How to Build a Mobile App from the Ground Up

How to Build a Mobile App from the Ground Up

Building a mobile app from scratch can be a daunting task. This process isn’t easy, but it’s definitely not impossible either.

In this article, we’ll help you break down how to build a mobile app from the ground up, starting with wireframes, to launching your application, and beyond!

Step #1: Define Your Objectives

Before beginning to build your mobile app, you need to start with identifying your objectives for the project.

Make sure that you have defined your goals as clearly as possible.

Start by asking yourself the basic questions:

  • What types of features should your mobile app have?
  • What issues or pain points is your mobile app addressing for the end-user?
  • Is the idea for a mobile app a realistic business model?

Make sure to take a look at your business objectives and how your app will fit into your overarching goals.

Once you have defined your goals, create use case scenarios and begin some basic sketching.

After you have an understanding of your objectives and clear direction of the project, it’s time to dive into market and competitor research.

Step #2: Conduct Market & Competitor Research

Before you begin working on your mobile app design, it is crucial to conduct your own research on what is popular in the market right now, as well as what your competitors are doing.

We are not saying to copy your competitors, but instead, generate some ideas of how you are going to make your mobile app better and more user-friendly.

Step #3: Create Wireframes

Developing wireframes for your mobile app is a key component in app development. Knowing what a wireframe is, how to approach wireframes, and what you should and shouldn’t do with wireframes is essential.

What Exactly is a Wireframe?

Wireframes are digital, fairly basic sketches of app layouts. Think of them as the templates or blueprints of the final visual layout.

They show how the app will transition between its various screens and menus. Wireframing also helps demonstrate the basic foundation for the UI (User Interface design) and UX (User Experience Design) flow.

Put simply, the wireframe is worrying about how the features and functions will become cohesive and run off each other.

Approaching Wireframes

It is vital to understand how to approach wireframing. It is important to know what you will be using and how the layout and designs will work with each other.

The most important part of the approach is to keep in mind that this is for a client.

You have to approach the layouts and features in the way the client intended. Luckily wireframes layout for the client step by step on how it will look and how it will function.

If edits are requested by the client, designers can go back in easily and adjust as needed.

The Don’ts of Wireframes

It’s important to realize that the wireframe is not a full-color mockup. A big problem people run into is worrying about the decorative feature of the app. That is not what the wireframe stage should be about.

Need Guidance?

A lot of designers have had years of experience and know what works and what doesn’t work.

Even the best of the best have to look to other places for inspiration, and that’s totally acceptable.

Some great sites to get your ideas and brain juice flowing are Collect UI, Hyper Pixel, and Pages.

Step #4: Design Full Color Mockups

Your app’s functionality should come first, but make sure you take the time to design an application that is appealing to the eye as well. Replace the pieces of your wireframe with cool design elements and watch your application come together.

First, It is important to distinguish the difference between a mockup and a prototype. Unlike the prototype that is interactive, displays all the visuals and the user experience people will have, mockups contain the visual elements of the app, without being fully interactive yet.

During this stage, this is the time to mess around with the font, coloring, and other visual aspects. There are plenty of tools online that show you how your font would look with a certain colored backdrop or how your spacing affects the design pages. Using a colored contrast tool like Color Contrast Analyzer is perfect for this, as well as others.

Tools created just for digital product design like Sketch.com are hugely popular and great assets to use for mockups. If we could suggest the best digital product design software, we would suggest Figma.

We chose Figma because it has all the upsides of Sketch.com and more. it’s the best for team communication and collaboration as well. It  What sets Figma aside from the rest is that it can be used on any operating system that runs a web browser.

So you’ve designed your full-color mockup, and you think it’s ready to bring to your client. You and your team have put your sweat and tears into this mockup and you need this to be a home run. The link below is written by Luke Wroblewski (Product Director at Google), where he helps explains how to make sure that happens.

Step #5: iOS vs Android

IOS vs Android, Swift vs Java. The feud between these two continues to grow as they compete to be the number one platform to use for app development. How does someone know which one to use?

It all comes down to who your target audience is. Does your target audience prefer one over the other? Do they like to use both? If they like both platforms, you have to pick one to build first.

When deciding whether you want to launch your app on IOS and Android, There are five elements that everyone needs to consider:

  • Your target Audience.
  • How much time you have.
  • The features you want to have.
  • How much money you have for upkeep on app.
  • How much money you want to make.

There are plenty of benefits to both IOS and Android platforms, so it’s really up to what platform you prefer.

As mentioned previously, IOS (Apple) uses Swift for their apps. Swift is known for being quicker and doesn’t require as much code to be written. Another benefit of iOS is that it is considerably cheaper than android when it comes to developing apps, 30-40% cheaper to be exact. A third important benefit to consider with iOS is that research shows that Apple users are more likely to purchase apps from the app store.

Recently, Apple released Swift 5 which is now open source like Java. For those of you new to the programming language, open-source just means that it is available for programmers to use and modify however they want.

Android uses Java as its go-to language. Java script is known as the traditional coding language and the most widely used.

A benefit that android has over IOS is that it covers a much bigger audience. Android also has a huge benefit in that fact that it doesn’t cost nearly as much to produce an app. Apple charges $100 and Android charges you once for $25.

iOS

Apple provides guides and materials for developing a mobile app. It’s a very comprehensive tutorial, so be sure to check it out if you have the time. iOS app development is extremely fun, but can be challenging. Any roadblocks you have can be sorted out by app development professionals like us!

Android

Google offers guides and courses to help developers understand the Java coding language and SDK framework. This guide is also very comprehensive (and free), so you can’t say corporate American didn’t give you anything for free!

The Benefits Of Building Both (iOS & Android)

  • If you want to expand your reach and get your app on as many devices as you can.
  • Catches bugs and other issues at a higher rate.

Step #6: Database Management (SQL)

When beginning to build your new app’s database, start by determining what sort of data you will need to keep. This can vary from customer login information to app performance analytics. Then, draw an entity-relationship model (ERM) diagram to map out the relationships between the data.

Step #7: Time to Build Your App!

Once you’ve finished all of your planning, it’s time to implement! Here’s how to build your app the easy way:

Start with a test-driven approach

The test-driven approach is for the purpose of testing the requirements of a feature or something similar before it is used or accepted.

Coding

Accepting that bugs will happen. Bugs are pretty much inevitable, but not to worry, that’s what testing is for.

Tools to Use

Companies like Appium, Robotium, Testdroid, and TestComplete are just a couple of super helpful ones. For example, Testdroid lets you run a test on real-life IOS and Android devices available on Github.

The biggest benefit is after every code check-in, these tools will be able to catch performance problems.

Step #8: Put Your App Through Rigorous Testing

Testing your app is a crucial step in the building process because it helps ensure that the product you are creating is at the quality you would like and ready to be launched. There are many types of testing you can conduct on your app, but these are some of the most important:

  • Functional tests: Tests basic functions and all application features, including but not limited to: battery usage, app speed, and memory
  • Performance tests: Tests functionality, installation, responsiveness, battery consumption, stability, etc.
  • Device specific tests: Tests app performance, test cases and scripts on specific device types
  • Usability tests: Tests compatibility, UI, external factors, accessibility

Step #9:  Launch on the App Store

In order to put your mobile app on app stores, you need to get the respective certifications for the app stores. Enter the stages of manual review with the Apple App Store or Google Play Store in order to do so.

When it comes time to launch, release your application in cycles. This way, your launch process will be much more stress-free.

Step #10: Monitoring Your App

To monitor your app well, pay attention to metrics like response time, crash rates, and other performance-specific data. Review user behavior metrics with analytics data, and the data consumption by consumers.

Also, make sure you pay attention to your online reputation. Monitor your Google Play Store and App Store reviews and respond to any that need your attention.

Takeaways

There’s a lot that goes into designing, coding, and launching a mobile app, but it can be done with proper planning.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you in the mobile app development process.

If you’re confused about certain stages of the development process or need professional assistance, reach out to us for any of your app development questions!