how to build a mobile app

How to build a Mobile App in 8 steps

Summary: 8 key steps to help you get started with building a Mobile App.

If you’re not a developer, building a mobile application is likely to take several months and could cost anywhere from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand.

Needless to say, you’ll want to do everything you can before you start building your app to ensure you’re on the right track.

As the owner of a start-up and mobile app company AppInstruct, these are eight steps Nic Wright has found to help get you headed in the right direction.

Step 1: Research the Market

The first and arguably most important thing you need to do before you get started is research your idea.

Fortunately, this stage doesn’t cost much and you can do most of it yourself.

Start by searching the app stores, not just Apple but also Google Play, and look for competing products. There are over 1.3 million apps in both stores, so it’s unlikely your idea will be completely unique.

Step 2: Talk to Potential Customers

Ask family and friends for their honest feedback. If you plan to sell your app, ask them if it’s something they’d be willing to pay for.

If so, how much?

Would they make in-app purchases?

What similar products do they use now?

What are the hurdles for them to switch to your app (i.e., lost historical data, leaving a social network behind)?

Would they be willing to switch anyway?

Step 3: Consider your Business Model

How will your app make money?

Around 90% of revenue earned in the app stores comes through in-app purchases.

How does your app fit into this model?

Will you charge people to download your app? Will the app be free but have advertising? If so, how will that advertising fit within the overall experience?

Do you intend to build an audience and later try to monetize that audience? If so, you’d probably need to raise several rounds of venture capital.

Step 4: Define your Value Proposition

How unique is your app and what it offers?

The simpler it is to explain, the easier it will be for your audience to understand it.

The more unique it is, the more likely customers will seek it out after you launch.

Step 5: Assemble your Team

In the competitive app landscape, having proven talent, both in design and development, is critical.

To find a talented designer, start by reviewing portfolios and looking for previous work that’s a visual fit with what you’re trying to achieve.

Design is more complex than simply the look of the app.

The user experience is just as important or possibly even more important than the way it looks.

Take the time to download and try out apps your potential designers have built. Are they easy to understand? Can you grasp how to use them quickly? Do they confuse you?

Google’s Mobile App UX Principles guide has tips on how to create a great user experience.

One of the best ways to determine the skill set of a potential developer is to review code they’ve written. You can also ask them to work on logic and coding tasks to see how they perform.

Be sure to take a look at their portfolio.

Download and play with apps they’ve built and test them out. Do they require similar skills to what you’re building? Are they fast to load and interact with? Are there any bugs?

If so, ask the developer about it. There could be an explanation why, such as a new operating system has been released or the client didn’t have the budget to fix it.

If you don’t have the technical expertise to review their work, try to find a friend or colleague with a computer science background to help you.

If that’s not an option, you can hire an experienced project or product manager to help you recruit a great developer.

Step 6: Set a Budget

Make sure you have a realistic budget with room to spare.

It’s a good idea to allocate as much as 30% of the total for contingencies.

In addition, you’ll need to set aside money to work on iterations of your app. It’s unlikely the first version of your app will be perfect, so expect to continue to refine it. After your first release, you’ll have meaningful feedback from users you can leverage for the next version.

Step 7: Market your App

Once you have the right app for your target market, it’s time to get the word out about it.

Because the app stores have almost twice as many apps today as they did just 18 months ago, it can be challenging to get noticed.

Is there a niche your product will appeal to? Start there and look to build advocates within that audience. Advocates can help you spread the word and break into larger markets.

You can also submit your app to PreApps, an app marketplace where early adopters will try your app and let you know what they think about it.

Step 8: Keep Innovating

No app is ever complete.

Listen to your users and find out what they’re asking for.

Keep a running wish list of features you can build when you have time. Also be sure to plan to make changes each year when there are updates to the operating systems.

Follow these eight steps and you’ll be on your way to app store success.

(Article originally published on Upwork’s Hiring Headquarters: Click here for original article)
About The Author

Nicholas Wright

Nicholas Wright is the co-founder of AppInstruct, an online course teaching entrepreneurs the business and technical skills they need to create an app. Nicholas founded AppInstruct following a successful corporate legal career, working for top tier firms in London and Sydney. He recently put into practice what he learned from creating AppInstruct’s course, co-founding and releasing the free lenslife photo messenger for iPhone earlier this year. Connect with Nic via @appinstruct or on LinkedIn.

  • Moretli Mokhubidu

    Hi. My name is Moretli Mokhubidu from South Africa and I’ve just identified a company that can build an app for me but the challenge is,in order for my app to work they way it should, it must be integrated with other OS’s. How can I get the companies that my app will be integrated with to work with me without exposing my app idea?

    Should I have a virtual one and make them sign NDA? Any suggestions?


    • How 2 for Entrepreneurs

      Hi Moretli

      Thank you. We have sent your question to our expert and will send you his reply as soon as we have it.

      • Nicholas Wright, CEO of Appinstruct

        “Without knowing your idea, our general advice is not to be hung up on idea protection, as in 99.9% of cases, the execution of the idea is so much more critical to the outcome. In addition, feedback on any idea can be extremely useful, so it’s actually better to tell people about your idea and get their thoughts, than keep it tightly under wraps.

        NDAs are definitely useful, but are more suitable when dealing with small development companies, rather than more established corporates. Rarely will established corporates agree to any NDAs with start-ups, as at anytime they are already conducting their own research & development projects, and wouldn’t wish to run the risk of any potential conflict with their own projects.

        Whilst your idea is intended to be the foundation stone of a whole company, it’s worth keeping in mind that the corporates you approach, will already have multiple successful products and businesses – that’s not to say there’s no risk of them executing on your idea before you can, just that more often they’ll stay focused on their own core business, whilst watching how you progress, content in the knowledge that if you succeed, they might approach you and buy you later, when much of the risk in the idea has been removed.”

        Hope that helps,

        (Nicholas Wright, CEO of Appinstruct)