Today the mobile application market is expanding rapidly as our society increasingly relies on smartphones and digital technology.
According to Statista, in 2017, 178 million applications were downloaded, which will reach 258 billion by 2022. There is a high demand for applications, which makes the mobile market highly competitive.
But it is not easy to create an application. It takes time, experience and is generally expensive. Usually, people make the mistake of jumping right in instead of analyzing their ideas and understanding the different steps required to build a successful app.
Whether you’re building an app to complement your website, reach a new audience for your business, or have an excellent idea for a new app, we explore every step from your concept to publication and maintenance in this article.
Define your goals
The idea of an app can appear at any time, for example, in need to receive help with everyday tasks or to entertain people. It can also be the next stage of an existing concept (transforming a web page into an app, for example).
When you define the roadmap and the objectives of your app, you have to focus on three key aspects to define your goals: Product, Growth, and Finance.
In the beginning, it is crucial to understand what your idea can bring in terms of results. Here are few examples of questions that you would need to think about to define the objectives of your application:
What are the benefits of your project?
How will you help/entertain the end-user?
Do you see the product evolve in the future?
How do you want users to interact with it?
Once you answer these queries, you will have a better view of the features that you will need to focus on at the beginning and the evolution of your app in the future.
From a marketing perspective, you also have to consider how your product will enter the market and the key stages you want to reach to develop your user base. Creating a robust community is one of the critical factors in the success of digital products, and it is for that reason that you do not have to neglect this stage. So what would you have to determine?
What will your target audience be?
How will you achieve it?
How will you convert your potential users?
How will you keep your users engaged?
After having had a better idea of the future appearance of your product and how you will develop it over time, it is essential to consider its feasibility to finance. Whether the app is designed as an asset for your business or as a complete project, having clear objectives will help you to have a more significant influence in the long term. Answering the following questions can help you:
How are you going to invest in the project?
Is it a non-profit or for-profit project?
What is the expected income (advertising, subscriptions, etc.)?
These elements will allow you to model your idea and go further in the creation process, with a clear view of what you want to achieve. Of course, the goals you will set at the beginning of the adventure may evolve. However, it is essential to focus on the plan you have built so that it is practical and can make a difference with your app.
Find your target market
Once you have decided that your idea is worth carrying out, you can take care of its concrete execution. You will validate your initial hypotheses and adjust (if necessary) the objectives that you have established during the previous stage from your searches.
What type of information do you have to look for during these searches?
- The good old demographics
What is the average age of your users?
Where are your users located?
What is the connectivity situation of your users (always connected / sometimes / never have access to a stable internet connection)?
What type of devices do your users use?
What is the average financial situation of your target users?
- Behavioral trends
Do your users spend more time on the web or in mobile apps?
Are they willing to download your app?
Where do they look for information?
Define your concept
Once you have finished your first analysis, you can draw relevant conclusions. You can already understand what your audience is, and you have also established your objectives. Now, you have to understand the tangible aspects/functionalities that will constitute your business model and how you will achieve it. Here you have one of the most common objectives, as well as its demands:
Could you have paid access to your product?
Could it be free but include other monetization options, like advertising?
Could the Premium model be an option?
- Spread the word
What efforts will you make to ensure the visibility of your app?
How can you encourage your users to share your content?
What are the obstacles that you could remove that could prevent direct access to your message?
- Reinforce an existing business/project
What are the comforts/added values that your users are missing?
What are the common reasons why customers disappear, and how could you solve that thanks to an app?
What prevents your users from discovering you and giving you a chance?
Based on the response to these questions, you can organize and structure the concept of your app, including the key functionalities and the benefits.
Choose your technology
- Native apps:
– From the 500 applications available in the App Store when it was launched ten years ago to the approx 2 million available today, apps are now part of our daily lives.
– Native apps represent more than 80% of all mobile phone traffic
– Native technologies for Android and iOS have always been at the forefront of mobile development. This method offers reliable, high-performance products that can access many native APIs and features available on smartphones or tablets.
- Progressive web applications:
– PWA is the perfect combination of native and web technologies. Although they look like a native app, it does not need to go through the Store publishing process.
– PWA does not require downloading or adapting to mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers.
– Take advantage of SEO and get indexed in search engines.
– PWA can work offline
Explore the different options available to create your application
Now that you have selected your technology, it is time to choose how you will create your app. There are three options:
- Develop your app yourself
This first option requires a lot of time and skills. Native apps are platform-specific, and knowledge of multiple languages is required. Java or Kotlin for Android development, Objective-C, and Swift for Apple development. But, if you have the necessary experience, this option will allow you to create the app you want without limits.
- Hire an independent developer or agency
There is no shortage of development agencies and independent developers on the web, and it should be easy to find one. The main factor here will be the cost of that service.
- Use an app builder
An app builder is a service that builds apps and allows users without coding skills to create an application and distribute it to different stores. It is the ideal option to save money and time while achieving a good quality app.
Create an app with an app builder
Now all the tough decisions are made, and it’s time to do it.
The process will vary depending on the method you have chosen to develop your app. Still, for our purposes, we will assume that you have selected the app builder and specifically through Builder.ai.
With many years of expertise in creating apps with the latest technologies, Builder.ai offers you the possibility to develop native apps and progressive web apps from a single interface.
To create your app, you must follow the following steps:
- Design: there is much to decide on this step – the global color theme of the app, the style of the header, its navigation mode, the icon that will represent it in the stores or on the home screens of your users, your splash screen, etc.
When designing these elements, it is always good to keep the look somewhat aligned with any existing designs that your brand already has, such as colors, logos, fonts, theme, etc.
The home page will be the most visited page and your users’ first impression of your app. Take time to design it. It should show your most important features and provide smooth navigation to the different sections of the app, thanks to the widgets offered by Builder.ai. Our Preview feature allows you to see what your app will look like immediately.
- Content: it’s time to add everything and anything you want to convey about your business/project. In some cases, you will only enter this content directly into the back-end of your app manually. In other cases, you may previously have your content available somewhere, and you only need to integrate that external source to extract it (such as an RSS feed, a live stream, or a social media account).
The structure of a Builder.ai app is relatively easy to understand. It consists of sections, each with a specific purpose: articles, videos, photos, events, podcasts, maps, forms, etc.
Our developers recommend keeping a straightforward structure that allows optimization and easy navigation of the user experience.
- Add-ons: in addition to the classic sections, Builder.ai offers a catalog of add-ons to add value to your application.
For example, if you create an app for your business, the Loyalty Card and Coupon Add-ons will allow customer engagement and reward them for their loyalty. With the push notifications feature, you can communicate regarding new products, upcoming events, etc.
- Custom Plugins – If needed, explore the customization options Builder.ai offers and add required design options or features that weren’t available by default. Personalization is the most effective way to make your app stand out from others in its class.
Test your app
After putting together every piece of the app creation process (concept, design, and technology), you will arrive at a version almost ready to be released. But before sharing your new app with the world, run a series of tests to see if everything works as planned. You should try all the app versions you intend to publish (iOS, Android, or PWA). Make sure to recruit a couple of beta testers as well – a fresh perspective will bring items or points to your attention that you may have overlooked before.
App builders like Builder.ai often provide a test app that you can use to run preliminary checks on your app.
Once your application is ready, it’s time to think about publishing it. It is good to publish your application on as many platforms as possible. It will allow you to reach as many users as possible.
Continuous improvements and updates
Be attentive to the comments and KPIs of your app using the analysis tools provided by Google Play and the App Store.
Another thing that every app owner should do regularly is to post new content and features consistently. Whether it’s releasing new stuff or updating existing functionality, it’s the most effective way to keep users engaged. Ensure your users are well informed when there are new versions: you can alert them through push notifications or present these new elements in the most visible part of your app, the home screen.
You can update your application in stores as many times as you want, although in some cases, you have to submit a new version of the application if you make more significant modifications.
On the contrary, you can update PWA infinitely without any forwarding restrictions. Either way, feel free to bring something new to the table when you get the chance!