By Adam Harvey on Thu, 09/06/2012
I just realized the other day that I talk about apps to you guys all the time, but I never talk about how they’re actually made. And this is a huge oversight on my part, because I make them. Designing apps is one of the major things we do at our studio! Why haven’t I brought you to the office to show you around?
I always love a good behind-the-scenes peek, don’t you?
Apps appear on the device in the palm of your hand as if by magic, but there’s so much that goes into planning, designing and coding them!
It starts with somebody having an idea. Maybe a business decides they want to develop an app and they hire a developer to come up with some concepts for them, or maybe it’s just a regular person with a genius concept. However it begins, the first thing that happens after the birth of an idea is a lot of research.
The “thinking about it phase”
Is this app a good idea? Does it already exist? Does it have the potential to make enough money to justify its creation? These are all questions folks need to ask themselves when they’re thinking about developing an app. If an app is being made for a business, there’s a whole bunch of strategy related concerns to address in this phase.
If research turns up some favorable answers, it’s time to find a designer and start the process. There are many people out there who develop apps, so anyone with an idea for an app needs to act wisely and make sure that the designers and developers they choose are talented and experienced enough to do the job.
The next phase of the process is coming up with a flowmap.
Great designs begin here. From simple to complex, every app should have a logical navigational structure, and the flowmap is the first line of protection against a confusing and convoluted user experience.
Once the flowmap is finalized, it’s time to move on to wireframes. Wireframes depict the page layout plus how the interface elements and navigation work together. Wireframes are pretty plain and boring looking since their primary purpose is to show what a screen does instead of what it looks like.
Once the wireframes are sorted out, the fun part can begin!
This is where the app starts coming to life! So much happens in this phase I can’t even tell you all of it. I don’t want to make your head explode, iPhone Life-ers! Suffice it to say that every tiny detail is considered. From the size and spacing of the buttons, to animations, loading indicators, and pixels per inch, designers work hard to make sure things are tight before the app goes into the coding phase.
Here’s where the design becomes something usable and tangible. While it may seem like the developer simply codes whatever the designer envisioned, it’s not necessarily true. Designers and developers are a team, and sometimes negotiations between the two are necessary for proper implementation. Once coded, we’re not done yet!
Next is the testing phase. Many people are often involved in this phase and there’s bound to be some glitches here and there. It’s good to find them all and have them hammered out before the app is made available to the public so that people like you and me don’t go up on iPhone life (or the app store, or wherever) and give the app a stinky review.
The app is finally done and it’s time to do some marketing! This is a whole ‘nother thing altogether and it often involves a totally different group of people. Needless to say, you can submit your app to the app store, but if nobody knows it exists, nobody is going to buy it. So, marketing needs to happen.
This is clearly a pretty broad overview of the app development process. In between and during these phases, there are a ton of team meetings and internal deadlines happening. And I’m not gonna lie to ya iPhone Life-ers. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes people can be found at their desks pounding Red Bull at midnight, but in the end the whole thing comes together to make something cool and useful.