How to make an app the complete guide

Have you ever wondered how to make an app? In this guide I will discuss the full steps in order to start creating apps. Whether you will be doing it yourself or whether you will use a developer to do it. Of course all this depends on how complicated your app is going to be and also the quality of the app you need. If you are looking at basic app for example like a app which has a list of items. Where the app doesn’t need any services like location based services, blue tooth or any API integration in your app. If you are looking for a way on how to make a game app I will be addressing this further down in this post. I will be breaking down the costs of developing an app. As well as some free alternatives to making your apps without any developers.

How to make different types of apps

Here are general types of apps you might get or would like to create. If you are looking for a specific type of app you can skip to that section.

  1. Business mobile apps, usually released only for business purposes to stake holders within a business not to the public. This could include apps such as company bulletins, mobile app tools which get used in the business process. Example a app which scans vehicle bar codes for vehicle bookings into a repair shop.
  2. Game apps, these usually are released to the public and contain: Game play, character design, story board design and game mechanics development.
  3. Mobile apps or tools, this sort of apps can usually be released to the public and provides some value to it’s users.

How to make an app and steps to follow

  1. In order to decide which route you need to take when creating your app. You need to create a plan. This plan will not only give your app direction, but also be a great guideline for a developer if you choose to make use of one.
  2. Once you have your app idea nailed down the next step is to create a wire frame of your app. This generally is just a drawing of what you app will look like. It will include menus, buttons, lists, form boxes and other components you would see on your app. Create a wire frame layout for each screen you might see on your app.
  3. Identify what functionality your app uses. Here is a list of functions you might want to identify.
    1. GPS functionality.
    2. Bluetooth functionality.
    3. Sound functionality.
    4. Camera functionality.
    5. Advanced features such as facial recognition.
  4. Decide on color schemes and branding. The easiest way to incorporate color into your app is to provide a color palette when creating your app.
  5. Next draw up a short document which describes what the app is about, how it will be used and who will use it.

Technologies used when creating an app

There are different types of apps. Mobile, desktop and web based. In this day and age desktop apps are slowly becoming less and less useful. They are operating system specific and have limitations on the systems they run on. Mobile and web based are the more ideal apps as their data can be served from servers which allow a lot more volume and flexibility. For mobile apps there are a number of different types of technologies you can make use of.

Technologies for mobile app creation

Mobile apps generally have two branches at the time of this article. One being native mobile apps and another being hybrid mobile apps. Native apps are apps built directly on the mobile phones operating system and has a reputation for being faster, more stable and more expensive to produce. Due to native using different technologies per mobile platform you need different developers who have different skills which can be costly. So it is very important to distinguish what functionality can be built in a hybrid mobile app space vs a native app. The general rule of thumb any app which does not use gps, accelorometers, blue tooth, camera or any functionality which needs direct interfacing with the mobile device’s hardware should rather be built with hybrid technology.

Hybrid apps can be built with technologies such as typescript, javascript, html and nodejs. Native apps require technologies such as swift, objective c for IOS apps and Java for android apps. In order to explore Hybrid apps you need to seek developers with skills in Ionic, AngularJS and React Native.

Some of the more friendly ways to build mobile apps is using a mobile app builder like appypie. Check it out here: appypie.

Technologies for mobile game app creation

Mobile game apps are a bit different to your conventional apps and need functionality such as OpenGL support and 3D acceleration. Which means the technologies used are very specific. However you can build mobile games using javascript and html. However it is more ideal to make use of a game engine such as Unity Game Engine to build your games. The Unity engine is very popular and well supported. You do however need C# skills in order to develop games in this game engine. As well as 3D modelling skills if you are planning on building a mobile game for this you might use tools such as Maya3D or Blender. If you are looking to create 2D games you may want to design your graphics in tools such as Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator.

It is advised when building these types of apps that you hire a professional developer or game development agency for this. The skills can be hard to acquire and take time to learn.

Technologies for web based app creation

Web apps are very popular and definitely provide the most versatility. The great thing about them they are scale able, can run in a users browser and are operating system agnostic. Generally depending on how you need your app to run there are different technologies involved. If you are looking for more desktop type app feel you need a app which runs quickly. Generally for these apps you would have your app built in a one page app technology. An example of such a technology is AngularJS and ReactJS. This usually is feed by a back end API (Application Programming Interface).

What is a backend?

The back end is generally everything which accessed your data on your server where you app is hosted. Usually this is coupled with a rest API. Which allows your server to send structured and compressed data to your application.

What is a frontend?

The front end portion of your app is the part your user sees and what runs in the user’s browser. This includes how the app looks and the logic behind your app and how it interacts with your user.

For the back end of your app there are many options in terms of technology. Many of the main stream programming languages can serve as a language your back end is built on. An example of such languages are: PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, Golang and more. Usually you will also store your data in a database of some sort, popular ones for back ends are: MySql, MSSQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, CouchDB.

How to make mobile business apps

In this section I will go over how to make an app and an example cost break down of a general business mobile app.

Business mobile apps are usually focused on internal solutions within a business. They can be extremely useful for optimization and automation within a business. Usually to get the best from these sorts of apps, you most likely want to hire a app developer to assist. Free app builder applications really aren’t suited for this type of apps. The most important part of your app building process is to identify exact rules and functions your app must perform within your business.

How to make an app: Case Study 1

In this case study we will be looking at a app which allows a panel beating shop to book vehicles at their shop for repairs. The requirement is for the shop to carry around a mobile device such as a tablet to book in vehicles and to take photos of certain parts of the vehicle for later reference. The app is to record the vehicle registration number, color, make, model, year and mileage. Also must have a section which records photos of the vehicle. Let’s look at the functionality needed.

  1. A form to save vehicle registration number, color, make, model, year and mileage. This means we need to record six fields in some type of database. Considering this is a mobile app we may want to use an API on our back end. For this we will need the following built.
    1. Database setup for storing our data.
    2. A way to interface with the database so we need a back end API built.
    3. Front end portion we need the app built.

How much does it cost to make an app for case study 1

Here is the break down on how this app most likely will be quoted.

What does an app cost

What does an app cost – How to make an app


Back EndDatabase Setup and Design$500
Back EndRest API creation$2000
Native functionalityTaking photos and storing them$500
CompilingIOS and Android apps compiled and signed$200
PublishingPublishing on Google Play Store and Apple Store$400
TestingFull testing and scenario identification$500
MaintenanceFor bug fixes and additional requests$400

Due to the low amount of native functionality required it is possible to get away with a hybrid application and the above pricing is based on the costs involved for a hybrid app. If it were to be developed in native technology you would expect up to 3 times the price, due to complexity, varying rates for the skills required and also that you would require multiple developments for IOS and Android to build your app in each individual native technology.


How to make game apps

Game apps are apps built for end users. Interestingly enough these types of apps can be used for promoting business as well. Gamification is a new field where you can make use of “game like” rewards to engage your users. This engagement can be so strong it may even help with your marketing and advertising efforts for your business. Game apps generally will require a developer which has skills in C# and javascript. You will also need an additional resource which will be able to design the game art. You could potentially write your own story board for your game.

How to make an app: Case Study 2

For this case study we will use an example of a platformer game, built with 2D graphics. Potentially this game can be built with no native technologies, but will require specific skills from a developer who has experience with game engines.

How much does it cost to make a game app for case study 2

Here is the break down on how this app most likely will be quoted.

Back EndDatabase Setup and Design$500
Back EndRest API creation$2000
DesignCharacter, Level and Game Design$2000
DevelopmentIncludes physics engine development, game mechanics,game menus,buttons and user interface$15000
CompilingIOS and Android apps compiled and signed$200
PublishingPublishing on Google Play Store and Apple Store$400
TestingFull testing and scenario identification$500
MaintenanceFor bug fixes and additional requests$400

How to make an app for free

There are a number of good app builders out there which will allow you to build apps. Some of which is appypie which will allow you to get started with a app quickly and easily. Generally these apps will offer some value able functionality but will not be as versatile for more advanced mobile app projects. I do however recommend that you check out appypie if you are just getting started and just want to get an app out there quickly.

Where to get developers to make an app

If you are looking to create an app it’s important to find the right developer with the right skills. A popular place you can find developers is on upwork or freelancer. However finding a local developer in your area will be more advised as you can work a lot more closely with them. Upwork does have some great developers as well you just need to vet them, interview them and check out their portfolio before hiring them. Some of the skills you should be looking out for if you hire a developer for mobile or web apps are.

  1. PHP / Python / Ruby / Golang / NodeJS
  2. MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, CouchDB (Does not need to know all, just 1 – 2 of these)
  3. AngularJS, Objective C, Java, Swift, React Native and Javascript. (If you have chosen Hybrid app AngularJS, React and Javascript is most important) for Native Objective C, Swift and Java is very important.
  4. If you are developing a Game App, Unity Game Engine / Phaser skills are important. You will also need to consider hiring a designer which has skills in Blender / Maya / Adobe Illustrator / Inkscape.

Tips on working with developers when making your app

  1. Remember the success of your app is dependent on the support you have for your app as well. Either reward your developers generously or make sure you have a good structure in place for redundancy if another developer has to take over your project.
  2. Be clear, comprehensive and specific in what is required. Often apps need to be redesigned due to new additions which were unknown in the beginning. Make sure to give your developer as much detail as possible.
  3. Make sure you find a developer with good communication skills, to make the process a lot more seamless. You may be considering hiring an Indian developer at $9 per hour with limited English communication skills. How ever this will only frustrate you and make your project take longer and inevitably cost you more than the fluent developer which communicates well which charges $40 per hour.

Are you still lost and don’t how to make an app?

If you are still lost and need advice, feel free to comment below and I will try answer your questions and give guidance. I have personally been in app development for almost 20 years and should be able to answer any questions you may have.

Other resources: How to start a blog and make money

How to make an app

How to make an app

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