How to build an app when you can't create code (step-by-step guide)

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<pre><pre>How to build an app when you can't create code (step-by-step guide)

Do you have a great idea? Here's how to create an app that appears in a crowded market.

December
30, 2019

Read for 13 min


Outline: How do I create an app?

  1. Refine your idea.
  2. Limit your audience and test the demand.
  3. Create a viable minimum product (MVP).
  4. Make the first version of your app.

You came up with the perfect app idea, but your technical knowledge is hardly available. What now?

Coding experience isn't necessarily critical when it comes to building an app, so don't be afraid. "People … basically use the lack of technical talent as an excuse not to start when it really comes down to this chicken and egg situation," said Jonathan Greechan, co-founder and marketing director of The Founder Institute. “A lot of people think I can't start the business until I have the technical founder – I can't start it, but in reality you can't find the technical founder unless you start building the business. "

Many first-time tech founders think they need to find a team right away, but in the early stages, the product concept is the most important part of your business. Consider getting a technical co-founder until you have a deep understanding of your market – because that understanding should tell you who you want to work with and what skills you're looking for.

Your mission in creating an app: prove to the world and potential investors and customers that you have a solid business idea. According to Rob Biederman, co-founder and co-CEO, it's important to show that people may be willing to pay money for your app idea. However, you should concentrate more on developing an absolutely indispensable product for your market, instead of immediately generating revenue from Catalant Technologies.

Here is your guide to developing your business idea – from identifying your target audience to creating your app.

Limit your idea and focus on the problem you are solving.

Before Nadia Masri, founder and CEO of Perksy founded her company and dealt intensively with the consumer insights industry and its target market: the millennial and Gen-Z generations. Before continuing to build your app, you need to gather important information and assess the strengths and weaknesses of competitive products. Just because you came up with something great doesn't mean that someone else didn't have the same idea – earlier.

"People … are intimidated to talk about their competition," Masri says. “The competition is great – it confirms a concept. I think there is a healthy level: Too much competition means that the market is oversaturated. Not enough competition could mean that the idea is not as viable. "Of course, take a generalization with a grain of salt," she says. If you assess the competition and know that there is something else you can do to add value to your end user, you have a chance to fight. Make sure your potential product or service is something that you need and want yourself, and do extensive research to validate your app idea.

While restricting this idea, your goal is to "solve a problem for a customer with a killer feature," says Greechan. Apps that try to solve a variety of problems often take up too much – either they don't solve one of the problems very well, or none of the problems are particularly important. Think about how you could download the app yourself and – that's the key – leave it on your phone.

Another way to think about the problem to be solved: look at the "customer pain point," says Biederman. Ask yourself what the app needs to do to satisfy customers' pain and then consider the key requirements of this solution – those without which it would be of no value. Focus on solving that one problem incredibly well, and doing so will "ultimately help customers define your product roadmap," says Greechan. You will be asked to add certain features and you can use them to get an overview of product development.

Related topics: A beginner's guide to launching and marketing an app

Find your audience and test the demand.

Let's say you have 10 business ideas and know that only one of them will be successful. Would you pick one at random and fund it without doing your research? Or would you do your best to predict which one will be the most profitable and then put your time, energy and money behind it? In a hypothetical scenario, it is easy to say the latter. However, once you have a technical business idea, there is a psychological temptation to leave everything behind and hire developers from the start.

"It's like going to the casino," says Alexander Cowan, professor of technology management at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. "It's exciting – you feel like you're trying to throw the dice and see what happens. But in reality you're giving yourself a dice if you could give yourself five and that's a big mistake."

To assess whether you are making a safe bet, you need to test demand. The first step: identify your audience. "If you build it, it will come" … is not a reality, "says Greechan. Ask yourself who this app is for? You will probably need a niche market to get started, even if usage is extended to all users and a good place to start is a "fact screener," says Cowan. Assuming you create an app for HVAC technicians who repair air conditioners, if you ask a group of them how many they have repaired in the past week and Less than 10, you may have the need for your misjudged service, Cowan says, and if you hear different levels of demand from different sources, you probably haven't restricted your ideal audience enough.

Related topics: How to make your mobile app stand out from the crowd

Once you've found a niche audience, you can invest in it long before your app launches. For example, when you create an app for authors, you can set up a meetup group, host events, or even start a podcast or blog. The goal is to build an interested community. If nobody clicks on your posts or shows interest in the events, this could be an indication that you are not on the right track, says Cowan. However, if you find some interest, try quantifying it. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to create a landing page for your app, explain your goal, and collect prospects' email addresses.

Before launching his marketplace for MBA students, Biederman tested the user requirements with a $ 9 landing page on GoDaddy and asked people to enter their email addresses if they were interested. He says that anyone can do the same on a variety of $ 10 to $ 20 platforms and no coding experience is required. Options include Launchrock (a standard for creating "really simple landing pages," says Greechan) and Carrd. After you've created your landing page, find out more about how many email addresses you collect to gauge interest rates. As you develop your app idea, you will regularly ping your audience with updates.

See also: Apple wants to teach you how to create apps

Let it work cheaply.

“Find out how you can offer the target customer the cheapest thing that works,” says Greechan. "In the beginning you really only try that [simplest] Product that… solves a customer problem. You don't need tons of technology for that. "

Return to the original problem you want to solve for your core audience and focus on it. "You want to prove as many things as possible about your end market and its problems and find out how you can solve them at the lowest possible cost," says Biederman.

Now is the time to develop your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). While it may be tempting to fully explore the design and features of your long-term vision for the app, this step is caution and is to ensure that people still want what you offer before diving headfirst. Your MVP differs from your version 1.0 in that this is the "crux" of the MVP [is] In fact, to avoid having the actual product built when you can, ”Cowan adds, that the latter is expensive and more durable.

Appendix A: ZeroCater, an office meal catering company that acts as a link between local restaurants and businesses, was initially just an email inbox and a table for manually planning meals. When the company launched in 2009, "it consisted of zero lines of code," said CEO Ali Sabeti. As the customer base grew, ZeroCater expanded its service beyond a spreadsheet and invested in a more advanced website that allowed to match office lunch preferences with hundreds of restaurants and local catering companies, and get the feedback from tens of thousands of people employees.

ZeroCater's MVP was a simple table.

Credit: ZeroCater

If you don't get the idea of ​​building your service yourself via an email inbox and spreadsheet, there are other ways to build an app without coding. For a mobile app, consider tools like Thunkable, Appy Pie, and AppMachine. If you're targeting a web application, try Bubble or Shoutem, and consider a Sharetribe or Kreezalid for a marketplace app. When you create an e-commerce platform, you can start your MVP on a platform like Shopify.

If you're able to validate your business, and possibly even generate revenue without the app itself, Greechan says you can speak to people with the technical skills you're looking for from a position of strength.

See also: 9 tools to create your own mobile app

Make the first version of your app.

Before Masri founded her company, she used a permanent marker to draw what her app should look like – even though she had no design experience. Place the pen on paper to outline the ideal. It's an easy way to get out of your own head and get involved with the specific product or service you offer. After the first sketches, combine your design ideas with free online tools to create high-quality models, e.g. Proto.io or InVision (no coding required). Adobe InDesign is another option for creating mockups. However, a subscription will cut you by $ 20.99 a month (after the free trial). Your models are also helpful in assessing how your potential audience is using your app, regardless of whether you're hosting potential audiences or getting feedback from friends and mentors.

Next step: If you're not familiar with HTML and CSS, it's a good idea to fix it sooner rather than later. Even if you don't plan to build the app yourself, you can use the most basic programming languages ​​to better communicate with software developers, developers, technical co-founders, or anyone else who can help you later on your journey. "In 2016, it was the professional equivalent of illiteracy, HTML, and CSS," said Cowan. "It's so easy to learn as long as you have the right focus and … have to work on a relevant project." Free online platforms include Codecademy or Khan Academy. The prices of websites for learning skills such as Coursera and Udemy vary depending on the course.

Once you understand the basics of coding – and if you want to build an app from scratch instead of sticking to a web app or other online tool, it's time to create your basic concept. Regardless of whether you created it in InDesign or with a web tool, you can share your design with engineers. "It is much easier for engineers or anyone else to understand what you want to bring to life if you can see a visual representation of it, even if it's not that great," Masri says. "It helps them imagine what they could do with it."

Related: 3 Ways to Create a Mobile App Without Technical Skills

To find software developers or engineers to help you turn your idea into reality, you can contact your network, attend networking events and meetups, search for skills on LinkedIn, or check out freelance websites like Gigster.

A note on pricing: "Don't choose the person with the lowest daily rate," says Cowan. "What you’re really interested in is: How much does it cost you to get you to a certain result with your app?" Finding the lowest possible hourly rate is rarely the most economical way to do this. Something else to consider? Make sure you are clear about your vision for the user experience, including who the users will be and what problem they want to solve with the app relevant project questions. You can offer payment in cash or with company capital, but be careful if you offer too much of it. "I'm in the Pay … warehouse a little bit, even in good faith," says Masri. "Find full-time engineers who are willing to do this as a side project."

In combination with your vision, a clear audience and the quantifiable demand that you measured earlier, the basic version of your app should be enough to address potential investors and customers.

Related topics: A step-by-step guide to creating your first mobile app