How to build an app. No coding, no developers

How to build an app. article header image

15 minute read

Written by Liam Donoghue, Marketing Executive

“What’s a wireframe? I’ll just Google that”

“How easy is it to learn Swift? What is Swift?”

“Do I need a native app? I honestly don’t know!”

You knew building your own app wasn’t going to be easy, but the amount of technical jargon coming out your screen is enough to make Elon Musk’s head hurt. 

How can you even begin to envision your final app when you don’t know what half the building blocks do? (Or what their names are)

And if you’re planning to outsource your app’s development to a software team, how can you communicate your vision to them when they speak ‘tech’ a mile a minute. 

It’s true, app development isn’t easy and the research you need to do is enough to make anyone’s head hurt. But building your own app isn’t off-limits, and if someone tells you differently they’re after your money!

Modern technology has put the tools of app creation at everyone’s fingertips. Having your own branded mobile app is no longer reserved for super-rich companies, lots of smaller businesses are getting in on the action and seeing amazing business results.  

App building platforms are springing up left, right, and center. They provide an accessible and affordable way for small business owners to own their own apps. 

If you’d like to skip straight to how Passion.io can help you build your own coaching app with no developers and no coding, click here. 

Not in the market for a e-learning app? Don’t worry you can check out our recommended app building platforms for other businesses niches in this article: The 7 best app maker platforms for any business idea

So how do people usually make apps? No ‘how to build an app’ article would be complete without a rundown of the traditional app-building life cycle.  

The traditional app-building life cycle

An image of people working at computers

Before we dive into the powerful Passion.io platform you can use to create a coaching app with no coding skills, here the traditional way to develop an app broken down into 5 steps.

Step 1 – What is your app for?

You may think this step is a given, but it always helps to start with the very basics. Why do you want to create an app? What’s its purpose? Who will it serve?

If you’re not crystal clear on these points before you start building your app you’ll find that your design is patchy and inconsistent. 

Remember, you are designing an app to solve a customer’s problem. The solution they’re seeking needs to be ta the heart of your app, otherwise they’ll take one look at it and leave.  

Step 2 – Ask your current customers what they want

A person getting interviewed for some market research

You might have decided what your app is for, but you could find out that your customers want something completely different. 

At Passion.io we are huge advocates of iterative development. What does that mean? 

Iterative development is building a product based on user feedback. Instead of creating something and putting it out into the world when it’s done, you build your product bit by bit and get feedback throughout the creation process. This feedback constantly informs the final design of your product so you produce something that you know will sell. 

We believe the best way to build a product is to ask your dream customer what they want then build that! It saves years working on something only to find out no one wants it. 

Once you’ve decided what your app is for, make sure it aligns with your dream customer’s problems and desires. You might be surprised to find that your initial idea might need some tweaking after doing this market research.  

Step 3 – Draw a mock-up of your app

Now we get to the good bits. You need to start designing your app. But before you dive into a code editor and start reeling off lines of code, it’s best to put pen to paper (old school we know) and draw out the features and design of your app. 

Even if you’re not planning on building the app yourself, this stage is vital. You’ll need to take your designs and wireframes to a development agency so they can build what you want. (Or you can use our platform and skip this step altogether)

Creating a mock-up of your app requires 3 steps:

  • Mapping out the features 
  • Creating a wireframe
  • Adding the graphic design elements

Mapping out the features

A picture of a hiker with a map

What are the key features of your app? What functionality do you want it to have? 

Does the app need to integrate with any other software? Will it need to sort user data? Do you want it to be able to access a device’s camera and microphone? 

Think about these questions and then write down a list of all the functionalities your app will need. Be as exhaustive as possible, even if you think a feature is really small it is still worth writing down and planning for.  

Once you’ve done this step you can start adding your features to a wireframe design document.  

Create a wireframe of your mobile design

What a wireframe is

A wireframe is a rough sketch of each page of your app. It should include vital information such as; where each feature goes on a page, where are the buttons on a page, where they’ll lead, and where videos and text will live. 

A wireframe is a rough layout of your app. Something you could show to a developer or a designer and they will make the vision a reality.

An image showing what a mobile wireframe looks like

What a wireframe isn’t 

A wireframe isn’t a detailed graphic depiction of your app. It shouldn’t include images, text, and colors. If your wireframe is a lovely picture of what you want your app to look like you’ve done it wrong. 

The wireframe is halfway between your idea and final design. Be prepared to tweak and change it if you need to. It isn’t set in stone. Think of it as a first draft, something you can work with to get to your end goal.   

Once you have a rough sketch of your app, you can start thinking about the aesthetic design elements.

The apps graphic design

You can now decide on the aesthetic element of your app. Will the home screen have a background video? What is your color scheme? What color will the buttons be? How big will they be?

If you’re pretty savvy at design you could do this yourself. There are also app design templates you can use if you need a helping hand. 

If design isn’t your thing you can always look to marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork to hire a designer to help you flesh out your vision. 

 You can map out the graphic elements of your app on tools like Canva or Photoshop. However you visualize the visual elements of your app just make sure you have the images and wireframe with you when you start building your app!

Step 4 – Build your app

A screen full of code

After all that work, it’s finally time to build your app. How you go about building it is up too you. There are three main approaches to app development:

  • Learn to code and build it yourself 
  • Use a mobile app building platform, like Passion.io, to create the app yourself
  • Outsource the app creation to a development team  

Each approach has its own advantages, drawbacks, and price tags.

 

Building the app yourself 

If you want to get really hands-on with app development then this approach is for you. Swift is the main language you’ll need to create native mobile apps for the Apple App Store. 

This is a relatively cheap solution for building an app. Your main monetary cost will be paying for coding lessons or a bootcamp to get yourself upskilled in the relevant coding languages and frameworks you need to make an app.    

Whilst the costs could vary from $0-$6000 the real drain here is on your time. If your app has a lot of features and you’re an inexperienced developer working solo, it could take up to 2-years before your app is ready to launch. 

Using a mobile app builder platform

There are plenty of platforms on the web that make building a mobile app affordable and easy. No matter what your business needs are you’ll find a platform that can work for you. If, for example, you need to build a coaching app, look no further than Passion.io. We’re a no-code, drag-and-drop app creation platform for coaches who want an e-learning app.

Mobile app builder platforms vary from no-code to low-code, which means some of them will require basic coding knowledge.

Unlike building an app yourself, these platforms may have limitations so you’ll need to pick the one you want to use carefully as you won’t be able to swap once you commit. But with enough research however you can find one that suits your need perfectly. 

Prices vary per platform but will usually cost no more than the ongoing cost of hiring developers to maintain an app you’ve outsourced and you get the added bonus of controlling your own app content and design.

Outsourcing to a development team

The last option is the most expensive ($50,000+ in most cases) but it is largely worth it if you have the resources. App agencies are experts at taking your vision and turning it into a reality. They are able to custom build an app for you, from scratch. Depending on your business model this could be invaluable.   

Working with an external agency does have its drawbacks, however. Having someone create an app for you means it can be difficult to upload content to your app and enact changes quickly on your own. 

Also, app agencies may try to influence your company vision and create an app you might not want. In many cases, app agencies become your business partners and not part of your team. 

If you’re looking for an app expert to help guide your business and partner with you long term, then finding an app development team could be for you. 

No matter which development strategy you choose just be prepared for some things to go wrong, deadlines to change, and plans revised. This is the stage where the leg-work happens and there’s usually some tears before the app is finished.

Step 5 – Launch it in the app stores

A space rocket taking off into space

Last but not least, its time to launch your app. The steps below are a brief overview of how you get your app on the app stores:

  1. Register for an app store developer account 
  2. Review your app and make sure it follows ASO best practices and the app store guidelines 
  3. Upload your app to the app stores
  4. The app stores will review your app, once it’s approved it will go live to the world. People can now download it. Congratulations

There you have it. In 5-steps, that’s the traditional way you build an app. If that sounds like a lot of work for you, read on below to find out how you can get an app live on the app stores in minutes. 

No coding, no development.

How to create an app from scratch using Passion.io

Create a credible global brand for your coaching business with your own white label mobile app. Attract new leads to your business using our easy drag-and-drop app creator tools. Improve your marketing funnels and find new customers with a platform you control. 

Our apps give you the power to enhance the lives of your clients & customers. They make it easy for you to share your skills with the world and improve the lives of the people around you. 

You don’t need to worry about dealing with developers. Passion.io is simple. We have a world-class support team who can lend a hand at a moment’s notice.   

Get access to proven templates and step-by-step systems to understand your current customers better and acquire new ones. Analyze your user-base with PassionMetrics to find out where your customers are coming from and who they are.

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