If you are curious about my thought process when designing and developing an app. Or, if you would like to understand the process I go through from start to finish to develop an app, you have come to the right place.
Note: To get an idea of my past work, check out my portfolio page here.
Below, you will be walked through a freelance app I built. Follow along with me through each step of th process and read my narrations to get an idea of my thought process along the way.
I freelance with the idea that: I am the technology expert, you are the industry expert. I have worked with many industries in the past and am able to learn about new ones for each new project.
I take the industry knowledge you share with me and apply my technology knowledge to create a solution that solves the problem in the best way possible.
For the brainstorm phase, we will have 2-3 phone calls and emails back and forth together. These are great opportunities for you to share information with me about your business, industry of your business, and the problem we need this app to solve.
During the brainstorming phase of the ScoreKeeper app, the founder and I discussed the world of competitive gaming with friends. The problem that ScoreKeeper solves is to add another level of competition to competitive young adult gamers who game regularly with friends. Board games, card games, ball games, you name it.
Further, we discussed that the app would be targeted towards gamers who also love collectibles as the business model of the app would revolve around selling collectible medal coins that you can use with the app such as this one:
Levi: "I have always loved a good challenge. Taking the ideas, knowledge, and problem from someone and then creating a solution to that problem is enjoyable to me. It never gets old. After the conversations with the founder of Medalz, I knew what was the most important parts of the app for it to be successful: (1) Record game scores against friends, fast and (2) showcase the collectible coins for purchase."
Do not worry if you are not knowledgeable on technology. During the phone calls and all other communication together, we will talk in plain English with the technology aside. Technology is just a tool. Without a problem, the technology cannot do anything for us.
Levi: "Through my experience and love of software, I know of a lot of different technologies and tools that are all good at solving different problems. During the brainstorming phase, I take my experiences, research, and notes, then I evaluate what technologies would work the best to solve the problem. I combine all of this together to create an app idea I can then present to you."
At the end of the brainstorming phase, through some back and forth conversations, we will have a concept of an app that will solve the problem. You will also receive an estimate for how much time and cost the app will take to launch. This will be rough numbers for this part of the process.
Once you are ready to move forward with the app concept, you will receive a one-time invoice that averages $800-$1400. This invoice is to start and complete the next phase of the process, the design phase.
Personally, I believe that software should be fun, valuable, and easy to use. Also, if software requires a tutorial or training to use it, it could have been designed better. This all sounds great, but all to often we use software that is slow, time consuming, frustrating, and makes you feel out of control.
This is where the design phase comes in. Through my experience and knowledge on the topic of UX design (User experience design: the design of how an app works such as navigation, layout, and functionality), I take the concept from the brainstorm phase and turn it into an app design.
Note: I am not a graphic designer. This means that color, logos, and copy is not my specialty. I will share with you the techniques and strategies I use to add graphic design help to my own apps. You can then decide to either postpone professional design for a future version of the app, or I can work directly with a graphic designer of your choice or one I recommend.
The first step of the design phase is the paper and pencil design of the app. Paper and pencil is wonderful because it allows us to make changes quickly and can concentrate on the functionality of the app instead of colors. You will receive a paper and pencil design of the app that you can use yourself on your smartphone to walk through the app.
For example, here is the paper and pencil design I created for ScoreKeeper.
After you are happy with the paper and pencil design, you will receive a digital design version of the app. Here, you will see the paper and pencil design come to life with color and graphics. This is the final step of the design phase and the time where you can make the final approval of the app.
Here are some examples of paper and pencil designs going to digital form:
Levi: "For ScoreKeeper, I took the logo of the app that was provided to me by a graphic designer and I applied the primary red color with a dark theme for the app to come up with the digital design. Dark themes are popular among gaming and technology fans as they play games anytime of the day or night so the theme is light on their eyes."
At the end of the design phase, the app plan is complete. We know exactly how this app is going to look and behave. I do not charge by the hour, I charge a flat project based rate for developing the app. It is at this time that I will give you the final flat project cost for the whole development of the app to launch as well as the amount of time for how long the project will take to complete development.
The final project cost will be divided up into a number of invoices sent to you every 2 weeks during the development of the app. It's pretty simple math: (Total project cost / (Number of weeks to develop app / 2)). No up front payment is required.
You will also receive a contract to sign. It is a simple contract that outlines: (1) you own the rights to the app that is created, (2) lists the tasks the app will accomplish, (3) the price of the project, as well as misc items. You can view a sample contract here :)
Levi: "Personally, I prefer to do business by trust. I used to not involve contracts in my freelancing. However, I have found that the contract is a great way to answers any questions that you may have about the process and maintenance of the app. Since I have started using this contract, I do not get the questions I used to."
It's time for me to make this app a reality!
During the development phase, every 1 to 2 weeks, you will receive (1) a YouTube video demo of the app progress as well as (2) a build of the app you can install on your devices to try yourself.
Also, you will have the ability to have beta testers test the app while still in development. This allows you to invite select customers of yours, employees, or others to try out the app early and to find issues with it for me to fix before we release to the public.
Levi: "For ScoreKeeper, this app was built for Android phones exclusively. This was because of the importance of the collectable medal coins in the app. At the tim, iOS was not an option because of the minimal support of the technology required for these coins to work with the app. Luckily, since the Android app was developed, iOS now supports this technology and we may see an iOS app in the future."
Ever since the early beta testing of the ScoreKeeper app, the app has become a fun, safe, stable, and fast app to use. Beta testing is highly recommended of taking advantage of. All it takes is sending a link to people to open on their phone. One way to make your app launch from good to great is to take advantage of public beta testing.
When the app development is finished, I will publish it to the public app stores (if you wish). From there, you will have access to (1) user activity analytics you can use to make decisions about the future of the app, (2) view and respond to reviews on the app stores, (3) and access to all of the materials used to create the app including the code.
When the app is launched, it's time for you to take your amazing new app and get it into the hands of your customers, employees, or others. Share it with the world!
Each app that I build is setup to automatically notify me in case of any issues with the app. If the app does not behave as it should, I receive a notification, I fix the issue, then send an update to all of your users. All of this happens with no charge to you and without you even noticing. Also, any data that is collected from the app, such as in a database, is backed up daily for safe keeping.
When you want to make any edits to your app, we will simply go back up to step number 1 with brainstorming and move through the process again.