marketing, getting it seen and commercializing it, but that my friends, is a different story to tell.