Creating a phone App

I am looking for advice on creating, writing, programming, whatever an app to be sold and used on cell phones. I haven’t done any programming or software development work in over 25 years. So I am pretty ignorant about what it entails now.

I have come across a need for an app, and potential business to create and support the business data for the client, which does not currently exist (at least I couldn’t find it). My preliminary research indicated the app and service is feasible and needed. No, I will not describe the app or the industry to you at this early date beyond it is used by clients to enhance their experience with the businesses and supplement/replace paper brochure/catalogs.

I am looking for information and resources about app development. I am so far removed from that world I don’t know where to start. I would prefer to do more research and understand the process prior to hiring someone to do the development for me.

Any ideas where to start on the technical side?

No way can I help you with this.
But, can we just guess your app?

My guess:
An app that updates the location of items in a grocery store. It would be updated every time the store suddenly decides that peanut butter should be in the bread aisle, wait, no, peanut butter should be in the spreads and snacks aisle.

So, you enter your grocery list and the store you’re going to; and the app orders your list left-to-right according to location in the store (if the store has the entrance on the left and the exist on the right). Adds an aisle number (or, more stupidly, a local street or town name) and front/middle/back of said aisle relative to the store’s front.

And it makes sure you are always headed in the right direction in an aisle.

Don’t do the programming. Waste of your time figuring out android, ios, etc when you can hire people to do that - check out upwork. Upwork used to be a way to get a crappy job done. Today though, if you’re careful, there’s a ton of very experienced, cheap developers available.

Instead, spend your time documenting the process for the developers. Build out your documentation/specs so that it’s a complete algorithm, start to finish. You should be able to hand me the documentation and have me run any scenario by hand and get the exact results. Basically you don’t want the programmers thinking, you want them simply translating from english to the programming language. the program then aligns with your documentation - if there’s a bug you can look at your documentation and say ‘it’s not doing this step right here correctly’.

FWIW, I had a specialized task I needed done a couple of months ago. My dev. was busy so I reached out to some other local developers. I got quotes to the tune of $3-$5K and they were from people that weren’t familiar with the tasks. I went to upwork, found a guy in Lahore Pakistan that specialized in the software, did the job perfectly for $500 - and was able to provide input on ‘we should do stuff this way’.

I also had a person with a masters degree scrape a directory of 25K records to the tune of $2500, and I’m pretty sure it was cut and paste - I went with them because we couldn’t automate the scraping. Job was done perfectly.


Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. I was pretty sure based on my experience in market analysis and project management I could design what the product needs to do I just had no idea about how it would do it. You also answered my next question, approximate costs. Before I start writing up specs and put together a business plan, before I got too deep into the market research I wanted at least some idea if it was worth it.

As I progress I will keep this thread advised.

I like this idea but I just use curbside pickup and online ordering so I don’t really care where the peanut butter is.

Just to clarify, the numbers I was quoting were not for mobile apps; they were server related things.

When you start getting cost estimates from developers, your complete set of specs is the best thing you can give them to estimate the costs. It removes a lot of the volatility from the estimate, and the developers prefer it.

And when the time comes, if you want me to have a look at the docs, I’m happy to give you my thoughts.

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I may take you up on that. I’ll probably rope my son in to help with specs if it gets that far. He’s a director of eLearning at a university. I am still idea screening at this point.

Here’s where I’m at. I am an idea guy pretty much regularly looking at things and saying why doesn’t this service exist, why doesn’t somebody do that? I do this enough that we have a running joke when driving past an empty building I hear “hey dad you could put your business there.” Most ideas are obvious, or infeasible, or unprofitable or already done on the surface. Occasionally an idea may be decent and if I look into one it proves infeasible or unprofitable or already done. This idea is still active.

  1. I know a key piece of technology (GPS) was updated in 2018. Prior to the 2018 update this service was infeasible.
  2. I know a major portion of the industry is poorly served for customer focused technology because they have until recently looked at customer focus as secondary to their purpose.
  3. I know there are analog services that can be replaced or at least enhanced by this digital solution.
  4. The product is the big product and the little product. Over the past few years my daughter has created paper versions of the little product. Everyone that has used them (I have not) says they greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the visit and says they will not go again without one.

So, now I need to better frame this idea as an actual product and service. Once done, I know a director of communications of what would be a prime client. I can run that past her and see what she thinks.