If you want to know how to make an app, there are three important questions to ask:
Once you have a rough sense of the answers to these questions (this should take about 5 minutes), you can choose an App Maker (an online platform that you use to make an app) and proceed.
This is the most important question, so we’ll break it up into three sub-questions.
Q1: Is your app meant to be a large-scale consumer app (like a game or a shopping app) or is it meant to be used for work (in your business or for your team)?
If you want to build a consumer app, then
If, instead, you want to make an app for your work or team, read on.
Q2: Who do you expect will use the app and why?
It is always good to know who your initial users will be. The more specific the users and the use case, the better. Here are examples of good answers:
A bad answer would be:
Q3: Can you describe what the initial version of the app should do?
This is also a pretty open-ended question. If you haven’t already, you should definitely think about the requirements at a very high-level. Should it run on iOS as well as Android? Should it also run in a web browser? What data does the app use (eg: your existing customer data) ? Should the app be able to work offline? Does it need to show data or also capture new data?
For now, let’s assume you need your app to run on a variety of mobile devices as well as web browsers, utilize some existing data in spreadsheets or databases, work in occasionally offline environments, and both show and capture new data.
If you answered yes to 1, 2, or 3, you could use a “no-code” app maker platform. The term “no-code” indicates that you do not need programming skills. Even if you do have programming skills, a “no-code” platform can make you much more productive. To learn more about this option, read on.
If you answered yes to 1, you could write the app yourself. An app is just a program. It is tougher to write a mobile app than a regular web app because you have to handle offline behavior and the differences between iOS and Android. If you haven’t built a mobile app before, it is a learning experience and can be rewarding even just for the learning. There are a variety of platforms to consider. For example, you might want to think about writing a “native” app (an app specifically written to run on mobile devices):
It can be challenging to ensure that the app works the same on both Android and iOS if the code has to be written twice. Some solutions you might want to try:
Of course, this question has an entire spectrum of possible answers, but here are three main options to consider:
If you intend to write code or hire developers to write code, you fall into option 3 as options 1 and 2 are not really viable.
But if you select options 1 or 2, you should probably be considering a no-code or low-code app maker.
Please note that if you selected option 1, we sympathize :]. Realistically, while it is possible to make an app in minutes, it is likely that it will take more time for you to refine it into a useful app. In practice, option 1 is the same as option 2.
We’ve pulled together a number of resources that will help you make your first app, regardless of the app making platform you choose (we like to think that our platform is the best but leave the final decision up to you). If you are a new app creator about to embark on your first custom app, this page is for you!
Praveen is CEO of AppSheet and full-time coder. Over his career, he has pursued the "dream" of declarative end-user programming in various incarnations. In a previous life, he was a CS professor at Cornell University. And in another previous life, he was a partner engineering manager at Microsoft in the SQLServer and Bing teams.