That is the question on the minds of many businesses and many others who plan to start a business.
While any reference to apps (an abbreviation of applications) includes both web apps and mobile apps, often the reference is squarely on mobile apps.
Apps have become commonplace for many businesses today, as technology has reached a point whereby apps are increasingly becoming even more important to some businesses than their own websites due to the volume of mobile phone users. It is for this reason that having an app, for many, is an absolute must.
Determining that you need an app maybe straightforward, in fact, a no-brainer for many businesses. However, going about creating it is not as clear cut as many think. On the contrary, it can seem daunting due to the thinking, design, time and costs involved.
But then apps are being created constantly as many businesses extend the depth of their engagement with their customers and other audiences.
One may ask – where do you start in creating an app?
The process has been distilled into four steps to help you get started before developing an app.
Step 1: Set Goals
Before deciding anything, the most important step of creating an app is to set goals. Goals will enable greater efficiency when creating an app as there are defined boundaries which must be adhered to.
A simple way of establishing goals is to use the SMART method. This is a popular method that is an acronym comprised of the features a goal must possess. In short, goals must be:
- Specific: They must have a clear and well-defined purpose.
- Measurable: Success can be determined through the achievement of a goal.
- Attainable: They can be achieved.
- Realistic: They are not outlandish but within reach.
- Timely: They can be achieved in a rational time period.
In terms of app creation, many businesses will have similar overall goals due to the fact they are all making apps. An example of a common goal featured in app creation is to have an app that successfully addresses its users. Ultimately, if an app does not work in favour of the user it is intended for, it is essentially of no use, therefore creating an app that pleases its users and attracts others is an ideal goal to pursue.
Similarly, the goal of the app must not be fanciful or merely an exercise to bring to life a dream that has no connection to an intended audience. The bottomline is that you create an app to be used and those that will use the app form a core part of defining the right goals for the app.
If the app is for commercial purposes, naturally, evaluating the business landscape for other similar apps or potential competitors is key.
Creating and establishing goals is the first and most crucial step to creating an app, as it means that the process involved becomes streamlined and more efficient.
Step 2: Develop strategies to create the app
Once goals are set, there must be strategies created to achieve those goals. Strategies help to narrow the path to achieving a goal and simplify the process. There are various strategies that could be employed to create an app, such as:
- Completing tasks in increments
- Reviewing development in stages
- Setting deadlines
Strategies enable businesses with the ability to create apps in the most efficient and productive way possible, as well as following through on goals set at the beginning of the process.
Step 3: Determine app features and functionality
An app cannot become what it will eventually become without deliberation on app features and functionality. Businesses must determine what kind of elements the app will contain and how they will function when the app is complete.
There are a plethora of app features and functionalities available that will differ depending on the needs of the business and also the user of the app. For instance, an app that is an online clothing store would require integration of eCommerce, whereas a fitness app may need a calculator for steps walked.
A critical component guiding the type, extent and nature of functionalities is also influenced by among other factors:
- The demographic composition of the intended users. For instance, the younger generation, the millennials, relate a lot more with gaming and use of graphics to engage. Whereas, an app intended for an older generation may require a simple menu.
- The services or products offered. Some products such as apparel, electronics and entertainment require more expressive functionalities such use of video to portray the products and convey messages of how the product works or is used.
Thus, understanding which features and functionalities to implement is key to ensuring an app is successful for both the business but also the intended users of the app.
Step 4: Wireframing
This step is quite eye-opening as it reveals the possibilities of what an app may actually look like and provides a realistic representation of its inner workings. A wireframe lays out the framework of an app and allows the creators to arrange features to best suit their app, whilst acting as the link between ideas held and beginning development of a mobile app.
Wireframing can allow you to determine different needs and whether they are effective or not, such as:
- How many pages are needed
- How space of a mobile screen will be used
- What kind of layout is most preferred
The process of wireframing is not just as simple as finding one layout or flow of pages and sticking with it; it requires greater thinking and testing to ensure the best avenue is taken. This could involve either upgrading or removing redundant elements, or simplifying the app. Testing the wireframe ensures there is a solid foundation upon which an app can be developed.
Step 5: Design
Once wireframing is completed, the appropriate design must be established. The app needs to possess an identity, which comes from its layout, colours and text used, and so on.
Determining the design of an app is a crucial factor in its success; ultimately, the aesthetic element of an app will significantly affect how many members of the target audience will use the app. This is because users are attracted to visually pleasing user interface and visual design.
Step 6: Development and Testing
The final step is to develop the app as you have now laid the necessary foundation to create not just an app but a winning one that resonates with its intended users. Turning an idea of a mobile application into something tangible seems daunting on the outset, however it is an intricate and detailed process that takes considerable time and effort.
The app is developed through coding languages as part of the software development process that functions as the main link between starting to create the app and completing it.
Testing is also quite important, as it is used to ensure that an app functions to the best of its ability, with bugs and other redundancies eliminated over time. Apps must always be tested throughout the development process, and make a noteworthy difference in whether or not success is obtained from mobile app development.
Creating an app can seem intimidating, as there is much to be done from having an idea of an app to actually possessing it. However, through simplified steps the process becomes more streamlined and easier to follow through upon, ensuring greater efficiency and results from app creation.