Today, mobile phones connect the world, shaping and influencing how we conduct much of our daily lives. It’s no wonder, then, that businesses and individuals are always on the lookout for that next big app idea.
If you are that one business or individual, you’ve come to the right place. Even though creating a mobile app is a complicated process, and maybe there is need for the best digital agency to hire, there are some basic steps to know and follow to ensure you are on the right track to maximizing the potential of your idea.
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of making an app step-by-step, from planning to launch.
1. Define your goals
What are you hoping to achieve with this app?
- Are you looking to attract a large and/or sticky user base?
- Are you looking to incentivize loyalty and repeat sales via rewards programs?
- And so on
Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can begin to plan out the user experience including user journeys, features and app design.
For instance, if your goal is to attract and monetize a sticky user base, your user experience will revolve around retention; think push notifications, personalized and dynamic user journeys, gamified features and so on, while your marketing strategy will focus on email, user-generated content and other nurturing campaigns.
Defining your goals will also affect how you will market your project and get it in front of potential users as well.
2. Research the market
Knowing your target users will help you tailor your app’s user experience to their needs and expectations. Ideally, start your market research process by understanding the competition to identify a gap in the market your app will solve, as well as to learn from their tried and tested strategies.
Also consider researching the market by conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
3. Develop a plan
Your clear goals and clearly defined target audiences will help you flesh out the details of your app such as deciding on its features, design, and functionality.
It will also help you select the app platform – most likely iOS and/or Android – and other technology to use. Developing one app is costly, let alone developing an app for two platforms, so knowing where your target users spend time can help you select the best option and optimize spend. You may also want to consider the hybrid app model which allows you to build one app and deploy for both platforms.
Dedicate a good part of your planning to budgeting to ensure you have enough funds to see the project through design to MVP. There are options to keep your development costs to a minimum like using free, DIY app builders.
However, if you want to create a more complex app with custom features, you’ll need to hire developers and designers, which can be costly. A detailed and verified plan will play a key role in ensuring your budget is realistic and well-distributed.
This development plan should include a timeline of the different stages and milestones such as ideation, design, development, testing, and launch.
4. Pick the right app type
Speaking of technologies, there are two main types of apps – native and web-based. Native apps are designed specifically for a particular platform, such as iOS or Android, and can be downloaded from an app store. Web-based apps are accessed via a web browser and are not specific to any one platform.
When choosing the right type for your project, you’ll need to consider many factors, including your budget, timeline, and your goals.
Native apps tend to garner a more loyal user base and offer more monetization opportunities. However, they are also more expensive and time-consuming to develop.
Web-based apps are a good option if you’re on a tight budget or don’t have the time to invest in a native app. However, they tend to be less sticky and offer fewer opportunities for monetization.
5. Research different ways to make an app
App development options boil down to DIY platforms or hiring professional developers for custom development.
The level of app customization can vary, from using third-party integrations to save on time and money to going full-custom which, as you can imagine, is the costliest option of all.
Needless to say, the best option for you will depend on your budget, timeline, and goals. We’d generally advise against DIY platforms if you are looking to turn your app into a profit-generating business, which leaves you with custom development.
When choosing a professional development team, it’s important to look for developers with experience in your chosen platform (iOS or Android) as well as those with the skills and expertise needed to build the type of app you have opted for.
6. Develop a spec doc
A spec doc is a document that outlines the features, design, and functionality of your app. This is an important step in the development process as it will help you communicate your vision to the development team and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The spec doc should include a detailed description of each feature, as well as mockups or wireframes of the design.
If you’re working with a professional development team, they will likely have their own template for the spec doc. However, if you’re using a DIY platform or working with freelancers, you can find templates online.
Once you have your spec doc, it’s time to create a prototype.
7. Test the app
Before you launch your app, it’s important to test it to ensure it works correctly and is free of any bugs. There are two types of tests you can perform for this purpose.
Consider running a “beta test” which involves releasing the app to a small group of users for testing purposes. This can be done via an app store or by sending direct links to individuals.
The second test type refers to quality assurance (QA) testing, which is conducted by developers to ensure the app meets all the specifications outlined in the spec doc.
Once you’ve conducted both types of tests and made any necessary changes, your app is ready for launch.
8. Launch the app
Once you’ve tested your app and made any necessary changes, it’s time to launch it! This involves both the soft and hard launch.
The soft launch is when you release the app in a limited market, such as a specific country or region. This allows you to test the app in a real-world setting and make any necessary changes before releasing it globally.
The hard launch is when you open the app to all users. This is the most important phase in your launch, and it can determine the success of your app. Releasing the app before you’ve addressed all functional and UX issues can result in poor reviews and set you back in app marketplaces.
After you’ve launched your app, it’s important to track your progress and analytics to see how users are interacting with it. This will help you identify any areas that need improvement and make the necessary changes.
And don’t forget marketing! Consider creating a landing page for brand awareness and marketing purposes. Landing pages will collect and convert leads from most of your market efforts – be it social media, email, and PPC – and, in doing so, can help you increase downloads and encourage users to leave reviews.
9. Maintenance and updates
Once your app is up and running, you’ll need to regularly update it with new content and features to keep users engaged and coming back for more.
Make sure you regularly monitor your app for any bugs or glitches that need to be fixed. App security should be one of your top priorities because breaches can compromise your users’ data. To make your app more secure, make sure your code is secure, that you are using authorized APIs, and that you are encrypting data.
10. Marketing and tracking progress
Once your app is up and running, all that’s left is to market it to the right audience. Have a detailed marketing strategy ready, including teaser, launch and growth marketing campaigns to attract your user base.
Track your progress regularly to optimize your user experience and grow your application steadily. Make sure your app is integrated with analytics tools, such as Google Analytics.
Creating an app can be a complex and time-consuming process, but if done right, it’s worth it!
A large investment like this requires careful planning and preparation, so make sure you invest as much in setting up a good infrastructure for your app as in development and marketing.