Apps have come a long way since the introduction of ‘Snake’ on Nokia phones. With over 2.2 million apps on the Apple Store and 2.8 million apps available on the Google Play Store, there is a lot of competition in the market and new apps wishing to succeed need to make sure they are up to scratch and efficient.

Phone displaying app drawer

Building an app in 2020 doesn’t have to be so daunting. With the right steps and planning, your app could be ready for smartphones and tablets in no time. Before you start, here are a few things you should consider.

Do you need an app?

Firstly, do you really need an app? Creating an app for your business is a good strategy to offer a quick, effective and mobile friendly way of customers accessing your business. However, if your app doesn’t offer anything more than what can be achieved through an optimised website, then the creation of the app can be quite costly. A Progressive Web App may be a more fitting alternative.

Pick your devices

Do you require your app to function on mobiles, tablets or both? While both have their own advantages, deciding whether you want to explore tablets requires you to take an extra approach. It’s important that you don’t have your app on a tablet looking like a blown-up version of its mobile counterpart. An app on a tablet will need to be designed to its sizing, possibly with a different layout, adding to the cost and time. Many people assume it will work perfectly fine on tablet, but although MacOS and Android tablets are now adapting software to allow them to work, it is not guaranteed.

iOS or Android?

You can always publish your app on both, but this will require more work, sometimes double to make sure your app works on each. Depending on the route taken, you can create an app that will function on iOS and Android, but this comes with its own disadvantages. More on that in our next point.

Native or Framework?

Something a bit more detailed, these are the two main routes you can take in developing your app. Native is used to develop apps separately using Swift for iOS and Java/Kotlin for Android. Native is a popular choice for many app developers. It keeps you up to date with the latest codes and features directly for each platform, but it does mean developing the app twice. Framework, such as React Native, develops the app once and exports that code to different platforms. It saves time and money on developing two separate apps, but it becomes a struggle to keep up to date with the latest features of each platform. You have to wait for the Framework to support them, delaying updates.

Updating your apps

Speaking of updates, the iOS and Android platforms are constantly updating. Keeping this in mind for your budget or development moving forward is important so that you don’t fall behind quickly, potentially not being able to host your app on newer platform versions or devices. This, again, adds to the amount of work needed to create and maintain your app.

Think of costing

Whether you look to create an app yourself, or hire a developer, setting up your own developer account on the different platforms should be your first step. Being able to provide access to third parties instead of using their accounts (for example, the developer) will prevent them from appearing as the ‘author’ of the app and you get to keep control of the account. On top of developer fees which is dependent on who you hire, iOS is a yearly fee of around $99, whereas Android offers a one-off fee of around $25.

Shops pay out

A showstopper for some, most people aren’t aware that if you’re selling digital/virtual products through your app, you will be charged. Apple (and in most cases, Google as well) will take a 30% cut (at least, initially), forcing you to use their payment systems. If you are selling the same products via the web or other channels, then this may have a big effect on your pricing set up.

Don’t forget to test!

Once you’ve decided to create your app, which platforms to publish on and know how you will maintain it, the final step is to create a prototype. Arguably the most important part of app development, you need to test run your app to ensure it works correctly. You can use tools such as Sketch, InVision or Figma to create your prototype and get a feel of how your app with function before investing time in development. 

Those are our top tips for building an app in 2020. Once you’ve decided to develop the app, it’s important to market it, advertise it and get as many customers engaging with it as possible. Whether you charge for your app on the store or not is dependent on your business model and the overall purpose of the app.