So, You Want to Create an App

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Interactive Consultant Jazmin Butler takes a look at the process of developing an app.

It seems like there’s an app for any and everything.  There’s an app that acts as a virtual lighter, perfect for concert swaying.  There’s also an app that lets you chat with nearby ghosts.  I like to think of it like Legos.  You can use pieces to customize creations in an infinite number of ways.  And no matter how random a creation may seem, chances are there will be an audience that it resonates with.  Even if it’s just one person who’s like, “I need that app translates my tweets into Dothraki every full moon”.

But of course, that’s not why a majority of apps are made.  In 2013, the app economy generated 26 billion dollars globally.  So, as you can imagine brands, agencies, and individual people are hard at work everyday to create valuable contributions to the app economy.

“In 2013, the app economy generated 26 billion dollars globally.”

Today, I’ll be going over the app development lifecycle.  Whether you’re a brand, agency or individual, these are the necessary steps for creating an app.  They are known as the 5 D’s.  Discovery, Definition, Design, Develop, and Deploy.


Let’s say you have a clothing store called “Sleek Chic”, and decide that you want to create an additional revenue stream and increase brand visibility by building an app.  Discovery is your opportunity to take a full look at the situation being addressed.  In order to ensure that your efforts are in the proper context, you have to find data that supports the intent of your goals, identify architectural requirements, understand what is going on in the industry, and any other research that help you determine the needs of this project.  This is a very high-level step and necessary for keeping the messaging and tactics on track to deployment.


The next step is definition.  This is when you ask “why” the app is being created in the first place and make sure there is a clear understanding of your aspirations.  What is the Sleek Chic app going to do?  Why would people download it?  Once the answers to those questions have been finalized, you can put together your project plan (a formal document designed to and control the execution of a project) [via Techopedia.]  Let’s say that the discovery phase revealed the geofencing-based apps have increased sales for retail stores.  FYI geofencing is a location-based service that sends messages to a user’s phone when they are in a defined geographic area. [via].  This and any other information in line with your overall goal will help shape the definition of this project.


The next step is design.  You or a hired individual would construct a layout of the structure and primary features of your app.  This process is also known as creating wireframes.  (It’s usually done by someone knowledgeable about interaction design.)  The wireframes serve as a foundation for structuring the backend.  So, in the case of your Sleek Chic app, you would show everything the user would experience while using the app.  From download, all the way to the claim of their geofenced coupon.


The fourth D is development.  Take your design elements and bring them alive by coding, integrating content, and testing for bugs. Sounds good.  But who is going to develop your Sleek Chic app?  Well, it would either be a freelance developer, a digital agency, or…you can do it.  If you have the patience and ability to take advantage of educational resources you can cut out the middleman and handle it yourself.


Once development is complete, it’s “time to go live”!  But note, you aren’t just setting it free like a baby bird.  They deployment phase is just that.  A phase, where you monitor for additional issues, and engage with consumers as needed.

If you don’t know, I’m telling you now.  Just because you’ve built this application, doesn’t mean your audience is actively searching for it.  So, you can’t forget the big M.  Marketing.  I found a great article on that outlines 25 ways that you can promote your app for free.  Advice includes running a contest, creating a product video, and starting a blog.

Now it’s your turn, what are some of the most outrageous app concepts that you’ve seen?  Tweet us @livingdigital_ and to get all episodes of Living Digital, subscribe on iTunes or visit the blog.  Which is  If you prefer another option, you can also find us on Stitcher, SoundCloud, and GooglePlus.

Onyx Contributor:  Jazmin Butler

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