How To Make A Mobile App: Step-By-Step

Video Tips for iOS 7So you or your company has this great million dollar iPhone or Android App idea but you don’t write a lick of code and you don’t own your own mobile application development company.  Fear not. With a better understanding of how the whole mobile app development process works and a bit of persistence you can get your million dollar app idea developed and live on the App Store and/or Google Play.

Here are the ten simple steps to get you there:

  1. Feature List: Grab a sheet of paper or write an email to yourself and make a simple bulleted list of exactly what your app will do.
  2. Highlight the Core: Print your list and highlight or circle the one or two most important features of your app.  A newly launched app should be simple and meet one or two user needs really well.  What you highlighted will be the first version of your app (1.0) on the App Store.  Your other features can be added in later versions.
  3. Sketch your Home Screen:  Take out a pad of paper and draw a big rectangle.  There is your home screen.  With your one or two key features in mind, draw the home screen.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to know how to draw at all.  Boxes, simple shapes and stick figures are more than fine. Put a big “A” in the top left corner of your page.
  4. Sketch the Other Screens: Draw the other screens of your app.  Put a new letter (eg B, C,D) at the top left corner of each page. Anywhere the is a button, draw a simple line from button to open spot on paper and put the letter corresponding to the screen that button takes you to.  If there are any gestures (swipes, double taps, two finger taps), write them in the margin of the page. This process is called Wireframing.
  5. Mental Walk: lay out all your screens and mentally go through the app like you we’re actually pushing the buttons.  How is the flow of your app? Can getting around be simplified even further?
  6. Keep Sketching:  keep redrawing screens to simplify the app as much as possible.  Have fun with this process and don’t be surprised if you wake up in the middle of the night with the exact solution to making your app flow a million times better.  Your users will thank you and reward you for your genius to simplify.
  7. Live Prototype (Optional):  Are you good with PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote?  Recreate the Wireframes in one of these programs. Simple boxes and text as before are just fine.  Now
    Keynote Wireframes

    Keynote Wireframes

    link your buttons on each screen to the screen they go to.  Now ‘Play’ the presentation and click your buttons to fully simulate the app experience.  For those with some decent design chops, you can try great apps like Omnigraffle or App Cooker to wireframe and simulate your app.

  8. Share Your Idea:  Believe it or not, once you have completed step 6, you have all the information you need to get a really accurate quote from an Application Development Company.  We recommend asking for a fixed bid rather than a time and materials bid.  Because the functionality of your app is so well defined, the dev company should be able to give you an exact price and timeline for the development of the app.
  9. Market Your App: Who is your app for?  If you say, “everyone” then you need to ask again in a different way. Ask, “What specific group of people will benefit the most from using my app?”  Now do a bunch of Google searches and find out exactly where these people are and devise a plan to get them to try/buy your app.  We have found that a Twitter Campaign is one of the most effective ways to market your app.
  10. Launch: Congratulations. You did it.  You’ve got an app live on the App Store or Google Play.  Look at user comments and see how your app is being received.  What suggestions are people making about your app?  Add these features to your original bulleted list and then re-prioritize.  Roll out new features and refinements in small updates.