How to Create a Mobile Application

by / ⠀Blog Entrepreneurship / February 27, 2015

Are you guilty of saying the phrase, “Someone should create an app for that?” I know I am. Many people have a great idea for an app, but don’t know how to get it developed. The inspiration for this article was a conversation I had with a guy at a coffee shop. We discussed an idea he had for an app similar to Tinder. He prefaced telling me the idea with, “Well I am not going to create it anyways, so you can have it.” I thought his idea was great. It solved a problem that a lot of young singles have. He’s sitting on a potential gold mine, and is doing absolutely nothing with it. He convinced himself he could never create the app because of the following reasons:

Busy with law school
No idea how to create it

Sound familiar? Most of us have an idea for a mobile application, but due to excuses such as lack of time, resources and knowledge, they never get created.

Here’s a free guide in which I share details on how I won over $10,000 for my app idea. 

Based on my experience, I will share the process I took to get my app created in a timely, affordable manner, with great quality.

1. Research

Researching can be tedious, however it’s the first step in the app development process. It’s also very simple. You just need to research any question you would have in regards to creating an app (Google is your best friend) such as:

On average what are developers charging for this type of app?
Where can I find a good developer or designer?

Great questions lead to great answers. In my research, I stumbled across a few very useful articles. I used this article to gage what I should expect to pay for a native app ( an app that has been created specifically for a certain platform like Android):

2. Create sketches and write out software requirements

This can be the most frustrating part of the entire app process. It is not the developers job to create the specifications or come up with ideas for you. You need to brainstorm and write out the features of your app. I got lucky because I gave the developers the most basic sketches and they were able to help refine my idea. Most developers aren’t like that, but you should look specifically for developers that are patient and willing to provide suggestions. Let them know you’re a newbie and have no idea how the process works.

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As you can see below, the sketches I gave them were horrendous. However, that’s why you need to hire a good team that can help guide you from ugly sketches to a beautifully designed app. This is the exact sketch I sent to them, I didn’t even scan it. I took a picture with my phone….

8K1cEcCK8DenyODYufDfRtcjBpwJBYXjTP5FczNK6jgAfter the sketches comes writing out the specifications (also referred to as the story or flow of your app). For instance, “When the heart button is clicked, that allows the user to save another user to their favorites.”

Example:  Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 3.50.49 PM   app story 2

Keep in mind that you need to be very specific. My developers helped me with writing the specifications since I had never done it before.

3. Hire a Good Team

Originally I had attempted to learn coding on my own, but that ended up being a fail. I wanted my app to be native for iPhone, so that required learning Objective C…which in my opinion, is difficult to learn. I quickly lost motivation.

If you’re serious about making your app a business and don’t want to lose time by teaching yourself to code, then I recommend hiring a developer.  I’m sure you’re anxious to get your app created, but do not rush vetting a good team. In search for developers, I posted on Freelancer, Elance, and Odesk. I received the most responses from Freelancer and Elance. I had over 100 bids on the job. See below for screenshots:

Elance: Elance


Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 1.35.09 PM

After sifting through over 100 applications, I narrowed it down to 5 applicants and set up Skype calls with them. I quickly and effectively narrowed it down by discarding applications that did not adhere to my budget, so bids that were too high or suspiciously low did not get a response. I also ignored applications that weren’t very personalized. For instance, I would get a lot of  “Dear Sir/Madam, we would like to do your project” proposals, when you can obviously tell by my picture that I am a Madam (it’s the little things). A helpful tactic that I picked up on from other job postings is that they have bidders respond with special word to prove they read the job description. For instance, “butterscotch” would be the word and if you didn’t respond with that in the proposal, it was ignored.

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Previously I had a bad experience with outsourcing, but I was not opposed to doing it again. I knew that I needed to vet prospects more carefully. This time around the developers needed to meet the following criteria:

  1. Advanced english level (because they need to have the ability to explain clearly what they are doing).
  2.  Willingness to explain how they would go about building the app (even though I didn’t understand much of the process or terms they were telling me, I wanted to see if they are willing to explain and help me understand).
  3. Politeness, because you’re probably going to be working with them for a couple of weeks or months, so you should like them.

A team from India passed my test with flying colors.  After the project started, we had weekly Skype calls in which they updated me on the progress of the app.

Sample Convo: Gaurav conversation

This may seem obvious, but make sure you check out the developers previous work and ask the right questions such as:

Did you code that yourself?

Is that your custom design?

What language did you code that it in?

Is it a template? etc.


I don’t recommend hiring developers hourly since it can get expensive. I went with a fixed price since I knew it was going to be a big project, and that there may be adjustments needed throughout. Depending on the complexity of your project, hourly could be beneficial.

4. Design

You may not need this step if your developers are also great designers. It was important for me to have an aesthetically pleasing app, so it’s design was a big deal. My team of developers were great, however their specialty was not design. These are the designs they did for me:

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BhWwcpiBbhgYEXKTkMxUxnzCdZglMT1-owLzM0mczrw EHpLESCzFI4nkgRd7yYmQJVJjDra_F5t0pYgywSbZYY

Their designs were good, but unfortunately one major change by Apple caused me to have to completely changed the direction of the design. iOS 6 was released and completely changed conventional UI design. It was frustrating because I wanted my app to look brand spanking new, however our agreement didn’t cover major software updates. I wanted to go all in and decided to find an epic designer.

I found an amazing designer on crowdSPRING . In my opinion,the design of your app is crucial.  The way crowdSPRING works is that you do a contest, and designers submit their best design in hopes that you award them the project. I got some really cool submissions:  

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.58.03 PMThis is the one I chose: eeUYjaD9zkBRMhLO5EDqeWDpeMzP62l6LT8xbOsfszcThe changes from iOS 5 to iOS 6 were huge, so I tasked my designer with the challenge of giving the original designs of the developers a facelift. She totally crushed the task:

v_5PkmNNQo4JPMuKY9mF3B0ndFH1sC3XnOO46MtF7_o     uIGIE0crgSTAQan6JFO6TDP4d89TTT5yBk24ApFXsm4

She also redid the app icon, since iOS 6 has a flatter design:

iOS 5



iOS 6






Step 5: Become a  developer for your platform of choice.

In order to get your app in the app store, you need to be an Apple developer. You can do that simply by signing up for an Apple developer account for $99/year. This step may vary depending on your preference, but my developers said I could use their Apple developer account.  I declined the offer because the app would be published under their company name. Then the final step was having the developers upload the code to the app store. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 5.13.37 PM


Don’t let excuses keep you from pursuing your idea. Get my free guide where I share tips on how to discover your passion, and win thousands of dollars for your app. GET IT HERE.

Alicia T. Glenn shares her experiences and advice on how to accomplish cool things through discovering and pursuing your passion on her blog. Join her free newsletter to get business ideas, life hacks and strategies on how to live a more fulfilled life.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.