Create An App

Create An App mobile device

How to Create An App?

If you’re reading this, you probably have an idea, and are ready to create an app. Congratulations! You may have taken the first step on an amazing journey, full of ups and downs, and twists and turns. This adventure can feel both like a long-time-coming and unpredictable, exhilarating and grinding. Here is what to expect and the general process from conception to release when you create an app. Use this guide to prepare for what’s to come.
“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” – Sue Grafton

Create an app - Step 1: The Idea

You’ve got an idea. Now it’s time to refine it so that you can create an app that is focused and effective. It boils down to providing a solution to a problem. For example, music students who will not practice. They may really want to be good at their instrument or singing, but simply can’t muster the motivation at practice time to play their scales or mundane exercises in order to build the foundational skills they need. Enter Practopus, a motivational practice app for students designed to reward them for the time and effort they put in.

When you are brainstorming your idea, think about it in terms of what problem it solves. This will ensure that it is purposeful and necessary. It will also help to identify WHO needs it.

“Know your target audience. Always keep them at the forefront of your mind. Understand their lifestyle and what they are looking for. Gather their feedback and use it to tailor your approach.” 

– Imran Ahmed

create an app - Audience on whiteboard

Create an app - Step 2: Identify the Market

If you create an app and no one is there to use it, did you really create an app? Yes, you did. And you probably wasted a lot of money doing it. Hand-in-hand with identifying a problem to solve goes the task of verifying that there are actually people who have it AND will use your app

In the Practopus example above, classroom and private music teachers were the initial target market, which was soon to be narrowed down to mainly classroom band and choral teachers based on initial user feedback. With the movement toward gamification and other technology-based solutions in education, the timing was righ. In addition, collecting practice data is particularly tedious and/or subjective without an automated tool. Teachers were biting at the bit to give Practopus a try.

Remember, just because you can create an app that will solve a problem you have does not mean it applies on a larger scale. The best course when you create an app is to make predictions about who needs your app and then find ways to test your predictions. Take surveys of friends, acquaintances, or other connections who are in a position to provide insight. Do research to see what others have tried and what has worked. And so on… Get creative!

It is also important when you create an app to make sure that the app will be available on platforms that your target market is using. Do all of your potential users have access to mobile devices? If not, it may be important that your app is available on web. Will it be possible to develop the app for only one platform initially, whether Android or iOS?

Once you’ve nailed down your idea and target market, it will be time to decide how the app you create will generate revenue.

“Price is what you pay and value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

Create an app - Step 3: Monetize

The decision for how to monetize when you create an app can sometimes make itself. If your app provides an ongoing service, it might make sense to charge a monthly subscription. If your app includes opportunities for privileges or service charges, you may monetize with in-app purchases or service fees. Other options include a one-time download cost, and advertising revenue from in-app ads. It is important to have a plan before you go into development because the method you choose is PART of the development process. You may need to integrate a payment processor or ad service API, like Google AdMob. You also want to get ahead of any approval you need for a service, like PayPal, Braintree, or Stripe.

“The simplest things are often the truest.” -Richard Bach

Create an app - Step 4: MVP

Now comes the hard part. You want to create an app based on your VISION. That is great! BUT you need a manageable and realistic process to get there, making calculated decisions based on customer and market feedback. The first step is creating your Most Viable Product a.k.a. the MVP.

Scale down your app idea to its most basic and necessary functionality. As part of that process start documenting a “backlog” list with everything else. If you are starting the sentence with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…,” that feature should probably go in the backlog for now. The idea is to create an app for your market, so you want to roll it out in prioritized stages based on what the market wants. In the Practopus example the founders were sure that teachers would not want their students to run a practice timer and accumulate practice points when the Practopus app was not open. They rolled out the MVP with the timer automatically stopped when the app was closed. As it turned out, teachers wanted to choose whether their students could run the timer in the background for various reasons. Sometimes the students needed to view material in other apps or the browser when running the timer, etc… The founders of Practopus were able to take this feedback and build the additional timer functionality. Their early adopters felt heard, and appreciated the new feature. It strengthened the app’s reputation and virality in the market. And the best part was that it had zero risk. There was no guessing and no spending on random features that may or may not be necessary. Sometimes untested features can even backfire if users don’t like them! Therein lies the value in releasing the MVP. You will save time and money, allowing you to continue to build for guaranteed improvement and market demand.
create an app - developers coding at computers

First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.
– John Johnson

Create an app - Step 5: Find Developers

Finding developers is hard. Finding developers who will care about your project and put in 100% is even harder. Not only is development hard when you create an app, it can be very expensive, especially when mistakes are made. There is an illusion looking from the outside in that creating and launching products in this day and age is cheap and easy. We as consumers are accessing free or inexpensive services like Spotify, YouTube, Netflix or various other open-source or free version virtual work tools with seemingly endless content streams and useful features. There is a mythology to successful founders’ stories. Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs started in their garages. Mark Zuckerberg posted Facebook online and it just took off, self-propelled. These may be based on true stories, but they are not nearly the whole story or the typical experience.

Most founders get stuck at the development phase. There are various options though, including teaming up with a friend who codes, using an app building platform, or even hiring low-cost developers direct from India or South America. Each of these has potential problems and even deal-breaking pitfalls. Teaming with a friend who codes, assuming you have one who is willing to partner, is slow (I’ve been there!). More likely than not they have a life and cannot dedicate the time you need to get the job done. Using an app building platform is also limiting. You are dependent on the parameters of the platform and there is little guidance, technical and strategic, in terms of learning and going through the process from conception to release. Read our post about the pros and cons of outsourcing developers.

However, there is one more option. When working with a company like XBit Technology, development remains affordable. You have a dedicated full-time team (or part-time based on your needs). A dedicated project manager will manage the team and be the liaison between you and the developers who are building your product. One of the most beneficial aspects is that the project managers know how to create an app and have experience with the whole process. That guidance is invaluable. The project stays on track, on time, and on budget. The first step when working with an experience project manager is to document the “requirements.”

Interfaces keep things tidy, but don’t accelerate growth: Functions do. -Unknown

Create an app - Step 6: Requirements

The requirements when you create an app are the translation from your MVP idea to a set of actionable items that the development team can use as a guide during the build. What are all of the things you want a user to be able to do? An experienced project manager can help you put this document together to be sure nothing is missed. You’ll be surprised at how many details stem from what seemed like an already simplified MVP. Developers will generally follow the requirements exactly, which is why this document is so important. You cannot take anything for granted.
“If you build it, they will come.” –Field of Dreams.

Create an app - Step 7: The Build

The best method for the build when you create an app is called Agile development. The requirements are divided into (usually) two-week development “sprints.” At the end of every sprint there is a “deliverable,” meaning something concrete that can be demonstrated. This keeps the development team accountable and on-track, plus maintains an element of flexibility as priorities change and new ideas inevitably present themselves. This is also where the backlog mentioned previously comes into play. With developers working a set number of hours during these sprints, they can reach into the backlog during unused hours. Work is always being done by priority, which makes the most of the time and your budget. The progress is measurable.

The development team will also be conducting Quality Assurance as part of each sprint to ensure that the deliverable is tested. This incremental testing is critical to preventing a train wreck by continuously building on buggy code. In the end of this round, you’ll end up with a reliable MVP that you can take to market.
“5, 4. 3, 2, 1 …”


When the MVP is ready, it’s time to launch! Read our blog post on crafting a successful launch (COMING SOON).
create an app - launch toast

If low-cost, managed development might be a good option for your app or web project, contact XBit Technology using this form. We're happy to help!

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