You’ve got a brilliant idea (or two!) for a new mobile app and you’re ready to make it a reality. But how do you go about doing that? How do you successfully build, market, launch and maintain an app, and what tools do you need to make it happen? Check out this list of everything a beginner needs to know about launching their first app.
Starting with an idea
Whatever your idea is, it’s best to start by refining it and figuring out what exactly you want your app to be. Writing out your idea is a good way to look things over and catch any issues that might arise. Once you’re happy with your vision, it’s time to start working on a prototype.
There are many online prototyping tools you can use to help you with this step. Creating wireframes for your website and app is important because it gives you something concrete to show others, whether it’s friends or potential customers for feedback, or to designers and developers who have a starting point before they build. There are software you can use to create your prototype, or websites like FluidUI where you can create your wireframes, access built-in component libraries, collaborate with your team, and preview the final prototype on your device.
If the idea of creating a whole prototype on your own is overwhelming, try looking for inspiration and taking design elements you like from other apps, and recreating them within your project. Don’t steal someone else’s design, but borrow ideas that work!
Once you’ve finished your prototype, it’s important to have it tested by potential users. They’ll let you know if it’s usable, if there are any features that need to be added or changed, and if it’s a viable product.
Building the app
Once you’ve finished the prototype phase and are happy with the product, you can start to build your app for real. There are essentially two ways to go about this: outsource the build, or do it in-house.
Outsourcing can be an affordable option, and there’s always the possibility to move to your own team once the app is off the ground. Outsourcing is also a good option if you don’t have any experience with coding or DevOps, or aren’t looking to hire a permanent developer yet.
If you’re building the app in-house, there are some pre-requisites you need to have:
- Knowledge of a database query language like SQL.
- DevOps for creating your development environment and server.
- Front-end web developer skills.
Once you start building the app, work your way through it function by function. Think of it like working your way through a checklist: once you’re done building the user profile, then you can move onto the commenting system. Once the front and back-end code of a function is complete, you can test it to make sure there are no major issues. Bugs will happen during coding, but checking regularly on each function helps make sure your app is running as smoothly as possible before you move to production.
How do I get people to use my app?
While coding and building your app is a big project, so is marketing it! Even if it’s a quality product if no one knows about it, the app won’t go anywhere.
The first thing you should do is decide if your app should be free or a paid download. If you plan on offering it for free, you should have a monetization plan in places like ads or special features that require in-app payments.
You can upload your app to the Apple and Google app stores. Each site comes with an annual fee of $99 for Apple and $25 for Google. Make sure your app is usable for both iOS and Android if you want to add it to both app stores!
Also, consider adding your app to lesser-known app stores. They might not have as many users as Google Play, but stores like GetJar, Opera Mobile Store and Amazon Appstore all have dedicated users who might discover and download your app. And remember to do your best to optimize your app store ranking, no matter which store you’re in!
Now you have to let people know your app exists and is worth downloading. You can market yourself on social media, send a press release about your app to tech bloggers and websites, and network at local events. If you have paid features on your app, consider offering promo codes.
Remember to keep an eye on the reviews for your app! The more people leave positive reviews and comments on your app, the more likely it is to appear towards the front of app store searches. If you receive a negative review, try to politely address that user’s concerns immediately. It shows other potential users that you are proactive and care about their feedback!
You’re not done yet!
You don’t just upload your app and forget it! Now that you have an app out there in the world with (hopefully) lots of downloads, you can start to use application monitoring tools to look at your analytics and see how the app is doing. The Best APM Tools help you track your app’s performance and see how your code is functioning and the overall performance of your app.
APM tools can monitor your app’s performance and usage of databases, the performance of individual web requests, server metrics like memory and CPU, application framework metrics, real user monitoring, log data, and errors. This data is important for the upkeep of your app – you can see where issues are arising and adjust your code, upgrade to a larger server or do whatever is needed to make sure things are running smoothly for your customers.
There are also plenty of opportunities to keep making your app better. You can refresh the graphics, update the copy or tweak the UX. Think about doing user testing to see how people are engaging with your app and if there is room for improvement. There are sites where you can get targeted feedback from users and figure out if they have needed your app still isn’t meeting, and then work from there.
Even if your app is a success, there’s still room for improvement! Popular apps like Twitter update all the time with bug fixes or new features. Your team should always be looking for ways to improve your product and retain your current users, as well as attracting new ones.
And, if all goes well, this app could become your new company or full-time job! Many tech companies started with just an idea and grew rapidly. Best case scenario, your app could be the next SnapChat or HQ Trivia! Worst case scenario, your app doesn’t quite take off but it’s a great learning experience and now you’re even more equipped and ready to take on your next idea.