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10 steps for creating an app with a budget

February 13 2022

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Follow These Ten Essential Steps for Mobile App Development On a Budget

Thinking about developing your own app? If yes, then awesome! You’re about to start a life-changing journey!

What’s more? We want to give you a head start by breaking down the 10 steps for mobile app development on a budget:

Step 1: Brainstorm Your App Idea

There’s no app if there’s no idea. Simple as that.

Now, Statista cites around 4 million total apps existing on Google Play and the Apple App Store. There are plusses and minuses to that statistic, but it’s mostly good for the ideation process.

Specifically, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just improve upon it or offer something slightly different. The framework for success is out there for you to leverage and use to your advantage.

Don’t torture yourself by insisting on working with a blank slate. Other people’s work can spearhead one’s own creativity beyond your wildest dreams.

In fact, with the above sentiments in mind--for your first mobile app development venture--we suggest refreshing an existing app idea with your own twist.

Provided you feel this approach isn’t original or uncreative, know that it happens all the time. One instance is the mobile game, “Words With Friends,” essentially just being Scrabble.

However, “Words with Friends” allows for multiple players and makes it easy to play lengthier games in a series of small bursts.

Another example is dating apps. A new one comes out almost every day, targeting people looking for various benefits from relationships and romance.

Going beyond dating and spelling-game apps, think about the apps that you’re most frequently using. Then consider if there’s a way to mix all the most viable, sought-after features together in a new superstar app.

There are many other ways to brainstorm, but the above example is an excellent jumping-off point.

Step 2: Deep Dive the Relevant Market Space

In the same spirit as the previous section, you must be mindful that the problem you intend to solve for your target consumer won’t be original in nature. Don’t worry; it’s not at all a bitter pill to swallow. It’s quite the opposite, really. Because, this way, you know you’re onto something.

Think about it--there are a million different pairs of running shoes out there. And they’re all just footwear for running. Yet, each brand figures a successful way to differentiate itself. There’s always a new angle or perspective for you to lean into.

When you perform your research, look at how brands solve these problems. Take it one step further and delve into the user experience, examining potential weaknesses and gaps your app can fill.

You might even find an app in dire need of an update that you’ll be equipped to provide and rebrand as your own. Or, the app in question has the kernel of an idea that just hasn’t been executed properly. And you intend to do just that.

A lot goes into market research for your mobile app development; too much for the limits of this section. So here’s a more thorough breakdown of how to do research for your app.

Step 3: Put Pen to Paper

With all the research you’ve done, you’re ready to put pen to paper, so to speak, and make the 1st draft of your app.

For this step, don’t limit yourself. Just imagine the purest vision of your app before you allow anyone to test it out. Then jot it all down on your notepad.

It’s akin to writing a movie script or a novel. The germ of the idea needs to exist and be its own life-form. Otherwise, you’ll never get started. Also, it’d be helpful to think about how you intend to monetize your app. While nowhere close to the be-all-end-all of this stage, monetization is worth keeping in mind every step of the way.

During this step, be as rigorous as possible in identifying your objectives and overall strategy. By developing your core principles here, you’ll lessen the chances for wasted time and effort down the road, streamlining the long-term mobile app development process.

Hyper-detailed specifics aren’t needed in this section but decide what you want users to accomplish, which could look something like what’s listed below (if you’re creating a social media app):

  • Account creation
  • Login can be done through Facebook, Google, and Twitter
  • Enter a username, select a profile photo, and write a brief bio
  • Compile a photo library
  • Add new pictures directly through the app

Step 4: Design Mockups

Here’s some more pen-and-paper work, where you sketch out what users will see when using your app.

Below is a breakdown of what these mockups entail:

Your App’s Main Screens:

  • Try to divide the functionality of your apps into the various screens you’ll use.
  • Decide the number of sections you’ll need--and what makes the most sense--for showing the information you want to be seen:
  • E.g., a stock app would have separate screens for stock watchlists, portfolio stocks, a stock information page, and a settings page.

Core Navigation:

  • Decide on core navigation elements such as tab bars, slide-in side menus, etc.
  • Consider what type of navigation you enjoy on your favorite apps.
  • Typically, intuitiveness and ease of use win the day.

Consider Usability:

  • How easy will it be to use your app?
  • Learn about usability basics so that you assess your users’ experiences from all angles.

Two other factors worth mulling over in the mobile app development usability stage are onboarding and design tools.

Step 5: Graphic Design

Throughout the graphic design stage, you’re figuring out the final look of your product that can be used in presentations to potential partners or investors. You’ll also want developers to be able to integrate the assets from this stage into the project.

Unless you already have a graphic designer working with you, this stage is likely best outsourced to a professional (there are affordable services out there). There’s also the ability to use ready-made templates, or you can educate yourself--but that will be the most time-consuming approach.

Step 6: Craft Your Mobile App’s Marketing Strategy

Here are the necessary marketing steps to take before your app is up and running:

  • Build a coming soon’ landing page for your app and collect a pre-launch email list. On your landing page, revolve your call-to-action around adding an email address:
  • Programs like Mailchimp allow you to collect emails for free. And there are plenty of affordable drag-and-drop landing page builders out there.
  • Create a media kit--a package with critical information about your app along with its logos. This makes life easier for the press to cover your app and give you exposure.
  • Familiarize yourself with App Store optimization.

Here are some essential marketing strategies for when your app is up and running:

  • Create a press release.
  • Consider paid marketing (keep your budget in mind).
  • Use the email list you’ve created pre-launch to let everyone know your app is up and running.
  • Find where your target consumers go on the internet (e.g., Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, niche forums) and make your marketing message heard.

Step 7: Build the App

You might think building the app on your own is your most affordable option. It might be. But you also need to learn how to code. So, in essence, it’s the most expensive option. Because time is money.

There are also App builders. These remove the need for coding, but the templated look won’t do much to separate your app from the pack.

Lastly, you can potentially buy a white-label app template that incorporates a more high-level design you can easily customize. Still, the upfront costs might be a bit too much for leaner budgets.

Step 8: Get Your App to the App Store (or Google Play)

Below are the factors you must consider when submitting your app to the App Store (we’ll just use the iPhone App Store for this specific example):

  • Ensure your app meets Apple’s Guidelines to qualify.
  • Use App Store Connectto type in your metadata (e.g., title, description, keywords)
  • Package your project from Xcode and send it to App Store Connect under your created App listing.
  • Submit your App for review to the App Store team.
  • Wait for 2 to 3 days to hear back.

Step 9: Continue With Your Marketing Efforts

From here on in, the only way your app will make waves is by adhering to the following marketing best practices:

  • Work toward getting featured in the App Store or Google Play.
  • Start your app with a paid-to-free campaign. These can generate an exponential number of downloads to give you some needed momentum out the gate.
  • Keep improving upon your app store optimization techniques.
  • Use social media influencers to grow your app.

Step 10: Listen to User Feedback

The best app is one that’s in a perpetual state of improvement. Your first iteration shouldn’t be your last, and you should continue listening to your users about how to improve their experience.

Your best, most price-conscious way to collect this feedback is through in-app feedback(e.g., user effort score surveys, customer effort score surveys).

Ready to start your first mobile app development project? We’d wish you the best of luck, but you don’t need it! You’re already starting on the right track.