There’s never been a better time to design an app. Today, over 3 billion people use smartphones, so you have an enormous market for your app once it hits Google Play and the App Store. It’s not an easy process, but it’s certainly possible to learn how to code an app.
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of building iOS and Android apps, along with some useful tips to help bring your app idea into reality.
If you don’t know how to code, don’t worry. Career Karma can set you up with fast coding education programs that’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know. While it’s possible to learn on your own, attending a programming course will give you access to trained instructors and set you up for a real tech career.
App development is a satisfying and potentially lucrative skill, and we’ll help you get started on the right track.
The Basics of Mobile App Development
Before we get into the step by step guide to creating an app, we first need to set the stage for the app development process.
Like most other kinds of software development, building an app requires that you know how to code. There are a couple of different ways you can approach this. Arguably the best place to start is deciding which platform you want to work on, with the two major options being Android and iOS. This matters because where your app will run will determine the programming language and environment you’ll be working in.
Coding for iOS
Apple products, such as iPhone and iPad, use an operating system called iOS. Developers usually build apps for this platform using a coding language called Objective-C, which is one of many C variants. Apple chose this language as their primary code, so it’s essential to master. You’ll likely need to use some other coding languages when building your iOS app, such as:
In addition, Python—a popular language renowned for being easy to learn—is also a common tool for building modules, libraries, and back end tasks like storing data for the iOS platform.
How and when you use each of these languages depends on what you intend to do with your app. Many of these are usable for Android development too. You can research them yourself online, or ask your coding instructor for more information. For iOS, we think it’s best to start with Objective-C or Swift.
Coding for Android
For Android, the official language is Java. Being an old and established object-oriented language, Java has the advantage of being stable and having a vast community of users you can turn to when you need advice. Plus one of the most popular software tools for building Android apps, Android Studio, uses Java.
Additionally, many developers choose to code their apps with C and C++. The technical requirements of your app will dictate which languages you choose to work with. Android app development is flexible, and you can also code with other languages like:
There are a lot of language options for Android development. While you’re not limited or required to use the extra languages, you can do so at your discretion. Favored coding languages shift constantly, so it’s best to do your research regularly.
Other Useful Tools
Apart from the above considerations, there are some tools it’d be good to know about. Examples include:
- imagex, a command-line tool that enables capturing an entire hard drive as a Windows Imaging Format file.
- Intellij, which is a platform-independent IDE specifically tailored for writing Java.
- Flutter, Google’s toolkit for building native apps for Android, the web, or desktop with only one codebase. (This will obviously be of less interest to iOS developers, but it’s still a good thing to be aware of)
- Xamarin, Microsoft’s cross-platform development platform which extends the older .NET platform. This makes it easy to get an app built for a variety of mobile environments.
Another important consideration is design. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design are critical elements to the quality, usability, and ultimately, the marketability of an app. No one wants to use an app that isn’t user friendly. While it’s possible to learn coding, graphic design, and UX design to build an app from the ground up, it might be better to expand your team with a dedicated UX/UI designer, whether as a part of a company or as a freelancer.
How to Code an App
Now that we have a background on the tools and languages we will need, we can start getting into the steps between where you are now and releasing a fully functioning app. While there are multiple ways to go about this process, the following is a good template if you’re working on your own.
- Find a good idea
There’s a good chance that if you’re already reading this article you have some idea for an app. However, it’s important to start with an idea that will turn into a successful product. The most successful products solve a problem, so ask yourself, “what problem will my app solve?” The problem you solve could be as simple as boredom, and as complex as helping determine aerodynamic engineering solutions. Just make sure there is a need for what you’re producing with a bit of market research.
- Soft design
Start coming up with how your app will solve a problem. Think broadly, what features will your app have, and what tools will be needed to implement these features? What devices will it function on? This is the time to determine the platforms, programming languages, and framework (if any) that will best suit your project.
- Create a prototype
Build an app that’s the absolute bare minimum version of your final design. Don’t worry about UI, UX, or non-essential features. Your prototype should be a simple and clean proof of concept; it should show that the main, bare-bones conceit of your app will work. This will be the kernel that you build your fully featured app on.
- Hard design
Now that you know your app will work, this is the time to determine exactly how your app will look, what features it will or will not have, and how your app looks and feels to use. Write out your plan for development and determine what order every remaining part of the app should be built. This is the time to design or hire out the design for the UX and UI of your app.
- Build your app
While this is often the longest step, it’s the easiest to explain. Simply follow the plan you’ve made. You will likely encounter roadblocks and unexpected bugs, so feel free to modify your plan as you build your app.
- User testing
Once you have a finished version 1.0, it’s time to put your app in someone else’s hands. Ask for honest criticism, and consider that criticism humbly. If needed make changes to your app and try again until you have a product that users enjoy, and that you’re proud of.
- Publishing and marketing
No one can buy and use your perfect and beautiful app if no one can find it, or have never heard of it. Publish your app to Apple, Google, and any other marketplace planned for the app. Put together a marketing strategy that works for your product and your budget.
How to Get Started
Learning how to create your own code can be daunting for beginners, and going at it alone is unnecessary. Download our free app, join a community of aspiring developers, and we’ll help set you up with the right coding classes for you.