You Don’t Have to Be a Developer to Make an App

You Don’t Have to Be a Developer to Make an App

Breaking news! You can now make apps without becoming an app developer! OK, it’s not really breaking news, but it’s not quite common knowledge either.

There’s still a bit of confusion when it comes to building apps. Many people still think you need to be a developer to build apps. On top of that there are multiple platforms, iOS and Android being the two biggest ones. So people think you need to be an app developer with a specialization in one of the platforms.

Yes, in the early days of apps, you did need to know coding. For an iOS app, you would have to open up XCode and build your app in Objective-C. Not that Objective-C is particularly difficult to comprehend. It simply has a tough-sounding name, which is enough to scare non-coders away.

Fortunately, things have progressed a lot since then. As always, there are two ways to creating an app. You either hire someone else to do it, or you simply build it on your own without coding.

Hire Someone Else

This is the most popular option when it comes to creating apps. Lots of people come up with new app ideas every day, but they either do not have the time or the skills to build it themselves, so they outsource it.

With sites like Freelancer, Elance and oDesk, it’s extremely easy to find someone to develop your app for cheap. Sites like this work on a bidding system, which works in favor of the employer because freelancers tend to undercut each other just to get the job. You might find a developer from India or Philippines bidding at $1/hour where a top professional app development firm in USA or Canada would charge in the hundreds.

Just remember, cheaper is not necessarily better, and yet costlier is not necessarily better either. A high-end professional development firm charging thousands is more likely to build a better app than a freelancer charging hundreds but that’s not a guarantee.

Either way, you still need to be involved in the app development process. You can’t simply pick a firm or freelancer, explain your idea, and then sit back and wait for them to send you the final product.

Manage the process

The first step in the process is due diligence, or making sure you hire the best from all the options you have. Freelance websites provide feedback and rating systems so you can immediately eliminate freelancers with poor records. Firms have their own websites and portfolios with client testimonials.

Once you know whom you are outsourcing to, you need to clearly define the goals and specifications of the project. Set up timelines, deadlines, deliverables and checkpoints. Keep in touch with the freelancer or firm as often as you can, checking up on their progress and correcting course if required.

Outsourcing is not as simple or easy as it sounds. You can’t set it and forget it. While it does save you the time of doing it yourself, you still need to spend some time to manage the process. With the right freelancer and good management, you can create any app. On the flip side, if you don’t do the due diligence and manage the process, you can kiss your hard earned money goodbye.

Do It Yourself

If you don’t have the budget to hire someone, or you don’t feel like you can manage outsourcing, then simply do it yourself.

Just like with web development, app development has seen a plethora of app builder tools coming out over the past few years. Many of these tools allow you to create entire apps in minutes.

This makes it a completely visual process and requires no coding knowledge. Once you know your screen flows and layouts, it’s just a matter of placing the blocks in the right places.

Of course, each tool out there has its strengths and weaknesses. You need to evaluate each one based on your own needs. 

From the content-based platform App Factory to GameSalad, which allows you to build mobile games, you can find something that suits your needs. You can also check out these additional services:

These three services above allow you to create your own branded app. You can build in various features like geotagging, notifications, messaging, marketing and sharing of media. Users can then interact with your brand and stay up to date on offers and news related to your brand.

Conduit Mobile has various niche-based features like reservations for restaurants, appointments for services and e-commerce for online stores. On top of that there are analytics layers, marketing tools and social media integrations.

Appsme and Appery allow you to build more generic apps. Appery uses a what-you-see-is-what-you-get drag and drop interface to make an easy task even easier.

Pricing methods also vary with each tool. Some are free while some have high monthly subscriptions. Others have a freemium model where you can use a certain number of features for free but need to upgrade for advanced features. Almost all have the option of custom coding to add even more customization to the app.

Get Started with Your App

So now that we’ve successfully busted the myth that you need to be a Mark Zuckerberg to create apps, it’s time for you to get started building your own. Weigh the various options you have, look at the time and money commitments, and then go ahead and get that idea out of your head and into a mobile phone.

And then, when the time comes, you can sell your app here on Flippa. Have you created your own app without knowing how to code? Please share your experience in the comments.

Photo by: Jenn and Tony Bot

Listing in the App Store? Avoid the DUNS Delay

When the time came for Melbourne-based entrepreneur Luke Meehan to publish an app in the App Store, he faced a two-month delay in getting it listed.

It was easy enough—and cheap, costing a one-off fee of just AU$30—to register and publish in the Google Play store. But the Apple Store required him to submit a DUNS number as part of the registration process, which costs AU$99 (a fee that recurs annually).

A DUNS number is “a unique nine-digit identification sequence which provides unique identifiers of single business entities,” according to the website of Dunn & Bradstreet, the organization that issues the numbers.

“That might be common to companies in the US,” says Luke, “but it’s certainly not common to companies in Australia, let alone small startups or small companies.”

And, he points out, it’s probably not common for developers in other countries outside the US.

Different Developers, Different Registration Requirements

Importantly, the DUNS number is only required to join the Standard iOS Developer Program if you’re a company. If you’re an individual or sole trader wanting to publish apps, you can join that same program without the number.

It’s free to register for a DUNS number, but outside the US, it’s not quick.

Luke explains:

“If you haven’t got a DUNS number, it takes 15 days for it to be created, then it takes another 15 days for it to actually be replicated across to Apple’s databases.”

“There’s very little communication during the process,” he adds. “The only way to check progress is by emailing support.”

When Luke’s application stalled, he wasn’t alerted to that fact. It was only when he emailed support to find out why the application was taking so long that he was told he needed to provide more information.

A customer service rep from Dunn and Bradstreet told me that the number creation process takes around 4 business days, but updating the DUNS international database, which is used by Apple, can take up to 14 business days.

The information Apple provides on this process suggest much shorter timeframes than Luke experienced, possibly because US DUNS numbers don’t need to be added to the international database before Apple can access them.

But any company outside the US that wants to join the iOS Developer Program needs to know about this lag.

“So when we were starting out, there was a eight-week delay before we could publish an app,” Luke says.

Why Is a DUNS Number Needed?

Apple doesn’t seem to have explained this, though some have speculated that it’s just a simple way of verifying a company’s credentials.

The D&B website explains only that:

“Companies worldwide use the DUNS Number to link information about suppliers, customers and trading partners, providing a more complete picture of the risk and opportunity in their business relationships.”

What It Means for App Owners and Developers

If you’re taking ownership of an iOS app from its original developer, you’ll be needing an iOS Developer Program membership so you can control that app within the App Store, publish new versions of it, add others (if that’s what you have in mind), and so on.

If you’re running a company outside the US, and you don’t have a DUNS number, make sure you allow time for that process to take place as part of joining the iOS Developer Program.

Further, Luke explains that the iOS Developer Program membership registration process really seems to be focused on developers.

“For non-technical sole proprietor small businesses we have to invest a significant amount of time to walk them through the process of obtaining an ID. In some sections, they might as well be reading forms written in a foreign language.”

Will this approach change, as more and more non-technical business people—not developers—are required to gain memberships in order to publish apps they’ve bought (or commissioned)? We’ll have to wait and see.

On the plus side, Luke adds that it’s much easier to publish to the Google Play store where, he says, “the app ID creation process is very simple, very quick.”

“You create an app publishing ID. It costs you $30 as a once-off fee. It’s not recurring like the Apple one, and it’s just a much easier process. There’s no app ID for type A and app ID for type B, and for type B a four-week process to have a credit agency review your application.”

Just as well! App marketplace registration may take time for the new app owner or developer, but once it’s done, it’s done. Have you joined either the App Store or Google Play recently? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Photo credit: Matthew

How to Use Networking Apps to Win Friends and Influence People

This is a guest post from Correy Weimer who writes for Singlehop.com as well as a number of other blogs and publications.

Networking plays an important part of our lives. It creates all sorts of opportunities for us and our businesses. But networking has undergone some drastic changes over the last decade and it can sometimes be hard to keep up.

Social media is now the driving force behind how we connect and stay in touch with our family, friends and co-workers. And when it comes to social media, we certainly love our networking apps. But do we really know how to make the most of them?

SociaLink

The SociaLink app makes it easy to connect with others. You only have to enter your social media accounts once and then you’re ready to begin your networking.

Open the app and let it search for nearby tablets and phones. Add access to the accounts you want to befriend or follow. Wait for the other person to accept, and that’s it. Of course, for this to work, the other person needs to have the app installed as well.

Does this process sound a bit… well, too easy? Don’t worry, you can still choose the old-school route if you want. SociaLink also offers the option to connect via good-old email. Right now, this service is free and available for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

SociaLink is great if you’re in a hurry or if you’re taken by surprise. Perhaps you bump into someone at a train station, or at a friend’s dinner party, and you want to connect instantly. SociaLink lets you do that with ease. Download the app today to grow your network of friends and co-workers.

Bump

Another app which has been making waves in terms of professional networking is Bump.

When it first debuted around five years ago everyone was impressed by the ability to exchange contact details by simply touching mobile devices. It was in some ways a front runner to SociaLink. It is still a useful networking tool today, as it allows you to share photos, videos and documents in a similar fashion.

What are you waiting for? Do yourself a favor and bump away!

Hootsuite

Now that you’ve bumped into people and connected with them, you need a tool to manage your social media activities, so you can deepen the relationship.

Hootsuite is a popular service that manages your social media accounts. It helps you schedule your messages and tweets, so you can get more time off to work on your business or to hang out with your friends and family. If you get a premium plan, you can also track brand mentions and analyze your social media traffic.

More services like Hootsuite keep popping up. Buffer, Tweetdeck and SocialOomph are a few competitive alternatives that you might want to check out.

Bottomline: Choose an app that suits your networking needs.

MeetUp

Of course, by the end of the day, nothing beats meeting people face-to-face. That’s the ultimate pursuit of our networking efforts. No wonder conferences and events are still so popular.

The Meetup app allows you to find people who share similar interests. You can join an event and share your ideas, projects, and experiences with a group of like-minded individuals. This a great way to get the support and feedback you need to move forward. Be it web entrepreneurship, apps, or domains – there is a MeetUp group for everyone.

What keeps you from attending a MeetUp event? Give it a try and see what you think.

Cloud-Based Applications

Cloud-based apps also change the way we network and carry out our jobs. LinkedIn, Dropbox, Evernote, and Asana are only a few of the service providers that have entered this arena. And they’re doing it with good reason.

A growing number of businesses are migrating to the cloud to create a more flexible work environment. It is common for sales staff to travel a great deal and with the help of cloud applications, these staff can have constant access to data in real time. This helps to strengthen relationships with clients and it also improves lead conversion rates. Statistics suggest that salesforce productivity can improve by up to 80% when they have access to cloud-based apps on the go. 

Conclusion

From bumping your mobile phones to migrating to the cloud, there’s no doubt that technology can help us win friends and influence people. New apps pop up every day, and they offer more options for building and nurturing our relationships. One thing is certain with these networking apps: the focus right now is on maximizing portability in all aspects of our professional and private lives. 

But how has this technology changed the way you network? What’s your favorite approach to networking? And most importantly, is there already an app for that…? Please drop your thoughts in the comments.

Correy Weimer writes for Singlehop.com, as well as a number of other blogs and publications. Correy is always looking for the next big thing in regards to internet technology and web hosting.

Photo courtesy of Celeste RC

12 Reasons Why Your App Is Getting Rejected by the App Store

We all know how difficult it is to get an app published in the App Store.

The web is teeming with tales of woe from developers who think they’re following all the rules, yet repeatedly experience rejection, often with little explanation. Is there a method to Apple’s madness? For the most part, yes, and many have unraveled the mystery.

Apple Grants a Wish

After five years of pleading from the developer community, Apple has finally granted the power for intellectual property (IP) owners to transfer applications between developers. This is significant because application creators have a lot of IP value tied up in these offerings, and until now, it simply wasn’t possible to transfer an app between developers without losing rankings, reviews, and the overall connection to existing customers.

Now that apps can move from developer to developer without losing such valuable metadata, Flippa will soon be launching a new way for app developers to sell their iOS apps. In the meantime, it’s time to polish your expertise in getting that genius application approved.

The Apple iOS App Store Approval Process

Getting an app approved by the Apple iTunes Store is a far more complicated process than for Google Play. Because they have such high volume of traffic and purchases, however, it’s obviously worth your while to master the process and jump through those hoops.

Apple runs each app through an automated test. They also have an assigned reviewer who tests and verifies

  • The user interface
  • The user experience
  • All the application features
  • The functionality of the app

You need to follow all the App Store Review Guidelines down to the letter, or your assigned reviewer will never approve your submission.

Your first step is to obviously create an Apple developer account, review the guidelines above, and read through the Human Interface Guidelines too. Once you feel you’ve got a good grasp on what Apple requires, you may need to make changes to your existing app (whether it’s native or hybrid) in order to proceed.

Yes, the guidelines are verbose, and sometimes they read like legalese. But unless you start to grasp the fine print, you’ll go through more rejection cycles than you can imagine. I’ll be frank with you: your app will most likely get rejected at least once. Don’t be discouraged – you see, there are thousands of applications in the iTunes store, right? Many have weathered the storm! Keep reading for more advice on how to make the process easier.

Top 12 Reasons Why Your App May Be Rejected

By studying the major application pitfalls, you can gain awareness on where many falter and get ahead of the game. We learned that when getting Flippa’s own iOS app ready for submission! Here are some main points you want to avoid.

1. Applications that are too niche often get flagged through the approval process.

Apple is not fond of content created for an extremely specific audience. If you’ve created an app that caters to your local wine tasting crew, that’s not going to fly. Broaden that to fans of a specific wine varietal, and you’re on your way.

2. Submissions that use Apple’s copyrighted images are always, always rejected.

Yes, Apple creates many gorgeous buttons and user interface components, but never get tempted to include those in your application. If you use even a single Apple image without their consent (which they rarely grant), you aren’t getting approved.

3. If you copy the functionality of an existing application, they will notice. Guaranteed.

This is true even if your app is seemingly “inspired by” an existing idea. Since it’s not realistic to assume all applications will feature completely unique content, the key is this: make sure yours is either original, or that it improves on something that already exists. Copycats need not apply.

4. Applications that require a perpetually-connected device are also surefire rejections.

If your content crashes or can’t operate correctly without a network connection, it will not get approved. You have been warned. Make sure it works.

5. Apps that are data hogs often get the axe too.

Be very mindful of the amount of data your submission must download, and remember that there are plenty of users that still have limited cellular data plans. So resist the urge to require a 5MB download every time someone launches your content. It’s true that Apple does not have any specific guidelines here, but many still get rejected for excessive downloads.

6. Applications that abuse the iOS file system are no-nos.

Since iOS 5.1, applications are not allowed to save data on a device that normally gets backed up by iCloud, unless you have the user’s consent. Use the device’s cache instead, or the Local Storage. As a final tip, make sure that anything saved here can’t be overwritten.

7. Applications that take in-app payments but do not use Apple’s In-App purchasing API are definitely going to get the boot.

When you’re in the App Store, you play by their rules. Enough said.

8. Anything labeled a “demo” or “beta version” is also code for “please reject me.”

Apple does not release anything that doesn’t feel like a truly finished, polished product, so avoid these terms at all costs.

9. Do not violate the Human Interface Guidelines

Apple has extremely strict directions on locations, sizes, and formatting for buttons, icons, navigation and all the design elements. Even a small infraction here will result in a resounding “No.”

10. Applications that take a long time to load

Ten seconds is a general benchmark; if yours takes much longer, it’s in jeopardy. That’s a good thing, however, as users won’t tolerate a lengthy load time anyway, so it’s important to get this right.

11. Submissions with .ipa files bigger than 50 MB

Apple requires apps to be manageable in file size, so you’ll need to be mindful of compression and optimization.

12. It needs to be an app, not a mobile website.

Yes, this is a tricky one, but Apple is stickler about maintaining a separate look and feel for applications and mobile sites, so your submission must not feel like the latter. If everything you feature can be accomplished via a mobile site, it probably won’t pass review.

Apple doesn’t create all these rules to give you a headache, but to develop consistency in presenting the highest form of quality and content to their discerning users. Remember that a real human being will review your submission, and mistakes can happen. If you’re rejected for an issue you feel follows the rules implicitly, make sure to provide supporting documentation and you’ll probably get through on the next try.

Over to You

Don’t be discouraged as you read the long list of don’ts. The first time is always the hardest. By the end of the day, this is a process well worth the effort. You’ll get the hang of it eventually. Just remember how fantastic it will feel when you see your creation in the iTunes Store.

Now that you’re aware of some of most common pitfalls, you’re that much more likely to be one of the few, proud, developers that get in with their very first submission. Do you have any plans on publishing any apps in the future? Or maybe you’ve already been successful. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks to Clifford Joseph Kozak for the broken phone photo!!