Beginning Programming to Android Dev: The Path To Creating Your First App

Want to start making Android apps but don’t know how to start or what to learn? Many people get muddled thinking of the steps they need to take in order to acquire all the necessary skills needed to make their app.

This self-sufficient article covers all the steps from learning how to make an app to the marketing needed to ensure it’s success.

Step 1) The Technical Aspects

Unless your aiming to outsource your android app idea to other developers for hundreds of dollars or looking to use one of those drag and drop builders, your going to have to drop down and get your hands dirty and learn some of these prerequisite ‘technical’ tools.

Java or Kotlin?

Now, it used to be really simple: just learn Java!

However, today, Google has now added Kotlin as an officially supported language too. This means that all of Google’s documentation will include code snippets for Java as well as Kotlin.

When learning to become an Android dev, which language should you learn?

Personally, over my development career, I believe Java is the much superior option for complete beginners learning their first language.

Why? Not only does Java have widespread community tutorials and support (cough Stack Overflow), but it can also be transferred to non-android projects.

I don’t just make Android apps; I make desktop software and games as well, and being able to use the same programming language for all my projects definitely gives me a huge productivity bonus.

Image result for java

Right now, Kotlin does not have much relevance outside of Android development although it is branching off a bit.

That being said, Kotlin was designed to be a superior alternative to Java, improving upon its drawbacks. For example, one of its goals is to make code more concise and less wordy, reducing the risks of bugs and errors.

Consequently, if you will be focusing solely on Android, Kotlin too can be a good language to learn to begin your development career. On the other hand, if you plan to be a more versatile programmer, Java is the way to go (for right now).

XML

To create the layouts (basically, what each screen or ‘page’ of your app will look like), Android uses Extensible Markup Language (XML).

If you are familiar with HTML (also a markup language), you should be able to pick it up quickly: it has the same concept of encapsulating data in tags.

However, even if you have no clue what a markup language is, you can still easily grasp XML’s fundamentals as you go along due to how intuitive it is.

On top of that, Android Studio has a built-in drag and drop layout editor; just stick to that in the beginning and see what what each drag-and-drop element corresponds to in XML. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.

Fortunately, this part of Android development isn’t that much of a hassle.

Image result for android layout
You just drag and drop elements from the left column – widgets – onto the mobile screen.
Be warned, however: you can’t stick to this forever as it does not always yield the best results. But, in the beginning, it should suffice.

Step 2) The Artistic Flair

Wait, isn’t making an Android app just about all that geeky coding?

Yes, if you are on a team and are assigned the sole responsibility of “developer”; however, as can be seen above, you will have to create the layouts of your app yourself.

And, trust me, in today’s competitive world of millions of apps already published, if your layout doesn’t look pretty or at least presentable, your going to have a tough time getting installs.

This is similar to designing websites. If you have a UI designer, great: they will give you the whole sketch and you’ll have to implement it.

Consequently, that requires extra dough which may not be available to you as a starting developer; hence, some basic guidelines you should be familiar with.

Fortunately (again!), Google has these “Material Design Guidelines” that systematically lays out how you can build a decent UI that doesn’t scare away potential installers.

It covers everything from the size and look of your icons to how your activities should feel and behave.

Image result for material design

As for creating logos and graphics that stand out from the crowd, it’s all about practice, creativity, and using the right tools.

I’ve highlighted some of those tools in the second half of this post — covering free logo makers, screenshot creators, and image editors.

Step 3) Marketing

You’ve made it this far! Awesome! You have an app that functions and looks swell.

To make sure your app reaches its true download potential, it’s important to invest some time, if not money, to marketing.

One crucial point to take into account: make sure your app is marketable in the first place. If your idea isn’t really that relevant, your probably not going to end up getting any installs.

Now, just by how well your UI is designed and your app idea, you can accumulate a significant amount of downloads.

Depending on your app and your luck, you might not need to invest a single dollar into the marketing aspect by doing some of the following things:

  • App Store Optimization — it’s a really easy way to organically get downloads. Check my post over here about it.
  • Sharing it on social media — if you have a lot of friends and followers, you can get the momentum going by making them install it
  • Posting it on various groups — find the niche your app focuses on, search for groups that deal with that topic (Facebook groups, subreddits, online discussion groups, etc.), and post it over there. If they like it, you can get hundreds of downloads this way
  • Post frequent updates — constantly updating your app with relevant improvements may boost your app’s installs

As to paid marketing, that’s a big topic. You can run ads on a variety of platforms: Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and more! Just keep in mind which age group your audience is most likely to fall in and pick a platform based on that.

One thing to keep in mind: incentive CPI providers do not usually work.

What they do is pay their users a few coins in their own app to install your app, and once users reach a certain threshold, they can redeem their coins for rewards.

The reason this does not work is because these users probably install hundreds of apps in a short amount of time in order to acquire those rewards. Google’s algorithm filters out installs from such users, and, hence, these installs usually do not show up on your app’s public install count.

Conclusion

After following all of these steps and adapting to your app’s needs, you will have an awesome app that stands out among the flowing crowd.

Just make sure you do not neglect any one of these crucial steps, and your ready to set sail on your journey of creating your first app!

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