Making Your Own App in Ten Steps

From creation to launch, the ten steps to successfully create and market your own app

a cell phone with apps on it

Two men with laptops ruminating over paper
Who Needs Your App?

1) Market Research

Where to Begin

Making an app before you have a plan is like putting the cart before the horse. First you need to figure out what’s. Who would want to use your app? How large is this audience? Scope out a good niche to insert yourself into. App models that rely heavily on a large user base are unsuccessful without intensive advertising. Models that rely on smaller audiences or personal use tend to do better with small audiences. When thinking up an app, consider your opposition. Who are your competitors? What can you do better than them? Finally see what’s in demand. Google Trends can be a useful tool in your marketing research.

Many sketches
Visualize Your App

2) Sketch Your Idea

Put Your App Onto Paper

You have to start somewhere. Sketching your idea down will help you gain a more solid vision of what you want to create and how to create it. Looking at a sketched out version of your interface will also allow you to see your app as a user would. This is also a good opportunity to polish your idea. Remember, the first draft should never be the last draft. As a user, ask yourself: How would you want the interface to look? What features are most important to you? Why should you use this app? Once you have these questions answered, go back and redesign once more. Rinse and repeat until you’re confident in your design.

Blue pen and journal
Solidify Your Idea

3) Create a Mockup of Your App

Figure Out How It Functions

A mockup consists of several pages of the app, with a focus on the features and how they can be implemented. The mockup should include all pages of the app, from the home page to each individual element. Consider how each element will be interacted with. What will happen when you press this button or click on this menu?

Icons on a laptop

4) Graphic Designs

Your App's Aesthetic

Your app will almost certainly have graphics within it, whether it be icons, logos, or even the UI itself. For this section, you might want to outsource the work. Upwork is a good resource for finding talent to design your elements and make your UI adequately pleasing. The appearance of your app could make or break it, so consider this part carefully and ensure that your users will enjoy looking at your app as much as they like using it.

Laptop with Spotify on it

5) A Web Page For Your App

Where to Direct Your Users

You can have the greatest app in the world, but that won’t matter at all if no one can find it. Having an app on IOS is like having a drop in the bucket, you won’t gain serious traction. Having a good web page can go a long way. With a location to direct people to, they can sign up for a newsletter, give feedback, and learn more about your app. The web page should be set up and you should be gaining traction before your app has even launched.

Coding on a computer
Start Creating Your Vision

6) Code Your App

Bring It to Life

There’s many languages for coding your app. Swift is popular for IOS while Ruby can be good for Android development. If you’re working on your app alone, this can be the most challenging part. Experience is the best teacher, and the more comfortable you get with coding in a particular language the better you will get. If you have little experience and want high-end results or if you simply want to outsource the coding, Upwork again is a good tool to use for app development.

Two phones with the app store pulled up
Bring Your App to Your Users

7) Launch Your App

The Payoff

For uploading an app to the App Store, you’ll need to register for an Apple Developers Account. Here the process is straightforward, prepare your app’s title and meta data with App Store Connect, upload your app, and Apple will review your app. Timelines and guidelines are provided on Apple’s review guidelines. With this, your app will be live and people will be free to download it. This is only the beginning of your work though, no app should be left stagnant. Once your app is uploaded you can get to work on maintenance and promotion.

Laptop with code on it
Keep the Ball Rolling

8) App Maintenance and Updating

Keep It Going

A stagnant app is a dead app. To maintain your app, you should provide frequent updates and polishing. Having frequent updates not only looks good for any prospective users, but it also helps keep your current users happy. Getting feedback for this step is incredibly important, monitor reviews for your app frequently and consider improvements that could be made. Your reviews is also a good place to find out about any bugs you might have missed. In addition to polishing your app, you should also be adding features and considering new ways to use your app. This step is often the most time consuming, but apps are a long-term and changing process.

Laptop with demographic metrics
Get Attention

9) Marketing Your App and Getting Downloads

Get Eyes on Your App

In tech-minded circles, there’s a tendency to overlook marketing of a product. While an app could be an excellent execution of it’s function, a well-marketed competitor will win over downloads nine times out of ten. Ask yourself what problem your app solves, who needs this problem solved, and how you can find them. Find your niche and make them aware of your product whether that be through ads, social media, or in-person interaction. Marketing your product is the only way to get your app into phones.

Girl touching phone
Don't Stop Yet

10) Complementary Apps

Making Many

Creating multiple apps can be a surprisingly effective way of improving your other app’s success. If you’re making an advertising revenue generating mobile game, having multiple mobile games can greatly improve your total downloads. If one of your games catches on, advertising to your other games or your development company can make users aware of your other apps. In addition to this, your apps will come up in relation to each other on the App Store.

Abby Marsh

Abby is a Student at Pitt majoring in Communications.
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