How to build a mobile app

You’ve got an idea for a mobile app. Good for you. Unfortunately so do lots of people. There are millions of apps on the app store that are never successful.

Ideas are cheap, execution is key. This blog is how you can go about execution for a mobile app, this process won’t guarantee success but it will help you reduce waste.

Competitor Analyst

Before you build anything, have a look to see what competitor apps already exist. I want to build an app to track your poo using the Bristol stool rating system (1 = constipated, 7=diarrhea), it’s called boglogger. It’s a shitty little app *ba dum tss*. So I have a look around for other apps.

Have a note of the 2 to 3 star reviews. These are customers who were motivated enough to download these apps, try it and leave a poor review. They have an unmet need from this app. Maybe your app can fill this need?

E.G Poop Map tracks where you’ve pooped, but customers are complaining about missing features and disappearing tags.

I found that many people were complaining about a lack of privacy with some of these apps. Some people don’t want to use these apps in public where someone could look over their shoulder and see what they pooped. Privacy by design is a key difference with bogLogger.

Create Personas

What type of people would use your app? What pain points are they trying to solve with you app? What problem are you fixing? Are they willing to pay you for your solution? I created these personas to help me think about the users of my mobile app:

I am my own user, I had surgery involving my digestive system. Barry is a survivor of Colon Cancer, Sofia speaks Spanish at home and has irritable bowel syndrome, Luke is a vision impaired user and is watching their diet.

Create some sketches

You can draw these by hand or use any number of wire framing tools out there. The idea is to come up with a sketch that will help you test you idea with actual people. Or you could even jump straight into using SwiftUI to help prototype your app.

I’ve gone through many iterations to come up with my version 1 design, this here is the simplest thing I can build that would add value to people, I’d use this app:

Here are those mock ups using swiftUI:

User research

Then start asking people how they would use your app, what was hard to use? What features would they expect? You only need to do this with 5 people to pick up on most usability issues.

You don’t need to build everything that everyone wants either. You want to focus on the bare minimum features that adds value. You can always build more features with version 2 or 3.

Start finding some cash/time

Unfortunately building apps takes a lot of time and money. If I wanted to outsource the development of this app because I don’t have the time, I need at least 5K AUD saved.

Apps can take months to build and if I wanted to pay myself while I build this app I would need 1 months worth of savings and to take that time off work.


Building apps takes a lot of time and effort, don’t rush into building it because you may waste your precious resources. I’ve had this idea for 4 years now and have not built it yet. I’m close but just need a bit of time to build it.

Once you release an app the work doesn’t stop there, read my mobile app test strategy if you want to dive deeper.

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