In one of my recent blog posts, I explained how a mobile app could benefit your business. It’s clear that whatever your business does online can also be done on mobile. Not only that, but mobile apps allow you to reach your consumers on a whole other level. You are not only promoting your products or services, you are also connecting with them by supporting online transactions, loyalty programs, social media interactions and more.
The problems most small business owners face are budget and the step-by-step process.
Many people are hesitant to start developing a mobile app because they don’t have any technical background. Since the mobile app market has exploded in the past couple years with the iPhone and Android, there are now several different ways that everyday people like you and me can build an app! There are several programs to think about. This article describes 6 tools to build a mobile app on a budget! If you would rather do everything yourself or you don’t want to rely on a program, you can learn to code or hire an external team.
Recently, I read a great article by Forbes, “How to Build Your First Mobile App” by Melanie Haselmayr. I love her 12-step process so much, I’m simply going to summarize it for you!
Step 1: Define your goal. Every time I bring up objectives I feel like I am repeating myself. Before you start working on any details, you must have a goal. What’s your app’s purpose? Having a goal will help you outline your app and help you get to the end result faster.
Step 2: Start sketching. Simply sketch what you want your app to look like on a mobile device. This will help you “visually conceptualize the main features” and layout. As you go through the process, you can go back to your sketches.
Step 3: Research. The more research you do, the easier it will be for you to create a unique app for your business. Find out what other apps are doing, find inspiration for the design, research any technical information you need, and find the best ways to monetize your app. It’s going to take some time and a lot of research to be able to develop an app that hasn’t already been done before.
Step 4: Create a wireframe and storyboard. In this process, you are creating a mockup of your app. Melanie gives some prototyping tools online: Balsamiq, Moqups, and HotGloo. The storyboard gives you a roadmap that will show each screen and how the user can navigate through the app.
Step 5: Define the back end of your mobile app. This is where the technical aspect comes in. If you are working on your own, you will definitely need to do some research on how to do this, but sketch your servers, APIs, and data diagrams as a reference.
Step 6: Test your prototype. Take your prototype to friends and family and have them review it. Use the feedback to tweak your app.
Step 7: Build the back end of your app. Have a developer set up servers, databases, APIs and storage solutions. Also, sign up for developer accounts at the app marketplaces you are developing for (App Store, Android Marketplace, etc.).
Step 8: Design the app “Skins.” You or your designer should develop high-resolution of your wireframes; each screen within your app.
Step 9: Test again. Now that you have an actual app concept with graphics and text, test your app to see what it will really look and feel like. Melanie from Forbes gives 2 great testing apps: Solidify and Framer.
Step 10: Revise and continue to build. After you’ve tested the design and collected more feedback, polish up your app.
Step 11: Refine each detail. You will want to test your app’s functionality as it proceeds. You will want to monitor it until it’s complete.
Step 12: Release! Each marketplace is different, but once you release your app, Android and iOS will review and, hopefully, approve it!