The Process of Creating an App Explained

“Where do I start?”

“What do I need to know?”

“How does the process work?”

These might be some of the questions running through your mind if you have an idea for an app that you’re looking to get developed.

If you haven’t created an app before, you may be confused about when you need to approach a designer or development team, and what the process might entail.

In this post, I’ll explain the process of creating an app from start to finish and give you a better understanding of what the outcomes are at various stages in the process.

Before you approach a designer, developer or development firm, you should have:

  • A Good Understanding of the User (Your Target Market)
  • Well Articulated User Stories (A list of things a user might want to get done when using your product)
  • Early wireframes- hand drawn or otherwise (Visual architecture of your app)
  • A budget (Money set aside for your project)
  • Commitment to spend time on creating your project (You’ll need to be involved in the process)

Once you have a good handle on these things, the fun starts. That is, getting to see your project come to life.

Process for Working with an External Team

Stage 1: Initial phone call or consultation with the team

Finding the right person(s) to take on your project can be a challenge. You’ll want to have an initial phone call or consultation with a designer, developer or development team to define what you’re looking to achieve and get a feel for your comfort working with them, their skill set, and overall fit for the project.

Stage 2: Signing a Contract

Before you sign a contact with an individual or team, it’s important to know what you are signing.

Most developers or development firms will sign a mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) from the get go to protect your idea – however, it’s worth it to note that most development firms don’t want to compete with you. Their business is to service you.

Another thing to figure out before you sign a contract is whether your project is going to be charged on a time-based model or whether the project will be completed for a flat fee. If your project will be charged on a time-based model, it will be even more important for you to have clear deliverables outlined in the contract.

Stage 3: Wire-framing

After you sign a contract, typically this is when you’ll start wireframing.

Wireframing is essentially the visual architecture of what will go on each page of your app and how it all links together. Wireframing is important to define the full scope of the project and to have a mutual understanding of what will need to go into the app. For more see What is a Wireframe.

Stage 4: Design

After wireframing is complete, you’ll typically start the design phase where you’ll get high-resolution .psd files created that are mock-ups of what the app will look like when it is created.

This stage is where you will flesh out logos, colors, styling, fonts, etc. and really nail down the look and feel of your app. Once you’re happy with the visual design, you’ll move onto the development stage.

Stage 5: Development 

While working through the development stage, it is important that you, as the client, are updated of the progress at every step of the process. Typically this is done through some project management tool such as Basecamp, Asana, etc.

Mistakes made at this stage of the app creation process can be costly, so it will be essential for you to have regular communication with the development team you’re working with.

Stage 6: Beta Testing

Beta testing or user testing is done after you have a finished version of your app. Beta testing is used to test your app under various environments and conditions to make sure that your app isn’t released with major bugs or crashes, and that real users are comfortable with using the app.

Typically this is lumped into the development contract so make sure to ask if testing is included before you commit to working with a development team.

Stage 7: Launch

The day has finally come! Your app is finished, tested and ready to launch. The process of publishing your app to the app store can sometimes take a couple of weeks. On iOS, Apple manually reviews each app submission and may ask you to make changes before publishing it. Getting press around your release will be important to help you get exposure. Here’s a great article from Mashable on 15 Tips for Launching A Successful Mobile App.

Stage 8: Post- Launch

After launching your app, it is imperative that you get feedback from your users so that you can make future updates to your app and incorporate feedback in the changes. You will also want some sort of mAPM system to be able to track the performance of your application.

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