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How to Create an App from Scratch? [2023 Guide]

Updated Date: May 31, 2023
Written by Hemendra Singh
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Time has witnessed the dominance of mobile devices in our lives. We are living in an era where most of our time is taken away by our smartphones. But what is in those gadgets that is grabbing the attention span of users so much? It’s the Mobile Apps! In this guide we will explore how to create an app from scratch.

People all around the globe love to spend time using mobile apps as they add a lot of entertainment as well as edutainment value to their day-to-day lives.

From e-commerce apps to fitness apps, business apps, grocery delivery apps, religious apps, and more – there is an app for possibly everything that you can think of.

A mobile application can be a great tool to diversify your existing business in the digital space or used to create a new business from nothing.

Here are some stats that will reveal why you need to create a mobile app for your business.

Worldwide mobile app revenues from 2017 to 2025 (in bn USD)

create an app

Source: https://www.statista.com

Here are some crispy stats that will blow your mind →

  • More than 90% of mobile internet time is usually spent on apps.
  • There are more than 2.9 million apps published on the Google Play Store.
  • The Apple App Store consists of more than 4.4 million applications.
  • Apps constitute more than 92% of time spent on mobile devices.
  • Last year, the app economy reached approximately around 6.3 trillion which was $1.3 trillion in 2016.
  • By the end of 2023, mobile apps will hit more than $900 billion in revenue.

So whether you want to create an app for your existing venture or build the next Zomato, Whatsapp, or Uber, this step-by-step mobile app development guide is for you. This article will walk you through the app-building journey in a way that is easy for a newbie to understand. To launch your very first mobile, it’s important to choose top app development companies.

Strategies to Building an App from Scratch

create a mobile app

There is always a strategy when it comes to achieving a goal. Here are seven considerations that you must note down and will help you build a concrete mobile app development strategy, so let’s start.

1. Right Operating System to Create an App

The two major operating systems are – Android and iOS. There are native apps designed specifically for a single platform as they demand a separate codebase for iOS and Android. Whereas in the case of cross-platform and hybrid apps the same codebase is used to develop apps for all platforms (Android & iOS).

That’s the reason native app development is costlier than cross-platform and hybrid app development. What we suggest is that an app that works for both platforms will generally be best for your business. This implies that you have more users who will have access to your app and more users means more money.

2. Deciding the Mobile App Development Budget

Before investing blindly, it is better to define a budget for your app development project. There are a number of factors on which your cost of creating a mobile app for app stores depends.

The first thing is deciding your vendor- whether it is an app development company, a freelancer, or an in-house team. Secondly, decide the number of features your app needs to have. All these are critical decisions that impact your budget directly.

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3. Getting to Know Your Target Audience

Put your best efforts into understanding as much as you can of your target audience. Try to collect information about your target users in terms of their behaviors, preferences, goals, and the platforms and mobile devices they use.

When you have data reflecting your target audience’s buying tendencies, purchasing power, and demographics then it is a lot easier to market your app. If your app is adding value or solving any problem then your users are going to love it and be willing to pay for it.

4. Understanding Your Competitors

What your competitors are, and what are their strengths and weaknesses, these are some questions that need to be addressed prior to your app development cycle. You need to analyze your competitors in all aspects by conducting in-depth research. Try to find out what they are offering that is giving them results and implement the same or better.

Also, understand what mistakes they have made in the past and don’t repeat the same. Studying your competitors gives you insights into what exactly your app should look like and what features it must contain. All of this will indeed save a lot of your time and resources.

5. Testing Your App Idea

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, consider whether your application is a solution to a problem that is existing. If yes, think about how it’s gonna help. On the contrary, if your app is specific to your company, consider how your organizational goals can be achieved with the digital solution strategy.

Do some research to make sure that your app idea isn’t already in the market. If you take a pause and analyze things in an unbiased manner, then you can have a preview of your app’s future roadmap. Set your app’s priorities right and make sure that you and your team are on the same page. Here is a complete list of mobile app ideas for 2023.

6. Designing and Security of Your App

Aesthetics always play a major role in the success of a mobile app. Designing is one of the strongest pillars of efficient and effective mobile app development. That’s the reason companies put great emphasis on user experience. More users will download your app if it is pleasing to the eyes and easy to use.

Secondly, your app should adhere to strict security guidelines to protect its users’ information. People hate something that makes them vulnerable in terms of their privacy. Therefore, make sure that security and data protection is your top priority.

7. Choosing the Right Marketing Techniques

Now as your app is ready, here comes the role of marketing. A good app isn’t enough as you need to make people aware that you have come up with something that is worth their attention. Only after getting convinced they are going to download it from app stores (apple app store & google play store).

All this can be achieved via marketing. Having a tentative market plan before you start working on your app development journey is a good idea. Sit with your team and build a concrete marketing strategy to get things done in the right manner.

How to Create an App? [Step By Step]

how to create an app
Everyone wants to just jump into the app building process. But before that, you must understand certain steps which are necessary before your actual app development process begins. Go through them carefully without skipping any.

Step 1: A Great Idea to Create Mobile App

Before you start your app development journey, you need to ensure that you have an idea that should be worth investing in. Now as there are millions of iOS and Android mobile apps out there in the market, this step could haunt you at the start.

But it is completely fine if your idea is not 100% original. The reality is that most of the successful apps in the market that we see today are just modifications and variations of the existing apps.

So what’s important is that your idea should be able to add some value by solving any existing problem. For example, if you are running an e-commerce website, you can create an app that helps in improving the way your clients shop from mobile devices.

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Step 2: Defining Goals

The entire app development process requires that your short term and long term goals are clearly defined. These goals can either be end-user specific or business specific.

You must be clear in your mind about what problems are you trying to solve and what are you setting out to achieve. Always remember that your entire development process is an outcome of your goals, hence if they are not clearly defined from the beginning, it’s easy to get lost once you start the process.

Lastly, your goals should be measurable and based on ground reality. Setting unmeasurable and vague goals can seriously hamper a lot of your time and resources in the long run.

Step 3: Conducting In-depth Market Research

After your goals are set, next you need to make sure that there is a need for your app in the market. Validating your idea before actual execution is a smart move and can save you from a lot of future trouble.

Here are some ways to conduct research:

  • Conduct interviews
  • Create surveys
  • Study your competitors
  • Run a focus group

You can use your existing clientele as a resource for this research in case your mobile app is an extension of your existing business. For example, Nike has its own fitness-tracking app used by millions of its users. You might be interested to know how to patent an app idea.

Step 4: Deciding Features to Create a Mobile App

Your app’s features should be based on its core functionality. It’s not always a smart move to add extra and unnecessary features if you want to put your best foot forward. This is because each feature add-on also adds to the development timeline and cost.

Here are some examples of most the common and popular app features:

  • Push notifications
  • GPS enabled
  • Community wall
  • Booking feature
  • Ecommerce carts
  • Menu ordering system
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • User directory
  • Customer loyalty

Always make sure that your app is simple and easy to use. Also, skip those features that don’t add value to your app.

Step 5: Creating a Wireframe

A rough layout of your mobile app is called a wireframe. You may also call it a prototype. Initially, it doesn’t have to be too formal as you don’t need to worry about graphic designing at this stage.

A wireframe can be created on anything – a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or on any editing tool like Photoshop. The purpose of creating a wireframe is to illustrate the features and lay out the schemes.

A wireframe is not made to showcase all the eye-pleasing graphics designing and aesthetics, rather the primary focus of your wireframe should be on the app’s structure and flow.

Step 6: Choosing the App Development Method

There are multiple ways to build a mobile app. Determining the method before initiating the app creation process is very critical. Every business is different and every situation is different.

Factors like technical skill level, budget, app type, and time to market should be considered before choosing your development method. Let’s divide the development methods into four categories:

1. Native App Development

Native Development takes low-level coding into account. If you want to launch the app for both platforms – Android and iOS, then you need to avail services from developers for each platform to deploy native apps on both app stores (Google Play Store and iOS App Store).

Apart from hiring app developers for iOS apps and Android apps, you will also need a full-stack developer who can take care of your backend for data hosted in the cloud.

Native apps are the most expensive and take a longer time to complete. However, unlike other development methods, native app development gives you the maximum amount of flexibility that you can imagine.

Coding from scratch enables your app to perform at its highest level. Anyone who wants to build a gaming or augmented reality app can consider this option.

2. Hybrid App Development

Hybrid app development is a cost-effective option as compared to native mobile app development. JavaScript is a popular technology on which most hybrid apps are built. JavaScript (JS) allows you to create an app once and deploy it on multiple platforms – iOS and Android.

You get a lot of flexibility when you are dealing with a hybrid app.

Unlike native app development, hybrid development saves a lot of time and money. However, with native app development, you have much more control and in hybrid development, the performance and app quality might suffer as a result.

3. Rapid App Development (RAD) App Builder

For non-techies who want to build an app on their own, Rapid app development is a popular choice. Compared to native and hybrid app development, it is a much cheaper option.

With RAD, you can quickly build your app and get started with the marketing process. With RAD, you’ll be using an existing tool for creating an app with an online interface.

Although you don’t require technical knowledge, you must have some clue of what you are doing from a technical point of view if you want to build a mobile app using this method.

Rapid App Development limits the builder to use that particular tool only while building the app. You will be able to use only what that platform has to offer. This involves configuring those tools in a way that works for your app.

4. Cookie Cutter App Builder

A cookie-cutter app maker is exactly what it sounds like. It involves taking a single app and configuring it according to your requirements.

You can customize your app by adding your own images, color schemes, text, fonts, and other graphics that sync with your brand. The platform also gives you a feature where you can turn on the functionality that you need and turn off features that you don’t need.

The platform doesn’t ask you to have prior coding experience as the interface is so simple and easy to understand that you don’t need to be technically sound.

You may find it very simple to create an app in such a way but it gives you less flexibility and customization options. The platform limits your functionality and could create a problem when you want to scale your business.

Cookie-cutter apps are most suited when you are building hobby apps, side projects, or DIYers with merger budgets. But as far as the business is concerned, they are less preferred due to their limited viability & scalability.

Step 7: Researching the Existing Solutions

This is the final step in the pre-development process that involves researching the existing solutions. Before you start building your app just check whether that solution is already available on the market.

Always keep the app development process as simple as possible. Just focus on things that you really need to build from scratch, and for the leftovers, just leverage reusable tools that already exist.

This is really helpful in saving your time, and money, and you can market your app faster. Now as soon as the pre-development stage ends, you can get started. By now, you are done with all of the processes of the pre-development stage like validating your app ideas, conducting research, and understanding the functioning of your app.

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Step 8: Technical Specification to Build an App

Now the eighth step in how to create an app is using the wireframes that were created in the pre-development stage. The wireframe must tell your developer clearly all the challenges that need to be addressed.

If you want to create apps that people love then tech specs play a key role. One of the primary factors is the user experience which decides the future of your app so it needs to be taken care of.

Always make sure that your preset is followed and things are being executed according to the plan. Any deviation can lead to serious consequences and your project might end up being scrapped.

Step 9: Setting milestones

Setting milestones will help in keeping you and your team on track while the app-making process is being executed. Benchmarks help in tracking your progress.

You might have heard of the most famous and unbeatable work strategy called divide and conquer. Hence separating your massive development project into smaller chunks is a great way to get started.

Each small milestone should be completed within a specified timeframe. Depending on the task’s complexity, this could range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Measuring your progress against this timeline of milestones is a great way to validate that you and your entire app development team are hitting deadlines.

Step 10: Developing an MVP

Developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is very important as it forces you to think about your app’s most essential features.

An MVP is a product with the bare minimum features to attract early birds and validate a product’s idea early in the cycle of product development. An MVP can prove to be an excellent tool for the app development team.

The app development team can plan and process the app development cycle by taking the user feedback to iterate and make improvements in the product as quickly as possible.

Step 11: Quality Assurance

After developing MVP, you need to test your working app before it gets deployed. The quality assurance team must test the app on actual mobile platforms. Perform testing on all the possible devices namely – iPads, Android Devices, iPhones, PWA, tablets, smartphones, and more.

Make sure that the app works both in offline and online modes. Identifying and solving the bugs before the launch is better than fixing issues after your app launches with lags and discrepancies. Also, apart from testing your app with a quality analyst specialist, you can also consider going through usability testing with actual test users.

Ask your friends, family, and colleagues to try out the app and get their feedback. Just remember that your app does not necessarily need to be perfect at the time of launch but in an idealistic scenario, you’ll want to eliminate all of the bugs and errors. The rest of the changes like user interface and experience can be configured later.

Step 12: Final Deployment

It’s time to deploy your app and make it live to be used by actual users. Make sure that the end user finds your app fully functional.

The last thing you want is for your servers to crash or something similar. Understand the different submission guidelines of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store to get your app submitted on both these platforms.

The process of app deployment will vary depending on the method of development chosen. Get in touch with a reliable mobile app development company to get your app launched on different app stores.

Factors to Consider After Building an App

So as you have learned the process of app building, there are still some important leftovers that need to be considered post deployment. Go through all the points mentioned below to get a wholesome understanding.

1. Market Your App

Promotion is the key to making any business successful in the long run and here’s where marketing comes in. Even the best apps fail without the tinge of strategic marketing. If nobody knows about it, then it doesn’t matter how good your app is.

Efficient sales and marketing help in getting some eyeballs and grabbing user interest. Initially try to take visitors to your website and app. Then in no time, these visitors will become your own app users and eventually paid members.

In today’s era, having a digital or online presence on multiple platforms is very important. Promote your app on those social media channels where your user base spends most of the time like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

Also to be noted that YouTube has become a unicorn for brand promotions and shouldn’t be ignored at all. Create video promotions and app demonstrations to put on YouTube and start placing ads. Always remember that marketing is not a one-time thing but rather an ongoing process.

It should be changed and modified accordingly depending on time and need. Lastly, apart from traditional marketing, you need to focus on ASO – app store optimization. This strategy helps in ensuring the high visibility of your mobile application in the app stores.

2. Track KPIs

The only way to answer the question of how successful your app is – is by establishing and tracking KPIs – Key Performance Indicators.

Track KPIs depending on the tendencies of users related to your app. Ask these questions – Are people downloading my application? If yes, then in what numbers? What is the average time a user uses the app? Are users keeping the app or installing it?

Within the system, you must monitor the metrics for new users, repeat users, average time spent on your app, and where the most time is spent. These analytics will help measure the success of your app.

Within your own app store connect account, tracking KPIs can show you which components of your app need improvement and which ones are getting the desired results.

For instance, imagine that a significant amount of users are taking advantage of your app feature that initially you didn’t consider a core app component. You can leverage that information to make that feature more accessible from all screens.

3. Get user feedback

Earlier, most of the things could be based on your own intuition, but post-deployment now is the time when you take feedback from your app users. No matter how much you hate it, it is for your app’s betterment.

You can ask your users questions in a way that gives them the opportunity to be real and honest. People like being asked about their thoughts, so don’t feel shy about asking feedback-related questions.

With genuine customer feedback, you can prioritize what features you need to work on next. Save your money with your customers’ advice and always work with a plan. Spend that money on things that are relevant and customer oriented.

This will not only help in customer retention but also in adding new customers.

4. Make continuous improvements

Nothing is perfect, not even apps. That’s the reason even the most successful apps are constantly coming up with updates. User feedback should be the key to deciding the new version releases of your app.

The same steps that you used during the development process should be followed when you go back in and make further changes to your own app.

Subsequent changes in terms of features and updates could create new problems so whenever changes are made to your app you need to go back and re-do the QA process. By this, you can avoid a lot of trouble in the future.

Always give utmost importance to releasing new app versions as users are constantly giving feedback and they expect changes to be made. Absence of making regular improvements can be a cause of people not using your app anymore.

5. Support and maintenance

The reason why retaining your development team is so important is that there will always be ongoing maintenance for your app. On one hand, your app is coming out with new versions, on the other mobile device operating systems are coming out with updates.

You need to ensure that there are no compatibility issues with your android app or iOS app with the latest software versions from Android and Apple.

Every country has its own set of rules and regulations – that’s called compliance. Your app should comply with data laws prevailing in that specific region. All of these circumstances demand regular support and maintenance.

You must plan for customer support as your app scales. In the beginning, when there are limited tasks to perform, you can probably manage this on your own. But as your scale grows, handling thousands of customer queries on your own could be next to impossible.

You might need to hire a dedicated team for handling sales. All of this comes under the “support” category post-launch. So plan your time and budget accordingly as you are gonna deal with all this.

Time to Create an Application

time to build an app

Again, there is a chain of factors that are responsible for deciding the time taken to build an app. The three of the most critical factors in estimating your timeline are:

  • Type of app
  • Complexity of features
  • The development method

Some apps can be built in weeks, some in months, while some take years to complete.

On average, most mobile apps take a span of 6 to 12 months to develop. However, mobile apps with complex functionalities will take longer.

If you are creating something for a personal user like a calculator app or a temperature converter app, the entire process could be finished within a week or less. On the other hand, if you are planning to build the next Uber, Bumble, or Facebook, the process is expected to take years to complete.

Cost to Create a Mobile App in 2023

cost to make an app

If you are going for simple app development that takes time around 2-3 months then you need to spend around $5,000 to $10,000. Secondly, going for basic app development that takes 3 to 6 months will cost you between $10,000 to $20,000. Lastly, A complex app with high-functionality features will take a year or more to complete and would cost you $30,000 or more.

App Type Time Cost
Simple App 2-3 months $5,000 to $10,000
App with Basic Features 3- 6 months $10,000 to $20,000
App with Complex features 6-12 months $20,000 to $30,000

Having said that, there are multiple factors on which the cost to create a mobile app is based. The features you are implementing, the type of app you’re building and the development methodologies will have the most significant impact on the overall cost.

Low-level coding is costlier than an app development platform. Experienced developers located in the US and Europe might charge $150 per hour, whereas a beginner developer working overseas might cost $30 per hour.

More cost will add up with more features, functionality, and complexity of the app. Here is my other guide on mobile app development cost.

Android vs iOS Development – Which to Focus on?

mobile app development process
The best answer for this would be – to build an app for both platforms. If you create an app just for one platform, let’s say Android devices, you are neglecting a significant user base that uses iOS devices or iOS apps.

So always for apps that are available both on the Google play store and apple app store.

If you are coding a native app from scratch, only then you are forced to make this decision. In this scenario, you’ll need to have two separate versions – one for Android and one for iOS. It is quite similar to building two separate apps.

Fortunately, some famous app-building platforms allow you to create an app for Android and iOS separately. So without having any coding or technical knowledge, you can create and launch your own app on both platforms.

Also Explore: iOS App Development Agencies

Also Explore: Android App Development Agencies

How to Make Money After Build an App?

App Monetization
There are multiple ways to make money with an app. For beginners, you can consider trying customer loyalty programs, mobile commerce sales, and referral programs to make money online.

You can even charge your customers a one-time fee to download your app. In-app purchases for stuff like coins or content upgrades are some of the ways to generate money from your app. Another way is to charge your users a monthly or annual subscription to generate a regular source of income.

The next way to generate income is through advertisements. This comes under selling your advertising space to a third party. You can run advertisements and commercials within your app and companies will happily pay big amounts if your app is famous.

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Conclusion: Steps to Build a Mobile App

App creation is a long and tedious process. Multiple factors must be taken into account to understand how to create an app. Once you have decided that you are going to create an app for your business, you should start with your app design.

This process would require you to make some critical choices. The reason why these choices are so relevant is that they can exponentially help in increasing your brand awareness and your overall business growth.

Then depending on your budget and business goals, you have to choose between hiring a development company, building your app on your own, or building your app using an app builder like Appy Pie or AppSheet.

Always remember that the app development cycle is a combination of technology and marketing so you need to be robust in both departments.

You can contact The NineHertz which is a reliable and experienced mobile and web apps development company working in the field of technology for the past so many years. We have a dedicated team of proficient app developers who can cater to all your needs to give you the desired results.

Lastly, if you find this article helpful, below are more related blogs:

Courier Delivery App Development

Music Streaming App Development

OTT App Development

Hotel Booking App Development

Video Chat App Development

Beauty Services App Development

FAQ’s on How to Create a Mobile App

1. How Can My App Idea be Protected?

The fact is you’ll have control over your application till it is launched in the market. After deployment, the second your competitors see the positive reviews, they will try and implement the same idea in their mobile app as well. The best way is to get a patent for your app but again it doesn’t work on all levels. If you are at the ideation stage, you can sign an NDA with the developer you are in talks with.

2. How Long Does it Take to Fully create an App?

The time taken is directly related to the degree of app complexity. The average time taken is somewhere around 6 to 7 months to complete the app development process straight from ideation to launch. While on the other hand apps having advanced features and complexity might even take up to a year or even more.

3. What is the Cost to Create a Mobile App?

The tentative cost for creating a mobile app is somewhere around $5,000 to $20,000 and can exceed $30,000 in some cases. We used the word tentative because several factors influence the overall app development cost namely app type, complexity, functionality, selected vendor, and the development methodologies.

4. How do I generate Income from an App?

The best way to make money is via ads which can be displayed and monetized in ‘n’ number of ways. CPM – here the app developers are paid based on the number of impressions of the advertisements. CPC – signifies the revenue generated based on the number of clicks on the ad. CPV – here the earnings are based on the number of views by the app users.

Hemendra Singh

My name is Hemendra Singh. I am a Director and Co-founder of The NineHertz, IT Consulting Company. I am having a keen interest in the latest trends and technologies that are emerging in different domains. Being an entrepreneur in the field of the IT sector, it becomes my responsibility to aid my audience with the knowledge of the latest trends in the market.