A step-by-step guide to creating a mobile app from scratch

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App Development

What is your reason for building an app? Have you encountered a problem that you feel you can solve, or just want to ride the wave of product development without any idea? Creating a mobile app for mobile or web is a common trend nowadays. But how to create a functional and successful mobile app from scratch? That can be complex task to achieve.

Building an application allows you to launch a new business or grow an existing one. This is a great way to engage your online customers on their mobile devices, increasing your mobile traffic and encouraging active users to stay on your site longer. 

To create a mobile or web application that is useful for your users and your business, several important factors need to be considered that include objectives, potential costs, project management, promotions, technological protocols, and more. 

To understand it better, here we are going to discuss in a step-by-step manner about how a functional app development process can be applied by both startup clients and enterprises.

Step-by-step guide to build an application from scratch

An app can be developed to extend your current business or a new venture from scratch. Whether it’s a small business app, e-commerce app, fitness app, internal employee communication app, or any other – there’s an app for everything. The number of small businesses with mobile apps has already surpassed 42 per cent.

Developing mobile apps for business is not just a trend, it’s a brilliant way to get a foothold in a booming industry. You can achieve numerous business benefits from a mobile app, including enhancing sales and promoting your brand internationally.

In order to better understand how an app is built, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions about mobile app development:

  • What’s the best way to build an app?
    Choosing the suitable app development method depends on your needs, your budget, the type of app, your industry, and more.
  • How long does it take to create one?
    There are a wide variety of factors that determine the time it takes to build an app. Developing a timeline depends on a number of factors, including the type of app, the complexity of its features, and how it is created. 
  • What will be the cost of creating a mobile app? 
    It takes an average of 6-12 months to develop most mobile apps depending on your app type. In order to determine the cost of developing a mobile app from scratch, many factors need to be considered: How you build the app, what features you implement, and what type of development method you use. Apps become more complex as you add features, functionality, and complexity.

A complete comprehensive guide: How to develop a mobile app from scratch?

We have divided this app development guide into three main sections to help you get comprehensive solutions:

  • Pre-development Phase (Research)
  • Design and Development Phase (Development)
  • Post Development Phase (Launch)

So without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Pre-development phase:

During the first phase, you need to identify and brainstorm your app idea and explore what steps you need to take to solve your query of “how to create an application from scratch?”

To finalize your app idea, you need to find answers to a few questions. You would also want to have other opinions maybe from your friends and family:

  • What do you want to achieve with this app?
  • What problems are you going to solve through the app?
  • Who is the target audience and how often will users use this app & for what purposes?
  • Do you have enough resources to create and promote one?

If you get all the answers to these questions, you will know whether your business will benefit from an app. And start making a list of features or a rough sketch of how the app would appear to your users. 

The next step is to conduct accurate market research to determine if your app has enough market potential. In order to make an app-based business successful, you need to find out what apps people are using and why. As soon as you’ve completed your market research, you need to take a closer look at competitors with similar products, services, or business ideas.

You will know exactly what to do and what not to do while studying their business model, revenue streams, marketing strategies, etc. Make the effort to understand your target audience, their wants and expectations, and any problems they may be experiencing. Understand the user persona i.e. age, gender, personality, interests, etc. 

Decide whether you are going to build your own in-house team or hire an outsource team to create a mobile app from scratch. Following the selection of the right technical partner, you need to consider whether your app should be developed for the mobile platform (i.e. iOS or Android apps) or the web platform.

When it comes to building an app for a mobile platform, you need to choose an option according to your app needs. You can either choose native app development or hybrid app development or cross-platform app development.

Read more about hybrid, native and cross-platform apps in our existing blog to have a clear picture.

The app needs to be built separately for iOS and Android if you wish to launch it across both platforms at the same time. Cross-platform or hybrid development approaches are cost-effective and beneficial if you have a limited budget but want to reach multiple user platforms.

Multi-platform app development allows you to build a single app and deploy it across multiple platforms using hybrid technologies like React Native, Flutter, Kotlin, Ionic, etc. Hiring a mobile app developer with expertise in hybrid or native development is all you need to do.

It is possible for some businesses to target millions of users across multiple platforms by building apps for both mobile and web. Developing web apps may be a viable option for you if your budget allows it. With web apps, you can target audiences who spend most of their time on computers or laptops.

Consider creating Progressive Web Apps (PWA) when creating web apps so that your users can access your apps on both mobile and desktop platforms. Using standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript will save you time and money when developing PWA apps.

Additionally, customers can engage with the web and mobile platforms in a fast, easy, and engaging manner. Detailed specifications give you additional insight that developers use to find the best technology stack to meet your app needs within the best cost and timeline possible.

The approach saves you thousands of dollars and months of time by helping you identify the right tech stack for your project and understand whether it can assist you in achieving your goals. 

Design and development phase:

You will go through the coding part and the actual installation of your application in this process. As part of the development stage for a mobile app, multiple activities need to be undertaken, such as establishing the appropriate development environment, developing the code, conducting preliminary tests, and completing the installation and testing process for the application. 

In order to build a business app from scratch, you need to create prototypes or wireframes to take your idea from concept to reality. Wireframing is a simple, easy process that you can do by yourself. Wireframes describe the layout of your app, whereas prototypes describe the framework.

Choose a frame with dimensions that match the actual device you are designing. Sketches can be created on paper, whiteboards, or with digital wireframe tools. A wireframe is nothing more than an illustration of the app’s main components.

Creating a wireframe is a collaborative process with app designers. It is therefore important for you to clearly specify what and how you want the app to look like. For your app to achieve its goal, you need to have a user flow map. Map out how the user’s journey responds to an action taken by the user.

Additionally, you can analyze what happens to the next app screen when you interact with it. In order to get your team on the same page, wireframing allows your designers and developers to understand your vision.

The three main aspects of developing any app are the backend, APIs, and the front end. 

Once the app is developed, ensure that it’s ready for users and doesn’t contain bugs. Make sure that your app is user-friendly and point out any issues that need to be resolved. Testing ensures that your app offers convenient browsing to all your customers and generates an intuitive interface that acts according to industry standards. 

Other phases in the development process

Apart from the development process, there is a lot that goes into developing a mobile app. Testing for example is a crucial phase for every application. Here are some of the testing stages that an app goes through.

1. Documentation testing: 

App development strategies begin with the layout and navigation of the app’s screens, along with other crucial elements that are concealed in the design. Developers resolve all discrepancies during this phase before they begin developing the app.

2. Functional testing: 

This method aids you in ensuring that your app responds as per industry guidelines. 

3. Usability testing: 

You can perform user experience testing to ensure that your app offers convenient browsing to all of your customers and is designed to function in accordance with industry standards. With its mobile apps, users will be able to access information quickly and easily.

4. Compatibility testing: 

This ensures that your mobile app is compatible with all the devices on the market, regardless of their size, version, screen resolution, or hardware.

5. Performance testing: 

This allows you to test how well you create your own mobile app and performs under a specific workload. 

6. Security testing: 

This process determines whether your application is vulnerable to security threats. Furthermore, it protects sensitive data and detects risks such as hacking, viruses, and unauthorized access.

7. Certification testing: 

Your app will be evaluated to ensure it meets industry standards, terms and conditions, licensing agreements, and store requirements such as those found on Google Play, the App Store, as well as Windows Phone Store.

Post-development phase:

The last phase is the launch phase where the next and main step is to promote your app on a specific platform. How will your customers know that there is a new app in the market unless and until you promote it? The best app won’t make any difference if nobody knows about it.

In order to reach your target audience, you have to let them know there is an app that can meet their specific needs. Having an active presence across multiple marketing platforms is essential for marketing your app. It may be more effective to concentrate on a specific platform where your consumers spend the most time. 

Keeping your app up-to-date and innovating after a while is the key to keeping it viable. In addition to app speed, uptime, and adaptation, you should provide new features periodically to keep users interested. Tracking key performance indicators is the best way to keep your users updated.

Mobile app monetization methods

After an app is deployed to the play stores, there is a lot you can do to make it monetized. There are different types of monetization methods for different types of apps. Let’s take a look at some of those.

1. Freemium models:

Freemium mobile apps can be downloaded for free by users. While the basic features of the app can be enjoyed for free, certain features and content may require payment.

2. Advertisements:

Advertising is the most common method of monetizing apps. Ads in your mobile app will only be effective if you have a large database of users. Your users will see highly targeted ads without compromising their experience.

3. In-app purchases:

In-app purchases are popular with gaming apps like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush. Through in-app purchases, users can unlock unique features, costumes, and in-game money in these gaming apps.

Make sure your in-app purchases enhance the user experience instead of hampering it if you’re considering them. It is important that each purchase contributes to the overall value that users get rather than solely creating profits for the company.

4. Subscriptions:

A free trial period may be an appropriate option if you plan to offer a subscription model for your app. When the free trial period ends, the user membership converts automatically to a paid one. In terms of monetization, subscriptions offer recurring income that is reliable and profitable. As a result, your paying customers may expect your app to offer more content and features.

5. Sponsorship or partnership:

Sponsorships refer to an app collaborating with advertisers. If users perform specified behaviour in the app, sponsors will reward them with rewards/benefits. The concept of partnerships refers to collaborating with an app that has a similar customer base to yours. Your products and services benefit from this win-win situation that allows you to attract new customers.

What do you need to do after the app is released?

The life cycle of an app has just begun. The following points must be taken into consideration when releasing the app:

  • The aim of App Store Optimization is to improve your app’s ranking in the app stores with keywords, titles, and descriptions. You can optimize your app metadata to increase the visibility of your app within the app store. 
  • Do not forget to inform your email subscribers of the launch of your app. Your subscribers will be updated with details about your new app and a link that leads to your app’s download page.
  • Identifying the user’s feedback will assist in analyzing an app’s performance in the market. Once the app is launched, user feedback plays a key role in determining how successful it is. It is possible for your users to provide feedback by commenting or leaving a review. Providing people with a chance to participate on Instagram or Facebook pages is also a great way to engage with them. Customer feedback is always helpful in improving and growing the app’s functionality. 
  • The other method is using App analytics where you can see how popular your app has become. Knowing the demographics of the users, for example, their age, their location, or where most of them are, can help you focus more on the target audience. 
  • Plan on maintaining your app by identifying the users’ demands. Integrating new features and fixing the bugs is what you need to upgrade after a period of time so users start loving it. 
  • You must establish and track KPIs in order to ensure your app runs well technically, provides an excellent user experience, and is generating revenue for you. The right mobile app analytics tool can save you time, money, and hassle.

Final thoughts

The application development stages are quite overwhelming and tedious. But, it is a rewarding process if you do it in the right manner. 

We hope you found the article helpful and got an answer to your question about how to create a mobile app from scratch. Consider these steps in the process of building your application if you plan to create one.

Not sure if you have the right knowledge or skills to do it? Applify is your ideal choice. Connect with us with an idea and we’ll be happy to assist you. With years of successful development experience, Applify can bring your idea to life while adding value to the product.