If you have an idea, you potentially have an app. Apps for iPhone and iPad are a fantastic way to get your services into the palm of your customers’ hand. But how does an app get built?

Sometimes an app is quite simple, and sometimes it will be highly original and complex and will require more effort before it’s ready to launch. Nevertheless the journey from the idea to the finished app follows the same steps.

First we have to consider what the goal of the app is. For example, is it a route to delivering content to users, or opening up communication? If the purpose of the app is purely promotional, it’s unlikely many people will want to download it. You should release an app not just because it seems trendy or fun, but because it actually helps the user in some way.

Once we know what the app will achieve, we start sketching out what the interface will look like. Later we will also mock up high-res screenshots in PhotoShop. App designers know that ‘form follows function’, so every visual element has to help to achieve something within the app. We also have to keep in mind Apple’s standards for app design that influence, for example, the placement of menus or the appearance of buttons. Although every app is different, keeping the interface in line with users’ expectations makes for a smoother, more enjoyable UX (user experience).

Now that we know what the app will do and look like, we can start actually coding it. We use Swift, a programming language designed by Apple for the purpose of building apps. It’s quicker and easier to use than alternatives, and lets us preview what’s going to happen with each change to the code. Among the things needed at this stage is a Storyboard – a logical progression through screens or sections of the app.

During the coding, we constantly need to test the app to make sure everything runs the way it should. There’s some ‘stress testing’ involved in this, ie finding bugs by trying things that weren’t intended.

The best apps are built from scratch to deliver a unique user experience. This results in a longer development cycle than relying on a template. However we believe it goes a long way towards making sure the app doesn’t just look the same as everyone else’s and helps it to stand out.

Once we’re sure the app looks great and performs as it should, it’s ready for release on the App Store. Apple needs to approve it first, which usually takes a few days. Like all app builders, we hold a Developer account with Apple through which we get help with development and promotion. The app should also be advertised through your own website, social media accounts and whatever other marketing channels you use.

This is a very broad outline of how apps are built – it is a generalisation and there are steps missing, but hopefully you have more insight into what it takes to build an app for iOS. If you believe an app could be a great way to support your business, or you just have a bright idea for a standalone app, get in touch! We’re the experts who are glad to help.

AUTHOR

Charles Sellers

With a background in development and marketing, Charles has grown the business over the past four years to a small but agile team.