Nick Black, CEO of app developer Apadmi explains how you can build your own mobile app in seven simple steps
The UK’s smartphone application industry is booming. The latest Google-commissioned research has forecasted revenues will reach £31 billion by 2025 and the UK is second only to Japan in this market.
As a result, many businesses are now considering launching their own apps in order to take advantage of this opportunity. However, with as many as 90 percent of all mobile apps being abandoned in the first year, getting it right is crucial.
How to build an app
Explaining how best to do this, Nick Black, CEO and co-founder of Apadmi, UK-based mobile app developer, maps out some simple steps to help create a successful app.
Building an app requires considerable planning and forethought. There needs to be a clear set of aims and objectives established from the outset in line with the business’ strategy. These aims and objectives will form the basis of the project and inform the app development process. The below steps will talk through the different stages of building an app and present key questions that should be considered throughout.
1. Planning – why is the app being built and who for?
Consumers have come to expect businesses to have an app but building one just for the sake of it is futile. Apps need to have a clearly defined purpose and they should complement a business’ other channels including the company website.
Planning what exactly the app is being created for is imperative as they can provide real value. Creating loyalty amongst existing customers and boosting engagement, as well as attracting new business are only some of the possibilities apps are capable of. If well-built, an app can drive revenue through advertising, in-app purchases or paid downloads.
Once it’s purpose is established, careful consideration also needs to be given to who the app is being built for – the app’s demographic. Apps are created to be used by people. It sounds pretty redundant pointing this out but over the past few years, we’ve noticed a trend of apps being created with little or no consideration for the end user. Carrying out research with potential users is an effective way to gain an understanding about what users want and what will work. Processes such as user testing can be incorporated into the app’s design phase to account for feedback from your demographic so the app’s flow is accurate and natural.
Establishing from the outset that the user is the centre of all app-building will help to ensure an app is both accessible and user-friendly.
2. Functionality – what will your app do
An app has to have both a purpose and a function. Keeping it simple, usable and reliable is a sure-fire way to gain users, and consumers prefer to have an app that does one thing really well rather than a ream of things poorly.
It’s also important to know from the get-go what functions the app should have as changing things later on in the development process will be costly both financially and time-wise.
3. Content is crucial
The success of an app depends on its content so having a clear idea about what this is, is also extremely crucial. Thought must be given when deciding what data the app should use, what data it should provide and where it will come from.
For example, if an app is being built with the view to allow users to browse through product ranges then being able to update information needs to be straightforward. One option is to download content from a server or embed content within the app – this is fairly simple and quick to code however it may make updating information within the app more difficult further down the line.
4. Be mindful of users in design
Complicated apps are off-putting to most users so to ensure an app is appealing, keep things simple and usable for even the least tech-literate users.
When looking at the user interface, remember to take into account that different devices behave in different ways and apps on an iOS device may not mirror that on an Android. Avoiding a one-size-fits all approach lessens the likelihood of alienating segments of potential users.
5. Pick a team you can count on
Few organisations have the full range of specialisms required to build an app – if you’re looking for a supplier to do it all in-house, make sure you pick a company who represents all of the disciplines across app development including project management, consultancy, strategy, design, server, test and support and maintenance.
Researching suppliers before appointing is important. Make the conscious effort to assess experience and references as this will help to build the best team available.
6. Get the source code
The source code is the essence of an app – it is the underpinning information and so taking copies is critical; whoever owns the app generally has the rights to own the code.
Owning the source code also gives the power of being able to choose who will handle the maintenance and any updates that the app may need in the future. Getting regular copies of the code during the development stages, as well as the final code once the app is finished, is crucial.
7. Finally, TEST IT!
Testing is paramount. In fact, it’s probably the most important stage of the app-building process.
Tests should be carried out throughout the development of the app – starting with the earliest prototypes and right up until the launch of the final version. Testing the app should include a look at how the app reacts to common issues such as battery failure or sudden loss of connectivity.
The more an app is tested, the more actionable feedback is gained from those who will be using the app. This should then, in theory at least, result in a more user-friendly and ultimately a more successful app.