How To Create an App: 10-Step Guide

App Development
How To Create an App: 10-Step Guide
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: March 14, 2024

If you aren’t sure how to create an app, you need to begin by defining your app concept, target audience, and features. Then, you need to create a wireframe and user interface (UI), conduct thorough quality assurance (QA), and finally, upload it to the app store.

However, with each of these steps, there’s added nuance and aspects that can make or break your app. Read on to learn more about all the essentials of the app development process.

How To Make an App In 10 Steps

  1. Create an App Concept
  2. Determine Monetization
  3. Decide on the Features
  4. Create User Journeys & Wireframes
  5. Design the User Interface
  6. Create an App in a Test Environment
  7. Test Every Feature
  8. Send App to App Stores
  9. Market to Specific Audience
  10. Listen to Feedback

If you're looking to learn how to make an app that's functional, stable, content-rich, and answers your target audience’s needs, here’s our step-by-step guide.

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1. Create an App Concept

When you decide to make an app, the first thing you must determine is its overall concept. Ask yourself what objectives you want to reach and how the mobile app will help you do so. This will provide you with a vision for the project, as well as the functionalities and design approach needed to reach your business goals.

The app concept you will create has to be aligned with the needs and requirements of your target audience, so make sure you formulate and know your buyer persona inside and out.

You should also study the market for apps created by your potential competitors. Highlight what they did well and where they fell short. Such research might provide insights into what your target audience expects and what you should improve on.

In short, focus on creating an app that offers a solution to a problem that exists on the market. If you are making an app for your organization, consider how it will assist your company’s goals. Reflecting on this will make it easier to create a roadmap for the future app.

2. Determine Monetization

This may seem like a later step, but you should think about how your mobile app will make money early on, as this will influence the UI design. The most common ways to make money with an app include:

  • In-app purchases and upgrades
  • Pay-to-download
  • In-app advertisements from third parties
  • Subscriptions

3. Decide on the Features

Many businesses make the grave mistake of trying to cram too many features into their mobile app –especially in the first version.

A better option would be to pare down the features and/or categorize them into desired and necessary ones. Only include the necessary features in V1 of your app. Believe it or not, user feedback or subjects during the initial testing will let you know what they want to see.

Having said that, have a list of prospective features prepared that will make your app stand out. Some essential functionality aspects include UI simplicity, quick loading, and high-quality media resolution.

Another feature to consider is cross-platform compatibility, which, as of now, refers to the two major mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, but you could also optimize it for Windows if your target market fits the bill.

Lastly, including a search feature is another good way to engage users, no matter the app. While not as useful for game-based apps, allowing users to search the app is a good option for eCommerce and social media.

4. Create User Journeys & Wireframes

After you have honed in on your app’s goal and desired features, a user experience (UX) designer — with the help of other experts, such as a digital strategist or an information architect — will create a wireframe and layout the user journey that customers will take to complete the desired action.

A mockup is a thorough blueprint of the app's appearance and how functionalities and features come into the picture. A mockup will often incorporate colors, fonts, photos, the basic layout, and other visual elements. When done effectively, a mockup should provide the development team with an idea of how the app should look and function.

Creating a mockup and/or wireframe lets you:

  • Decide on the appearance of the app and
  • Make easier changes down the road
  • Show the app to stakeholders before the development team begins coding
  • Formulate the development team's expectations

Our industry analysts determined the best mockup tools on the market that designers use to convert their ideas into concepts. They are the following:

5. Design the User Interface

Once the wireframe and customer journey are approved, a designer will create the interface, adding graphics, colors, hierarchy, functionality architecture, and more to create a compelling and well-branded experience.

As implied, the UI is much more than aesthetics and branding — it's all about the end-user and their habits when using the app, so the UI must be created with a consumer’s in-app behavior in mind.

App’s UI should be kept:

  • Intuitive
  • Fast loading
  • Easy-to-understand
  • Simple
  • Accessible

6. Create an App in a Test Environment

After all of that, the heavy lifting begins — app developers begin coding the platform. They should do this in a test environment so it can be tested throughout the entire development process.

When developing an app, it is advisable to keep your working files secure with a password management tool that not only contributes to a safer working environment but also lets your collaborators access files remotely when they need them.

The security of an app is a very important consideration. Test for security by enabling secure source code, performing penetration testing, and conducting input validation. Additional steps like confirming the implementation of HTTPS and SSL/TLS security layers are also advisable.

7. Test Every Feature

As we mentioned, every mobile app should be tested dozens — if not hundreds — of times throughout development. In fact, a dedicated QA expert should conduct thorough tests, which will ensure every single feature works the way that it is supposed to.

If they catch a bug within the test environment, developers will be able to fix it before the app is launched, ensuring users are none the wiser.

Other aspects of an app that should be rigorously tested include:

  • Front-end and back-end functionality
  • Multi-platform compatibility
  • App integration with other tools
  • Installation

These are some of the best app testing tools on the market that app developers use to ensure the quality of their products:

8. Send App to App Stores

Once V1 of your app is completed, an app development agency will launch it in the applicable app stores so users can begin downloading and using the app. The most popular are the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Different app stores come with different regulations which you should be aware of, just like the app development agency should. Make sure you review all their requirements before submitting the app to the store so that it doesn’t get rejected.

9. Market to a Specific Audience

Did you know that app stores allow companies to input photos, videos, and content that can help target appropriate audiences?

Make the most of your app store listing page to promote your app to the best of your ability by optimizing it with:

  • A detailed yet direct and compelling description of your app’s functionalities
  • Unique value propositions and differentiators pointed out clearly for users to see
  • In-app photos, videos, and screenshots depicting the app’s most attractive features (along with some benefits-oriented text)

You may also want to create a landing page or website for your app, where all this info can be contained, along with links to app stores where the app can be downloaded.

For a comprehensive marketing strategy, you might want to reach out to the top mobile app marketing agencies.

10. Listen to Feedback

An important rule of thumb to remember is that app development is never truly done. Users will provide targeted feedback, customers will leave reviews in the app stores, bugs will occur, and organizations will want to add new features sometimes.

All of that means a new version of the app — whether it’s a small fix or a major update — needs to be developed and released to existing users and the app stores.

Simply put, listen to your audience and their feedback — examine the comments section in the app store, the forums your users frequent, social media, and all other potential online review platforms.

Lastly, when it comes to customer support, the first rule of online reputation management says that you should respond timely and professionally to any negative feedback, ensuring the users that their complaints will be dealt with in the next app update.

7.2 billion smartphone users by 2025

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5 Best App Development Companies

  1. Naked Development
  2. Suffescom Solutions Inc
  3. CXR
  4. Apptension
  5. Net-Craft.net

1. Naked Development

  • Expertise: App Development, UI/UX Design, Digital Marketing, Branding, Product Design...
  • Hourly rate: Inquire

Naked Development is an app development agency that will first listen and strip down their clients' ideas to reveal the core of their business objectives. This means designing a strategy that best supports the users' total experience end-to-end. Then their US-based dev team works with the creative team to code with precision.

2. Suffescom Solutions Inc

  • Expertise: App Development, Blockchain, Web Development, Product Design...
  • Hourly rate: Inquire

Suffescom is a leading DeFi and mobile app development company whose approach combines their clients' vision with their technical expertise to drive future business growth. They have a legacy of successful partnerships with industry leaders and global recognition. They offer customized mobile application development services for various industry verticals, including banking, healthcare, supply chain, insurance, e-commerce, gaming, logistics, governments, education, and IT.

3. CXR

  • Expertise: App Development, Web Design, Graphic Design, Blockchain, Branding...
  • Hourly rate: $100

CXR delivers comprehensive solutions that blend effective design with the latest technologies, including web, mobile, XR, AI, and blockchain. They transform any client's business with award-winning branding and user-centered design for web, mobile, or XR apps.

4. Apptension

  • Expertise: App Development, Web Design, Graphic Design, Blockchain, Branding...
  • Hourly rate: $58

Apptension is a product development company with over 10 years of experience, hundreds of completed projects and products sent to market, and almost 100 specialists on board. They cover their partners’ needs in the most comprehensive way possible - from a simple MVP and a pitch deck up to maintaining a multifaceted product after its completion. 

5. Net-Craft.com

  • Expertise: App Development, Web Development, eCommerce Development, PPC, Digital Marketing...
  • Hourly rate: $45

Net-Craft believes in excellent customer service that includes consistent and timely communication. They know that in a business relationship, trust is essential. They meet deadlines, answer emails and calls and keep clients updated with project status on an ongoing basis. They offer a full scope of App development services, including app branding and design, front-end coding, comprehensive system testing etc.

For more options when choosing among potential agency partners, check out our entire list of top app development companies.

App Development FAQs

1. How Much Does It Cost to Create an App?

All in all, it can be difficult to pinpoint how much it will cost to make an app.

After all, the pricing is greatly affected by the timeline of the deliverables, how many features and functionalities you might need, what actions users will be allowed to take within the mobile app, and what long-term support you desire from an app development company.

In general, organizations pay about $200,000 to $350,000 for a mobile app with several features. But don’t let that price tag scare you!

Extremely simple app development projects can dip into the lower five figures. Meanwhile, extremely complex mobile apps — such as those with innovative AR/VR features or robust eCommerce shops — can skyrocket to $500,000 or more.

2. How Do App Developers Charge for Their Services?

Businesses can expect to pay hourly for results for mobile app development. That is because app development requires a lot of timely, active tasks — and those are more easily tracked and billed for by the hour.

Mobile app developers in the United States tend to cost somewhere between $100 and $175 per person per hour — although, of course, that can fluctuate quite a bit depending on their expertise, location, and reputation.

Outsourcing an app design and development project is another valid option — one that will save you big bucks during the app life cycle. Outsourcing software development companies that can build mobile apps generally charge between $55 and $75 per person per hour.

Pro Tip: Both outsourcing and hiring a U.S.-based app development company are valid options that can deliver excellent results.

However, the right direction depends solely on your needs. Take the time to understand each development firm’s experience, case studies, service offerings, and pricing structure. This will help you determine how much help you’ll need throughout the project and whether an agency can meet those requirements.

And remember — paying more money upfront will usually save you thousands of dollars — if not more — in the long run. This is because you end up with a better project that needs less long-term maintenance and fewer updates over time.

3. How Long Does It Take to Make an App?

Much like the cost of a mobile app development project is hard to pinpoint, so is the timeline. That is because — yet again — this is so dependent on a business’s personalized needs.

When do they need the app live? What is their budget? How many features do they need the app to have?

Typical app development projects take 9 to 12 months to compete at least, and businesses that are investing in developing a mobile app should allocate the same amount of time, on average. For app development, there is a budget-friendly & time-saving method: Admin Panel. With the Admin Panel template, you will not need to spend hours creating your own design from scratch.

However, there are a few items that can affect how long it takes to make an app. These include:

The Various App Versions and Their Features

Most mobile apps have several versions throughout their entire life. If a business is willing to lessen the number of features they want in their first version, and simply add them in a later version, they could speed up the app development process.

A Bigger Budget May Mean Faster Development Time

Brands with more money to spend can afford more designers, developers, and hours that an agency spends on their project. Therefore, a larger budget typically speeds up app development projects noticeably.

Does The Agency Also Need to Design the App?

Most organizations use the same app design and development agency to create an app. Thus, if your app needs to be conceptualized, wireframed, and designed before it is coded, the timeline may increase.

4. iOS App Development vs. Android App Development: What’s The Difference?

Although most mobile app development companies are well-versed in creating an app for both Apple and Android devices, those development processes do look different.

iOS and Android app development: the differences

Therefore, it is in every organization’s best interest to understand how to make an app for both iOS and Android operating systems so they can be sure to select the best development partner and release a successful product to the public.

iOS app development companies "speak" either Objective-C or Swift, which are two different programming languages — although they are compatible with one another.

Both programming languages are almost exclusively used by Apple. Although they are scalable within Apple products — which is why Apple items have such strong inter-device cohesion — they don’t operate well outside of the Apple realm.

Apple mobile applications have a few notable qualities. These include:

The computer programming language is very flexible and scalable, which allows designers to create a consistent brand identity on a variety of platforms.

But just because Apple is newer and flashier doesn’t mean they have all the winning qualities. Android mobile applications excel in many areas, including:

Want to save on cost and create an app yourself? Check these robust platforms for building cross-platform applications:

How the DesignRush Marketplace Can Help You Create an App

DesignRush Marketplace connects businesses with relevant agencies that can complete a project or provide a certain service that a company needs.

If your company is looking to develop and market a mobile app, we can find the right agency for the job!

Tell us about your project and we will curate a list of up to 5 most qualified agencies out of 15,000+ in our directory that can create an app to your requirements and for any platform. Best of all, it's free!

Our experts will find the best app development agencies for you, for free.
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