How to build your own mobile app

How to build your own mobile app

Apps, apps, apps…it’s the rave of the moment. Everywhere we look, we see apps sold for mind boggling amounts, Whatsapp sold to Facebook for $19 Billion, Instagram for $1 Billion…Figures like these have made the business of app making a wild west of budding entrepreneurs trying to make their mark in the app stores.

So before you build you mind blowing app, lets go back to the beginning and explain what an app is. Step by step, okay.

An App is short for ‘application’ – which is another name for a computer program. Normally, when people talk about apps they are almost always referring to programs that run on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Apps can let your phone or tablet do almost anything that the programmers can imagine, as long as  your phone has the capacity to do it. This means that you can turn your phone into a remote control for a drone, your tablet into a dj’s turntables  and much, much more.

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How are Apps built?

Now if you are not already a developer, programmer, coder or whatever you want to call it, you might have been letting your fears get a hold on you. Well, we’ve got one thing to tell you, it can be done. You don’t need to be a genius who dreams in code to be able to create the next successful app, we’ll break down all the steps you can take to make your own app.

Before we lead you down the yellow brick road of app awesomeness, we must point out that you will have to learn a coding language, if you really want to be the creator. Apps are as much creative, as they are technical, so you can always hire developers to build the nitty gritty aspects of it. However, we will really be focusing on people who want the greater share of the tech glory.

Most Apps need a database, so if you are building an App yourself, it will be helpful to know a database query language like SQL.  That’s depending on if you don’t plan on making an app that interacts with a database. A popular app like that is the popular game, Flappybird.

Also, if you’re looking to build a web app, you’ll need to know some basic DevOps to be able to set up your development environment/server, and to be able to actually launch the app.

If being a front-end-developer is more of your  forte, then you will need to up your HTML, CSS and Javascript skills. Other languages that can build you a great app are Ruby, Python, PHP, Java, Go & C#

If you want to build a game, then Lua will be good, although C# Is also a great option. Also, if you want to create apps  native to IOS you will need to learn Swift/Objective –C. While for Android,  Java suits it.

So, now you know the language , what comes next is the App itself.


  • Research: Before embarking on a new venture, it’s always great to ask questions and find out answers, both from yourself and outside sources.  Ask yourself,  “What am I passionate about?” the reason you ask this is, you will want to devote all that time to making something you love enough for it to hold your interest, even past the difficult stages in the process.

You can also ask and answer these questions

  • What apps do you love to use the most?
  • What apps are irreplaceable in your life?
  • Do you like playing games on your mobile phone?


These questions bring a sense of direction on your journey. Now, you are ready to pick an idea. Remember to start small. Sure, you want to build a million seller, but you might have to practise with much simpler apps. Here’s some ideas

If you love cars, you can build an app that helps buyers find cars for sale.

Once you have found your direction, now simplify the pitch into one sentence. You can also include the target audience of the app. It’s also important to  find out whether other apps are doing the same thing you want to do. You can get design inspirations and also get marketing  or even monetizing ideas. Will you charge your user to download it? Or will you offer the app for free but run ads on it? This model would require a large user base, so think about that as well.

2) Core functionalities


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These are those main things you want your app to do. The whole reason for this step is to prevent building an all-in-one app. Putting too much on your plate can lead to burnout or disillusionment, so just have fun for now.

Some core functionalities are

  • Users can create an account
  •  Ability to retrieve lost passwords
  • Users can comment on links
  • Users can share to social media

3) Time to sketch

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Get out a pen or paper and try to sketch out what the app will look like for a user. Where buttons are located, what colours and so on. This will show you a visual representation, and act as a guide in the building process.

Remember to keep things simple and feel free to try out different ideas and interpretations of your idea.

(4) U/I Flow– User experience.

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The holy grail of apps. The way an app looks is great but the way it feels for users is what matters the most. Now you have to chart step by step, how a user can use your app from start to end. Properly map out every step they will take and every likely scenario and possibility. For example, If users are required to log in, how do they create an account. What if a user enters the wrong password. This phase requires proper planning, you can still use a pen and paper for this phase.


5) Database design-

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Now that you have mapped out every possible path on the user’s journey. It’s time to determine what data is too important to lose. If your app, requires users to create accounts, then you need to keep track of Username, User ID, the user’s email and password.

You can also draw an ERM (entity relationship model) diagram to map out the data. If you have any future features planned, now is the best time to plan them into your database.


(6) UX Wireframes

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Now that you are done with the back-end, it’s time to conquer the front-end. Creating a mock-up will help you plan the flow. Wire framing is the process of creating a mock-up or prototype for your app. You can find prototyping tools online such as Balsamiq or Moqups. These will allow you to drag and drop all your graphics into place, also giving you the chance to add button functionality so that you can click through your app when reviewing it.


(7) Seek Solutions:

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With coding, sometimes you don’t have to build from scratch. There are templates already built by developers that you can adapt. What are some of the things, you have absolutely no idea how to build. Most of the times, it is good to use an existing solution for large functions. However don’t just follow, use sites to github to understand the logic, behind developer’s decisions.

(8) Building the app

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Make sure you remained focused and build the app function by function. Test drive development is a great idea.That means, testing as you develop. You wouldn’t want to release a app full of bugs. Many testing tools are available for you to choose from, such as Jasmine or Karma for JavaScript, Rspec for Ruby, PyTest for Python, PHPUnit for PHP, Quick as an alternative to xCTest for iOS development, or whatever tool you feel would work for you. You can also use Git, this allows you to easily undo your mistakes,  recover lost data and more.

Remember, if you hit a snag and feel stuck, you can always use google and search for exactly what you are experiencing. You can also get help from an experienced programmer.


(9) Getting it into the stores

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Now you have built your masterpiece, it’s time to cash out right. Create a developer account by registering with Google or Apple or both and paying the annual app store fees, it’s  $99 for Apple and $25 for Google.

(10) Marketing:

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This is very important. You have to get the word out about your app. The best form of publicity for your application is getting third-party endorsements. Reviews from tech bloggers, press coverage and word of mouth will be a boost to your app. It is important to keep these sustained if you begin to see traction.


Now your app is in the store and you are the hottest thing in town, one last thing………………..don’t forget us ooo.

Here’s an infographic Mobile app

Check out this slideshare below


Need professional help building your own Mobile app, then email us at to get started right away.

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