laptop displaying code for app

How to Code an App: A Complete Guide to App Building

Building an app is one of the most practical, efficient, and potentially lucrative things you can do to enhance your developer skill set. The skills for how to build an app, after all, are closely related to common software skills like programming, problem-solving, critical thinking, and UI/UX design

Even if you have all the skills, however, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to start creating useful and popular mobile apps. The particular challenges of app development have inspired developers to create a special process for bringing apps to market, which you would be well advised to follow. In this guide, we take a detailed look at how to make an app. 

What Is App Development?

App is short for application, which is a piece of technical software that enables you to complete computer-related tasks more efficiently. App development is the process of writing the code and deploying all the resources necessary to build and publish an app, whether for Android or iOS. 

Building an app requires the ability to code and proficiency in an app development platform. The coding language and the development platform you use depends on the type of application you want to develop. Swift, for instance, is the most suitable language for iOS apps, while Java and Kotlin are the go-to languages for Android OS apps.

How to Make an App

man working on a laptop with one hand and holding a mobile phone in the other
Full-stack development requires knowledge of both the front-end and the backend.

App development is a desirable skill in today’s economy. Without adequate guidance, however, it can be tedious and hard to master. The roadmap below will set you on the right track.

Coding an App: A Step-by-Step Guide 

While there are many viable paths to learn app development, the most effective and rewarding path follows these six steps. 

Step 1: Build a Technical Foundation

For most apps you build, you’re going to need to access a database of some kind, so you should probably learn a database query language. Depending on the size of your operation and the number of moving parts, it would also be good to have knowledge of DevOps.

If you’re interested in developing for the front-end of an app, you should enhance your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills. If you’re only familiar with JavaScript, you should explore Node.js or MongoDB, which are standard backend environments for JavaScript. You must also study up on Lua, C#, or C++ if you want to create gaming applications. 

For native apps, you can choose whichever programming language is most compatible with your favorite app building platform. Swift or Objective-C are best for iOS applications, and Java or Kotlin work best for developing Android apps.

Step 2: Plan Your App’s Features

Before you start working on the project, brainstorm new ideas and start mapping out potential projects. Assess the key aspects of your application and create a checklist. Keep it short and simple. Your priorities will determine your workflow and deadlines. 

If your app idea is not well-defined from the outset, you may stumble once the development process begins. Too many hurdles can lead amateur developers to feel discouraged. Any time you get stuck, just remember that apps are meant to solve problems that users face every day, so the needs of your ideal end-user should remain at the top of your mind.  

Step 3: Prepare a Prototype and Sketch the Basic Layout for Your App

Once the possibilities have all been sketched out, build a prototype that accounts for all the app’s key functions. You can also develop the final version of your app on this framework.

As soon as you’re confident that your app will run properly, figure out how you want it to look and feel from the app user’s perspective. Clarify for yourself how each section of the app should be designed. Then create a project schedule for creating your app’s UI/UX model. 

Envision how you will implement each element of your application. Take copious notes and be prepared to alter your plan as you go. 

Step 4: Start Developing

Your final prototype should incorporate all the specifications for your app, both technical and aesthetic. To ensure you’re ready to start building, there are two further steps you can take. 

First, you can prepare a sequence diagram to get a clearer picture of how your app will function. Second, you can map your database interaction by drawing an entity relationship diagram, which illustrates how multiple sources of data inputs are related to each other. In a car rental app, for instance, two entities would be the users and vehicles.

Now the development process can begin. For strategic planning purposes, you should learn a project planning framework to define your timeline and hit your milestones. Agile development and Scrum development are the two most prevalent frameworks for navigating the development process. 

Most importantly, trust the process. Obstacles are inevitable, so stay agile and don’t hesitate to tweak your strategy while in the midst of developing your app.

Step 5: Test Your App And Deploy

When production is over, it’s time to share your creation with actual users. When you ask potential customers to examine your work, demand truthful feedback. If you need to make improvements to the application, do it without hesitating. A successful app is the one that serves the users with exactly what they are looking for.

Ideally, your app should be compatible with any device, including Android smartphones, Android tablets, iPhones, and iPads. Unfortunately, some bugs can only be detected from certain devices or on certain screen sizes. You can’t just check the software on your device and presume that it will work for everyone.

For your work to be used and appreciated, the public needs to have access to it. Once you feel like your app is ready, publish it in virtual marketplaces like Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Step 6: Promote Your App

Because millions of applications are launched every year, it is not sufficient just to develop an application and place it in app stores. In this tough environment, even the sleekest and most innovative apps cannot attract consumer attention without a successful marketing campaign. A substantial commitment of time and resources is required to promote an app.

There are many ways to advertise your app. You can introduce it via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. You can use a friend’s videography skills to create a viral video to bring attention to it. Your marketing campaign can employ cultural references to attract a specific demographic. The possibilities are endless. 

How Much Can You Earn Through App Development?

Table with a laptop with dollar bills on the keyboard
Mobile app developers can earn huge amounts of money through freelance work.

The pay varies according to the platform. Developers for iOS reliably earn six figures. Entry-level Android mobile app developers, meanwhile, earn up to $76,000 per year, according to Payscale

Experience is the great leveller. Salaries for iOS and Android developers begin to converge as you move up the corporate ladder. Junior app developers can expect to make about $98,000 annually regardless of the platform, and professionals with more than twenty years of experience make almost $130,000 per year. 

Is App Development Worth It?

Learning app development to create mobile apps is one of the smartest choices a tech-savvy person can make. Owing to the growing popularity of mobile phones and tablets, profits in the app development sector are expected to cross the $800 billion mark by 2022

Flexible working conditions are another reason to master the art of app development. If you go the self-employment route, you can leverage your expertise to choose your own hours and work as little or as much as you please. But whether you freelance or catch on with a big corporation, app development presents lucrative opportunities for young techies. 

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