Wanna build a simple mobile application with Appy Pie? We'll show you how.
App design must look pretty daunting from the outside looking in. Anybody taking a swipe at it must be asking themselves a few worried questions. How do I make something that will be compatible with the metric ton of different smartphones and tablets out there? More importantly, even if I can build something that runs on practically anything, how do I avoid the UI and artistic pitfalls that will make my best efforts look like that of my “into computers” teenage nephew?
We've got the answers to most of those burning questions here today. (Mind you, you'll need to bring a teensy bit of artistic nous to the table yourself – we can't make you multimedia Monet in an afternoon.) All that being said, the benefits to getting in there and “having a go” at your first app design will be worth it in the long run.
And hey – Appy Pie is honestly one of the best places to get the ball rolling. Forget any notions you may have of clicking into it only to have a wave of code come spewing out at you, like a scene from The Matrix. You'll not need to be 'the one' to comprehend a program that is light on the borax and big on the easy to follow drag 'n' drop.
All that being said, before we grab a knife and cut ourselves a big ol' slice of Appy Pie, let's take some time to weigh some of the platform's pros and cons.
Appy Pie pros and cons
Features-wise, Appy Pie offers you 56 different “Pages” or categories to better pigeonhole your app idea. Once you select one of these — be it Social, Commerce, Contract, etc — Appy Pie will then help you better steer your creation towards that end goal.
Even better, as you're molding your masterpiece, you can enjoy some decent ease-of-use. Crafting an app is done in Appy Pie's 'Live Editor'. Clicking to enable the Pages you've created is a cinch, as is layering in additional functionality and working out the kinks in your fledgling creation. Essentially, you can cobble together a basic app in next to no time and build/preview a bare-bones version of your baby through the Appy Pie webpage. Heck, you don't even have to sign into their portal to do it.
Mind you, baking things with Appy Pie is not all convenience and delicious fillings. For starters, though their on-site tutorials have been evolving from patch explanations that raise as many questions as they answer, a lot more work needs to be done. The fact is their app editor can still be daunting for first-timers.
Also, those of you with more refined artistic tastes may find that the visual templates on offer are a touch...less than vogue. Granted you can mess with what's on offer – chuck a different background image in here, rejig the layout with a few clicks there – but your latitude for some artistic attitude is limited. Go out into the Android and Apple marketplaces and you can spot, without much effort, anything that's been built with Appy Pie.
Getting started with Appy Pie
First thing's first. Head to AppyPie.com and create an account (email, username and password). Then decide if you're willing to put some money down…
Appy Pie plans and pricing
Along with a free trial period, Appy Pie offers three additional subscription options based on what you want to accomplish with your fandangle app.
As a minimum, every plan will net you the following:
Unlimited app editing
The ability to publish your app under your developer account
Earn money through advertising
Email customer support
App analytics with Google Analytics
Before we dig into the paid options, you should know that there's some fine print tucked away on a few facets of Appy Pie. You can use Appy Pie’s App Builder by availing 7 day free trial to develop and test your application for your personal, non-commercial use. However, be aware that the Apple App Store charges a $99 annual developer fee and Google Play charges a one-time fee of $25. And if you want to remove Appy Pie branding and get a White-Label app you need to opt into an Add-On Package.
Lastly, additional downloads are charged either on the basis of number of Installs or on the number of registered users whichever is more. And the prices mentioned below are exclusive of taxes.
Basic ($18/app/mo): So the big thing to note with this entry level plan is this – it only support the PWA and Android platforms. That's obviously a problem if you want in on Apple, the biggest app marketplace in the world today. You also won't get the 'premium features' which include the following: accommodation, appsheets, augmented reality, coupon directory, dating, dinein, directory, event, fitness, foodcourt, hyperlocal, news, polling, real estate, social network, store, survey, e-wallet, IAP, codepage, messenger and taxi.
You'll also be limited to 5,000 app downloads/installs and the same amount of push notifications a month. And you can't make your own white label app by removing the Appy Pie Branding – that will require an optional Add-On package.
Gold ($36/app/mo): Ante up to the next stage of subscription and you'll unlock all of the premium features listed above. Likewise your push notifications per month shoot up to 10,000 and 20,000 people can download your amazing app. To help in the handling of your new digital empire, Appy Pie support opens up to include live chat support. Downside: you still can't remove Appy Pie branding until you get that optional Add-On package.
Platinum ($60/app/mo): Last of all we have the big spender option for those of you who are serious about making their digital dreams 'appen. Platinum opens up the Apple platform to you, and you can unleash a veritable push notification assault on your users (25,000 in a month). Likewise, your app can now be installed by a whopping 50,000 people.
Rounding things out, your customer support option now includes the option to pick up a phone and have an actual conversation with a genuine human being. However, even this exorbitantly priced tier will not let you cut the apron strings from Appy Pie and remove all of their branding. Once again, you need that mysterious Add-On package.
Baking your very own (and somewhat basic) Appy Pie
Let's move past the unpleasant matter of the monies and instead cook something up with a trial account of Appy Pie. The very first step on your journey will be naming your digital delectable. At this pint you should forget what old Bill Shakespeare was on about, too – there's a lot in a name.
The moniker of any app will set the expectations of any potential users. You only ever get one first impression. Make it one that effortlessly divorces people from their money.
If you already have a company or a going concern of some description, well, your decision has probably already been made for you here. Every other scenario will require something unique. Something that rolls off the tongue and is easy to remember (and to type into an app store). You're also going to want global appeal – a name that gels with the mindset of your customers.
Personally speaking, the (in some cases literal) sole purpose of our example app is that it allows users to leave GPS coordinates that warn people where seasonally growing, skin-irritating plant life is. American users will no doubt fill it with sightings of poison ivy and the like. Australian users like ourselves will warn each other about bindis (think: a barbed little weed that grows into patches of otherwise safe looking patches of grass). All that being said, we will call our masterpiece Itchstagram.
The next step is one of chromatic assertion. Appy Pie will ask you to select a color scheme from Deep Ocean, Go Green, Cheerful Cherry, Dynamic Sunburst, Carbon Mystique, and Techno Grey.
We've gone with green as it highlights the Mother Nature's Most Deadliest Minefields theme of our project. But I suppose we also could have gone with red, to signify the awful rashes that are being avoided. The point is this: you'll want a scheme choice that dovetails with your existing brand image/product line. Also, you'd be surprised what the colour in your “client persona” can communicate to certain target markets. But those are Freudian concepts for another time…
At this point AppyPie will want you to commit more fully to the process by setting up an account. Go through the usual rigmarole to get it out of the way.
After that, Appy Pie opens wide to let you tinker with a range of app customising options. Snoop into the App Icon, Background and Splash Screen options to personalise each of these facets – typically by uploading something you've either created in Photoshop or downloaded from a royalty free image site.
You should next tinker with the App Layout option. It lets you effortlessly reshuffle your content into a number of ready-made templates that are on tap. Sadly, there isn't much opportunity to deviate beyond these presets.
Last thing in this section: fonts and their colors. Now is the time to enhance (or decrease?) the readability of your app. Select some typography that suits your overall messaging and style. Maybe give Comic Sans a try, just to make things a little more lighthearted. Alternatively, never, ever, ever use that font if you want to be taken seriously. Either or.
Adding more pages and posts to your Appy Pie site
Move into the My Features section to start building handy functionality into your app. One such feature is a Directory. You can effectively create listings for location specific businesses and give them the exposure – perhaps an opportunity for Itchstagram to link up with local businesses and list them on our app in exchange for a bit of green. As in money.
Moving along, the Blog feature is something that a lot of you will get plenty of use out of. Once configured, you can effectively have the URL of an existing blog of yours be converted into easy-to-read app form. All the major blog peddlers are supported. WordPress, Blogger, Feed Burner and Tumblr are some usual suspects.
If you're a socialite gadfly, you might consider using the Events feature. It allows you to setup notable calendar based get-togethers for your userbase. Sniff through the options and you'll even find ways to leverage push notifications to ensure you can keep the details of your shindig up to date.
Teaching professionals might also want to look into the Education feature-set. It allows you to shoehorn in a dictionary, conduct video lectures, or even create and disseminate/sell ebook-based learning materials. It's a pretty nifty and new age way of interacting with and growing alongside your students while also still being just another brick in the wall, all in all. As is our general understanding of all educators.
Speaking of navigating one's way around obstacles both figurative and literal, you could include the Map feature in your app. It's effectively an easy, completely in-app way to guide users to your place of business. Or in our case, around patches of Australia's most naturally occurring caltrops.
Next up is the all-important News feature. You'll need to inform people on the latest outbreaks of ivy and possibly where the cheapest calamine lotion might be purchased. Click into this feature to get cracking on those sorts of burning, need-to-know issues.
Honestly, as far as features go, these are the main ones you'll probably stick with for a basic app. Itchstagram is pretty much ready to be released upon the world whereupon we can see it finding a niche. A niche that will allow it to really get under the skin of users and become a red-hot success story. Now we're ready to move onto the final testing phase of the process.
Putting it to the test
Rightio. We've done some tinkering in the visuals department and have entered all of the pertinent information that our users will want. Now, we need to make sure the darn thing works. Go into the Testing option on Appy Pie and it'll take you to a screen that generates a QR code. Simply scan that with an app to get testing. If you're not into QR, there's also an option to have a link sent to you by alternative means (SMS or email).
Whichever way you go, you'll soon be looking at your app trying to launch. You may need to allow certain security options that will allow you to “install” 3rd party apps.” Your iPhone or Android device will warn you of this and auto direct you to the option toggles needed to make that happen.
Once you're in, take a poke around and make sure everything is doing what it should. Pay particular attention to the Edit button. Tap on it and then you can continue to tinker with your creation. Any changes you affect here, on the fly will be made to the master version you were previously working with, on your desktop. Pretty nifty.
Taking your Appy Pie app to the next level
Now that we've nailed the fundamentals down you can evolve your app from here. All that being said, to allow your app to thrive in the ludicrously competitive online marketplace, it never hurts to hand your work over to a number of qualified professionals. For example, Freelancer is chock full of classically trained experts who can take your bare-bones as heck app and use it as a template for something truly mindblowing.
For example, an SEO expert
will know the subtle art of maximizing the 'findability' of your Appy Pie creation. Most website building platforms include the fields to fill out with keywords, but SEO is a skillset that requires a heap of research and market nous. And let's be honest; you could always do with more nous in your house.
Otherwise, an email marketing expert
might help you seize more email addresses than you know what to do with. They sure will have an idea though, because they're trained to tractor beam in new audiences and revenue streams using nothing but brilliant copywriting and an expertly timed email campaign. Possibly via some sort of alluring sweepstakes competition or by posing as a Zimbabwean prince. We're here to teach you apps, not ethics.
And here's an obvious one: a graphic designer
can use their trained eye (often they have two of them) to make your app not look like something that was, well, made in AppyPie. Using their knowledge of everything Adobe, be it Illustrator or Photoshop, they can make you look ultra-professional to even the most stuck up app connoisseur.
Finally, if you want your app to actually stand apart from the absolute glut of junk available on app marketplaces and do something, y'know, useful — something people might actually pay money for — you need to give Appy Pie a miss altogether and build your app from the ground up using a freelance mobile app developer
. Sure, Appy Pie can build some neat, simple apps that might be good for disemminating news or scheduling appointments, and maybe that's all you need. But if you're looking to make a business out of your app, get it built the right way by an app developer who knows what they're doing.