The mobile app industry has recently become lucrative for a lot of people, and many entrepreneurs create and launch mobile apps in spite of having little to no tech background. Today, entering the mobile app market doesn’t require a massive investment and programming skills from the founder.
Last week, I was discussing this with my friend, Tasha Bronitska of IDAP Group (they build apps), and we decided to co-write this article. We hope you find it very useful and that you share it with your friends.
Not every mobile app is created by a developer. The business of app development also requires:
- Creative skills (initial concepts and problem-solving)
- Marketing skills (testing, app validation, engagement and retention of users)
- Business Skills (customer care services, financing issues, delegating of responsibilities)
Being an experienced coder isn’t a must. For instance, Steve Jobs wasn’t a coder, but he understood the concepts of his essential programming languages enough to know how to delegate his needs to his programmers
A creative and organized business person without technical skills can initiate app development and testing and learn how to manage the code when needed. “Managing the code” comes in several different forms.
Three approaches to mobile app development for the not-so-technical person
If you have an outstanding app idea, but have no technical or programming background, here are three approaches that you should consider. The important thing is to figure out is which approach is sustainable for your personality.
We’ll start with the ultimate DIY solution and work our way through to outsourcing your programming.
1. Learn to write code
Writing code isn’t as hard as it may seem. You can get your footing by utilizing an online course from Codecademy, DevBootCamp, or other educational platforms. But, you should consider what coding language you’d like to learn – Java, Kotlin, Swift, etc. Actually, learning to code can give you a better insight into how mobile apps work and how to enhance them to provide additional value to the users.
When you acquire enough programming skill, you can drum up the beta version of your software product, which is called an MVP (or Minimum Viable Product). An MVP is a simple functioning app with just core features. You then have to test your MVP and revise and adjust its features accordingly.
Upon successful re-testing and revising, a fully-functioning app will emerge that hopefully solves the pains of your target users.
Now, you move on to your marketing phase. Whether you do this yourself or outsource it is up to you, your aptitude and your budget.
2. Online platforms: a DIY approach to creating your own app that doesn’t require you to learn code or outsource
There are several online platforms that can help you build a simple mobile app with no programming background. Such DIY app builders usually have an easy “drag and drop” editor to add and delete app features.
Online platforms allow building mobile applications at a low price. Most of the app makers offer two versions of the app:
HTML5 App: It’s a so-called mobile-friendly version of your website. Such apps serve as an addition to websites for smartphone and tablet users.
Native App: Native apps open up more technical possibilities such as sending push notifications, taking photos, etc. If you are going to hit the open market, native apps are the way to go.
Three top online app builders
Appy Pie’s clean interface and numerous support options make it easy to use. It’s a great platform for adding gamification features to your mobile app.
While it does have a free version and three other levels of pricing, only the Platinum provides compatibility with Apple products. If you’re serious about creating and marketing your own mobile app without custom coding, Apply Pie’s features, ease of use and analytics will provide you the functionality needed… as long as you’re ready to invest in the Platinum version at $50/month.
This is a web-based platform for building apps for iOS and Android. The platform offers a wide range of tools and features to implement in your app. The basic package is free. Access to advanced features is around $99 per year.
The free version will contain AppMakr ads. The Pro version gives you an HTML5 mobile site and lets you submit the app for iOS and Android devices. It also allows for complete customization of the design.
Swiftic (formerly Como) – The Swiss Army Knife of App Creators
Swiftic claims to power more than 1 million apps on the market. They’re mostly geared toward restaurants, events and services as they offer appointment scheduling, ecommerce, user reviews and events scheduling.
Swiftic’s most popular plan is $48/month. They notable guarantee their product assuring that you if you don’t achieve “any meaningful business results”, you will receive six months free.
3. Outsource a development team
Hiring a development team is the quickest and easiest of all of these options. It does, however, require funding. But if you’re a good manager of people and projects, it probably won’t cost as much as you think. And it frees you up to do what you do best.
Outsourcing can be quite a challenge, especially for newcomers. If you don’t know anything about code, it’s difficult to know who to trust as you try to choose a developer.
Make sure your potential team or development partner is highly experienced in building mobile apps, and also make sure that they have necessary experience working with non-tech founders and startups.
You can also try to find a partner with a tech background. It’s a more cost-effective way of creating your first mobile app. Such an approach allows you to stay focused on the operational side of the business. The developer should be able to code the app and other web platforms that will be needed for a successful app marketing campaign.
How do you find a reputable app programmer or company?
The number one way to do this is via a trusted referral. If you have a friend that has ventured anywhere near the app-building world, he or she may be able to put you into contact with a trusted referral source.
Another way to do to find your programmer is through your local universities. If you take the initiative to talk to a professor of information technologies or mobile app development classes, many will be happy to connect you with an up and coming student. This will keep your costs down while providing the student invaluable experience.
Finally, there are online outsourcing platforms such as Upwork.com, Freelancer.com or PeoplePerHour.com. I’ve used platforms such as these for years. I’ve had good experiences and many… challenging ones. I suggest that if you try this route, that you fully vet the person or company that you are considering. Their “ratings” are usually not very helpful, as both parties don’t want mud slung at them online.
An app entrepreneur has a lot of non-code responsibilities such as conceiving, testing and marketing the business. Coding is only a part of the development process that you can learn online, or utilize some user-friendly online software, or simply outsource.
The key is to know your own strengths and play to them. I’ll say this – if you have a day job and this is your Passion Project, I’d suggest outsourcing, as you’ll have more than enough other responsibilities while guiding this project to a successful launch.
———— Authors ————
Barry Edwards, Edwards Communications, Over 50 Starting Over
Brand/Online marketing/lead generation consultant
Tasha Bronitska, IDAP Group
Content Crafter and Blogger at IDAP.
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Nicely written. Quite a helpful article for newbies like me.