How to make an app

I’m often asked by people new to the mobile industry how to make an app, and my answer is always something like “it’s complicated”. But, I think people deserve a better answer than that, so this page is dedicated to elaborating on all the details required from idea to app store.

1. Come Up With An Idea

The first step in making an app is to come up with an original idea that you think would create value for buyers. The process of ideation is a creative one, and the biggest thing you want to be answering when evaluating app ideas is this: Is this better than what already exists? It’s easy to delude yourself once you’ve become set on an idea to come up with a variety of reasons why the existing competition is not good enough. Be careful not to take this too far, as it can lead you down the path of duplicating existing apps, and probably failing long-term.

2. Design The App

If you are not a professional designer, it may make sense at this stage to find someone who is. There is a big difference between professional design and amateur design, and I promise your users will know the difference. Designing an app is an involved process of connecting intention and user interface with experience. If you are looking to get design done on the cheap, consider browsing your local craigslist for freelancers.

 3. Develop The App

This is going to be the most involved an difficult step. After getting mockups and an over-arching design ready for your app, you are going to need to learn Swift programming to make your iOS app, or hire a Swift developer. I have a number of Swift tutorials if you are interested in learning yourself, otherwise take a look at elance or to find a good developer.

4. Test The App

Use Apple’s Testflight service to deploy test builds of your app to people whose opinions and feedback you can trust. Avoid the trap of only sending it to people who will only be nice. What you want here is criticism. It may be hard to hear at first, but getting critical feedback from a friend (and making changes) is much better than just launching to 1-star reviews.

5. Market The App

After you’ve made your iOS app, you are going to deploy it to Apple with the help of your programmer, and this is where the real fun begins. Marketing an iOS app may seem like a special skill, but ultimately 99% of marketing apps is the same as marketing any product. The other 1% is something like “try to get ranked on top lists on the app store, to increase visibility”. The other 99% involves garnering positive press, placing advertisements such as on Facebook’s mobile ad service, Twitter’s mobile ad service, or Google. Beyond advertising and PR, it’s important to build positive word of mouth by engaging the community around your app by constantly searching for your app in social media like Twitter and Instagram, and replying to these threads. Doing this can help catalyze fans and turn fans of your app in to superfans who will share your app with their friends.

6. Start Over

This is the most important step of all. After you’ve released your iOS App, it’s important to not forget that you are building an app business, not just an app. Start over at step 1 on a new project, while monitoring your first app. Keep doing this and you’ll stumble across a flash of genius eventually and you can zero-in on the focus of your company better.

I hope this brief guide is helpful to you. If you are looking for one-on-one consulting for your mobile projects, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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