Do You Need A Mobile App?
The first thing you should do before creating a mobile app is to identify a compelling reason to do so.
Who is your target audience and do they want the app? Are there apps that already serve that need?
Think about the context in which people will be using the app? Is your idea something that people will likely naturally do on a mobile device? The larger point is, don’t create an app for the sake of creating an app.
Do You Need A Developer Or A Self-Service Mobile App Tool?
If you decide you do want to create an app, then you’ll need to decide whether you need a developer or if you can use a self-service mobile app creation tool. If you’ve got some heavy-duty functionality, you’ll probably want to consult with a developer. If you just need to deliver content, then a self-serve tool might be just what you need.
I recently tried out just such an app creation tool called GoodBarber.
GoodBarber walks you through the mobile app creation process without needing to know any code. The 30-day trial GoodBarber is plenty enough time for anyone with a moderate understanding of how apps work. GoodBarber breaks it down into three easy steps: 1) Design your app, 2) add your content, and 3) test your app.
Choose Your Theme
As of the date of this post, GoodBarber offers 50 themes to choose from. Each theme includes a unique color pallet, font families, and images.
Configure & Preview Your App
After you choose a theme (which you can change at any time, if you like), you’ll need to configure your app.
In the Menu section, you can choose what kind of navigation system you’d like to employ. You have a variety of options, from the “hamburger” menu shown below that users tap or swipe to open, to a floating tab bar at the bottom of the screen, to a grid system on the opening screen with icons for the main sections.
In the Sections section, you can choose the main areas of your app. Common sections might include Articles, Photos, Videos, Podcast, Social Feeds, Calendar, Map, and Contact.
In the Header + Body section, you can customize the look and feel by uploading your logo, adjusting the font, adding a background image, and configuring your app’s buttons.
For the Add your content section, you’ll need to have the sources of the content you want to include assembled. If your app is primarily a content-delivery app, this will likely be a collection of RSS feeds from:
- Your blog (full content feed)
- Your YouTube channel
- Your podcast or SoundCloud channel
- Your social feeds
In Design your sections, you can customize how your sections look and behave. For instance, you can choose whether you want to display your articles in a grid system or with large stacked images.
In the Launching screen section, you’ll configure what the user experience will be like when people fire up your app.
In the Icon section, you’ll upload the images that will serve as the icon for your app on the users mobile screen.
Plan Your Push Notifications
With mobile apps, of course, come push notifications. You’ll need to give some thought to how you’ll want to use these. Use them strategically so as not to overwhelm your users and prompt them to turn them off. Create a notifications calendar to help you think them through and plan your notifications.
Configure Your Analytics
GoodBarber provides user statistics right out of the box…
…but if you want more sophisticated analytics, you have the choice of plugging in Google Analytics, Flurry or Countly. App Annie is another popular mobile analytics platform but it is not integrated with GoodBarber.
Test Your App
Next, of course, you’ll need to test your app, which you can do via GoodBarber’s own mobile app.
Publish Your App
You’ve designed, configured and tested your app and you’re ready to publish. You can submit your app directly to the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store directly within GoodBarber. If you want to publish under your own name rather than GoodBarber, you will need to apply as a developer to Apple ($99). The Google Play Store requires a $25 submission fee for submitting your app.
Solicit App Ratings
Once you are up and running, you’ll want to enable the Ratings popup to solicit ratings from your users. You’ll want to wait a while before enabling this, though. Give your users enough time to fully use the app and unearth any hidden or obscure issues.
Have a plan to solicit feedback from them without first sending them to the app store to give you a rating. If there are problems with your app, you’ll want to solve those before asking people to review.
GoodBarber bases its pricing on a subscription model, with three tiers starting at $16/month and topping out at $48/month for all the premium features.