How to create an app in 2022

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This 7-step guide will help you to create a mobile app for Android, iOS or a PWA from scratch, in a very simple and intuitive way.

How to create an app: step-by-step tips

To create a mobile app, you need an original project, expertise, time and above all, good reasons. We have found at least 5 reasons that can motivate you to create an app:

  • Improve brand visibility and reputation
  • Offer specific "ad-hoc" features to your customers
  • Generate interactions tailored to your business needs
  • Take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile phones
  • Improve speed and quality of interactions for your users

Whether you want to create an app to complement your website, reach a new audience for your business or just think you have a great idea for a new app, in this article we will explore each step to make a phone app from scratch, throughout the app building process: from your app idea, through the stores publishing to the maintenance of your app, you will get an easy guide for beginners who want know how to start an app for the first time.

Start an app

1. Get your app idea on paper

According to Statista in 2020, 218 Billion mobile apps were downloaded, and this number is set to reach 258 billion by 2022. There is clearly a high demand for mobile apps, which makes this market very competitive. So then, the app idea, the concept behind your app, becomes crucial when you decide to create an app for your business.
create an app: get your app idea on paper and make a mockup

The first stage of your app building is to understand what your app is aiming to deliver:
  • Set the goals for your app: research the market and define your concept. To do that, it would be helpful to answer these questions:
    • What is your target audience? Your app should be specifically designed to add value to your target audience
    • Which features are most desirable and will help you keep your users engaged.
    • Find out if other mobile apps on the market are performing the same business /concept
    • Check out your competitors, their review, get inspiration for your design 
    • Will you monetize your app?
  • Plan your App Design: create a mockup. App design plays a vital role in creating an engaging experience for your users. Researches on websites reading habits and interactions have shown that it takes as little as 500 milliseconds for a user to decide whether to stay on your screen or leave. Once that user decides to stay on screen, it takes about 5 to 10 seconds to decide if he will keep to read the full content.
    Main factors that determine this decision are Visual Complexity and prototypicality : the complexity of the visual design and the representativeness of a design for a given category of websites. In other words, if you want to be successful with your app design and deliver a great user experience for your app, you need to keep your app design as simple and clear as possible, not overloaded, fluid.
    At the same time, you would avoid unusual / uncommon layouts and opt for a familiar look and feel typical of a given type of mobile apps.
App Design combine both UI (graphic elements such as icons, colors, background, fonts, logos, illustrations) and UX (navigation, speed loading, functionalities, number of clicks, responsiveness, waiting and response times and any interaction options) in order to offer the best mobile user experience in all condition and situation.
  • Sketching wireframes of your app allows you to focus on the essential parts of your interface, before starting to work with design elements and styles. Starting from the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), it will make much easier to identify where to place the key components of the app and to make them accessible to the user. Using wireframes also allows you to make changes to the interface sketch a lot faster than if you were working with a final mockup.  
  • User Interface design (UI): the look and feel of an app plays a crucial role in the success of an app. Mobile UI is a set of touchscreen graphical elements that determine how users would interact with your app. Some of them are navigation menus, icons, shortcuts, but also feedback features (sounds, lights, texts), colors and fonts. The user interface should be as simple as possible and remain consistent throughout the app.
  • User Experience (UX): this is the point of view of your users. User Experience is the quality and richness of the user journey overall. This involves the quality of the user interface as well as other elements, such as loading time, depth of app structure, content length, duration of journeys to reach a goal or find content given. It will impact how they see your brand.  Also remember your users are browsing your app on a small screen (According to Apple’s recommendation, about 44 pixels square is an appropriate size for a touch.)
  • 3-click rule : to create a successful app, you should design it in such a way it would require less efforts to its users in order to understand and enjoy the app. Conversely, a mobile app that is difficult for users to handle reduces their interactions and engagement. Be guided by the 3-click rule (suggests that users should be able to find any information on a website using no more than three mouse clicks). Don't strictly follow that rule, just keep the idea of how to design app's navigation. 

2. Build a Native app or a PWA, based on your needs

When it comes to mobile app development, there are several approaches that all have their pros and cons, benefits and constraints.
However, it is worth mentioning the 2 main app development approaches for our purposes: Native and PWA.
Choose a Native App or a PWA
 
  • Native app: 
    • A native mobile app is a software application developed to run on a specific type of device and operating system. Because it was designed to run on a given platform, a native app has the ability to use that device's hardware and software resources. Native apps allow for better performance
      There are mainly two types of mobile operating systems: Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
    • Native technologies have always been at the forefront of mobile development. This is due to the fact that this method offers reliable and high performance products that can access a wide variety of native APIs and features available on smartphones or tablets. To make an app with native coding means that you will be creating independent outputs for each specific operating system, which will help deliver a refined interface for different devices.
    • In 10 years Apple's App Store catalogue has grown from 500 to nearly 2 million apps available today. Another 2.4 million are distributed through Google Play Store: mobile applications are now part of our daily lives.
    • Native apps account for over 80% of all mobile traffic
  • ​Progressive Web App:
    • A Progressive Web App (PWA) is an app that uses web features to give users a very similar experience to a native app. Unlike native apps, PWAs are a hybrid of regular web pages and mobile apps. The term "progressive" refers to the fact that they introduce new features and are initially perceived as traditional websites by users but, progressively, behave more and more like cross-platform mobile apps
    • PWA is the perfect combination of web and native technologies. While they have the look and feel of a native app ( for example they can be installed on the Home Screen of the user’s device ), you don’t need to go through the Stores publication process.
    • PWA doesn’t require download and adapt to mobile, tablets, and desktop.
    • Benefit from SEO and are indexed on search engines
    • Thanks to Service Workers PWAs also works offline
    • 67% of web traffic comes from mobile, PWA ensures a mobile presence adapted to all devices.   

Here are some factors to consider when choosing your technology: 

3. Make your app using the right method for your business

Once you have chosen which type of app best suits your business needs, it is time to choose how to create your own app.

Mobile app development is the process of developing software suitable to run on mobile devices, as smartphones or tablets.
Although it allows to design a perfect match between your app idea and device capabilities, app development requires lots of skills and expertise, and is highly time consuming. Furthermore, usually it's a quite expensive service  . 
On the other hand, an App Builder provides a cost-effective option to make an app without coding.
Further down, we'll explore both solutions and give some tips for choosing the one that best suits your needs to build an app.
 

You have 3 main app development methods:

  •  Develop your own app yourself

If you are looking for how to make an app for free, then developing an app by yourself is definitely the way to go. This first option requires significant time and skills. Natives mobile applications are specific to each Operating System (OS), therefore, skills in several programming languages  are required: Objective-C and Swift for iOS apps; Java or Kotlin for Android apps.
However, if you have required skills, this option will let you achieve the app you need without any limits. Otherwise, you should start by learning how to code for apps. A viable option is to use a coding app which will help you to learn fundamental concepts and gain confidence in your coding skills.

  • Hire an Agency or a freelance developer

Development agencies and freelance developers are not lacking on the web and it should be easy to find one. The determining factor here will be the cost of such a service.

Indeed, hiring someone to develop your app is by far the most expensive option. However, if you have the resources, it is a good way to get the app you have in mind without having to compromise.

  • Use an App Builder

​Similar in concept to websites builders such as WordPress (a Content Management System allowing you to edit and alter the appearance of your website without any coding), an app builder  is a No-code development platform, a software tool that allows users to create a mobile app without coding and distribute it through different App Stores.
Most app makers provide a visual drag and drop editor in their UI allowing users to preview their app as they build it, in real time.
This is the ideal option to save time and money while achieving a quality app.

However, keep in mind that not all projects are suitable for an app builder and that if you have specific and complex needs, you will have to go through a customized solution. 

4. Create an app with an app builder (No-code option)

Now that all the tough decisions have been made, it's time to get down to business.

Obviously, the 
app building process will vary depending on the method you have chosen to develop your app. For our purposes, we will assume that you have chosen to opt for a no-code development platform, in particular GoodBarber.

With more than 10 years experience in building apps with the latest technologies, GoodBarber app maker gives you the ability to create a cross-platform app that will work on both iOS and Android devices as well as a Progressive Web App, all from a single interface.

  • Design: There’s a lot to decide on this step, the app’s global color theme , the style of the header, its navigation mode, the icon that will represent it in the stores and on users home screens, splash screen, features icons etc.
    When selecting your design templates and designing these elements, it’s always a good idea to keep the look somewhat aligned with any existing design your brand already has that identifies it, such as logos, colors, fonts, icons etc. 

    Your Home page will be the most visited page and the first impression your users will have of your app. Spend time designing it. It should showcase your most important features, provide a fluid navigation towards the different sections of our app thanks to the widgets offered by GoodBarber. Our Preview feature allows you to see immediately the look and feel of your app.

  • Content: Time to add everything and anything you want to convey about your business/project. In some cases, you’ll just enter this content directly into your app’s backend manually, in other cases you may already have your content available somewhere and you’ll just need to integrate that external source to pull it in (such as an RSS feed, a live stream, or a social media account). 
    The structure of a GoodBarber app is quite easy to understand. It consists of sections, each of them having a dedicated purpose: articles, videos, photos, events, podcasts, maps, forms etc. 
    Our developers recommend to keep a very simple structure  allowing an easy navigation and optimization of the user experience. 

  • Add-ons: in addition to the classic sections, GoodBarber offers a catalog of Add-ons to add value to your app according to your needs and businesses.
    For example,  you’re creating an app for your shopping business: the Loyalty Card and Couponing Add-ons will let you to keep your clients engaged and rewards them for their loyalty. With push notifications, you can communicate regarding new products, upcoming events etc.. 
    If your app is needed to support a local association or it serves for internal communication between employees of your company, then the Chat and Community Add-ons will help you inspire a sense of belonging and allow easy communication between your users.

  • Custom plugins: when needed, explore the customization options offered by our platform and add the required features or design options that were not available by default. Personalization is the most effective way to make your app stand out from others of the same type.

  • API Access: what is an API? An API or Application Program Interfaces is a software intermediary, like a bridge, that allows for the transfer of information from a software to another. Activating the  API Access Add-On or Public API for eCommerce apps you will gain some advanced functionalities that allow you to recover hidden settings as well as personalize your app even more.

5. Test your app on iOS and Android devices

 
  • After assembling all the pieces of the app creation process (concept, design, and technology), you’ll reach a version that is nearly ready to be released. But before sharing your new app with the world, carry out a series of tests to check if everything is running as you've planned. You’ll need to test all versions of the app that you’re planning to publish (native iOS, native Android, PWA, etc.), using different OS and different browsers as well. Be sure to recruit a couple of beta-testers as well—a fresh perspective will bring elements or points to your attention you may have overlooked or may have a biased view on. 
    • Overall app speed
    • No crashes when performing any action 
    • Performance in poor connectivity 
    • All functionality/interaction responds to the task it’s supposed to accomplish  
    • Design is visually pleasing and correctly adapted to all screens 
    • Navigation is intuitive and efficient 
    • No aspects of the app are “hidden” 
    • App name/store description is self explanatory 
  • Oftentimes, an app maker such as GoodBarber provides a test app you can use to run preliminary checks on your app. The most optimal way to test your app, however, is through its AdHoc version, which is the actual file of the app that will be submitted to the stores that you can download onto and run on your device—it’s the exact replica of what your users will see and every aspect of the app can be tested using this method  
  • For native iOS apps, there is a specific tool provided by Apple: TestFlight. It allowstesting your app before it goes online on the App Store. This alternative is particularly interesting if My GoodBarber solutions or the Ad Hoc version do not meet your needs for previews. 

6. Submit and Publish your app on the stores

Once your app is ready, it is time to think about publishing it. It’s a good idea to publish your app on as many platforms as possible as it will allow you to reach as many users as possible.

 Publish your app on the stores: Google Play and App Store

Publishing an app can be a complex and slightly overwhelming process, starting with registering as a developer: 

  • Developers' accounts (mandatory step for both platforms). For Apple   devices you will be subscribing to the Developer Program for the App Store , costing $99 per membership year. Keep in mind that Apple requires the owner of the content in the app to match the owner of the developer account, so if you publish multiple iOS apps for different projects, each will need to have its own individual developer account. Becoming a Google Play Developer   costs $25 (one-time fee), and you must also own a Gmail account.  

  • Apple's App Store: The process of submitting an app to the App Store is slightly complex and requires throughout preparation. Apple has set high standards and strict guidelines in order to maintain the App Store a safe ecosystem offering its users only high-quality apps. 
    • App Store Review: Apple reviews each app before approving them for release. Before you submit your app for review, you will need to provide a collection of information (Icon, app preview/ screenshots) and metadata (the name of your app, its category, a detailed description, and additional keywords for ASO). Don’t underrate the importance of the metadata, especially the app description. 
    • App Store publication: the review process can take a few days, Apple will notify you by email when your app is public. In case of rejection, you will be able to contact the Resolution Center for more info and try to fix the issues. 
    • GoodBarber has put in place a review to guide you through the submission process. Our team will carry out a detailed examination of your app to ensure that it is compliant with the App Store Guideline. If your app doesn’t meet those requirements, we will provide you with advice to help you improve your app and publish it successfully. 
  • Google Play Store: Android offers different choices to distribute mobile applications, however with over 1 billion active users, Google remains the first platform for Android apps. ​So, it's definitely a good idea to submit an Android app to Google Paly Store .
    • Store listing and mandatory info: after creating your app on your Google Play Console you will need to register the information that will be displayed on Google Play. It includes mandatory information such as title, short description, full description, graphic assets (pictures, app screenshots), category, contact details, privacy policy. Choose carefully the keywords that you will use: the optimization of your app ranking in the Store depends on it. 
    • APK file and releasing app: once the Store listing completed, it’s time to upload your apk.file. The Android Package Kit contains all the elements of your app. Then follow the guide on the Google Console to deploy and publish your app.
If your app is approved it will be released within a few hours, even though Google announced recently that they will be taking more time to review apps submitted by developers who haven’t published in Google previously. Remember to follow the established rules because Google may withdraw your app at any time thereafter if this is not the case. 
  • Progressive Web App:
    • Luckily, publishing a Progressive Web App  is a lot simpler. All you need to do is take care of the hosting of the app on a web server and link a web domain to it. With this process being so quick and easy, you have more time to spend on optimizing your SEO to ensure your product is easily discovered by the public.
    • Hosting is included with your GoodBarber subscription. However, we highly recommend to purchase and setup your own domain name: this will allow your businesses to build a stronger brand's footprint, avoiding confusion with the GoodBarber's hosting domain name.
  • Don’t launch all features at once, it’s good to hold back. It gives you room to further develop your app and launch an updated version later on. 

  • With the GoodBarber Takes Care  service, you let our experts do all the work for you. They will take care of the publication process of your single app on Google Play and the App Store, so you can focus your Marketing Strategy.

7. Improve and update your app continuously

  • Keep an eye on feedbacks and your app KPIs using the analytics tools provided by Google Play and the App Store. Analytics are also available in your GoodBarber back office. 

  • Another duty that every app owner should do regularly is to always release new content and features. Whether releasing new content or upgrading existing features, it's the most effective way to keep users engaged and avoid deleting low-use apps. Make sure your users are aware about new releases by including them in your marketing strategy: you can alert them via push notifications or showcase these new features on the most visible part of your app, the home screen. 

  • You can update your app in the stores as many times as you want, although in some cases you’ll be required to submit a new version of the app if larger modifications have been made.

  •  On the other hand, your PWA can be updated infinitely without any resubmission constraints. Either way, don't hesitate to bring something new to the table when you have the opportunity!

  • GoodBarber developers recommend to update your app 3 to 4 times a year ( new features, bugs fixes, OS updates). GoodBarber will also guide you through the update process and keep you informed if and when updates are necessary through different tools provided in your app back office. 

How to create an app on your own

Programming languages to develop an app

For those who want to learn more about mobile app development, here is a collection of information regarding the most used programming languages for app building and the skills required to deal with app coding.

Programming languages ​​and frameworks vary depending on the type of app you are developing: native, hybrid or web app.

1. Build a Native app

iOS (Apple) and Android apps are distributed exclusively on App Store (Apple) and the Google Play Store (Android).

How to create an iOS app for iPhone

The most common programming language used to create apps for the iOS operating system is Objective-C, built as a subset of C with added objects. While functional and very popular, Objetive-C is a fairly old and complicated programming language for those who have never programmed before. For this reason, Apple has developed another universal programming language for all of its systems and devices: Swift.
Swift is a programming language as complete as Objective-C, but easier to learn. More and more mobile apps rely on this programming language because you can easily develop all kinds of apps (whatever their purpose) and it offers much higher performance than the ones programmed with Objetive-C.
Development environment for iOS
As for Android, there are many environments that we can use to program and design iOS apps. Most of them, however, have to go through XCode, Apple's compiler for iOS, only available for macOS.
Therefore, programming for iOS has two major drawbacks. The first: you must have a Mac to be able to compile apps; the second, to be published on the App Store, you pay 99 euros per year. If you stop paying, your developer account will be blocked.

How to create an Android app

There is currently a wide range of programming languages ​​intended for building Android apps and supported by manufacturer Google.
Java, the most popular
The best known and most used language is undoubtedly Java. Full integration into Google's development environment and the ability to use the popular Eclipse IDE, along with the simple syntax and comprehensive framework, make Java very popular. In addition to a lower workload for the mobile processor, the other advantages of Java are faster app launches, since the binary code is generated only once and not every time it is invoked.
Kotlin is integrated with Android Studio
At its latest I / O Developer Conference, Google unveiled Kotlin's full integration into Android Studio. Kotlin is compatible with Java, which means that Java code can be easily integrated and used in Kotlin projects. Kotlin enjoys growing popularity. However, code examples and references are much rarer than with Java.
C and C ++ are possible with some patches
C ++ is suitable for those who want to be much closer to the hardware and who want to do without Google's out-of-the-box features wherever possible. This language is also supported by Android Studio, but requires the integration of external components.
C # in Xamarin
The Xamarin framework implements those prerequisites for using C # with Visual Studio for mobile application development. Due to the necessary integration of various Xamarin libraries, the programming is very similar to Java in that they simulate the interfaces of the Android infrastructure. The aforementioned high-level languages ​​Java, Kotlin and C # are suitable for efficient Android development.
C ++ is primarily used only for specific functionality, for which you need the greatest possible control. Doing all the development in C ++ would take too long and provide little or no benefit.

2. Create a PWA (Progressive Web App)

A Progressive Web App is made with a specific framework that adapts to both Android and iOS operating systems: a web app run on all operating systems.
A PWA is run by browsers, using so-called "Service Workers" for smartphones.
The Web App is available via a URL, without going through the Stores.
Furthermore, PWAs are characterized by being very easy to develop (they are coded like a website); furthermore, they are very light and can always be updated. However, PWAs have relatively limited access to mobile's devices. Also, they need an internet connection to work, otherwise they won't open.
Using a native programming language such as Java, you can take full advantage of the device hardware and create apps that are independent of the Internet connection.
JavaScript can be an intermediate step between web languages ​​and Java as it allows you to build more elaborate apps and access hardware without reaching the complexity of Java.

App creation help : Questions & Answers

How to create an app for free?
With GoodBarber, it is possible to make an app for free. Our online app development platform offers you a one-month free trial period with access to all features. You can build a PWA, a native app for Android and an app for iOS for free, before to submit it to app stores.
Take advantage of a 30 days free trial and just pay when you're ready to share it for the world to see. 

How much does it cost to make an app?
The price of an app depends on many factors: the technology chosen for development (native, multiplatform, web app, etc.); the functions it contains; design requirements ...
  • Time. Depending on the timeframe, the costs may or may not increase. If you need the app by a certain date and the developer has to work overtime, the price will go up a bit. On the other hand, if you are a little more flexible and not in a hurry, the price will be more contained.
  • Quality. The more details your mobile app requires, the more work it takes to develop. All the details are made the way you want, but the price goes up.
  • Functionalities. For example,  logging in with an email and password is not the same as logging in through a social network like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn ... A messaging function: the price depends on whether you want to chat in real time, send simple messages or send multimedia content and so on.
  • Deployment costs. If your app is for the B2C market, you need to make sure your users are aware of your app and can find the app in the stores. This usually requires an initial investment in marketing campaigns to gain the attention of users. You can also use ASO techniques to position your app well in the App Stores. Although this point is not directly related to the development of your apps, it does affect the final price.
  • Additional costs. Did you know that there is a cost to submit and publish an app on the App Stores? For Google Play Store, this is a one-time payment, while for Apple's App Store, you will be charged on a yearly base.
  • Maintenance. Today's mobile technologies are constantly evolving. New devices are coming onto the market, with new screen sizes, new peripherals and features etc. You need to make sure that your app is always up to date and that any issue can be fixed as quickly as possible.
At GoodBarber, for 30 days you can take advantage of our free trial, no strings attached. 
Use this free month to make your app  and just pay when you're ready to share it for the world to see. 
   
​​
How long does it take to build an app?
It takes an average of 18 weeks to go through all the stages of the process necessary to develop a mobile apps. 
That's for the short answer. However, the time required strongly depends on the respective app's project. The more elaborate the app, the more elaborate the design and desired functions, the longer it will take to achieve the app.
Always keep in mind that an app development agency usually doesn't work on a single app; indeed, they run multiple projects at the same time. However, it is possible to estimate the duration of app building process at the start of app programming.
The infographic below gives an overview of the procedure and times associated with the development of a mobile application. According to Progress Kinvey, mobile app takes an average of 18 weeks to develop.

mobile app takes an average of 18 weeks to develop

If you use an app builder like GoodBarber, you can build an app in minutes, and it can be available on Google Play within the next hour. Feel free to test, it's free for 30 days.
Can I create an app by myself?
If you are planning to build an app alone, then you should start by learning how to code using programming languages for mobile apps .
If you don't have coding skills and
 enough time to spend learning programming, you'd rather choose an app builder to create an app, which is also a significantly cheaper solution.

Is it easy to make an app?
Mobile app development takes time, expertise, programming experience, and is usually expensive.
However, creating an app would be highly facilitate by using a no-code tool .

How much does it cost to publish an app on the app stores?
There is a cost to submit and publish an app on the App Stores. In order to publish your app on the Play Store, it is mandatory to create a Google Publisher Account :  this is a one-time payment of $25, while in the Apple's App Store, it is an annual payment. 
You are required to register as an Apple Developer: this account cost $99 and must be renewed yearly. 

How do you make money creating an app ?
There are several monetization strategies for your app:
  • Free app with in-app purchases
The download of the app is usually free of charge for every user. This is usually recommended especially for Android apps. The provider makes money by allowing users to purchase something from within the app. Some use cases, as examples: purchasing a paid premium version of the free basic app (freemium model), buying products within the app (In-App purchase), payment systems via the app at parking machines or at the box office, the provider has countless options.
  • Free app with in-app advertising
Most of the people are familiar with the possibility of making money with a free app by displaying banner ads, videos, or popups in the app. You can ask the advertisers for money. A pay-per-click system is often used.
The problem here is that the mobile app provider often shows advertisements at the expense of the user experience. 
  • Freemium app
Basically, a freemium app is nothing more than a free app that can be updated for a fee. There are no limits to the possibilities. Some examples:
  • two versions of the same app: the free one and the paid one. The free provides the basic version:  advertisements are displayed, the speed is slower, some features are not available, one language version, etc. The paid version fix the "issues" of the first one: it is advertising free, better performances, all the functions are enabled, the language can be customized; items can be bought in the app.
  • Additional accounts when downloading the premium version: for some apps, you are allowed to create only one account for free. However, if the user needs more additional accounts, he has to download a paid version.
  • Free trials
A user can download the app free of charge and use it for two weeks or a month. He then has to install a paid version if he wants to continue using the mobile app.

Read this article and learn more about app monetization strategies  

What kind of apps are most popular?
On-demand service mobile apps are currently in high demand . They connect buyers and sellers around on-demand services. The most popular are video, logistics, grocery, food delivery, retail, beauty, healthcare, and on-demand taxi mobile apps.

Conclusion

App creation is a long and complex subject. Many factors must be taken into account.
Once you have finally decided to create an app, you should start by figure out your app design: this would require you to make some essential choices. 
Remember why your mobile app really matters : it can help increase your brand awareness and grow your business overall
These are the main leads that should guide you throughout app design and app building stages. 
Then, depending on your financial means and your business needs, you will have to choose between create your app on your own, hiring a development company or build your app using an app builder (like GoodBarber).
Bear in mind that create an app may require technical skills along with marketing aptitudes: GoodBarber teams are there to help you achieving your project successfully and build the apps you need for your passions or professional needs.