how to make a mobile app for your business

14 MIN READHow To Make a Mobile App for Your Business in 2021 [Guide]

These days, every brand has an app. In fact, a total of 42 percent of small businesses in the US already had a mobile app in 2018. Apps are becoming increasingly effortless to create—thanks to different services and tools. Even small businesses can create apps in an affordable and fast way. Learn in this post about the different ways of making a mobile app for your business.

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If your business is thriving, and you don’t offer an app to your clients or employees, for example, to keep track of production, inventory, orders and so on, it might reflect poorly on you. However, you may be wondering—how do I create a mobile app for my business?

We’ve provided a guide on how to make a mobile app for your business in 2021, so you too can utilize all the potential an app has to offers you. Good news—it doesn’t have to be too technical when it comes to understanding the overview. 

How to Build a Mobile App: The Basics

The outcome of an app development, just like any other phase of a business’s growth, depends on the effort you put into it. Therefore, you’ll need to dedicate a sufficient amount of time to the planning process.

Before anything, think about your needs and wants, as well as the objectives you’re trying to reach with your app. This will be crucial  further along in the process. 

What’s the Best Way to Build an App? 

There isn’t one absolute way of building an app that works best for everyone. Every app development method will work more or less according to your budget, the type of app you’re developing, your industry, and other factors.

Different hands with mobile phones and tables on a wood table

However, assessing all the options available on the table gives you a competitive business advantage, not to mention the option of the most feasible route to building an app tailored for your needs. 

There are three types of apps:

  • Native apps—which are  developed for specific devices through a tailored programming language, such as  Java for Android and Objective-C for iPhone
  • Web apps—which are websites interactive enough to be used as apps, written in HTML5 and/or Javascript
  • Hybrid apps—which combine elements of both native and web applications

How Long Does it Take to Build an App? 

The time it takes to develop an app depends on different factors. To estimate how long it will take to build your app, you’ll have to consider three main factors: 

  • what type of app you’re making 
  • how complex are its features 
  • what development method you’re using to build it

You’ll also have to decide whether you’re hiring your own team to build the app, or using another solution such as Low Code, for example. As estimated, Low Code can make software development 10 times faster than traditional methods.

four phones and each of then has the screen of a Low Code built app.

How Much Does It Cost To Develop an App? 

Recent research regarding app development trends has shown that there are overall three cost levels when developing an app from scratch. This includes hiring a developer and writing every single line of code required to produce a fully functioning app. The following prices exclude maintenance for years to come as operating systems evolve. All prices are in US dollars.  

The average price of a simple app is between $38,000 to $91,000. An app of medium complexity will cost between $55,550 and $131,000. Similarly, creating advanced apps may cost from $91,550 to $211,000.

However, other solutions exist whereby businesses can purchase apps without having to know how to code. These solutions, such as low-code and no-code, can cost as low as $100 per month for a fully functioning app.

This can be great if you don’t yet have the budget to invest in an expensive app, but still want to offer the features an app could bring to your business. They will also be much quicker to develop; you won’t have to find and manage a development team. 

10 Steps to Building an App For Your Business

Step 1: Define Your Goals

There are 2.79 million apps on the Google Play Store and 2.22 million apps on the Apple Store. However, the 2021 data shows only 5% of apps are successful. Why? Because an app should solve a problem, or offer value to its users. 

Since apps have become so easy to create, businesses tend to forget the importance of defining clear goals. Always remember that there are millions of apps out there, and your concept is unlikely to be 100% original. If you define objectives for your app, you’re more likely to be able to satisfy your audience’s needs. 

It’s easier when you break down the list of your app goals from ‘the most important’ to ‘the least important’ so you know where to compromise if ever you have to—for instance, if you ran out of resources when developing your app. You don’t want to end up with a finished product that doesn’t cater to the most basic functions. 

Step 2: Research the Market

Someone has likely tried to execute your idea before you have. If you research the market, you might be able to come up with innovative solutions to problems you hadn’t even thought of. Already tried-and-failed apps in the market might also deter you from investing in the concept. 

Seek inspiration from what is out there, and use your findings to draw conclusions from other businesses’ mistakes and successes before making your own. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does an app solve the problem you want? 
  • Can you improve that solution? 
  • Is the app you’re taking inspiration from successful? 
  • Is there room for an app with a similar idea? 
  • What is their pricing like? 
  • What was your experience of using the app? 
  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; would you enjoy this app? 

Step 3: Make a Wireframe

A wireframe is basically a draft of your mobile app or a rough sketch of what you want it to look like. You don’t have to put huge amounts of effort into it; just envision it as the storyboard to your app. Use a simple piece of paper to draw out your app’s ideal features.

You can also use a digital wireframing tool such as Sketch, Adobe XD, Microsoft Visio, Miro, or Lucidchart.

A wireframe is the first step towards visualizing a project. You’ll be able to communicate with your team on how you want the user experience to be, and start considering your aims and goals. You’ll also be able to have a clear vision of how you can help users of your app. 

Step 4: Choose Your Development Method

There are many ways to develop an app. Let’s talk about the four most common ways. Remember what works for one business may not work for another. Keep in mind your goals and objectives, and make sure the development method you’re choosing caters to your specific targets. 

How to Create an App With Native Development

Native apps need to be created using code. The best code languages to use are Objective-C or Swift and Java. Bear in mind that these are the most expensive-to-build methods because of the technical knowledge needed to produce them.

Native apps are great if you want your users to be able to use the app offline. They have the best user experience and offer the most credibility to users. 

How to Create an App With Web App Development

A web app is also created using code. If you’re planning to develop the app yourself and don’t have any experience with the above languages, you can always learn on platforms such as the Code Academy. Of course, you’ll have to factor in the time it takes to fully learn the relevant code languages before you can start developing your app. You’ll need:

  • to program the backend code in Python, or Ruby, for example, to control how your web app works
  • program the web front-end code, in HTML, CSS, or Javascript, to determine the look and feel of your web app
  • to deploy and host your web app with DevOps (Github, Jenkins)

How to Create an App With Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps are a cost-effective compromise between native and web apps. Most hybrid builds run on Javascript, which is what most websites use. Hybrid apps take less time to develop compared to native apps, however, they don’t perform as well.

Nowadays though, it’s possible to create a UI-intensive app using hybrid development without encountering any major problems. 

How to Create an App With Low Code

Low-code is a more visual approach to software development. It is predicted that by 2024, low-code app development will be responsible for more than 65% of new apps. Developing a low code app for your business will allow you to significantly reduce the time it takes to get your app to its users, as well as the cost. Other benefits include: 

  • being able to deliver apps quickly to cater to specific needs
  • improving productivity—thanks to pre-existing tools that are tried and tested
  • enabling fast decision-making across teams with built-in collaboration tools
  • delivering continuous improvements to users and offering real-time maintenance
four phones and each of then has the screen of a Low Code built app.
Apps built with Low Code

Step 5: Research Existing Solutions

You don’t want to waste your time and resources planning an idea from scratch if it already exists on the market. Nowadays, there are app development services that can accomplish all of the standard and even advanced functionalities your app needs. There are solutions for hosting, infrastructure, design, analytics, and maintenance.

Keep in mind that it will always be more cost-effective and budget-friendly to purchase a pre-made app than build it from nothing. Apps can cost up to $211,000, so if you’re looking for something that’s already been designed, research existing services, and your budget will thank you later. 

Step 6: Technical Specifications

Remember the wireframe we talked about earlier? Once you know the app and the build method you want to use, it’s time to lay down the technical foundation for your app. Like any other software, there are going to be technical challenges to overcome to provide what you planned out in your wireframe.

A “tech spec” can help you find concrete ways to reach your goals. If you spend time at this stage, it saves you a lot of time down the road. Let’s say you want to offer an appointment-taking feature in your app, whereby a notification is  sent to the user’s Google Calendar once they’ve booked an appointment.

You’ll have to plan that out early on, to choose a coding language that has a large API library. APIs allow your app to pass the message on to the user’s Google Calendar that an appointment has been booked on a particular date and time.

If you don’t plan out that particular technical specification early on, you may end up regretting it later on and having to let go of an important feature you wanted; or even worse, have to start over again.

Step 7: Set Attainable and Assessable Milestones

You’ll have to implement benchmarks to be able to measure how well your app is doing throughout its creation process. If you don’t have concrete ways of telling how far the project is  in your milestone, it might never end! It’s easy to get lost in perfecting an app, then run out of time or budget to continue.

Break the project into logical chunks. Allocate a specific timeframe for each part of the project, according to the task’s complexity. For example, setting up an API for the Google Calendar shouldn’t take long, whereas creating the layout you want for the home page can take a few weeks.

Factor that in—be realistic so you don’t end up being disappointed every step of the way. 

Step 8: Make an MVP

An MVP, Minimum Viable Product, is halfway between your wireframe and your finished app. Its main advantage is: it will compel you to think about your app’s main features and what it requires to attain its most important goals. An MVP is the skeleton of your app; it’s a foundation you can add to, once you’ve created the roots of a project. 

Step 9: Quality Assurance

Before you publish your app, you have to test it on different platforms. Though you might think it’s an unnecessary spend—to pay someone to check your finished app—it’s not.

The reasons are: first—you’ll need a fresh perspective on your app, and second— most likely there are bugs and imperfections your team didn’t notice. Moreover, while webapps are fully responsive, navite apps have to be tested in hundreds of devices and OS versions.

Step 10: Deployment

Ah, the long-awaited final stage is ultimately here. This is the part where you get to unleash your app into the world and wait and see how well it performs. Now you know your app is fully functional; this is the time to focus on visibility. You’ll need to market your app across your existing client base, and beyond.

Of course, you’ll need to submit your app to the platforms. There are different guidelines to it depending on whether you’re submitting to Google Play or the App Store. Study them carefully or you’ll encounter setbacks in your release date.

Keep in mind that when you use Low-Code platforms, they’ll most likely submit your app to platforms for you, so you don’t have to go through the hassle and the risk of getting rejected.

Low Code Agency Homepage

All in all, thanks to the many solutions available today, creating an app isn’t that hard. An app can be a powerful tool for your small business to grow its client base and streamline its processes. Whether you’re a coding newbie, tech-savvy, or a Python expert, there are solutions out there for you to get your app published in no time.

Originally published Oct 4 2021

app development cost calculator
How much does it cost to build a mobile app?

Recent research from GoodFirms determined that a simple app usually costs between $38,000 to $91,000 on average. A medium complexity app costs between $55,550 and $131,000. A more complex app could cost from $91,550 to $211,000.

How do you create a mobile app?

There are approximately ten big steps to creating a mobile app:
– Create an idea for your app
– Do market research
– Plan out the features of your app
– Make a wireframe of your app
– Draft your app’s design
– Create a marketing plan
– Build the app
– Submit your app to the App Store or Play Store
– Market your app
– Improve and maintain your app with user feedback

Can I build my own app?

Thanks to recent advances in the app world such as Low Code platforms, it is possible for anyone to build their own app without any prior knowledge of coding or software creation.

How much should I charge for an app?

The pricing of your app will be determined by its category. You should also factor in different things to your final pricing, such as:
– How much it cost to develop
– App store cut
– Your target users and how much they would be prepared to spend
– Advertisements as a way of generating revenue
– In-app purchases if they’re possible