Your First App? A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your First Mobile App

Apps are the bridge between your clients and your business, no matter which domain you operate in. Apps have come a long way since they were launched in the 1990s. Today, apps are preferred over websites for promotions, marketing, customer success, and sales. If you are about to launch a company, your first app will have a big impact on your success. 

With the increasing use of smartphones, even big brands have resorted to apps to increase their reach. Even though you may be a start-up in your segment, apps provide you with a level-playing field to compete with established players. These days, most companies prefer to have an in-house team who can build an app from scratch for their firm. In this blog, we will go through a 9-step process for building a robust app. So let’s dive straight in!

Step#1 Set Up your Development Team

Building an app from scratch will require a team that comprises domain experts. An app has several complicated elements that need to be put together. For this reason, the first step in mobile app development should be setting up a competent team. Your development team should consist of the following:

Product Manager: Gathers requirements, sets deadlines, decides road maps and technical specifications, and leads the team

UX/UI Designer: Works on the design, layout, and interface. 

Mobile Developer: Integrates APIs, databases, and codes functionalities

Quality Assurance/App Tester: Tests the app for bugs and usage shortcomings

Digital Marketer: Markets the app online & works on mobile analytics

Apart from this, the app development team comprises UX writers, software engineers, web engineers, and technical writers.

Step #2 Market Research

There are millions of apps on both the Apple and Android platforms, which makes it of utmost importance to stand out from the crowd. You need to find out what features your competitor’s apps have and what the requirements of your customers are. First of all, define your objective and customer persona. Prepare your questionnaire to gather as many responses as possible. You can even directly talk to some of your prospective clients to learn about their needs. Make a list of your competitors, and analyze their products/services and their apps. 

Step#3 Decide Your Core Features

You need to be crystal clear about the core features in your first app. Include all the essential features that your competitors are offering along with some exclusive features that no one is offering. This will set you apart from your rivals. Features you should not miss include good image resolution, simplicity, and easy navigation. Cross-platform functionality, which makes the app compatible with Android and Apple platforms, also gives an advantage. The search feature is useful in the case of eCommerce or social media apps.

You can also consider features like push notifications, which will help provide your users with personalized and relevant information. However, you should also consider your monetary resources at the time of app development and decide your features accordingly. After the app goes live, more features can be added later on.

Step#4 Create a Mockup

Once the requirements and features have been finalized, it is time to create a mockup. A UI/UX designer can develop a mockup and a template for the app. It gives a detailed outline of the appearance of the app. It will display the basic color scheme and typography, including the basic layout and images. Once created skillfully, it will give a glimpse of how the app will look and function. The advantage is that you can change anything you don’t like or are not satisfied with before proceeding further. It can also be showcased to potential investors to convince them to invest in your business. Additionally, many startups choose to outsource design and hire a UX Agency.

Step#5 Start Developing

It is time to start the process of development, which consists of the coding part and the actual realization of your app. This includes several activities that include setting up an appropriate development environment, developing different parts of the code, and preliminary testing. The three main aspects of development include:

Back-end/Server Technology

A mobile app needs a database and server-side objects as support functions. You may have to change the configuration of an existing back-end platform to suit your app. Server-side objects developed during this stage must be made compatible with the app. 

Application Programming Interface(API)

An API is a mechanism by which two different applications can communicate with each other. This is used when programming a Graphical User Interface(GUI). 

Mobile App Front-end

The front-end is what the app users see and interact with. It is called “client-side” programming. The front-end consists of the layout, design, buttons, and navigation options users see on their screens. 

Project Management

As some team members will work on the front-end and some on the back-end, coordination is required between them to ensure a cohesive end product. You can go for the Agile methodology for project management. 

Step#6 Perform Comprehensive Testing

Although you may not have enough manpower and resources to do comprehensive testing, it can be the difference between a successful app and a rejected one. This makes Quality Assurance(QA) important throughout the entire development process. By performing QA simultaneously with development, bugs can be eliminated promptly. 

The stages of mobile app testing are:

  • Documentation Testing

Documentation is the first step that ensures a product’s success. This is the preparatory stage of the testing process and contains written or pictorial information describing, specifying, and reporting the task on hand. If documentation is not done correctly, it will reflect on the quality of the final product.

  • Functional Testing

This testing is done to test the responsiveness of the app to industry requirements. The components in functional testing include business functionality, target audience, and platform.

  • Usability Testing

This ensures that your app is convenient to browse, has an intuitive interface, and is compliant with standards.

  • Performance Testing

It is done to test the mobile app’s reaction and consistency across varying loads. This stage includes load testing, stress testing, stability testing, volume testing, and concurrency testing. 

  • Security Testing

This is done to check the app’s risk of hackers, viruses, and unauthorized access to the database.

Step#7 Launch the Beta Version

Before going for the final launch, it is recommended that you launch a beta version of your app, which allows the audience to test the app and provide feedback. This will allow you to know how well the app functions in the actual environment and when not under test conditions. Your audience will spread the word about your app if they find it useful and efficient. This will increase your company’s reach and translate into more sales and conversions.

Step#8 Launch the Final Version

After doing all the hard work, it is time to launch the final version of your app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or both. You need to follow the protocol that is required to launch your app on these platforms. For this, you can get in touch with concerned personnel at Google and Apple who will help in making the app live. 

Step#9 Post Launch Promotion

You have launched your business app, and it is your first app. In order to make more people aware of your app, you will have to do some marketing campaigns. For this, social media is an effective and budget-friendly alternative. A video promoting your app and providing information about its features can be put up on all digital platforms. 

Wrapping Up…

Building an app from scratch demands time and resources. However, if built according to business requirements, your first app can drive your business to great heights in a short span of time. A mobile app enables connecting with a target audience across the world. So, what are you waiting for, either set up a team in-house or outsource your mobile app development and design. In this tech-driven business world, having an app is no longer a luxury but a necessity!

Author Bio:
Victor Ortiz is a Content Marketer with GoodFirms. He likes to read & blog on technology-related topics and is passionate about traveling, exploring new places, and listening to music.