10 Steps to Build a Mobile App from Scratch

With digitalization progressing at an unprecedented rate, having a mobile-optimized website is not enough. The increasing use of smartphones makes app development a necessity for entrepreneurs to succeed in the competitive market.

Mobile apps offer an alternative channel for companies to interact with their target users. It helps make the brands more user-centric, providing an enhanced, personalized experience.

10 Steps to Build an App from Scratch

Build an App from Scratch

App development, however, is a time-consuming, complicated process, involving a significant financial investment. So, the development must be under an expert who understands the tidbits of the process and your company requirements.

Let’s not be discouraged!

If you have an app idea, here a few simple guidelines that will help you in building an app from scratch:

1. Make a Definitive Outline of Your Goals

Before you can begin to work on your web and mobile app development, you need to define your objectives for why you want to create the app. A definitive outline will help you stay on track with the development and ensure that the result is what you expected.

Ideally, your app should be in line with:

  • Your target users’ needs
  • Your company goals

A successful mobile app is entirely user-centric. The design and function are centered around how the app makes the users’ life more convenient. If the customers don’t find it useful, they are likely to switch to your competitors’ similar app. And you don’t want that!

Additionally, you want the app to benefit the company as well. It can include multiple things depending on where you stand in the market. If you have a large target market, then you may want to improve productivity or increase your ROI. Contrarily, if you are a relatively new business, focusing on your brand image will help increase brand awareness, boost traffic, and retain customers.

An app can fulfill more than one purpose. It can benefit your audience, the company, or both. Identifying your goals will also determine the features and functions of the app.

2. Identify the Features and Function of the App

Knowing what you want to achieve with the app will help you list the functionalities and features necessary to accomplish the goals. Some of the characteristics of your app may be:

  • E-Commerce Integration
  • Photo Sharing
  • Video Integration
  • In-App Chat Features
  • Push Notifications
  • Social Sharing Options
  • Booking Features
  • In-App Navigation

The goal at this stage is learning how to create an app that meets your requirements. So, dig deep and be creative! List the features that will add value to your app and help improve the customers’ experience with your brand.

3. Research the Competitors

Observing your competitors is a smart strategy to ensure your success and the validity of your app idea. Focus on not just the local businesses but the national and international brands with a similar app and goals.

It will help spark new ideas, identify the market gap, and what you can do to decrease it. Study how the competitors are engaging with their audience, look at the app features, and functionalities. Take notes and see if you can do something to improve on the idea.

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4. Design the Wireframe

With your functionalities and features set, it’s time to work on the layout of the app. The wireframe is the skeletal framework of the app that gives you a visual of what the final design will look like.

Wireframe works as a visual guide that will showcase how the app will appear without the distractions of other graphic elements. It will highlight how your users will navigate around the app and perform specific tasks.

You have two options when it comes to creating wireframes: offline and online. Offline implies the use of a simple pen and paper to visualize your idea, while online wireframing involves the use of templates and Wireframing tools.

Ideally, design separate wireframes for each app function or use case, that is the small tasks your users will perform via the app.

5. Test the Wireframes

Testing is the most essential part of mobile and web development. It highlights the shortcomings of the app, determines the ease of use of your app, and whether it meets users’ expectations.

To test your wireframes, use a tool like Invision. It will make your app interactive, you can connect the screens, and link actions to simulate live app experience. Invision is easy to use with free registration and a simple interface. It provides the option to sync with Sketch or Photoshop so you can import the images from your PC.

Once you add the images of individual screens, you can link them to observe the app function. You can also share the prototype with your team, clients or users to test its convenience, intuitiveness.

6. Revise Based on Feedback

When testing the app, you should have the answers to the following questions:

  • After opening the app, was the access to the main menu easily accessible?
  • Are all the app functions identifiable?
  • Did you feel that something was missing?
  • Did you feel some options were unnecessary?
  • Was the app intuitive enough?

With the answers at hand, work on revising the app idea and fixing the concerns. Start by sorting similar issues by category. If a user mentioned having to return to the previous screen more than once, then list the reasons why. Or if they say some options are redundant, then group which ones at a single location.

Organizing your feedback will make it convenient to see what areas need improvement. Implement the changes then test it again to ensure you covered all friction points.

7. Pick Your Development Path

Your choice of development path will determine the ease of scalability of your app in the future. There two things you need to decide: the coding language and platform for the app.

Fortunately, the programming language and platform are interdependent. It means native apps will require separate paths for iOS and Android development, whereas hybrid apps function with the same code for multiple platforms.

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Additionally, your budget also impacts your platform choice. While native apps are robust with better UI and UX, they are more expensive and time-consuming than hybrid apps.

Plus, native app platforms target different audiences. iOS users are primarily residents of Western Europe and North America. Android, however, targets a global audience, predominantly, the Asian and East European countries.

8. Build the App

Now let’s discuss the crux of app development, turning your idea into a fully-functional product.

There are two ways to build an app: coordinate with a software development company or use a mobile app building platform. A full-cycle development company will design your app from scratch, including the codebase, wireframes, UI/UX design, and more.

On the other hand, mobile building platforms offer templates where you can drag-and-drop the different features you want in your app. The code is reusable and all apps built via the platform are similar in appearance.

9. Test the Live App

Once the development is complete, it’s time to test the app in the real world. Top development companies insist on at least ten rounds of testing, including alpha testing done by the QA team and beta testing by specific users.

Beta testing is real-world testing that helps gather users’ feedback and identifies any bugs that affect the user experience.

10. Launch the App on App Stores

After the testing phase is the final launch of the app on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Create your developer’s account on the app stores and submit your app for review.  However, make sure to announce the launch of your app via email marketing, update the website, and promote through social platforms.

Are You Ready to Build Your App?

Mobile apps are a necessity in the present-day era, especially if you want to improve brand awareness, increase user engagement, and gain a higher ROI. With the right development company as your partner, mobile app development can be a breeze. The agency will provide thorough business analytics and work with you to design the app as you want.

So, are you ready to develop your app?

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Nizam Ali
February 25, 2020 11:29 am

It was much informative but at the same time a major reason why most app development projects fail is because of poor partner selection. As most companies focus only on effective pricing they fail to account for quality, which in turn leads to lackluster customer experience. So, it is a must to find the right partner to make your enterprise apps beneficial to your company as well as your end users.

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