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There is no doubt that the application market is still growing and such forecasts are still the same for the upcoming years. However, it turns out that about 40% of mobile apps are uninstalled because users no longer use them! In addition to huge competition, the biggest challenge for product owners is to keep the user in the application.


How to Begin an App Development Project? [Checklist]


This statement should stay with you from the very beginning of the software development process. Although the global app market is growing and the number of users increases year-to-year, it can be challenging to keep their interest in the long term. My experience (I work in a software house for over 6 years) tells me that app idea is not enough to run a successful project. While building an app, some mistakes can happen. But the good news is that good preparation for app development will help you avoid many of them.

Table of Contents:


1.How to start the application development process?

1.1 Start with a goal

1.2 Research your market and do competitor analysis

1.3 Identify your target audience and create a buyer persona

1.4 Choose technology stack

1.5 Familiarize with wireframes

1.6 Prepare accurate documentation

1.7 Set up timeline and budget

1.8 Consider monetization strategy

1.9 Remember about marketing

2. How do I become an app owner with no experience?

3. How to begin app development? Conclusion

How to start the application development process?

To begin the development and build the app, you don't have to be familiar with programming languages and code, web or mobile (iOS, Android) technology, app stores, etc. App developers from software company will do it for you. But it doesn't mean you can neglect the whole knowledge about app development.


There are many factors which you need to think about and what you have to do to start the app development process on a good track and plan in advance. Check out my checklist and leading questions to help you make your dreams come true and turn your app idea into an incredible product!

#1 Start with a goal

Start app development project with a goal - this is one of the most important points which you have to define before starting the development process. “What is the goal of your application?” - this is the first question I usually ask during the first meeting/call with our potential clients. Some of them present their requirements and technical specifications in great detail and others only have the general vision and business goals (in this case, you may find it useful to learn more about the Discovery Phase process).

mobile app development

I would like to emphasize that those two statements are totally fine, and for each of them, there are appropriate models of cooperation with the service provider. After a short conversation, which we called business and tech analysis, it can be determined whether the client belongs to the first or second group.


During brainstorming sessions, think about finding your niche. You never know exactly where you can find inspiration. A brilliant business app idea can be right next to you! The world is full of problems that need to be solved. In every issue you face, there is the potential for turning it into a profitable digital business. 


I Want to Know More about Discovery Phase


We had a similar case with our client UK-based - Frindow web app. Marcus Hamilton, CEO of the app, discovered that nowadays, there is a massive problem with loneliness in our societies. He recognized that we need to connect with like-minded people more than before. And this is how the adventure with the development of this application began.

Frindow web app

Marcus was inspired by his grandmother and how to help people her age break out of isolation and connect with others. That's why Frindow app aims to connect people who feel lonely, bored or isolated.

What is the purpose of your web or mobile app?

It would be best if you defined a specific goal at the very beginning and thus answer the question, "What do I want to achieve?". Only a well-defined business goal will be the foundation of a strategic (and thus focused on achieving this goal) approach, which in turn will allow us to finally reach the effect we assumed. So basically, the goal results from some specific business need.


App owners often wonder what to do so that their application is not uninstalled shortly after the installation process. The answer is very simple. The application should solve the real user problem.

Designers, app developers, and managers should thoroughly familiarize themselves with the intentions of the project owner, who is also at the same time their client or investor of the application.


Simply answer below questions:

  • What is your core business?

  • On which markets do you operate?

  • What type of clients do you have?

  • What does the application do?

  • What is the main purpose of the application? 

  • What specific problem does the (mobile) application solve, or what part of your users' life will improve?

#2 Research your market and do competitor analysis

It is hard to imagine starting a serious business activity without prior knowledge or market research. A precise analysis of the competition in a given industry is something that every businessman should do before starting a business. This knowledge should also be systematically supplemented while running the company. Similarly with any software projects whose development should be preceded by careful examination (user experience).


There are various methods for analyzing the competition. The source of information about competitors can be both existing materials (published reports, ebooks, press articles - what is already there and what we can find on the web), as well as observational data (from observing advertising campaigns, analyzing the content of messages - what we have to do ourselves).


Luckily, there are a lot of tools that might help you. Personally, I prefer using Semrush - a very simple tool, where you can receive valuable information within 1 minute. Just go to the website and enter the website address of your competition and compare it with your data.

Semrush web application


Simply answer below questions:

  • Who is your main competitor?

  • What do they do right? 

  • What kind of online activities do they conduct? 

  • Social media? Content Marketing? Event Marketing? Backlink activities? Video Marketing? etc.

  • What are the similar apps on the domestic/foreign market? Give us some examples. 

I strongly advise you to focus on market research and analyze competitors' applications. What platform did they choose for mobile development, iOS or Android? What do you think about their user interface and UX/UI design? I even encourage you to create an account and test their solutions. The more you know, the better.

#3 Identify your target group and create a buyer persona

A target audience is a group of people separated due to specific features to which we direct our products or services based on a personalized marketing message. Well defined persona and target audience will certainly facilitate your life and give the overall rhythm of activities. Thanks to them, you can often avoid a creative crisis. Just think about their needs, problems. Everything can become an inspiration. You need to know who you direct your application to. The more precisely the personas you create are defined, the simpler you will be able to empathize with the potential users.

How to do it right?

The creation of buyer personas is divided into two stages. The first stage is collecting information about target customers. In building buyer personas, it is important not to rely on ideas about the ideal customers or assumptions about their behavior. It must be based on data analysis. This is how you define the real needs and expectations of the client regarding your offer. The second step is to develop a communication strategy with your client and create a presentation of the offer tailored to the expectations of buyer personas.


Check our examples below:

Steps of app development

User persona example 

user journey in app development

User Journey Example


Simply answer below questions:

  • Who are your users?

  • Who will be your customer (persona)?

  • What age are your recipients?

  • Where do they live? In big/small cities?

  • How much do they earn?

  • What do they spend their expenses on? What is their education?

  • In what industries do they work? What professions do they do?

  • What is their working day like?

  • What challenges do they have to face?

  • What are their values ​​and ambitions?

  • What are their goals? What do they want to achieve?

  • What are their dreams and desires?

  • Why haven't they fulfilled these desires so far?

  • How do they behave?

  • How do they spend their free time?

  • What do they like to do in their free time?

  • What are their daily rituals?

  • How can you help them and what can you do for them?

  • How can your app change the lives of your users?

  • How can you solve their problems and help them achieve their goals?

  • Can you offer your users something your competition doesn't offer?

After answering all these questions about your buyer persona, you will learn how to conduct marketing and sales activities. The information obtained will also show you which direction of communication with clients you should take. Knowing the target audience is crucial for app development success because it significantly impacts the application design.

4 Choose technology stack

As I mentioned before, you don't have to learn how to code to build the app. There are many programming languages available. For example, Ruby on Rails is a framework dedicated to web apps, while Swift for mobile app development. Which one will be the best to create your app?


Technology stack is selected for each project individually and will allow the implementation of the required functionalities and suit the subject matter of the website, platform, or application accordingly. Whether you need a social networking platform, restaurant app, CRM, CMS, or others, we tailor the perfect technology solutions to your specific project needs. If you are not a tech-savvy person, don't worry, we will help you and advise the best possibilities on your way.

#5 Familiarize with wireframes

Wireframes are must-have a well-prepared app and the essence of user experience. Without this step, it will be hard to move forward with app development.  


Wireframes are sketches forming the path the user will follow on the page. The specialist's task when creating these schemes is to show the structure of the page and the location of its most important elements - logos, texts, photos, drawings, icons, and the most important - places where we expect user action (CTA buttons).


An important benefit of creating a wireframe, even before we start working on a more advanced prototype, is quick verification of the value of the app idea. Identifying strengths and weaknesses at an early design stage saves time - changes in wireframe consume relatively not that much. Of course, it is not excluded that the newer version will also change. Based on our experience at Railwaymen, I can confirm that preparing wireframes can save your time and money about 10% in the later stages and significantly reduce the number of adjustments at the testing stage.


So why not take advantage of such benefits?

Mobile app development

Wireframes example


Simply answer below questions:

  • Do you have wireframes/artworks?

  • Do you have your own design team?

What if I don't have wireframes ready to send to the software house?

In this case, we suggest organizing Discovery Phase first with us. Such an event at the beginning of the project significantly decreases the risk of misunderstanding in analyzing business requirements and software delivery.


During workshops, we can provide the first wireframes and clickable prototypes of the platform to verify the idea together. As a result, our developers can also ask more questions to understand the purpose of specific features and think about the most appropriate technical solutions for your application.


We had a similar case with one of our clients - Jim Pawell from the James Marketing Amplifier. Recently, we delivered a platform for them - custom software development for legal marketing product. This application is dedicated to small law firms and the goal is to help them improve their marketing activities. We were responsible for creating a prototype of a software project. You can check a story below:

software development


#6 Prepare accurate documentation

So once you have the overall application plan outlined in the form of wireframes, let's focus now on the details. Describe in words what should happen step by step in your app. Accurate writing the specifications will reduce the number of corrections in the future. Be thorough and try to act in accordance with the strategy and project plan. 


Moreover, the functional specification allows the software house to know exactly the client's expectations and performs two main functions:

  • Enables project estimation - it is the basic start for an accurate and deeper estimation of the presented idea.

  • Defines what development work is to be done - it is the basis for the development team to create the final product.

We often receive queries that present only an innovative app idea for a software development product. In that case, we always recommend preparing a solid background first, and then we work with clients to develop a final vision of the product and its scope. Creating such a specification requires in-depth knowledge of software development and knowledge of the relationships between individual system modules and the work of several team members: business analysts, UX designers, and app developers. The document prepared in such a way, in a joint product workshop, allows us to accurately reflect the software features not only in terms of the idea but also in the system architecture.


Simply answer below questions:

  • Have you prepared documentation?

  • If not, will you do it by yourself or outsource it to a software house?

#7 Set up timeline and budget

Time is always the most important factor while planning everything. If you need your application running within a certain period, then your software house must know about it as soon as possible. Knowing how much time we have, we will adapt the size of your dedicated specialized team to your requirements, but we will also inform you if a given time frame is possible. We want to make sure that your project will get the best specialists. 


The deadline has a great impact on the estimation of the mobile application project, and knowledge of the budget allows us to match the best possible solutions and tailor our proposal to budget requirements.


Your goal is our goal. We do our best to provide the highest standard of software products. Investments can't go without a budget because software development services are largely a creative process, with many variables in terms of solutions, technologies, time, etc.


Simply answer below questions:

  • What's the required delivery date? What is your deadline?

  • What budget do you estimate?

  • Who else / which companies would be involved?

  • Any additional remarks?

Unfortunately, many software companies conduct unreliable time and budget estimations. Why does that happen? They don't ask the right questions about the project and try to deliver estimation as soon as possible. So, I advise you to be suspicious if someone ensures that will estimate your app within one day. It is nearly impossible. At Railwaymen, usually, a few people are engaged in app estimation. Designers, Developers, QA Specialists evaluate how many hours will have to spend to build an app.  It is a complex process that can take about 72h.

How long does it take & how much does it cost to build an app?

Well, it all depends on the app development scope and how many people (especially developers) will participate in the project. Building an app for 2 platforms with 20 features will be much more expensive than MVP with 10 main features. We already have 2 articles about those topics. You can check them here:

How Long Does it Take to Make An App in 2023?

Why is Custom App Development Cost so High in 2023?

#8 Consider monetization strategy 

Think about a monetization plan before starting the whole process. You have three main possibilities such as advertising inside an app, adding paid additives, or simply paid for the entire application. Once again, it is a good idea to check how competitors or similar businesses earn money on their apps. Remember, it is not something that you have to do. Not every app needs to be monetized. 

It all depends on your goals and purpose for the product. 


Simply answer below questions:

  • Would you like to earn money on your app?

  • What is your monetization strategy? (CPC/Ads/Subscription/Revshare etc.)

#9 Remember about marketing 

Creating an application and adding it to Google Play or App Store is not the end of your work on the product. Even the best mobile application needs advertising in the first stages of development. Without it, it can join the group of 60% of all applications that have never been downloaded! And probably you don't want to be in this group, right? So make sure you have a previously prepared plan. 


The most popular channels used to promote the mobile application include campaigns in Google Ads and campaigns to promote mobile applications on Facebook, but there are plenty of possibilities to promote. Learn more about 16 tips to promote your mobile app and implement it right away. It is also worth remembering about ASO (App Store Optimization), which means optimizing the application in terms of its visibility, using SEO activities (keywords, app name, app description, screenshots, and more).


Simply answer below questions:

  • Have you integrated analytics into your app? 

  • Have you prepared a pre and post-launch plan?

  • Have you determined a marketing budget?

app development checklist


How do I become an app owner with no experience?

Many beginners wonder whether they can start app development without having a coding background or experience in the IT industry. The answer is: Yes, of course! But they should prepare well for it. That's why I wrote this article. App development is an extended process, but with the right partner, you will go smoothly through it. 

  • Use app building platforms - it is a very cheap solution that will let you build an easy, small application.

  • Build a development team in-house - it is the best idea if you want to run a big, complex project that will be continued for many years. 

  • Hire freelancer - is a great opportunity when you need a partner for a very short-term, ASAP, or irregular project.

  • Cooperate with software house - will be the best solution if you are thinking about a long-term, custom application.

Hiring app developers in-house or freelancer requires some technical knowledge. First of all, you will have to check their skills and choose the person that matches your project. It can be a real challenge for a non-experienced person. When it comes to cooperation with a software company, you don't have to worry about the recruitment process. Furthermore dedicated Project Manager will support you from the very beginning till the end of app development. 

In case you are wondering how to pick the best development team, we have for you 6 tips: How to Choose the Best Remote Development Team in 2023?

Is it hard to create a web or mobile app?

I know that it might seem difficult to you to build a mobile app from scratch. As an app development company, we use the Agile Software Development approach that makes the development so much easier. We create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with key features instead of delivering the final IT product once near the deadline.

Agile Software Development


The main advantage of Agile methodology for clients is the flexibility and the ability to adapt to the current market situation. It allows our developers to quickly change the development plan if it's needed. Thanks to sprints, our clients are up-to-date with the development process. It is also a great way of cost optimization. As we implement only the most important features, MVP is cheaper than an advanced app. After launching the MVP, we can develop it based on users' feedback and opinions. It is the most efficient way of app development.

successful app development

How to begin app development? Conclusion

First of all, you don't have to be a skilled developer or person with a technology background to become an app owner. Many of our clients don't know how to code and yet run very successful app projects. While we code, they can focus on what they know best, improve their businesses, follow trends, and think about what users need. 


My main advice for you is to be suspicious with very cheap offers. Quality means money, that's for sure. From time to time, we receive queries "Can you fix my app?" When asking Who did work on it? Usually, we hear that developers from India. They are the cheapest, but the risk that the code will be a mess is quite high. 


Yes, mistakes during app development can happen, but you can avoid the majority of them. A few weeks ago, we launched our new ebook about 22 most common app development mistakes. Fill the form below and download it for free!