How to build a simple web app in 9 easy steps
Coming up with a new app idea is an exciting time for anyone. Taking your idea to a finished product can be a long process and one that requires dedication. If you’re ready to bring your simple web app to life, this post will help guide you through the process every step of the way. Read on to follow our nine ways to take your app idea to market with the help, power, and ease of no-code tools!
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Coming up with a new app idea is an exciting time for anyone. You think your idea can really make a difference, so it's tempting to dive in headfirst to get started. But taking your idea to a finished product can be a long process and one that requires dedication.
If you’re ready to bring your simple web app to life, this post will help guide you through the process every step of the way. Read on to follow our nine ways to take your app idea to market with the help, power, and ease of no-code tools
1. Flesh out your idea
It’s not often that you end up with a finished product that looks exactly like your original idea. In fact, you’ll make many changes during the development process as you learn more about what your users want.
If you want to start on a good foot, start by refining your app idea. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my idea solve a big enough problem?
- Is my idea something people are willing to pay for?
- Are there any changes I can make to provide a better solution?
- What can my app do that will save someone time or money?
- Will my app improve the quality of life for my users?
- Is this something I would enjoy building?
If you can answer yes to any of those questions, you might be onto something. Try to refine your idea until you can answer yes to as many of those questions as possible.
2. Research your market
Once you flesh out your product idea, you need to look a little deeper at the market you’re entering. There won’t always be demand for what you’re offering, so you need to make sure there’s room in the market for your idea. Here’s how to do just that:
Look for similar products
The first question you need to ask is what your competition looks like. Are there web apps that do something similar, and how well do they perform their task?
A quick Google search will provide you with the biggest competitors in your market. Look at their website, social media accounts, and online reviews to see how big your competitors are. If they have a sizeable following, there is likely a market for you to go after.
The next question is, how well does your competition solve the problem you’re working on? If you find bad reviews in your search, there’s room for you to enter the market and offer a better solution.
Look for complaints about the problem you’re solving
One of the most significant issues with starting new web apps is finding a problem to solve. If you spend time and money creating functionality that doesn't solve something for people in your industry, you’ll not get many customers.
Look at the places your target audience hangs out online. You'll find that they often talk about their problems and the workarounds they use to solve them. Be savvy and use this information to come up with talking points for your app and how to make your idea even better.
3. Learn more about your customers
The next step to creating a web app is to learn more about who your customers are. Whatever assumptions you have right now, throw them out the window!
After all, the reality is that there’s no guarantee that your customers will like your app idea. That’s why you need to reach out to people likely to use your app to learn more about them and what problems they face every day. Start this process from the ground up, and build your customer profiles based on your conversations.
Reach out to your target audience by:
Starting an email list
One of the best ways to attract people to your project and learn from your audience is to invite them to join an email list.
Start with a no-code landing page builder like Squarespace to get a web presence up and running. Squarespace has pre-built templates that let you get a web design up and running without touching a line of code.
Once your Squarespace site is online, integrate an email platform like ActiveCampaign on your page. Your goal is to incentivise people to sign up by offering them value to do so. Think about offering them a free downloadable ebook, exclusive content or a discount code.
You can use your email list to build pre-launch hype about your web app and get feedback from people on your list.
Sending out a survey
A survey is a great way to get instant feedback from your customers. No-code survey tools provide an easy interface for you to build quick surveys to send out to people who might want to try your web app.
Once you come up with your survey questions, you’ll need to head to where your audience is online. You should already know where to look if you did your market research!
Post your survey in these communities for people there to give feedback. If you go into these communities to provide value to the people there, you'll likely have plenty of people willing to help.
4. Design a minimal viable product (MVP)
Once you validate your idea with potential customers, it’s time to show them what you can do. The best way to do this is by building a minimal viable product.
An MVP is a limited version of your app that provides the essential features you plan to offer. Instead of spending a lot of time and money trying to cram as many features into an app as you can, you work to get your product out quickly. Going this route lets you move quickly and iterate on what you learn from your launch.
Here are a few questions to answer to determine what features your product needs, at a minimum:
- Do my users need to create accounts?
- Do people need to pay for an account?
- Can users enter information into the app?
- Does my app need to do anything more than entering and displaying data?
- What one feature provides the most value for my users?
- Are there any planned features that don’t add immediate value to the main problem my app solves?
- Are there any features that are a must-have for my users?
Answering these questions will help you hone in on the most critical parts of your app. You can use feedback from your early customers to tell you which direction to take your app. They'll let you know what's wrong, the features they need, and if your app is worth the price.
Once you get feedback from your initial users, you can start adding more features to your app. Your customer base will dictate what's important, so you don't waste any time adding features that don't add value to your app.
5. Design your user journeys
Once you determine what features your MVP needs to contain, it’s time to take a look at what your app looks like. You can do this by creating user journeys for your customers.
Your user journeys will dictate how people navigate your app and accomplish their goals. Essentially, how do people get from point A to point B in the best way possible?
Before you start designing anything in no-code tools, design your app on a scratch piece of paper and try to imagine what your app will look like once it’s complete. Primarily, think about your product navigation, branding, and other design elements.
Once you finish the sketches for your simple web app, you can move your sketches to digital prototyping programs. Tools like Figma provide a visual representation of your MVP. You can add more design elements to this prototype to get a feel of how it will look for your users.
You can also use these tools to map out your user journey and make it interactive. Online prototyping tools let you add clickable elements to your design. Use these tools to mock up your user journey to know how your app will function once you build it.
6. Determine what tools to use
Now that you know how your app will work and what it will look like, you need to decide what tools to use to bring your app to life. There are a couple of ways you can go about this.
Plug-and-play no-code apps
There are a lot of no-code tools that offer a specific set of functionality. You won't be able to build your entire app on their platforms, but you can use several no-code tools together to create something great. Here are a few key pieces you'll need to build your MVP.
Your database is what holds all the information for your app. You can think of it as a more complicated spreadsheet that can create unique relationships between different sheets.
No-code database apps like Airtable give you everything you need to create a database. You can create database tables, input as many data columns as you need, and link your database tables together to create relationships with your data.
For relationships, think of a project and task system. In a database, you’ll have a separate table for projects and tasks. Each task then contains an ID that links to a unique project ID, creating a relationship between that data.
You’ll need to think about these relationships as you build your app so you can design a database that meets your needs.
If your app involves more than simple data manipulation, a no-code tool that focuses only on databases might not be enough to meet your needs. If this is the case, you’ll need a tool to help you create backend workflows.
Tools like Xano work great in these cases. Not only do they provide databases, but they also let you create backend features that simple websites can’t do on their own. Once you design your backend functions, you can use an API to connect your website frontend to get those features.
Once you have a way to store your app data, you need a way to show it to your users. To accomplish this, you’ll need a website builder that connects to your database.
For your frontend, you want to find a drag and drop builder. These builders will let you visually design your app without touching any frontend programming code.
If you’re using a simple database no-code tool, you can likely integrate your data into your site directly. If you’re using a more complex backend tool, you’ll need to find a solution that works directly with your backend.
If your app requires user payment, you’ll need to find a credit card processor to accept payments for your app. The problem is that it costs a lot of time and money to do this directly on your app server. Most small businesses don't have the resources to handle PCI compliance themselves.
That’s why most companies have moved to third-party payment processors. These companies provide tools that embed payment processing directly on sites without the need for complex PCI compliance work. Lucky enough, you can do the same with no-code tools.
Full-featured app builder
You don't have to stick with simple building blocks to build your web app. As no-code tools have dramatically improved, new software can now handle the whole app development process.
Tools like Bubble can handle your database, frontend, and backend development. It provides a simple drag and drop interface that lets you build backend features, design your website, and manage your data.
Plus, you won’t need to worry about your tools working together if you go down this route!
7. Start the development process
Once you decide on your toolset, it’s time to start building your app.
You'll need to research how each of your tools works to get your app to market. Each no-code app has easy-to-follow instructions that will get you started. Start with a few simple apps to get a feel for how your tech works.
Once you get a feel for your tech, you can start building more complex workflows. In many cases, you can also skip some of the development for some features by using pre-made templates.
These templates contain pre-built functionality that lets you add features to your app without building them yourself. Using these templates will jump-start your progress and help you get to market much quicker.
8. Start the testing process
You hardly ever find an app that's perfect on release. Even the best developers make mistakes at times. That's why it's smart to have testers try your app before releasing it to the world.
You want your testers to focus on the most critical parts of your app. Come up with testing procedures for your testers to follow — that way you’ll be able to analyse the results fairly. Plus, they should follow your common user journeys to ensure everything works correctly.
Keep in mind, though, that you should find testers that will likely be your real users. That way they can give you feedback during the process that will help you refine your app even further.
9. Launch your app
Once the testing phase is over, you're finally ready to release your app to the world! Now’s the time to get in touch with your email list (and other marketing channels and leads you’ve set up) what you have to offer.
You’ll need to hook up your website with your domain name to make this happen. Ideally, you should host your domain with a different company that hosts your app. Keeping your hosting and domain separate helps mitigate risk when your hosting fails.
Once you start getting customers using your app, you’ll need to start collecting data. You want to know what problems people encounter, points where people drop off and quit using, and the most popular features. All of this is information you can use to improve things in the future.
It’s also smart to include an easy-to-find contact form in your app. Encourage your users to give feedback so you can take their suggestions and add them to your app.
With that said, keep in mind that your app launch isn’t the end of the development process. You’ll need to keep making changes to keep up with your competition, meet your users’ needs, and align with your business goals.
Kick-start your simple web app today
Now that you know more about building a simple web app, you're ready to get started!
And, the best news is that you don't need to be a tech guru to bring app ideas to life. A web app for beginners can be started by anyone willing to learn.
Are you ready to get started on your app development journey? Become a member today to learn how to make the most of no-code tools.
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