How to create an app

How To Create An App In 10 Steps Without Writing Code

Would you like to learn how to create an app? Throughout the years I’ve personally created apps for both iOS and Android devices and have accumulated 2.5 million downloads and over $1 Million in sales.

When people learn that I’m a app developer (I don’t actually write any code) the first thing they say is something like…

I have an app idea…how do I make it a reality?

Because I get asked how to create an app so often, I decided to blog about it and teach it online.

Here are the steps that I use to take my best ideas and turn them into reality.

The 10 steps to create an app without writing code are: 

  1. Write Down Your App Idea
  2. Validate Your App Idea
  3. Decide How Your App Will Make Money
  4. Create a Design Concept
  5. Find and Hire a Developer
  6. Develop the User Interface First
  7. Test Your App For Success
  8. Submit Your App to the App Store or Google Play
  9. Launch & Promote Your App
  10. Collect feedback and Improve Your App
 

Step 1 – Write down your idea

To create an app, the first thing you need to do is write down your idea! Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Yet so many people keep their ideas lingering in their head.

Getting it written down has a psychological benefits. For one, it helps your brain to unload some baggage so to speak, freeing up space to help you think bigger and more creatively.

Another benefit is that it solidifies in your mind that you are now moving forward to create the app, turning your thoughts into something tangible.

So, write it down already! Brainstorm how it actually might work and list all of the features that you think would make your app useful and unique in the marketplace.

Writing it down kick starts the transformation from idea to reality!

Step 2 – Validate Your App Idea

Before you invest a lot of time and money on developing your idea, validate it! You can validate your app by doing Market Research and by Identifying Your Target Audience.

Market Research

Visit the App Store and Google Play and answer the following questions:

  1. Do apps already exist that are similar to your idea? If so, how would yours differ?
  2. How are these apps currently rated in the App Store or Google Play? What do the app reviews reveal?
  3. How many downloads are there? Is there demand?

Answering those 3 questions will give you valuable insight.

For example, do complaints in the app reviews reveal opportunity for a similar app with an improved user experience? Are users requesting a different feature set than you imagined?

After doing market research revisit your original idea. Capture the new insights gained and to help fine tune the idea to stand out in the marketplace.

Identify your Target Audience

When creating an app, identify who your target user will be. User engagement is key for app success so identifying the type of people that would be most likely to use your app before you develop it is critical.

Answering the following 3 questions can help you identify the users that would potentially download your app.

  1. Who is the intended audience or users for your app?
  2. What are the likes and dislikes of this group?
  3. What are the demographics like age, gender, income, profession or group?

Validating your app idea upfront will alleviate the pain of building something that nobody wants.

Step 3 – Monetization

How will your app make money? What business model will you use?
You need to decide on a monetization strategy up front as it needs to be designed into the app experience.

You can make money from your app idea in several ways.

Will it be a paid app? Paid apps are losing ground these days unless you offer a compelling free trial that gets users hooked so that a large percentage of them convert.

Will it be a free app with in-app advertisements or sponsorships that generate income?

What about offering an auto-renewing subscription? This is good for apps that are updated with valuable content on a regular basis.

Or, perhaps you’ll use the freemium model where users can download and use the basic app for free and opt to upgrade via an in-app-purchase for premium features.

There are a lot of options for you to consider before designing and building your app.

Take a look at some of your favorite apps or download some of the most profitable apps in the app store and analyze how they are monetized.

Step 4 – Create a Design Concept

You need to draw a sketch or put together a wireframe of the app.
Doing so will help you think through the features that you want, the interaction between screens and the navigational scheme.

Even if you’ve never done this before don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Just think of the apps that you love and use the most. Take note of each screen and how they interact with each tap or swipe.

Then look at your potential competitors apps. Model what you like about them, improve what you don’t and add what makes your app unique!

Here’s an example of a sketched wireframe.

How to create an app
How to create an app (wireframe design concept)

Step 5 – Hiring a Developer

When hiring a developer or an agency you want to find someone that can deliver a quality product within budget and on time.

If you don’t personally know any developers, how would you go about doing this?
Create a job post or put out a request for proposal (RFP) on various freelance websites like Upwork.com and have developers and development companies bid on your project.

You can specify your budget and timeframe and limit the bidding to local candidates or open it up for developers worldwide.

Next, you’ll want to analyze each developer’s credentials and experience by their past performance on projects similar to yours by comparing customer ratings and reviews.

You can also view their portfolio and request links to download apps that they’ve developed so that you can experience their work first hand.

As you go through this process you will shortlist the best candidates, interview them and make your selection.

Here are two freelance websites that I’ve personally used to hire resources to create apps.
Upwork.com
Fiverr.com

Step 6 – Develop The User Interface

Once you’ve hired your developer, the first thing they should do is build the UI based off of your design concept.

For the first milestone have them build out the entire user flow as a clickable (tap-able) prototype that you can test on your device before they begin coding the core functionality.

This way, you’ll get a feel for how the app will behave and whether or not the user experience meets your expectations.

This is also a good time to get feedback from other potential users. It should be intuitive and easy to use. If it isn’t, work with the developer to fine tune it before proceeding.

It is critical that get this part right up front! Why?

After the major functionality has been coded, it will become increasingly more difficult, costly and time consuming to make these types of changes which ultimately could cause the project to go over budget and over time.

Step 7 – Test For Success

Now that the development of the core functionality is underway you’ll want to setup milestones to test it as often as possible. Have your developer send you a “build” (latest version of the code) for testing each week or at regular intervals.

This will allow you to do quality assurance testing (QA) and provide detailed feedback and to make adjustments as needed during the development phase.

Be sure to provide the feedback in a timely manner, usually within 24-48hrs. That way the developer can progress without delays, or if you discover something amiss it will prevent him/her from continuing down an undesired path which will save you time and money.

At this stage you can also have friends and family that are potential users of the app test it for you. Collectively, their feedback will reveal things that you may have missed.

Step 8 – Submit Your App

Once you’re done developing and testing the app
It is crucial that you spend time creating an attractive listing in the App Store and/or Google Play.

Your app icon will be the face of your app so it needs to be stellar.
The name of the app, your video preview, the screenshots and other content need to stand out. It should instantly pique a prospective customer’s interest in a crowded store.

When developing your content think about the keywords that customers would use to find an app like yours. Be sure to include them where possible in your title, description and keyword search terms.

Once you’ve completed your store listing have your developer upload the latest build (production ready code) to The App Store or Google Play on your behalf so that you can submit everything for review and approval.

Step 9 – Launch & Promote Your App!

“Build it and they will come” is reserved for Hollywood fairytales.

Having a great app isn’t enough. Your app should provide real value for a specific group of people.  

In Step 1 during the validate your app idea exercises you learned how to discover who your target audience is. Now develop a marketing strategy to reach them.

Your marketing campaign can include paid advertising, press releases, youtube videos, in app incentives, and promotion through email and social media just to name a few.   Here are some tactics you can use for your launch

  1. If you have a email list or established social marketing channels, use them to announce your release and to provide regular updates.
  2. Publish Youtube demonstration videos to drive awareness of your new app and to secure a good ranking in the Google search results.
  3. Run App Store ads or Google Adwords to drive app installs.
  4. Press releases if your app is newsworthy and aligns with current trends
  5. Offer an incentive within your app for people to subscribe, like and share your app so that you can build a following.

Step 10 – Continuous Improvement

An app is never done! Have the mindset of continuous improvement and work towards it based upon the feedback you receive from your customers.  

If the overall feedback is positive that’s great! Scour through the app reviews and comments to look for opportunities to make it even better.  

If there’s negative feedback, find out why and fix it as soon as possible.  

Now that you’ve gone through the entire app creation process, maintaining it and adding new features will be a breeze in comparison.

If you’d like to learn step-by-step how to create your own app check out my comprehensive App Idea To Reality Online Course.

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