One of the top requests we get is “can you make me a Facebook-like app but better, real quick”.
Look, it’s actually a fair question, anything can be made better – but the essence of the question shows that there’s a lot of misinformation out there on how complex app making actually is.
First off the word app, or application. This is a blanket term and covers tech with the most straightforward functions to complex beasts. Remember the Yo app – a messaging app that lets you send only one word to your friends (yeah, ‘Yo’) – it started off with $1M in venture funding to get off the ground.
Now imagine making this quick Facebook-like app but better. It's way more than a 'Yo'.
The thing is to make an app, there are a lot more steps than it seems. Because apps are so simple and easy to use, it’s fair to deduce it’s simple and easy to make – which speaks volumes to the skills of software developers.
For reals though, in the enterprise-level sense, here’s how you would go about making an app.
Step 1. Define your vision
Get down with your vision, target market, goal of the app and competitor analysis. This is a research phase, a market scan to understand where your app idea sits in the spectrum and why it wouldn’t get gobbled up by an already established, bigger, not better, Facebook.
A discovery workshop is the best way to do this, it gets a whole bunch of people from different parts of an organisation and the app making process into a room to help validate an idea. Plus, often there is Lego.
Step 2. Scope out the work
This is where the notorious post-its come out in force and we ‘sketch’ out the idea make a plan of how it will work, how users will use it and pull out some of the design essentials.
This would all generally involve a UX or UI designer, developer, business analyst and project manager and the where the fundamentals pf the project would start to take shape.
Step 3. Consolidate your market research and insights
This is the listening phase — an opportunity to reach out to your users, whether they are employees or customers in order to make sure that the app you’re planning to make is something that will meet their needs.
Our UX Lead Anthony says, “When it comes to enhancing an existing solution, or conceptualising a new system to bring a manual process into the twenty first century – who better to speak to than the actual people who will be using it.” It seems like a duh, but often this step is skipped to quicken the app to market – that’s when issues arise and the word failure lurks around your work.
Step 4: Develop your proof of concept
An actual proof of concept, prototype – a model of your app to see if your idea is feasible, to test and also further enhance before getting to the actual build stage. While this phase is unique to the capabilities of each app, because each app is like a snowflake (naw).
This is another stage to involve those same users to help test and ‘play’ with the concepts so you can get that valuable feedback that will go towards creating something magical.
Step 5. Build your app
Starts to get murky, as every little snowflake will have different requirements but generally there will be the actual software development, more design work, hard coding, testing, QA, more user testing and then of course, that momentous day – launch.
This is a glimpse into what it takes to make an app, truncated into generalities. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work, back and forth, blood sweat and tears that go into making a functional piece of art that makes users’ lives easier. We could go on and on, because, look, it’s our passion.
If you want to better understand the process and get into the details, please get in touch, we’re more than happy to talk shop, design, development and proof of concept till we are blue in the face.