10 steps to build an app

Whether you want to develop an app for your business or build the next Uber, this guide is for anyone who wants to create a mobile app.

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By Buildfire

From small business apps to ecommerce apps, fitness apps, internal employee communication apps, religious apps, and more—there’s an app for anything you can imagine.

Apps can be developed as an extension of your existing business or used to create new business from scratch.

Whether you want to develop an app for your business or build the next Uber, this guide is for anyone who wants to create a mobile app.

For first time builders, non-technical users, and anyone who has experienced a failed development attempt in the past, this resource will walk you through the app development process in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.

How to Make an App: A Step-by-Step Guide

Mobile app development can be segmented into three categories—pre-development, development, and post-launch.

While it’s tempting to start building right away, there are certain steps you need to take before development begins. These steps are critical to the success of your app, so don’t skip over them.

 

Step #0 — Coming up with an idea for your app

Before you get started, you need to make sure you have a viable app idea. 

When you think about the millions of apps on the market, this step could feel a bit intimidating. But you don’t actually need the idea to be 100% original. Lots of great apps are variations of existing ideas.

Maybe you have an idea that’s the next Yelp for B2B products or the next Uber for pets.

Whatever the idea might be, you must ensure that your app is actually solving a problem. Then you need to make sure that someone else isn’t already doing what you want. If they are, you’ll have to come up with differentiators that separate your idea from the competition.

It’s also worth noting that not every idea needs to be an invention or new concept. Lots of apps are just an extension of an existing business. If you have an ecommerce website, you can create an app that improves the way your customers shop from mobile devices. If you have a barbershop or nail salon, you can create an app that enhances client bookings, appointment management, and deposits.

 

Step #1 — Define your goals

The app development process must start with clearly defined goals.

What are you setting out to achieve? What problems are you trying to solve?

Your goals will ultimately establish your entire development process. If these aren’t clearly defined from the beginning, it’s easy to get lost along the way once you start developing your own app.

Don’t just set any goal—set measurable goals.

Use this as your north star, to ensure that you’re continually aiming toward them. Otherwise, you won’t be using your time and resources effectively. Since app development is virtually limitless, it might be enticing to add features, bells, and whistles that aren’t mission-critical to your goal.

You can set goals related to the end-user, as well as goals related to your business.

To make sure that you achieve your app development goals, you need to understand the difference between a goal and an objective. Goals represent the final outcome that you want to reach. Objectives are the steps you take to achieve those goals.

Break those objectives down into “SMART” objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

It’s a common mistake for people to define goals in a monetary sense, such as “make more money.” But that goes without saying. It doesn’t make you different from every other business on the planet. Instead, a great goal should be focused on your purpose and mission.

Every goal should have clear KPIs (key performance indicators).

Make sure that you have pre-defined measurements to achieve success. KPIs work best when they are numerical.

For example, let’s say you want to create an app for your ecommerce shop, one of your goals might be to reduce shopping cart abandonment rates on mobile devices. To make sure that you’re reaching that goal, you need to know your current abandonment rates to compare them against the numbers when your own app eventually launches.

 

Step #2 — Conduct market research

Once you’ve established your goals, you need to make sure that there’s a market need for your app. Every app idea sounds good in theory, but you need to validate your idea before you proceed.

Creating an app without market research could result in a valuable waste of your time, money, and resources. 

  • Create surveys
  • Conduct interviews
  • Run a focus group
  • Research your competition
  • Figure out how to create an app that improves the customer experience

If your app is an extension of your existing business, you can use your current customers as a resource for this research. If the app is for a completely new idea, you’ll need to connect with prospective users that fit your target audience.

 

Step #3 — Decide your app features

Think about your app’s core functionality. That’s where the features should be focused.

Lots of people are tempted to add extra and unnecessary features to an app. But some features take away from your app’s primary purpose. Each feature add-on also adds to the cost and development timeline.

Examples of popular app features include:

  • Push notifications
  • Community wall
  • GPS capabilities
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Video, image, and audio hubs
  • Booking capabilities
  • Calendar integrations
  • Ecommerce carts
  • Menu ordering system
  • Customer loyalty
  • User directory

Simplicity is the most important aspect of these early development stages. If your app’s primary function doesn’t require the user’s exact location, you can skip the GPS feature.

 

Step #4 — Create a wireframe

A wireframe is essentially a rough layout of your mobile app. It doesn’t have to be too formal either, and you don’t need to worry about your app’s graphic design just yet. You can create a wireframe on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, napkin, or use a digital wireframing tool.

The purpose of the wireframe is to simply illustrate the app’s features and layout the schemes.

Don’t worry about the app design elements in a wireframe. This tool isn’t meant to be a one-to-one relationship of how the final app will actually look. Instead, the focus of your wireframe should be on structure and flow.

 

Click here for steps 5 to 10 or you can watch the video below:

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