How to Build an App from Scratch [For Mobile App Entrepreneurs]
We thought it would be terminators, or rogue agents (Agent Smith) who would take over the world. But, it’s mobile apps that have taken over the world. What’s more – they are not half as menacing as sci-fi movies made us believe.
Looking at the success stories of apps such as Prisma, Snapchat, etc.. it might be enticing to jump into the app development playground. But there is a horde of questions to be answered before you even touch the drawing board.
You would want to know
Answers to a few questions you have in your mind regarding the business viability and implementation of your app.
Whether you should choose between iOS/Android as the platform of your choice or go for both
If you should choose a mobile app development company or a freelancer
How you can find the best app development company or the best freelancer
You might even want to know the basics of app development.
As you read on, you would be able to know about all these. Also, if there are more aspects you would like to know about, you can let us know in the comment section.
6 Questions to Ask Yourself before Getting into Mobile App Development
1. Is there a market for your app?
Is there really a demand for the kind of app you want to develop? If you have an idea for a possibly ground-breaking iPhone app then a quick search through tools like Apptrace or Appstatistics will tell you if there are any established competitors in the market. If you do not find any noteworthy competitors then you are probably in murky waters as far as your target market is concerned.
2. What is the launch plan for your app?
App development is only half the job and is the easiest part of your goal. Today, to establish your iPhone app in the market you need a concrete social media marketing strategy. Locating possible users and reaching out to them is a sure-shot way of getting the first few 100 downloads from the App Store. If you plan to market through Facebook or other online mediums you need to know the user persona, which brings us to our next question.
3. What is your app’s target user profile?
A user profile is a detailed analysis of the behaviour patterns, gender and preferences and it dictates how users will behave inside your app. Your iPhone app development strategy should reflect this profile so that the outcome is a product that is desired by your chosen demographic subset.
4. Monetization strategy for the app?
Less than one percent of all developed iPhone apps are profitable. Even if your app is available for free you should have a strategy to monetize it by other means in the long term. Including add-on features or “unlockables” are some ways of doing this. Advertising is the most commonly used technique for earning revenue from the App Store.
5. Are you familiar with App Store’s guidelines?
6. Why do you want an app?
This is probably the most important question of all and should be visited regularly. A great idea and good programming skills are not strong reasons to build an app. Without a marketing strategy and a target market analysis you don’t have enough resources to justify developing an app. Sure, an app will build your brand’s recognition and customer engagement and might even generate additional sales but all that will happen only after an app is developed for the right purpose keeping the correct goals in mind.
There might be one more question – a business defining one at that
Should I Choose iOS Or Android App Development?
There comes a time in every app entrepreneur’s life when a choice has to be made between developing on one platform or another. Like anything in life, Android and iPhone development have their pros and cons and at times the decision to choose between them can be so difficult that the real loser would be the app entrepreneur.
A common point of debate is that Android is highly accessible and developing an Android app offers good market penetration. iPhone apps, on the other hand have been around for much longer than Android and Apple has used data collected over more than a decade to define industry-changing guidelines regarding user experience.
So the obvious question is: why not develop on both platforms? For starters, it isn’t as simple as copy-pasting code from Android to iPhone or vice versa. There are several design guidelines and coding principles which inhibit the easy development of cross-platform apps.
Here is a comparison between Android and iPhone app development for those of you who are trying to decide which platform to use for your app. We have developed a comparison based on commonly debated points when developing any mobile app whether Android or iPhone. This list should help you decide which of the two platforms would be more suitable for your mobile app.
To begin Android or iPhone app development you need the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for both platforms – Xcode for iPhone and Android Studio for Android. Xcode has dependencies on some other programs such as Cocoa Touch, which assists in building UI elements.
Differences in development time and cost
One factor which differentiates Android and iPhone apps is the development time. A study done by Infinum on six of their own cross-platform apps shows that development time for Android apps is, on average, 30 percent longer than iPhone apps. This is partly due to the fact that Android apps require more code because they use Java and also because Android emulators are slower than iOS simulators. As a direct consequence of higher development times, development costs for Android apps are also higher – almost 40 percent higher than iPhone apps.
Disparities Arising from a Fragmented User Base
Android’s large market share has a drawback: its users are spread over several countries and each demographic has its own income levels, technology restrictions and language barriers. This translates into limited availability of high-end smart phones in second and third world countries. If you develop an Android app then you have to cater to varying hardware and software, screen resolutions, aspect ratios, graphics processors and a host of other factors. Adding to the problem is the fact that more than 70 percent of Android users don’t have the latest version of the operating system.
Taking care to ensure compatibility across multiple devices is an entire project in itself and this is a major reason for the higher development time and cost of Android apps. Future support and updates are also equally affected by fragmentation.
Apple products on the other hand are largely immune to this problem. Only 3 types of Apple devices exist – Mac, iPhone and iPad. iOS users are also quick to upgrade to the latest version. More than 80 percent of iOS devices run the latest operating system.
Publishing and Restrictions – The Guidelines Can be a Game Changer
Apple has strict guidelines when it comes to what an app can and cannot do. iOS and Android provide similar levels of flexibility with firmware components but Apple is much more stringent while checking apps submitted to the App Store. Android offers access to a lot of internal workings which allows the creation of popular utility and customization apps.
When it comes to publishing, Apple’s App Store is tricky to deal with. First of all, an annual fee of $99 is incurred so that your apps can be tested before they are published. Apple thoroughly checks the app for originality, content and design and conducts tests for bugs and crashes over a period of seven days. Even after this there is a good chance that your app may be rejected.
Google’s Play Store is very straight forward – it requires a one-time payment of $25 and your app can be live within a few hours of submission. App Store’s guidelines help to ensure uniformity and good quality but we feel that Play Store’s flexible guidelines promote more creativity.
Understand the Profit Potential
Undoubtedly, there are many more smartphones running Android than iOS but the following report from App Annie shows that iPhone apps bring in almost 75 percent more revenue than Android apps.
This can be attributed to the fact that iPhone users are generally situated in developed countries andare highly educated and have higher incomes than Android users. The average iPhone user makes $85,000 per year whereas the average Android user makes $61,000 per year. This does not mean that Android users are poor, it only implies that iPhone users are more willing to spend money on apps than Android users.
Narrow Down Your Target Demographic
Before you develop an Android or iPhone app, ask yourself: is your app going to be popular among people in developed nations or will it appeal to countries in, for example, South-East Asia. The prevalence of Android in second and third world countries means that apps targeted towards Android users are sure to be successful. This does not mean that iPhone apps will not work; rather they will not be as popular as the Android version of your app simply because not many people use iPhones in these countries.
Assess Your Intended User Experience Regardless of functionality or complexity or even usability, an app that offers good user experience has much higher chances of being a success than an app that is well coded and well designed but offers poor user experience. Apple has more than a decade of experience in UX design – the iTunes library has been operational since 2000 and ever since it was opened, customers have used it to buy music. The data and statistics from the iTunes Library were carried over to the App Store in 2008 and resulted in an online marketplace which was easy to navigate and apps which offered consistent user experience. Apple was also ahead of its time in coding complex algorithms for ranking apps – they were ranked based on total downloads, recent download volumes, and possibly active users among many other factors.
Play Store’s user experience has been catching up steadily but is nowhere near as good as Apple’s. The availability of multiple stores like Google Play, Amazon App Store and other independent stores has caused an inconsistency in rankings, reviews and even app designs – this has affected the user experience of Android apps on the whole. We recommend that UX design should be near the top of your list of priorities when developing a new app.
No matter which platform you decide to use for your app, keep in mind that developing an Android or iPhone app is more than just writing code – it involves designing, coding the UI, user experience design, and documentation. All of these have to be linked and well coordinated to achieve a good mobile app.
If you have clear cut answers to all the 7 questions, the next step is to find a developer. Instead of learning how to code, you might want to find the right developer. You can either choose a freelance developer or an app development company
Reasons to Choose a Mobile App Development Company Rather Than A Freelance Developer
As every coin has its two sides. Hiring a freelancer over an App Development company may result in a decrease in costs but may certainly increase in risks. A freelancer can clearly not meet all the needs nor can fill in all the roles.
Here are some advantages of hiring a Mobile App Development company rather than a Freelance Developer:
1) Expertise under one roof: An app development company will have a workforce with various talents than a freelancer who cannot possibly be good in all fields. A company will have the experience and expertise working with a multitude of clients. They can also offer everything that requires a top-level mobile app right from the concept to market launch.
2) Design and Development: Giving out the perfect design with the right functions is undoubtedly the hardest challenge in any app project. Designers and developers work together to deliver the best-in-class results in the quickest time within a company than a freelancer. But even if you somehow manage to find a freelancer, and fail to find the equivalent level of expertise on the design side, your project may not yield a viable end product.
3) Client support: A company would have a dedicated network of customer support staff which can help you in all queries. They would also provide various post launch services to its clients. However, a freelancer may not be able to provide any such services as they are operating alone.
4) Communication matters: With different professionals handling different departments, a firm has a better organizational structure. They can provide you with real-time updates and timely solutions to all your problems. This helps you to collaborate on your project easily.
5) Project Estimate: Another factor to consider is that a firm may be more willing to enter into a fixed-price contract compared to a freelancer. Agencies’ collective experience makes them better at accurately estimating the costs of all stages of your project from the beginning. As they may cost more, there should be less chance of cost overruns in the project.
The above features will definitely help you in knowing and understanding why to hire app development companies over freelancers. It has become extremely challenging to build a mobile app and announcing it as a success in this competitive market. Hence, it’s recommended to keep your end-users in mind before choosing a company or a freelancer to start your app creation journey!
Tips To Find The Right Mobile App Development Company
The mobile era is upon us. According to Gartner Inc., the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster by the end of 2017. Following this trend, mobile app development companies in India have seen booming business in the last five years.
If you have an idea for a mobile app then now is the time to unleash it and increase the reach of your brand. If your budget permits, you should hire a mobile app development company to create your dream app. A specialised workforce, detailed documentation,and dedicated post-launch support are just some of the benefits of working with a professional organisation.
However, selecting the correct organisation is critical to the success of your mobile app and given the market saturation of mobile app development companies in India; this is a painstaking choice to make. We understand this and have compiled a list of pointers to help you select the correct company for developing your app.
Know The Features Of Your App
In order to enlist a mobile app development company in India, you first need to know what your customers would want from the app. Some preliminary questions to ask yourself:
What do you want to accomplish by developing the app?
What features will your app provide to customers?
How will the app relate to your brand or business?
How will you monetize the app?
Establish A Budget
Adding tons of features to your app is one thing, but having the budget to develop those features is a completely different matter. There are no definitive rules for deriving the “cost per feature” so the best way to determine your budget is to talk with an expert.
Small mobile app development companies in India will work with lower budgets but the chances poor quality or missed deadlines will be high. Larger companies will be able to offer more consistent quality, but at higher prices.
As a general rule, app quality is proportional to your budget, however the quality difference between a $100,000 and a $200,000 company is less than the difference between a $10,000 and a $50,000 company.
Send RFPs To Multiple Vendors
RFP is a Request For Proposal which is sent to mobile app development companies. It outlines the requirements of your app and all the features it would need. A company will typically analyze your RFP and come up with a brief document describing how they would tackle the project and approximate costs of various modules.
RFP will also help you with short listing companies as well as getting a different perspective on t the features in your app.
After receiving costing quotes from different vendors you should have a good idea about which ones you can work with. To further narrow down the list, you should request a client portfolio from each company. Many companies display a list of their most recent or most notable clients on their website.
Contact the clients to learn about the quality of work, communication and adherence to deadlines.
While this is a good way to gain a deeper understanding of the company, keep in mind that companies will not share information about clients who had bad experiences with them.
Where Is The Operations/Development Team Located?
If you are constrained by a small budget then you may have to opt for smaller mobile app development companies but, one thing to keep in mind is the location of the organisation’s operations /development team.
Some companies are not very transparent and outsource your app’s development work to freelancer. If this happens then the standard of work will be inconsistent and unreliable since the company has no control over their resources.
Tip: Look for a company that has its own resources for coding, UI, UX, quality, and testing.
Development Workflow And Documentation
Documentation is one of the most under-rated and overlooked modules while developing a mobile app in India.
A well documented project has better chances of being rolled out on time because all the requirements are clear from the start. Post-launch support is also simplified because all the required information is in one place.
If the shortlisted companies don’t give emphasis to proper documentation procedures then you can safely rule them out of the picture.
Looks For a Lasting Relationship
Post-launch support is very important to the success of an app. Many apps fail after being launched because customer feedback could not be used to modify existing features or add new ones.
Hire a mobile app development company which has experience in your line of business and is ready to sign a long-term contract. a strong and long relationship with an organisation will pay off in the long run.
Tip: Unlike freelancers, mobile app development companies can take the leading role in shaping your app. The abundance of specialised employees means that good advice is always available.
With the pointers we have listed, you should be able to find a mobile app development company in India suited to your business.
Why Choose A Freelance Developer Over A
Mobile App Development Company
There are several advantages of distributing your work but the task of choosing between a development company and a freelance developer is cumbersome and requires careful analysis. Budding entrepreneurs and inexperienced companies have a short period of time to establish their name in the market and the results of a poorly chosen developer can be potentially catastrophic.
If you are cash strapped then a freelance developer or a group of freelancers might be your best bet. However, a small budget isn’t the only advantage when it comes to freelance developers. Here are some more reasons to choose a freelance developer over a mobile app development company in India.
Freelancers have experience from multiple industries. Good freelance developers look for work which adds value to their portfolio and in order to do this, they find work from multiple industries. When you hire a freelance developer you get the advantage of expert opinion gathered from many sources over several years of freelancing.
Freelancers reduce the cost of your project. It goes without saying that you do not need to pay for a freelance developer’s Provident Fund or medical insurance. The employees of a development company, on the other hand, require these benefits. Minor costs like these increase the overheads which you will incur when hiring a mobile development company in India. Another factor which reduces cost is that there is no notice period or transition period when terminating a contract with a freelance developer.
Freelancers don’t organize endless meetings. a freelance developer can avoid the hassle of setting up meetings and juggling schedules of the employees in a development company. With freelance developers, you can assign a quantum of work and check on progress occasionally as opposed to weekly meetings with development companies. The time saved in this way can be invested in other app related activities such as marketing and branding.
Freelancers don’t have rigid corporate rules to adhere to. Freelance developers come with the added flexibility of not being restricted by a brand manual or a set of corporate ethics. They are not confined to any regulations except their own and this is more often than not to your advantage. Many freelance developers will put in a few hours of work on weekends as well – something almost unheard of in the corporate world.
Freelancers don’t engage in office politics. If you work in a small-scale mobile app development company then this may not seem like a very important point but if you are an executive in a corporate company, you have probably experienced how office politics can delay projects and be detrimental to productivity. A freelance developer, no matter how senior or experienced, is not directly involved with the employees of your company and is not limited by personal agendas that employees of your organization may have.
Freelancers like direct forms of communication. A mobile development company in India or anywhere in the world has a well defined hierarchy of individuals and communication will always flow to and fro along that hierarchy. Admittedly, this has its advantage in filtering information passed on to third parties but it also increases the time it takes for a point to be put across. Freelance developers can communicate directly and no time is lost in relaying information to and from both parties.
Given the large number of freelance developers out there, many points have to be considered before you hire the right person for the job. If you are new to the freelance outsourcing world then the road will be rough but eventually you will find that working with freelance developers can be very cost effective and time saving while ensuring good quality.
Tips To Find The Right Freelance Developer
For Your App Venture
A lot can happen between the planning and execution of your mobile app idea but the one thing that can make or break your app venture is choosing the right developer.
Hiring a mobile app development company in India is not always feasible for new entrepreneurs
A more lucrative option is to choose a freelance developer but here’s the flip side – an incorrect choice can turn out to be very expensive in the long run.
Choosing the correct freelance developer for your app venture involves more than just finding good skills and low prices. A lot of factors go into deciding who to hire so we have put together a list of things you should consider before getting started.
Filter Spam Applicants
Compounding the problem of choosing the right developer is the fact that a lot of the applicants are likely to be inexperienced, inefficient, or both. Many new comers bulk apply for jobs without bothering to read the requirements of different projects.
There is a very clever way of filtering spammers: include a small paragraph at the end or in the middle of your listing and write something like, “If you have read all of the requirements then send me a message that begins with the words mobile app development in India” or something on these lines.
If an applicant fails to follow simple directions and doesn’t pay attention to detail, you can safely filter them out.
Communication and Portfolio
Nothing can harm your mobile app venture more than poor communication with your developer. If you can’t communicate ideas clearly then a lot of time will be spent in rework which will eventually drive up the cost of your mobile app venture.
To get over this problem, establish a means of communication with your candidates – Skype, email or phone call – and interview them while requesting them to share their portfolios.
Ideally, you should look for a developer who has created apps similar to what you have in mind although this is not a hard and fast rule. Game developers can also create applications.
Search In Colleges
One of the best places to look for freelance developers is a college. This may sound counter-intuitive because educational institutions can hardly offer experienced candidates but chances are that you will find standout developers in the multitude of students.
Good colleges are hotspots for mobile app development companies in India because of the fresh talent they offer. Colleges teach students to think creatively so even if you don’t end up with a developer, you will get several valuable insights into your own app from a lot of different perspectives.
Find A Developer Interested In The Business
The success of an app can often come down to the developer’s interest in the business or idea you are projecting.
Mobile app development companies in India have employees with specialisations in different fields so finding the right person for the job is not difficult. But if you are hiring a freelance developer for your app venture then you need to go the extra mile to ensure the correct fit between your business and the developer’s profile.
An interested developer is likely to give creative inputs and insights from experience with similar apps. A free-thinking developer is much more valuable than a skilled coder.
Tip: a lot of apps need support even after being launched so it is a good idea to hire someone who is ready for a long term contract rather than just the development of your app.
Review their Code Samples
Many freelancers have been known to copy-paste stock code obtained from public websites like Android or iPhone forums.
In order to catch this, you need to ask your candidates for sample codes and get them reviewed by your contacts or at an online portal. While this doesn’t guarantee that a good app will be developed, it does guarantee originality and imagination.
Download Apps That Candidates Have Worked On
By now your list should be quite short and choosing your developer won’t be very difficult. This final test should help you select the final few who are fit for the job.
Just like the websites of mobile app development companies in India, freelance developers should give you a brief introduction to apps that they have worked on. A credible freelance developer should readily give you information about their previous work, including the contact details of their clients.
Ask for the names of apps that your candidates have worked on, download them and judge the apps based on the following criteria:
Average rating of the app.
Reviews of the app – also check negative reviews.
Is the app quick to load?
How smooth are page interactions?
Check the resolution and aspect ratio on different devices.
How pleased are you with the UI/UX?
By the time you are done with this list we hope that you have narrowed your search down to a few candidates. From there on it should only be a matter of negotiating prices and signing contracts. Play your cards right and you will bag a good developer at a good price.
Online Resources For Beginners To Do
Mobile App Development
Instead of hiring a freelancer or a mobile app development company, you might want to build an app on your own. Or, at least to know the intricate nature of app development just for the sake of better management. In that case, there are numerous online resources available for you.
Mobile app development is based on the principles of traditional programming languages like C and Java so people who have prior programming knowledge find that app development is easy to understand. On the contrary, new tools like Apple’s Swift programming language are gaining popularity rapidly because of their gradual learning curve and ease of use.
Non-technical folks have no reason to lose heart because the popularity of mobile app development means that there is no shortage of paid as well as free courses which impart knowledge about basic programming as well as advanced concepts. If you’re hoping to add value to a mobile app development company in India, you’re just a few clicks away from in-demand skills.
To help you get started with mobile app development in India, we have compiled a list of online resources which will aid beginners on their way to becoming mobile app programming gurus. The nature of mobile app development is such that basics can be mastered very quickly and once you are comfortable with developing apps like flashlights and small games, bigger goals can be achieved steadily.
Here is a collection of online resources, both paid and free, to help get you started on the road to mobile app development:
Developer.android.com. Android is among the top two most popular mobile app programming platforms so the first place you should check is Android’s own website. It is one of the best resources out there when it comes to the how-to of Android development. The employees at Google have ensured that there is a lot of material for beginners to learn everything from setting up development environments to cloud-based services.
Alison. Alison is another great website which offers tutorials and certified diploma courses in a vast variety of domains from business skills to programming languages. The app development tutorials have good and consistent ratings and courses for both Android and iOS are available. For example, in order to explain iOS app development, the website first teaches Objective C and then explains how it is used to develop iOS apps. Advanced material includes learning to use multi-touch functionalities as well as the accelerometer.
Learning Tree. Learning tree is an extensive website and it offers courses in a range of subjects from web development and mobile app development to advanced programming techniques. Android as well as iOS development techniques are covered and an introduction to Swift programming language is also available. Swift is largely becoming a popular choice among iOS app developers so we highly recommend learning it from this website.
Vogella. Vogella provides a wide variety of free Android tutorials for coders of all skill levels. The tutorials are detailed and arranged in a tree format so that individual topics can be found under their corresponding headings. Each tutorial is indexed so it becomes easy for you to navigate directly to your choice of topic. The website also gives links to external resources wherever needed.
Coursera. Coursera offers tried and tested tutorials for both Android as well iOS app development. It covers topics like user-facing applications, middleware and cloud-based services. The courses are paid as well as free depending on their complexity and duration. The only drawback is that you do not get a certificate for completing the course unlike some other websites.
Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is an open, free, and language-independent question and answer website for programmers. It features several forums where topics about beginner to expert level programming are discussed. Although it does not offer tutorials, its wide selection of extensively discussed topics ensure that any and all questions you may have are answered.
We hope this list helps you find the resources you are looking for to build your own app or to get started with mobile app development. It is an exciting and competitive field so be sure to give it your best shot.