How you build an app

You have a brilliant business idea for an app but don’t know what to do next? In this post I give high-level insights for beginners and talk about my learnings from the UX & Interaction Design lecture in London of my masters degree program.

What do you want the app to do?

The number of answers to this question is unlimited. If you have an idea for an app you probably already know what problem the app should solve. The hard question is how. No matter how simple you think your idea is, the actual implementation can go in many different directions. You don’t know until you try. I tried.

In our London week in spring 2022 we had a very interesting mini prototyping project that was part of a workshop with Arvid Brobeck and his team from Class35. The workshop was a module of our UX course.

Impressions from our workshop with Arvid Brobeck and his colleague in London. 

My peers and I were given a group task of “inventing” a dog sitting app. The instructions were simple but the implementation went in all directions once we started discussing how the app is supposed to look. How will the search function work? Do we want it to be like Tinder with pictures of dogs near me with a swipe feature? Is the dog owner looking for a sitter or are people without a pet looking for a dog for a certain amount of time? What is the exact business idea? How are we generating sales or is it for free?

The discussion went on and on and we came to the conclusion that many, many things needed to be considered beforehand. Each of us had a lot of ideas and tried to explain them to the rest of the team tooth and nail.

Stop beating around the bush and start prototyping

As fun as it was, sooner or later going through all the different options can get very tedious. So we took pen and paper and started drawing ideas. This is called prototyping. It is the process of visualizing ideas of how you envision the design of the interface. The prototype is not only important to give the idea a face, it also serves later as a basis for the developers who build the app. With each attempt, we came to a new point where we had to make a decision about which direction to go. Sketching our prototype really helped us to find common ground.

Building an app starts with pen and paper. Image: Amélie Mourichon / Unsplash

Does it work as it should?

Or: How can you make sure people actually enjoy using your app? You can do this by testing the user interface to understand if it is user friendly and meets the requirements. You need to check if it works first. Otherwise it would be like building a car yourself and never driving it until you sell it. Testing should be a permanently integrated process in further development. Find out more about UX testing in my blog post how you know if your app is good

Conclusion

You don’t need to have any programming skills to bring an app to life. Just grab your team, pen and paper and start prototyping your first app. Learning the full circle from creating to analyzing an app in this lecture really helped me understand what goes into creating an app, what makes a good user experience, and how to maintain or improve its quality. 

Image: cottonbro studio / Pexels

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How you build an app