What’s the Best Approach to Create an Android App?
Once it’s time to move your small business into the next phase of its digital life, you should know how to create an Android app.
These days, companies use their apps to update customers and make life a little easier for them. A good app keeps customers coming back through regular notifications and service promotions.
When done right, your app becomes an indispensable asset to your business.
Yet, despite the time and money required to make an app, many of them fail. Why? Because their designers don’t take the time to find out what users need and make those features easy to use.
Some apps break the budget by not taking advantage of APIs, spending all their money on developing software that somebody else already built better.
By knowing a few simple tips about how to create an Android app, you can save money and build a better overall product for your customers.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Once you have an idea for an app, it’s easy to immediately start hunting for an app design studio that can help. While you will need a skilled team of developers, don’t get ahead of yourself—good planning makes for a better app by setting clear expectations early on.
What do you want your app to do? Will it use a person’s location? Do you need to account for online merchant services? Why are people downloading your app?
These may seem like obvious questions, but you’d be surprised by how many apps completely miss the mark by not considering them. Not every idea is a good one, and sometimes asking realistic questions about your app can save you money by changing your mind about how to proceed.
Revisit Your Marketing Plan
If you’ve been in business for a few years, chances are you have a good handle on who uses your services. Knowing this demographic is key to building a good app.
For example, if you’re building an estate planning app for retired seniors, you should cater its design to people who didn’t grow up using a smartphone.
It’s not always a good idea to load your app up with “cool” features—making an app rich with features could end up hurting its success if people don’t know how to use it.
Instead, start from scratch. Why would someone download your app? What do they need to find there?
Consider drawing a user flow. A user logs in, checks their account, and prints off some kind of document.
Doing this means your app must provide a secure sign-in feature, user information storage (requiring server space), and communication with the device’s printing command. Each of these tasks needs to be built or incorporated by your app designer.
Draw What Your App Looks Like
Now that you have an idea of how it works, you can move on to the fun part: sketching what the app looks like. This is a free way to generate some of your best ideas, as drawing an app comprises the most basic parts of your UX/UI design (an expensive task when left to someone else).
Do some sketching. Look at the apps you love to use, and identify what makes them work. The best apps result from intensive research and testing that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can use their findings for free by copying their formats into your own design.
Once you have a rough sketch, consider using a wireframe to keep the creative juices flowing. Wireframes can help you see the physical layout on your smartphone or computer, so you’ll know if your design is awkward or clunky.
The more ideas you can bring to your designer, the more money you’ll save on the sandboxing process. Plus, your designer will have a better idea of what’s going through your head.
Hiring the Right Team
Now that you’ve done all you can to design your app, it’s time to get in touch with a coder. You can either hire a freelancer or sign on with a web design studio. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
A freelancer costs less but requires more oversight on your part. A studio costs more but assumes more of the risk through a time-tested process, freeing you up from some of the headaches that come with development.
Coding for Android
To create an Android app, you’ll need to hire someone who works with Java—a distinctly different language than the one used by iOS apps.
Android apps have some unique qualities. For example, Android has a back button that factors into navigation. It is also easier and cheaper to market apps through Google’s Play Store than on Apple’s App Store. Finally, it’s generally just easier to build apps in Android.
By working with a team familiar with this process, you’ll be able to save time and money while delivering an app your customers will love.
Set a Precise Timeline
Once you know who you’re working with, the next step is to establish clear expectations for your team. A good design studio can help you here. They can name milestones for your app and let you know when they should be done.
Keep in mind, virtually every app takes at least a few months to build. If you’re in a rush, it’s better to find a simple template on your own and make changes later. Otherwise, remember that patience is a virtue.
Make Changes Early, if at All
If there’s one thing that can sideline an app before launch, it’s making changes late in the game. It’s easy to understand why people do this—they see what looks like a needed improvement, and they frantically demand that their developer fixes it before the project can move ahead.
This is a bad idea, and it’s why planning is so important in the early stages of your app.
Once an app is well underway, making changes can have serious consequences. Some features depend on other features, so altering one could affect the way the others work.
If it’s a major change, fixing it can take days or even weeks, so you should do your best not to rock the boat.
Of course, sometimes these changes are unavoidable. This is where you should trust your developer—they know more than you. The talented ones use their experience to fix the problem without upending the entire app, so give them some time and space to do so.
Spend Less Time Building by Using What’s Already There
One huge waste of time and money is building a proprietary version of software that already exists. Whether by ignorance or arrogance, some app developers think it’s a good idea to reinvent the wheel and waste their clients’ money by building every detail from scratch.
This isn’t necessary, and most of the time, it doesn’t succeed. The better solution is to find software that already exists and incorporate it into your app via API. By using the best software out there to complement your app, your customers will have a better experience.
Finding good APIs can take some time, so don’t forget to do your homework here. Android users all have certain software components that can communicate with other apps. Think of location data—your smartphone asks for permission to use it, then an app performs a function with it.
Don’t Cut Corners on Testing
Once your app is built and ready for its first users, it’s time for some serious testing. No, this doesn’t mean asking your pal to thumb through it for a couple of minutes before saying, “Yeah, cool.”
Quality assurance testing is one of the most important tasks in building your app.
Because there are countless things that can go wrong for users. Best case scenario, the app just doesn’t work, but sometimes, errors lead to data breaches that put you at risk of a lawsuit.
A testing architect will build a series of tests to automatically run through every function and feature of your app, ensuring they work as intended.
Good testing protocol will identify problems that don’t even look like problems (known as false positives), so make sure you’re patient with the process.
If you’re working with freelancers, make sure to include a QA analyst on your roster. With a design studio, there’s a good chance they already have an entire team devoted only to testing the app as it’s being built.
Building an app is fun! If this is your first time working with an app builder, give yourself room to enjoy what’s happening. Your team will remain part of your business network for years to come, so you should do your best to stay on good terms with them during and after the project.
Once it’s time to market your app, ask your team for suggestions.
Chances are they have experience launching successful apps, so make sure you take advantage of that resource.
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David is the Co-founder and CEO of Goji Labs. David loves working closely with passionate founders to understand their vision and help them build beautiful applications while focusing on risk-mitigation. As an author, he focuses on informative and educational blogs that enable our clients to make the most of their businesses.