Ten years ago, the thought of building a website or creating an app would have been daunting, to say the least. The technology was primitive and many people still didn’t have touch screen smartphones, but fast forward to the present day and it needn’t fill you with an overwhelming feeling of dread. Making a website is a basic skill most people have, and new technology means it’s just as effortless and pain-free to create your own app, too.
While most of us use tech in our everyday lives for everything from driving a car that has a touch screen entertainment system and messaging loved ones through a choice of several different apps, many people aren’t technologically confident. This lack of belief means a lot of people avoid anything tech-based and instead choose to pay through the nose for other people to do it for them. This perhaps rings true with apps more so than anything else.
We all use apps every single day, whether to check our bank balance or to order food, but despite this, most people still don’t feel confident enough to build their own. It makes no sense. Not when you consider app builder platforms exist and the fact that by not engaging in what is a very autonomous process, you could be losing out on thousands of pounds.
Well, dither and worry no more! Here, we’re going to explain how you can create your own app, and all it takes is eight little steps to get you there.
#1 Create your own app concept
First and foremost, you need an idea. In the age of the internet, very little is unique and ‘new’ anymore, but that doesn’t mean your app concept won’t work. There are plenty of apps that do the same thing as each other, and most of them are successful in their own right. For example, Zaful and Shein share a demographic and essentially serve the same function, but they’re both widely popular apps that millions of people have downloaded.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a small business owner or an entrepreneur, and that means there’s even more reason for you to build an app! Sure, your initial idea might not technically be original, but you can still make it your own. Before you start thinking about creating an app, though, you need to categorise your concept.
The main reasons people make apps:
- Provide entertainment to users
- Boost brand awareness
- Bolster an existing digital presence
- Reward customers for their loyalty
- Make it easier for customers to shop with you
- Open a dialogue about customer service and relations
Chances are, your app is going to fit into one of these six things, but what if you still don’t know where to start? Well, if you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur or a retailer (either online or in person), there are several ways you could approach this.
You could create a mobile app to streamline the buying process for your mobile browsers, or you could create a rewards app that boosts brand awareness and increases customer loyalty by giving them incentives to pop into your store and make a purchase. Alternatively, you could use your app as a hub for those looking for assistance, as a way of improving your customer service.
The purpose of your app will mostly depend on our end goal. If your objective is to make more money, go down the ecommerce route. If you want to uphold your outstanding reputation for customer service, an automated customer help app might seem like the obvious choice. If you want to make people smile and make money, a game is the perfect solution!
Don’t make the mistake of creating an app purely because you think it’s the right thing to do. If your business is not yet at the stage where you can identify clear reasoning for having an app, simply don’t do it. You’ll end up with a half-baked idea that seemed good in theory but that has no real substance behind it.
Apps are a bit like people. If there’s no ambition or big goal on the inside, it’ll translate to the outside. Contrary to what you might think, it's in fact not better to have something than nothing, at least, not in the case of apps. Putting out an app that lacks focus and drive will result in a product that reflects poorly on your brand name and that negatively affects your reputation. If you’re a growing business, this is not something you need early doors.
So, come up with a solid idea and ensure you have a main goal at the end of it.
#2 Do lots of market and competitor research
Once you’ve got your idea, you’ve already got past one of the biggest hurdles you’ll need to face on this journey, although step two is a biggie in its own right. The natural next step after conceptualising an idea is doing research (and lots of it) to see whether your idea is viable.
It’s all well and good having an idea, but what sounds good in your head and what works in real life are two very different things. If on the off chance, you manage to come up with an app idea that appears to be unique and original, you need to ask yourself one big question: why has no one done this yet? Either your idea is completely undoable and not realistic, or, you’re a creative genius and you’re about to go down in history books like the creator of Flappy Bird.
In all seriousness, if it hasn’t been done yet, those are your main two reasons. Either it genuinely hasn’t been thought of, or people have thought about it, but they’ve then realised it’s not viable (for whatever reason that may be). The only way you’ll know is by doing lots of market research.
This means asking yourself tough questions, and then being brave enough to open yourself up for others to answer those questions, too. For example, you first need to ask whether there is an actual need for your app in the current climate. What problem (if any) is your app going to solve? Around 35% of start-ups fail because there is simply no need for their product, and the same goes for apps.
Remember the infamous iPhone app from years ago where you could tilt your phone and it would look like you were drinking a beer? It was fun at the time, but that same idea is now unviable. Every smartphone owner uses apps, and lots of them. Storage on a mobile phone isn’t infinite, so everything people download has to serve a purpose. Yes, there is still a market for games, but a novelty ‘game’ that doesn’t have any real benefit to it would now just be seen as taking up valuable space, so it wouldn’t get downloaded.
On the other hand, more and more people are starting to grow indoor plants, so an app that identifies what species plants are will always be welcome. There are a few of these apps available, but the market is far from saturated, though this is a fine line to walk. While you research, see how many competitors you would actually be up against. There will always be a few, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make your mark. Snapchat used to dominate the world of social media stories, but Instagram still gave it a go and now they’re more successful than ever – because they executed it well and understood their target audience.
If the market is already occupied, it’s even more important that you do a good job with your app. Look at what your competition is doing, see what they’re doing well and see what could be better, and try to use this as a base to edge your way into the market.
Once you’ve established your place, you need to make sure you have your audience right. If you think your audience is 25-year-olds who hang around on Instagram a lot, test the theory. It might be that your real audience is 50+ years old and spends most of their time on Facebook. If so, the marketing approach will be very different, so you need to make sure you know exactly who you’re targeting and ensure that the problem you’re trying to fix genuinely exists.
In theory, the research stage of your project should take the longest. If you whizz through this in a day, you haven’t done enough. If the data you’re collecting at this stage turns out to be wrong later down the line, your entire app could be in jeopardy. Everything from the design you choose to how you approach the whole project will be dictated by your market and competitor research, so pay due diligence at this stage and it should pay off later down the line.
#3 Come up with an initial app design
Well, look at that, you’ve made it past the hard bits and the rest should be plain sailing! As mentioned, step 2 (market and competitor research) should be the leg-up you need to progress your project at every other stage, including the next one, which is app design.
You might be thinking, ‘I’m not a graphic designer, how do I know where to start?’ Don’t worry, it’s not as tricky as you might think. You’ve probably used hundreds of apps in your time, so whether you realise it or not, you’ll have a basic understanding of what makes a good app design and what doesn’t. Step 2 means you’ve also already snooped on all your competitors. You’ve probably picked out common themes with each of them, too. Combine these two elements and you’ve got the bones of an app design.
Add in your branding and voila! You have a functioning app. Okay, maybe that sounds a bit too easy, but it really doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that, especially if you’re using an app builder to complete your project (which you most likely are if you’re looking to create your own app).
App builders take away all the stress of building an app, including the design part. All you need to do is select the type of app you’re looking to build, and then choose a pre-designed template based on that. Use your market research to figure out how what features you want. For example, all your competitors might have a wish list section on their app. This indicates that you will likely do well to have one of your own, and therefore it needs to be added to the design.
The great thing about app builders and pre-designed templates is that every new page or functionality you add will look uniform and slot into your chosen design seamlessly. Your main concern might be, ‘what if none of the templates on the app builder match how I pictured my app in my head?’ This is a completely normal thing to ask, but don’t worry.
That's where Builder.ai is different, you get the speediness of using an app builder but you're not limited by a set of templates that aren't quite what you had in mind. Instead, you just explain what you want and an expert will get it built for you. We've coded the features that make up your app already. This makes it fast (and you know for sure they're all going to work seamlessly) but it doesn't look like you've picked a template and you're not constrained in any way.
App design is about more than the front just looking good – it has to work for everyone and have a logical layout that creates a seamless experience for the user. After all, your app could look amazing, but if the design isn’t functional, it’s not viable, and your app won’t be a success.
Builder.ai’s incredible team of app designers work extremely hard to ensure every element they build not only looks gorgeous, but that it flows and works from a technical perspective, too. This is just one of the benefits of using an app builder – the design process takes a far less time to complete and you can rest assured that whatever features you pick they'll work brilliantly for your users.
#4 Build a prototype(s)
So, now you have your design sorted, it’s time to start building. The first version you build will be a prototype. It won’t be perfect, but that’s not a bad thing. The beauty of building a prototype is that it allows you to get to grips with the build process and to see whether your vision will work on a real level.
With an app developer, this stage almost always immediately follows the design stage. This is because, for a lot of people, the best way to figure out what they want from a design is to get stuck in. The beauty of an app builder like Builder.ai is that it gives you the freedom to add elements, take them away, move them around, and customise them – all without committing to anything.
You can begin to see how your app will come together and what it might look like to the end user, but remember to keep in mind that your prototype is not the final version, and what you end up with could look far different. That being said, if you can nail the design and functionality at this stage, it will save you a headache later on. Don’t be lazy with your prototype just because it’s not the finished version – approach it like you would the final build.
This might sound daunting, and in fact, this is the part that most people dread the most when they think about creating an app, but app builders take the pain out of the process. All you need to do is move your cursor around the builder studio, picking out elements and features you think will look great and add to the final product. To implement them, simply drag them over or click on them. There’s nothing techy about it – all it is is a drag and drop motion.
Through using a pre-designed template, most of the prototype leg-work will have been done for you, so the elements you choose will be cleverly worked into the design. As mentioned, you don’t want to rush the prototype process, but in theory, it shouldn’t take you any longer than a day or two to get up and running.
One thing you do need to be wary of is how many prototypes you need. You may only be developing one app idea, but if you want to launch it on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, you may need to create two different versions to reflect the fact that both app stores use different code. Go with an MVP first if you want to test your app idea in the market.
Some app builders can take one prototype and automatically translate it into another coding language to suit a different app store, but not everyone can do this, so make sure you check this out first. If not, you may need to create two versions of your app. They should look the same on top, but underneath they will be different (not that you will notice this if you’re using an app builder because you’ll see nothing of the code).
When you have your prototype, play around with it yourself and get your colleagues and loved ones to do the same. If you’re confident you’ve nailed the brief and are ready to face the public, it’s onto the next step you go!
#5 Conduct A/B testing and gather feedback
As we’ve mentioned, the first prototype you build won’t be the final version. In fact, it might not be the only prototype. You’ll likely have one or two aspects of your design (or indeed functionality) that you’re unsure of, and that’s where A/B testing comes in.
It could be that you’re stuck on what typeface you want to use for your app, or maybe you’re unsure what position you want your logo to be. It could be something to do with the imagery on your site, or the order of the hamburger menu (if you opt for one). Whatever it is, that’s where A/B testing comes in.
In essence, you create two versions of your app, each with small tweaks and changes. One will have option A, and one will have option B. You create both versions and publish them for feedback. Ideally, you’ll have a focus group that can test both versions of the app and give feedback.
If you can’t create your own focus group, there are options online. With focus groups, you tend to need to pay a fee for their time, but the value of their service will more than pay for itself. The reason they’re worth it is not just for their anonymous feedback, but because they are composed of people in your target audience, meaning they’re the people you’re hoping will download your app, so their input at an early stage is vital.
The focus group should have had sufficient time to test the different options and make notes. They will then pass these on to you. A lot of app developers also send out questions with their prototypes, such as ‘do you prefer the typeface on version A or version B? Please state your reasons why’.
Take your time going through the feedback and try to identify any patterns or common themes. Often when you're very close to a project, it’s easy to oversee things and miss issues. A fresh set of eyes will cover all bases, but you also need to take into account how you want your app to look and test out the prototype for your app yourself.
Following the focus group, take the feedback on board and implement it. Maybe your audience overwhelmingly prefers option A to option B, or maybe they have various elements from both versions of the app that they like. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the feedback, listen. These are real people who fit your target demographic, and what they have to say matters.
Once you’ve implemented the changes (if there are any), make sure you complete a period of extensive testing. App builders are great because they use stock templates most of the time, so any bug fixes have already been caught. There shouldn’t be any problems, but you will want to make sure by demoing the product yourself and amongst your team.
Once you’re completely happy, your app build is – in theory – finished, and you’re on a beeline for the finish line.
#6 Begin marketing your app
Before you can officially launch your app, you need to begin marketing it. Often overshadowed by the design and build, marketing your app rivals actually making it in terms of importance. Without marketing, your app won’t float, it will sink and get lost in the depths of the app store amongst the thousands of other apps that are launched every day.
How you market your app will depend on a lot of different factors, with the main one being your target audience. The idea behind marketing is to make people aware of your product and convince them to try it. It’s typically a trial and error approach, with a handful of brands striking it lucky with memorable campaigns that everyone knows. You know the Go Compare advert, and you probably also know the Compare the Market advert, too. Trivago, Haribo, Lynx, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have all also had their adverts go viral.
You probably don’t have the big budget for TV ads like the aforementioned companies do/did, but you do have one major tool at your disposal, and it’s free…the internet. Sure, there are millions upon millions of websites and an ever-increasing influx of users that log on every day, but rather than seeing that as an obstacle (‘how am I ever going to get noticed amongst everyone else with a low-budget marketing campaign?’), see it as an opportunity.
So many users out there, means all it takes is one with a good following to see your marketing attempts and push it. This works in the way of organic marketing, but this isn’t the only tool at your disposal. Social media is bursting at the seams with marketing opportunities, so whilst you need to be generating a natural interest, you also need to be investing some of your money.
What we mean by this is, you need to draw up a social media plan. Post teasers of your new app, hinting at its release and providing a sneak peek for the loyal fanbase you’ve already accumulated. The trick is to create a buzz and generate interest with your existing clientele, whilst simultaneously putting the feelers out for new customers.
Paid ads are one option, and they’re something a lot of app developers choose to make use of. It won’t work for every type of app, but if you’re building a productivity or service app, this is a good approach. People don’t always know they need something until it’s put under their nose. So investing in social media advertising is a strong idea to build up brand awareness. You will need to have your app launched first, but you can certainly put the wheels in motion beforehand.
You’ll want to set up an ad account on your social media platform of choice, and you’ll also want to install a pixel to your website if you’re selling something. This will ensure that if people do make it to your website or make a purchase through a social media ad, you’ll know exactly where they came from and you can see if the campaign is working.
Aside from static adverts, think about influencers, too. They are internet personalities who have a large following, and with that also comes a natural ability to influence their audience. Most influencers promote certain products, and an increasing number are beginning to promote apps, too. They’ll usually film some filler content explaining what the app is, what it does and how their followers can get it.
Usually, there is some sort of incentive, such as a discount code. This works well for subscription and ecommerce based apps in particular. Generally speaking, though, any app can be pushed by an influencer – for a fee. Rather than targeting big names, you’ll want to find influencers who will be interested in your app. For example, if your app is something to do with baby care, look for notable online figures in the parent community. It will serve you well because you’ll direct exposure to your actual target audience who are likely to convert, verses to a generic audience who may ignore the promotion altogether.
You’ll want to get in contact with influencers early on to ensure their promotion ties in nicely with the launch of your app. You will typically need to pay for their services and supply a script of key points you would like mentioning. This is where you need to plug your USP so that people can see how your app is different from others in the market.
Aside from social media-based marketing, make sure you’re covering the basics such as email campaigns, newsletters and general word of mouth. You could even run a competition to get things moving, such as the first 200 people to download your app will get a free £20 voucher.
The approach you take, as mentioned, will depend on factors unique to your business, but make sure you have your marketing pieces set up in good time for the launch.
#7 Launch your app on the app store
Once your marketing campaign is sorted, you’re on the home run. The hard work has all been done, but you’re likely fretting about the final hurdle: the launch. We’re not going to pretend like this isn’t the most nerve-wracking part of creating your own app, because it is. Especially if you’re going it alone and don’t have the support of a wider team to get you over the line.
This is where we come in. Our customer service team are on hand to help you and advise you with any queries or questions you might have leading up to this point, so don’t feel like you’re all on your own. We’ve launched countless apps for big and small businesses alike, and if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s the mixed bag of emotions come launch day.
If you have any questions at all, simply get in touch with our team and we’ll be there with you every step of the way. We’ll do our best to help you breathe – after all, if you’ve got to this stage, you should be celebrating rather than biting your nails! It’s a joyous day and we want you to be proud of what you’ve achieved by creating your own app.
Now, in terms of the actual launch day, it does matter. You might be tempted to launch your app on a notable day such as Halloween, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but this is a bad idea. Even if your app has something to do with a national/international day, avoid it.
People’s attention will be elsewhere, not on the app store, so it’s best to pick a regular day that has nothing particularly important happening on it. For example, April 8th is perfect because it’s not a big holiday, so app store traffic will, in theory, be at a steady pace.
Choosing a date isn’t an exact science, but it is something you need to give a little bit of thought to.
In terms of the actual launch, you might be wondering how exactly you get your app from the app builder and on to the app store. Well, like everything else in the app builder process, it’s all taken care of for you! You don’t need to worry about any of the logistics, but you may need to give some thought to ASO (app store optimisation). For example, you’ll need to select the screenshots that best depict your app, you’ll need to write a compelling description, and you’ll also need to think about keywords. Hopefully, you will have narrowed down some key search terms in your initial market research stage, so this shouldn’t be too much of a curveball.
Once your app is live, do some last-minute testing, known as a soft launch, to make sure it’s working and something you’re proud of, and then, commence the final step.
#8 Promote your app and begin gathering feedback
You did it! You’re at the final stage and all that’s left to do is to implement the marketing plans you prepped for earlier. Push go on those social ads, give the go-ahead to the influencers, and do another email campaign to make people aware, in case they missed it the first time.
If you have a website, make sure it says something about your new app (a blog post would be perfect), and if you have a store, commence traditional word of mouth promotion. Let the dust settle for a few weeks, keep gently pushing and you’re there! You created your very own app in just eight steps. If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a big pat on the back, you deserve it!
Start your app creation journey today
Think you’re ready to make your own app? Maybe you’re already at the build stage? If so, check out our app builder studio and start building now.
How to create your own app?
Making an app isn’t as hard as it initially seems. App development platforms like Builder.ai make the process extremely easy and smooth from start to finish. All you need to do is choose a design template, populate the app, personalise it using your cursor and you’re done! We’ll take care of all tricky tech bits, allowing you to focus on the main portion of the app without any knowledge of coding or app building required.
How much does it cost to create your own app?
There is no single figure for how much it costs to create your own app because it largely depends on the type of app you’re building (game, ecommerce, productivity etc.), the design template you choose, and any additional features you decide to add in. You can use Builder.ai’s builder studio to play around and get an idea of how much your idea could cost.
How to create your own app without coding?
You don’t need to be an expert coder to be able to create your own app. App builders like Builder.ai take all the hassle out of the process. You can create your app on your own, but you don’t need to worry about what’s underneath. All you need to do is use the drag and format to create the look you want on the front end. We will take care of the rest for you. No coding, no fuss!
How to create your own app and make money?
Apps are lucrative when executed well. If you want to make your own app and earn money from it, you have a few options. Firstly, choose what type of app you want to make. Do you want a free app that includes the option to purchase elements within the app? Do you want people to pay a fee to download your app from the app store? Perhaps you want to generate money from adverts? Whatever it is, it’s doable, but to help you, build your app in an app builder. It’s cheaper than a developer, but you will need to make sure the platform you choose can support the type of app you want to build to make money.