How to create your first iPhone app

Original author: Jen Gordon
  • Transfer
What if you were given a ruble each time you hear the expression "I have a great idea for a new application." Now everyone is talking about the same thing. iPhone has created an unprecedented innovation for people both in the community of programmers and outside. And for those outside the development environment, this process remains a mystery.

This guide is intended to familiarize you with the process of developing applications for the iPhone, from the idea to implementation and entry into the market. This topic presents different ideas, methods, tips and resources that you will need if you are going to create your first iPhone application.

1. Have a good idea?

How do you know if you have a good idea or not? First step: how solid is the idea. Step two: answer the question - does it have at least one indicator of success?


Does your application solve a unique problem? Before the light bulb was invented, someone had to shout “Hey, it is disgusting to read under the light of a candle!”. Understand what is “disgusting” to do now and how your application can make life more comfortable for those people who will use it.

Dog tricks

Is your application intended for any specific niche? Despite the fact that there are no statistics for searching the AppStore, the use of applications is growing along with the extension of applications in the AppStore. Find a niche with passionate fans (pet lovers, for example) and create an application that will appeal to a specific category of people.

Do not press

Does people make you laugh? This is not predictable. If you can come up with something funny, you are undoubtedly on the right track and your idea can become golden. Yesterday I pressed the red “do not press” buttons for 5 minutes.

Wine PhD

Are you making a better wheel? Are there successful existing applications that do not need significant changes? Do not be content with just a list of wines, give winemakers the opportunity to chat with their fans.


Will the application be interactive? Let's face it, many of us like these kinds of apps. Successful games and applications attract users with the demand of action!

Task: Think about whether you can include your application in one of the above categories? If so, then is the time to prepare the necessary tools.

2. Checklist of tools.

Below is a list of tools that you will need (items marked with an asterisk * are required, the rest is desirable)

  • buy an iPhone or iPod Touch *

  • buy an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5.5,

  • prepare a non-disclosure agreement (you can see an example here ) *,

  • download and install the latest iPhone SDK if you don’t have one yet,

  • spiral notebook *

Assignment: Remove the required tools.

3. What can you do best?

What skills do you have? Are you a designer with a brainwave towards Objective-C? A developer who can not realize his ideas from a piece of paper? Or it may be neither one nor the other, but do you have an idea that you want to present to the market? Creating an iPhone app is like starting a small business. You play the role of Researcher, Project Manager, Accountant, Information Architect, Designer, Developer, Marketer and Advertiser all rolled into one.

Remember that all good entrepreneurs know that a team is needed for the product to be successful . Do not get me wrong, you can of course do it all alone. But also in the process of this you can lose a lot of time, energy and.

Skill checklist.

  • The ability to recognize what works / does not work from existing applications for the iPhone.

  • Market research,

  • Definition of application functions,

  • Drawing application

  • Interface design,

  • Programming (Objective C, Cocoa) (we mean that we are creating a native application for the iPhone),

  • Application advertising and marketing.

Remember to sign a non-disclosure agreement to all your team members. Having a contract will let your team understand that you are a professional and take your business seriously. Then they will not run away from you, taking your idea with them.

Assignment: Choose the skills that suit you. For the rest, hire professionals.

4. Do your homework: Market Research.

Market research can be summarized as follows: “Look at what other people are doing and do not repeat their mistakes.” Learn from the good. The emergence of an idea about the concept of application development and design begins with an analysis of other (possibly similar) applications. Even if you see a lot of poorly designed applications, your mind will remember them as something that cannot be done.

Good and ugly
Assignment: Answer the following questions.

  • What problem is your application designed to solve?

  • What applications have you seen that perform the same function?

  • how do successful applications present information to users?

  • how can you create something that works and make it unique?

  • What value does your application have for the target audience?

5. Know the user interface of the iPhone / iPod Touch.

If you want to create applications for the iPhone, then you must understand the capabilities of the iPhone and its interface. Can you shoot a .45 caliber cartridge from an iPhone? Of course not! Can you shoot a video? Yes!

The good news is that you do not need to memorize the encyclopedic Directive User Interface (Apple User Interface Guidelines) in order to understand what works and what does not work in the iPhone application. Download and test as many applications as you can and think about the functionality that you want to include in your product.

Make a note of yourself:
  • how does a good application transition from page to page?

  • how is the information organized in them?

  • how much information do they provide to users?

  • How do they take advantage of iPhone’s unique features: accelerator, scan options, zoom and rotate features?

Assignment: Download the TOP 10 applications from each category and test them. Review the Apple Guidelines for UI design (Apple Guidelines for UI design) and write down at least 5 features that you would like to implement in your application.

6. Define: "Who will use your application."

Here we mean that you have already decided that your application will be significant and will have its own target audience. Well, they are fans of your application, but who are they really? What actions will they take to achieve their goals in your application?

If this is a game , then probably they will want to set their record. Or maybe they play such a game for the first time - how will their experience differ from the experience of a person who plays this game all day?

If it is a utility, and your audience wants to quickly find a coffee shop, what actions will they take in the app to find this coffee shop? Where are they when they are looking for coffee? Usually in a car! Will you introduce a user interface where you will have to read a lot, go from page to page and touch the screen a lot? Of course not! That's what design thinking is meant, given the real-life case.

Task: Create characters of people who will use your application. You can also give these characters names so that the script is as close to reality as possible.

7. Draw your idea.

By the word drawing, I mean drawing in the literal sense of the word. Draw 9 rectangles on a 8.5 × 11 page and start drawing.

Ask yourself:
  • What information should each of the screens represent?

  • How can we deliver the user from point A to point B to point C?

  • What proportions should the buttons have compared to others and what should be their size (is it even possible to touch this button or not?)


Drawing ideas on paper can push your creativity beyond the limits of your imagination. You can also buy the iPhone Stencil Kit to quickly prototype iPhone user interfaces on paper.

Task: Create at least one page with a drawing of each screen of your application. Experiment with different navigation schemes, texts supplied to buttons and how screens are connected to each other. If you want to transfer your drawings to digital format, then you will need to look at the iPlotz tool .

8. Design time!

iPhone GUI

If you are a designer, download the Photoshop iPhone GUI template (iPhone GUI Photoshop template) or our iPhone PSD Vector Kit . Both are a collection of iPhone GUI elements that save you tons of time. If when drawing an application you have already decided on the location of the elements and the general view, then drawing screens will mainly concern the development aspect, not the creation of the interface.

If you are not a designer, hire a designer! This is the same as hiring an electrician to work with wiring. You can go to the store and buy tools, do it all yourself, but who wants to take the risk and get an electric shock? If you followed steps 1-3, then you already have everything that a designer will need to get started.

When looking for a designer, try to find someone who already has design experience for mobile devices. They may have ideas and tips for improving your rendered interface. When you publish an ad about finding a designer, try to present the task in the best possible and detailed way. Also be prepared to view many portfolios.

Assignment: If you are a designer, get started in Photoshop. If you are not a designer, start your search for a designer.

9. Programming.


Despite the fact that this guide will be continued, it will be good to take the developer into the team at the same time when you are working on the design. A conversation with the developer will help you decide on a technically feasible project that will fit your budget.

If you are an Objective C / Cocoa programmer, then open up Xcode and get started! Several forums where you can register if you are not already there:

If you are not a developer, you know what to do - hire him! Define the application you want to create - a game, utility, or something else. Depending on the application you are creating, you will need different programming skills. Several sites where you can search for developers for iPhone: Odesk , iPhoneFreelancer , eLance and any of the forums presented above.

10. Transferring the application to the Apple Store.

So, how do you transfer your application to the Apple Store? Compiling your application and transferring a binary file to iTunes Connect can be difficult for anyone new to Xcode. If you work with a developer, ask him to help you:

  • Create your Certificates,

  • Determine the ID of your application,

  • Create your Distribution Initialization Profile,

  • Compile the application,

  • Download to iTunes Connect.

Assignment: If you are a developer, create a work schedule for yourself and start. If you are not a developer, start looking for a developer for this project.

11. Advertise your application.

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and there is no one nearby, will there be no sound? Applications can easily remain invisible on the App Store. Do not let this happen to you. Get ready for the marketing campaign. Rather, you should have several marketing plans. Get ready for experimentation. Some ideas will work, others, alas, no.

Strategy for maintaining / increasing the number of sales.

  • Включение в процесс социальных сетей. Если ваши пользователи достигают хороших результатов в любимой игре, то будет хорошей идеей сделать простым действие записи счета или рекорда игры в Facebook или Twitter. Продумайте как может ваше приложение работать с социальными сетями и создайте эту функциональность.

  • Предстартовая реклама. Начните разговоры про ваше приложение до того, как оно выйдет в свет. Напишите письма людям, которые пишут статьи, касающиеся вашего приложения и посмотрите, будут ли они говорить про ваше приложение до его выхода.

  • Plan multiple releases. Do not compile your application at once with all the features you want to see in it. Create a list of your dreams and make sure that the application will someday contain all these functions. Then, in turn, add new features to the release creating a new version of the application to increase the number of sales.

Task: Create a list of 20 advertising strategies that will be suitable for the target audience of your application. Work on it yourself or hire someone with more experience.

12. Be single-minded and don't give up!

There is nothing easier than working on your first application and dreaming of a billion new application ideas for iPhone. Dream, but do not be distracted from the goal. Your first application must be successful, and getting involved in several processes at the same time can weaken your passion and determination.

Assignment: Leave from there and finally create some kind of application!

Also popular now: