Mobile App Development 101: A Simple Guide to Building an App

Do you have a mobile app idea you want to turn into reality, but you don’t know where to begin? The journey from app idea to launch day can be an arduous one fraught with many twists and turns. And when you’re not familiarized with concepts like mobile app development and design, it can be even more intimidating.

Since 2011, our team of hardened techies at Dogtown Media has launched over 200 apps in industries including Artificial Intelligence, mHealth, FinTech, and much more. So we’re well-versed in the obstacles and challenges usually encountered when creating an app. That’s why we’ve put together this short and sweet step-by-step guide that outlines the process of building a mobile app.

Ideation

Every mobile app begins as an idea. And the quality of your final product is determined in large part by the quality of your creative input. Has your app concept been done before? What makes your idea special? How will you stand out from the crowd?

These can be tough questions to answer. Fortunately, research and market validation usually shine a light on the insights you need to do so. The sort of feedback you received during this phase is crucial to shaping your app idea. We highly recommend you do this due diligence before you even start building your app.

This also helps ensure your app possesses another necessary ingredient for success: everlasting value. Ask yourself, will your app still be useful in a year? What about five years from now? Concentrate on creating long-term value.

It’s okay if your app idea was inspired by another mobile app. After all, Apple’s App Store is home to over 1 million apps. So chances are good that someone has put out a product similar to yours. This is okay as long as your unique implementation makes objective improvements to the current solutions available on the market.

Apple’s developer blog explains it best: “Before creating your app, take a look at the apps in your category on the App Store and consider how you can provide an even better user experience.”

Define Your Scope

Whether the starting point for your mobile app idea is completely original or based on improving an existing concept, you need to define the scope of accessibility. Do you want your mobile app available on the iPhone, iPad, or Android? Maybe you want all three. That’s totally okay as long as you’re aware of the differences between each one.

Every iPhone, iPad, and Android project needs to have its own roadmap. It’s the only way to account for the nuances each platform carries. Aspects like feature sets, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) will all vary between each of them. And getting a head-start on how you address these differences sets you up to launch your app on time. But more importantly, it also allows you to deliver a tailored experience for your users on each platform.

UI/UX Design

Your mobile app must be simple and intuitive to operate. And that all starts with your UI and UX design. Your wireframes, graphical elements, branding assets, and many other factors must mesh together to form a natural experience that keeps your users coming back for more.

Striking a fine balance between simplicity and sophistication is easier said than done. Too much of either could result in your app getting rejected when submitted to the App Store. Your mobile app should be easy to use but provide enough valuable features that users find enjoyable or practical. Utilize feedback from market analysis and prototype testing to refine your product.

Fortunately, if you find that sweet spot that users love, it’s safe to assume that your app will also resonate with the App Store evaluators and testers, who are also human! Apple is known for having exceptionally high standards when it comes to UI and UX design. Here’s their official list of UI Design Do’s and Don’ts that every iPhone app developer should abide by.

Branding

Consistency is key to not only developing your own distinct branding but standing out in the overcrowded app stores as well. If you examine the top apps for any platform, you’ll notice that each has their own unique voice and style. So should your mobile app.

Carry over your UI and UX design choices like color palates and interface copy to peripheral material like your social media presence. Your audience will notice this attention (or lack thereof) to detail. There’s no faster way to lose users than utilizing generic messages.

Personalized branding shows your audience that you’re candid and you care about their experience. And that’s the first step toward making them care about your app.

Development

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far, and that’s no small feat. The development stage is where all of your hard work and your vision finally start coming to life. Things can get quite technical at this point, so it’s perfectly normal to find an expert who can help you get through this step.

Make sure your development partner has substantial experience in database setup, core logic, and dynamic screen behaviors. This helps to ensure you’re delivering a fast, seamless, and immersive experience for your users.

It’s also important to meticulously test your app throughout the development process for each of the platforms you’re launching on. Great quality assurance testing can save you a ton of time, money, and effort by catching any bugs or hiccups early on before release.

Launch

We’ve finally arrived at the scariest step for most mobile app developers: submitting your product to the Apple App Store or Google Play. By this point, your mobile app and all marketing material should be done and perfected.

Android apps submitted to Google Play are usually available for public download within hours of submittal. Apple’s App Store, on the other hand, can take up to 10 business days to evaluate and approve your app. Apple is notorious for the high standards it upholds for its App Store. In fact, 30% of submissions are rejected from the App Store, usually because of problems that could have been avoided or addressed during the previous stages we’ve discussed.

If you’ve followed this guide to a ‘T’, you should be in good shape. Still, if you find yourself facing rejection, take this constructive criticism to heart. Carrying out the evaluators’ suggestions will set you up to be a stronger contender once your app finally does arrive in the App Store.

Maintenance and Growth

It’s normal to feel like the journey is finally over by this point. But it’s actually where the true fun begins! Your first wave of users brings invaluable insight into how you can improve your mobile app’s standing. So it’s important that you remain ready to fine-tune your app in response to this feedback.

This is often the trickiest step to building an app, and one that never truly ends. But if you adapt according to your audience’s needs, you’ll gain user traction faster and set yourself up for consistent growth and long-term success.

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