How to Create an App: Make an App Full Tutorial

Are you curious about how to create a fully functioning app for the market? Here is a full tutorial with everything you’ll need to know going forward.
Austin Betzer
Posted on
January 6, 2022
Minute Read

You’ve likely heard the saying, “There’s an app for that” at some point. And honestly, there’s little wonder as to why. In the current age of mobile technology advancement, you can find an app that caters to almost any need or desire you can think of. In fact, you can likely locate several! As of the start of 2021, there were more than 4 million different apps available to users in the Apple App Store and on Google Play combined, and more keep being released onto the market every day as the proverbial “app boom” continues to rage on.

Whether you’re a computer science major planning their final project or a mobile app lover with a few big ideas of your own, everyone has what it takes to create an app with access to the right resources, tools, and instructions. Whatever your motivation, if you’re one of those out there looking to develop your unique app and toss it into the fray to see how it holds up against the sea of competition, you’re in luck! We are here to provide you with a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you navigate the entire app creation process. Please continue to learn what you need to do to develop and launch your mobile app on the market.

Related: Custom Mobile App Development: Everything to Know [2021]

Generate a Genius App Idea

Generating an excellent app idea is the first crucial step in the app creation process, and it may be one that you’ve already completed without even trying! If you’ve already found your perfect idea that you want to run with, feel free to skip down to step two. If not, please read on to learn about the three quality techniques you can use to start developing your perfect app idea today:

Technique 1: The Remix

In the future, you should try to keep in mind that most app ideas are actually combinations and variations of other already existing apps. One excellent way to develop your great app idea is to find an app (or multiple apps!) that you like and combine them while adding your own unique twist. To do this, start by thinking of the apps you use often and your favorite features about each of them. Is there a way to combine those features into a new type of mobile application?

Technique 2: Meet Your Own Needs and Scratch Your Own Itch

Sometimes the most straightforward thoughts and ideas can produce the best results, and that’s primarily the philosophy behind this particular technique. Instead of brainstorming ways you can meld and combine different apps and their features into your creation, try just focusing on the problems you regularly find yourself facing in your daily life. 

The best way for any business to produce profitable products and services is by finding a need or a problem and figuring out a way to solve it. App creation can follow the same method! Take the time to write out a list of problems- even if you know that other apps already exist to address them. There may be an opportunity to come up with a better, more effective solution.

Technique 3: The Improvement

Chances are you’ve used a few apps before that have left you thinking, “This would be so much better if it could do ___.” If so, then you may have stumbled onto the perfect creative spark for a potential app idea without even knowing it. There’s always room for existing applications to be improved by enhancing their features, adding new capabilities, or simply by making them more user-friendly, especially if the app you’re thinking of is older and isn’t continually updated or improved. That means there’s an excellent opportunity for you to develop something even better.

If you’re not sure about this particular idea, consider looking through the ratings and reviews for the original app. Are other people complaining about the same thing or other problems? Most importantly, is the developer listening to their feedback? Listening to feedback and improving your application is a major driving force behind overall app success, and if the developer isn’t doing it, you can step up to the plate.

A blue graphic displaying dozens of popular app icons.

Buckle-Down for Some Competitive Research

Remember, there are millions of different apps already available, so don’t be discouraged if you see other apps that already tackle the same problems you’re looking to solve. Their presence actually provides you with a fantastic opportunity to figure out exactly what your app needs to include to be superior, and all you’ll need to do is conduct some competitive research. This step aims to figure out how well other apps are meeting the needs of users and determine ways you can meet those needs in a better way. Find a selection of competing apps and keep track of the following information in a spreadsheet or other matrix:

  • App names 
  • Their feature sets (including core features, unique features, and missing features)
  • Their price and type of monetization scheme (also note whether users like the scheme used)
  • Their reviews and ratings (what does it have and what does it lack?)
  • Their number of downloads 
  • When the apps were last updated (is it being maintained?)
  • The app publishers (figure out who you’ll be competing against)

Note: Make Sure Your Idea Has Validation

Suppose you find during your research that there isn’t much competition for your idea. In that case, it’s either such a novel idea that no one else has thought of it before (unlikely) or that the concept isn’t viable enough to attract attention (much more likely). If you’re unsure if your idea is feasible or not, take the time to create a detailed sales pitch for it to convey your thoughts, and then give it to family, friends, and others and get their opinions. Ask them to try and find holes in your idea since you may stumble upon new elements your app will want to address. If you don’t have any luck there and find your idea isn’t likely valid, it may be time to jump back to Step 1.

Select Your Superior App Features

During the previous step, you should have taken note of the various features that competing apps either had or didn’t have, and now it’s time to put that list into use. Carefully write up (in detail) all of the various features you want your app to include while also clearly identifying how you intend the app to function. For example, if you’re making a new social networking app, you’ll likely write something along the lines of:

  • Users will create an app account
  • New accounts can be made with an email and password or by logging in through Google, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Users will create a username, bio, and set a profile pic (using preexisting options or by using their library or camera)

Then describe the features users can access through the app and how. This information is critical to have throughout the next several steps, especially when you start looking for funding by talking to stakeholders or going through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Patreon

Break Up Your Features and Determine The Ones for Your MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept that, in short, states that it’s a better idea to launch a small but practical application of your product to get it into the hands of users who will provide feedback. Based on that feedback, you’ll release updates with new features and repeat the process until you develop the perfect product that fits the needs and wants of the market. This helps ensure that you’re providing people with a helpful product over time that they’ll actively want to use, rather than spending a lot of time and money to deliver a complete product that no one likes. Carefully break down your list of features and select the best, most important ones you want to include in your MVP model.

Make Some App Design Mockups

Now it’s time to start brainstorming how you’ll design your app and how you want the final product to look. Remember that it should be intuitive and easy to use to promote an optimal user experience (UX) through an effective user interface (UI). At this point, you should be focusing on what users will see and what they’ll need to do to interact with your app and its various features. Grab a pencil, notebook, and maybe some colored markers to start developing some rough sketches of your ideas, or utilize some specialized design tools like Sketch, Figma, Framer X, or InVision Studios while focusing on the following elements:

The Main Screens

Try to separate your app’s functionality into distinct sections that will make up the different screens for your app. They’ll likely be somewhat general at first, but this step is meant to get you started on thinking about your basic app design. An effective method for this is to imagine yourself using your future app. When you click on it, what does the opening screen look like? How many sections do you picture displaying the information your users will need? These elements will largely depend on the type of app you’re trying to create, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Main Navigation Components

After determining the main sections of your app and their general layout, you’ll want to consider the kind of mechanism you’ll have in place for app navigation. Are you going to have a tab bar showing your app sections or a slide-in menu people can easily pull up with a swipe of their finger? Look through some of your favorite apps and the apps you’ll be competing with to see what kinds of navigation they use and keep a note of any issues or difficulties you encounter when trying to find something. The goal should be to create an intuitive navigation plan that feels natural for users without leaving them struggling to locate anything.

The Onboarding Sequence and Tutorials

Take time to consider the kind of welcome tutorial you’ll want to provide users that shows them how to use the app effectively. This element is especially vital if you plan on developing a more complex application that will require the user to become educated on its various functionalities.

  1. Pick the Perfect App Name

Now that you’ve determined your ideal features and created some basic app mockups, you’ll likely have a clearer understanding of precisely what you want your app to do and how you want it to be perceived by users. This means it’s a perfect time to start choosing your app name! Even if you think you have a good one picked out already, you’ll still want to ensure it fulfills several specific needs. 

  • Does it reflect the brand image you have in mind?
  • Is it unique, easy to remember, and pronounce?
  • Does it keep target customers and their personalities in mind?
  • Does it have global appeal?
  • Does it steer clear of any confusing jargon?
  • Does it communicate the value and intention of the app?

If the name doesn’t do all of these things, you’ll want to brainstorm some alternatives.

Related: How to Submit Your App to The App Store [2021]

Choose a Cool Color Scheme

Color schemes were probably a component you thought of when creating your mockup app designs in Step 4, but it’s worth revisiting now that you’ve also nailed down an app name. Humans are highly visual creatures, so color schemes are significant to us in general. Different colors can carry different meanings and trigger a range of emotions in people, so you’ll want to select a scheme that will meet the needs of your application and its target users while also emphasizing your brand’s image. The color scheme you end up choosing will depend on a wide range of different factors, but thankfully there is a wide range of free online tools you can utilize to develop one that’s perfect for your application.

A woman drawing an app wireframe on paper.

Customize a Killer App Design

This step may seem redundant after the mockups from Step 4, but this is the stage where you’ll really start getting creative with the way you want your app to look when all is said and done. Going beyond basic sketches and color schemes, now you’ll want to focus on the other elements that will allow you to build an app that looks fantastic by customizing its look and feel through excellent graphic designs. Your goal here will be to create a graphic design that represents the look and feel of your final product, which can be used in presentations to potential investors.

Creating effective app designs will typically involve selecting your final application layouts, app icons, splash screens, backgrounds, fonts, and colors. Even more so than in Step 4, UX and UI are critical components that will have a massive impact on what happens in this step, so you’ll want to be using the right tools, partners, or services to get the job done well. To make an effective app design, we strongly recommend either:

  • Hiring a professional designer
  • Looking for a qualified partner with experience in mobile app design.
  • Learning how to make your own app design
  • Using pre-made app design templates

Are you in need of a skilled, hard-working development team to help turn your next big app idea into an actual, profitable product? Consider reaching out to Strides’ industry experts today to learn what their top-quality developers can do for you and your dream application.

Put Together The Perfect Marketing Plan

With your app design completed, it’s time to start planning for the really tough part of the app creation process; marketing. With millions of applications already available to users and more being released every day of the year, you’re going to need to have an effective marketing plan to ensure your app is getting presented to the right audience. Large amounts of marketing work happen both before and after the app is launched, so it’s good to start developing a detailed plan you can follow going forward to have the best chance at finding market success.

Pre-Release Marketing Steps

  • Construct a basic website or landing page for your app to attract interested users.
  • Start building a pre-launch email list of these users.
  • Create a media kit for your app that includes logos and critical information regarding your app’s purpose and functions.
  • Document your journey of app creation.
  • Learn the ins and outs of App Store Optimization (ASO), including listing descriptions for your app, keywords, and title optimization.

Post-Release Marketing Steps

  • Conduct a press release for your newly-launched mobile application.
  • Consider investing some money into a paid marketing campaign.
  • Email everyone on your pre-launch email list to let them know your app is live.
  • Find forums, Facebook groups, pages, subreddits, and any other relevant online location you can to promote your app and get the word out.

Carefully follow each of these marketing steps to help ensure that your future application will get the attention it deserves from users. If you don’t, it’s doubtful to make any waves in a raging sea of app competition.

A woman working at her laptop to create her own app.

Build Your App From the Bottom Up

Now that you’ve taken care of everything from your app’s name and design to your marketing plan, it’s finally time to start taking your dream app ideas and building them into a profitable reality for release on the open market. There are several ways to bring your app to life, and not all of them will end up working for every app creator. Your optimal choices will depend on your previous coding experience, financial abilities, and access to various useful app-building tools. Here are the primary options you’re going to want to consider going forward with this step:

Hire an App Development Company

Hiring a trusted and professional app development company to construct your mobile application will cost more than the other options on this list. Still, it will be well worth the stellar product they create for you in the end. Development companies typically provide a range of services to their clients while they construct new applications, including consultations and project management. They also have access to a wide range of highly effective tools to ensure that they’re providing you with only the best possible quality in the applications they create.

Hire a Freelance App Developer

Hiring a freelancer to help program your app from sites like Upwork or is a cheaper alternative to hiring a full-on app development company. The apps they create may not be as high-quality, but they will get the job done and provide you with a realized version of your dream application when all is said and done.

Partner with a Professional Programmer 

Another option aside from hiring a development team or freelance programmer is to partner with someone who has programming experience that they’re willing to put towards helping you create your ideal app. However, this particular method can be challenging because it’s hard to find willing partners with the skill sets you require unless you have a proven track record of success when launching apps or businesses. This is primarily because most people are looking for skilled technical partners with some level of reliable experience. 

Learn to Code and Build Your Dream App Yourself

Learning how to code is a time-consuming process that takes a massive amount of dedication not everyone will be willing to give. That said, it will provide you with a precious and in-demand skill that you can utilize later on to build more apps or even get a job as an app developer. There is a wide range of stellar resources available online for you to utilize to gain the coding knowledge you’ll need going forward, so do some research and find out which ones would work best for your needs. 

Buy and Customize the Perfect App Template

This is arguably one of the easiest options on this list and a relatively inexpensive one compared to hiring a developer or freelancer. With this option, you’ll purchase a pre-packaged code that contains the core functionality you’ll need for your mobile application.

A Stack of several different smartphones and tablets.

Select an Optimal Testing Device

Once your mobile application has been fully developed using one of the five methods in the previous step, it’s time to select your optimal testing device. Or, better yet, devices. At this point, you’re likely wondering what your app will look like and how adequately it will function on the various pieces of technology people use in their daily lives. This step is arguably one of the most exciting parts of the entire app-creation process because you’ll finally start to see the tangible results of all your hard work and effort. 

Depending on the method you used to construct your app, and whether you’ve created an app specifically for iOS or Android, you’ll likely have specific ways that you’ll be able to put the app onto different pieces of tech, whether through links, downloads, or QR codes. Utilize whatever method is required for your particular application to add it to your phone, and start to get a sense of what your app’s final product will look like in the eyes of users. It’s generally good to do this with several types of phones if possible, so enlist the help of your friends and family to figure out how the application operates on their phones as well. 

Test, Test, and Test Some More!

Now that you’ve downloaded your app onto your device- or multiple devices- it’s time to start testing its functionality and uses to ensure everything is working as desired without any glitches, bugs, or crashes. Just because you now have an actual app doesn’t mean that it’s anywhere near ready to go live on the market. It can be easy to enter the mindset that your product is the best and most flawless one ever made, but you’ll have to resist the temptation to think that way and remember that users will likely have some very different viewpoints.

Taking the time to test your app diligently will help ensure that you’re providing users with a high-quality product, and developers who skip this step always suffer for doing so. If you make your app go live before adequate testing, users are going to encounter a wide range of problems, and you’ll be left with negative reviews and poor ratings right out of the gate. A massive range of elements goes into testing an app effectively, including documentation testing, functioning testing, usability testing, UX and UI testing, cross-platform testing, and much more. 

Quality app testing is a highly detailed, involved, and technical process that we don’t have time to explore in this article thoroughly, but we’re happy to provide you with a helpful resource that can walk you through the process. Please consider reading through this highly detailed, step-by-step article on how to test mobile applications to learn what you’ll need to accomplish during this stage of the app creation process.

Correct Bugs and Add Any Additional Features 

During the intensive testing process from the previous step, you likely encountered at least a couple of potential bugs and glitches that you’ll need to correct before launching your app onto the market. Address any issues you found, and then repeat the testing process as required. Dedicating yourself to this process will make it less likely that you’ll have to deal with large waves of unsatisfied, frustrated users once you launch your app. You’ll want to be thorough to provide a top-quality product dedicated to offering only the best user experience.

The best way to go about this process typically involves locating all your application’s bugs and prioritizing them in order of importance. You’ll want to correct the most significant bugs first, such as those that lead to crashes, lost data, or other vital issues that will likely turn users off the app altogether in frustration. After that, you’ll want to focus on lower priority glitches that pose a less significant problem, but that will still need to be fixed before launching the app.

At this point in the process, you’ll also want to consider taking the time to add any final touches or finishing features that you haven’t added to the application previously. During the testing phase, you likely found a few places where you realized your app’s performance could be improved by tweaking things or expanding its overall capabilities. Depending on your unique situation and what you want your app to do for its users, this could involve taking several steps back to add entirely new components to its functionality. That said, it could simply entail adjusting a few settings or making the navigation process more manageable for users to follow. 

Prepare Yourself and Publish Your App!

Now it’s time to tackle what’s arguably the most exciting and most tedious part of the app development process all at once; publishing your app onto your chosen application store. Depending on whether you’ve developed an Android app for the Google Play store or an iOS app for Apple’s App Store, the process of app publishing is going to be significantly different. Below are two sections that delve into the processes that both types of application stores will need you to go through before they can make your app available to the public. 

A smartphone displaying the Google Play Store logo.

Android Apps for Google Play

To publish your Android application on the Google Play store, you’ll first have to follow a process involving several detailed steps.

  1. To start, you’ll first have to sign up for a Google Play Developer Account on the Google Play Console through your regular Google Account, which will allow you to publish your app. You will be required to accept Google’s developer distribution agreement, pay the one-time registration fee of $25, and then input your account details.
  2. From there, you will use the Play Console to “Create Your App” under the “All Apps” option. This part will involve selecting the app’s default languages, specifying its type, and whether it’s free or paid. You’ll also need to provide an email address, as well as accept and acknowledge app policies, laws, and terms of service.
  3. After Creating Your App, you’ll then need to “Set Up Your App” on the App Dashboard, which will involve a lengthy initial setup process where you Manage Your App Bundles.” You’ll need to fill out several mandatory information fields relating to the app’s store listing and categorization.
  4. Once you provide the necessary information to the Google Play Store and it’s been reviewed, you’ll be able to run internal and closed tests to receive additional user feedback and sign the app up for pre-registration. From there, you’ll be able to Prepare the App for Review” and roll out a release date.
  5. Once your app is released, you will gain access to post-launch services on your developer dashboard that will provide information on a range of key metrics and trends related to your app.

Related: How to monetize your mobile app. (11 strategies from an expert)

A smartphone displaying the App Store Logo.

iOS Apps for the Apple App Store

Much like the process of getting your app launched on Google Play, you’ll have to follow several involved steps to launch it successfully on the Apple App Store.

  1. First, you’ll need to sign up for the Apple Developer Program, which will cost $99 per year but provide you with a range of valuable benefits and tools, as well as access to App Store Connect. You’ll also want to take the time to prepare your app for submission by ensuring it adheres to the App Store Guidelines so that it can pass Apple’s app certification team’s process later on without issue.
  2. From the App Store Connect Dashboard, you will go through the My Apps menu and select the “+” option to create a new app. You will be prompted to create an App Store listing and provide screenshots of your working application. 
  3. After filling out the information for your listing and providing the required screenshots, you’ll then need to upload your app data through Xcode
  4. Once the app has been uploaded onto App Store Connect, you’ll submit it for review by the App Certification Team we briefly discussed in part 1 above. They’ll ensure your app meets Apple’s guidelines while ensuring it doesn’t crash or provide a negative user experience. If you took the time to check this yourself in part 1, everything should be fine, and the process should go quickly.
  5. The app will either be approved or rejected within 2-3 days. If it’s rejected, you’ll have to fix whatever issues the certification team found and go through the submission process again until it’s accepted. When accepted, it will be approved for placement on the App Store. 

Promote Your App Proudly for Maximum Exposure

Congratulations! If you’ve read this far, that means your app has successfully made it onto the Apple App Store or Google Play and is ready to enter the hands of eager users! However, that doesn’t mean your work is anywhere near over. If you want your application to stand a chance at standing out against the sea of other competing apps, you’ll need to step up your marketing game by employing some high-impact marketing strategies. There’s a wide variety of methods you can pick and choose from, but we’d recommend using a combination of these top-four tactics:

  • If your application costs money, run a paid-to-free app campaign for a while to encourage new users to download the application.
  • Try getting your app featured by Apple in the App Store or by Google on Google Play.
  • Tweek your app’s metadata to enhance its app store optimization (ASO).
  • Find influencers who cater to your target audience and get them to give your app a review or a shoutout.

Get Some Useful User Feedback

This is the last step of the app creation process and arguably one of the most important to follow closely if you genuinely want your application to succeed. Just because you’ve launched your app and promoted it to a wide range of users doesn’t mean the process is over. On the contrary, in many ways, it’s only just beginning! If you’ve been paying close attention throughout the rest of this article, then you’ve likely picked up on the importance of developers taking user feedback into account and going back to update their published applications continually. You need to understand that this also applies to you and your app!

To find market success and keep users interested in what you have to offer, you need to make sure you’re staying on top of the game to provide new content and features that will keep people coming back across time. With so many apps for users to pick and choose from, you mustn’t get lost and fade away from people’s thoughts, and the only way to do that is by ensuring you stay relevant.

The Bottom Line of The App Creation Process

Once again, we’d like to state that the app creation process is complicated, time-consuming, and arguably not for the faint of heart. But that’s not to say it’s impossible! Anyone can create a quality app given the time, tools, and resources to do so, and we hope that you consider trying your hand at it as well! If you’d like to give app creation a shot and would like some additional guidance getting started, please consider reaching out to the experts at Strides today to learn how they can help. And don’t forget to explore their range of quality app-education articles.

Are you looking for a top-quality app development team to help you bring your dream app into the real world for sale on the market? Check out the spectacular services provided by the industry experts at Strides today to learn more about what they can do to help.

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