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How to Build an App: Series Introduction

Have you ever wondered what goes into building an app? What different kinds of apps are there? How can I get an app built?

Follow this series of blog posts to find out the answers to these questions and all your other questions about building mobile apps.

Head shot of Sarah Smith. 20 year veteran app builder. (c) Smithsoft 2020
Sarah Smith, 20 year veteran app builder

I’m Sarah Smith and I have been working with apps for over 20 years. I worked for Google and Nokia and then began building apps for start-ups. I’ve been a start-up Chief Technical Officer and I’ve coached start-ups. I’ve built my own apps. It’s tough!

The good news is you can succeed with your app without a lot of technical knowledge. 

The most important thing is a good understanding of your business.

The most important thing in app development is not understanding tech: it’s understanding your business. This is true even if you plan for your business to flow from your app after it’s built. So if you understand your business that’s already a great start.

From there you need to know how apps work to connect your customers to your business. 

Apps seem simple. You probably have some favourite apps.

But search for “How to Build an App” and you get coding videos. Not helpful for folks who want to understand how apps are even built in the first place!

What does it mean to have an app built? How do they get into the App Store or Google play store? And what if you want to change it after it’s done?

That’s what we’ll cover, and more, in this series of articles.

Why did I create this series of articles? Because I want to help you avoid all the traps and mistakes that I have seen so many folks fall into when they go off to build an app. It does not help you – or folks like me in the app development business – when app-based businesses go south.

Why Would I Give Away Expert Secrets For Free?

You could go and pay for a online course in project managing apps or starting an online app business. But what I’m about to cover in these 6 posts will set you up with what you need to know to build a successful app – and I’m doing this for free, even though some of what I do is paid-for business & startup coaching.

Here’s why.

I started working on apps for my own business in 2012. All around me in the co-working space where my business was based were other business owners: people who did online training for thousands of students, a husband and wife team who took orders for their custom printed t-shirts. There were some folks who had a business for new parents, a pet sitting business; even Uber rolled out its Australian operation from right in this co-working space.

I worked alongside several hundred different businesses over those years. It was an amazing experience.

The most awkward conversations I had when coaching was with would-be app-entrepreneurs who did not have any business strategy for their app. I had to send them off to the Lean Business Canvas to plan their business strategy, before I could help them.

You have to have at least a basic business plan before you even begin your app journey (which is why I like Lean Business Canvas, not just because its free). There’s plenty of free resources to help you get started with Lean Canvas too, like this one from David Bland.

Use Lean Business Canvas to map your business strategy, then build your app.

During that time I helped out advising folks who were struggling to engage with the digital space, and spoke with a lot of business owners. 

I heard from some folks their stories of heartbreak after spending savings on tech, only for it to go horribly wrong. I had to do something.

What if I was able to give folks new to digital business a bit of free advice? That could end up saving them thousands of dollars due to costly but easily avoided mistakes.

So that’s what I did. And I’m continuing to do that in these articles. I’m going to record these as video tutorials as well.

In this series I’ll cover the mistakes that new app entrepreneurs make – and how you can avoid them. I’ll show you how to succeed in getting your first app built. And I’ll unpack the best business strategies for making your app a success.

Images (where noted) are the work of Katerina Limpitsouni. Check Katerina’s stuff on undraw.co.