Learn to Build Apps

- as a Designer

If you’re like me you‘ve thought about how awesome it would be to design and build your own app. The only problem is you’ve never built an app, or any application for that matter. 6 months ago I was in this exact position, and this is my journey to learning Swift and building my first app.

Get Started

Without a doubt, focus your time and energy on learning how to build apps in Swift. Swift is the future for apps in the Apple ecosystem and there is a rapidly growing number of tutorials and online resources to help you get started. I would recommend reading through the first few chapters on Apple’s Language Guide. This gave me a basic understanding of the syntax and structure that came in handy later on. You’ll want to pick up the latest version of Xcode so you can start playing around with some of these concepts. At first, I just started mimicking what I was reading in the Language Guide, creating variables, constants and performing calculations. This was fun but I was anxious to design and build something awesome.

Don’t worry about design

I know, this sounds terrible. Trust me it’s something I struggled with at the beginning. I had ideas, sketches and mockups of beautifully designed apps that just slowed me down because I was so fixated on the UI and interactions, when it didn’t really matter. The goal is to learn the concepts and basics of the programming language so you can create beautiful apps once you get some practice. If you obsess over the design details at the beginning you will waste time pulling you hair out because of things not scaling properly or segues not crossfading.

“Before I knew it, I had working code on my phone, it felt awesome.”

Small apps first

After searching around for some tutorials I stumbled across Design+Code. This was a great resource to bridge the gap between designing an app and building one. Although I was still extremely fresh and largely didn’t have a deep understanding of the code I was writing, what I was doing worked! And the design was pretty damn nice. Before I knew it, I had working code on my phone. It felt awesome. Set small attainable goals and achieve them, this will satisfy your hunger, feed your ego and push you to keep going. Even though you may not exactly understand everything it’s a great opportunity to look things up. Whenever you can, try to deviate from tutorials a little bit customizing them to make them your own. This will make them more fun and more rewarding. Instead of focusing on a great, complicated app in the beginning, try to focus on building very simple apps. Getting things working quickly will keep you interested and it’ll push you to keep going.

Getting serious

You can find some pretty detailed Swift tutorials on YouTube, which worked great for about 3–4 apps, but I was looking for a more structured approach. I decided to spend a few bucks and give Team Treehouse a shot. This was probably the best investment on my way to learning app development. They have an awesome Swift track that aims to teach you iOS development from the ground up. Having some base knowledge before-hand can be helpful because the course moves rather quickly and for me, the first few chapters served as validation to what I had already learned. This series can definitely take you quite a long way in building apps and the it’s stupid easy to follow.

“Small wins at the beginning are crucial and will push you to keep going.”

To summarize

If you are thinking of learning how to build apps I challenge you to start today. Don’t put it off any longer. The resources I used worked well for me, but regardless of the path you choose remember to start small and set attainable goals. The small wins at the beginning are crucial to your confidence and will push you to keep going. Don’t sweat the design details focus on the big concepts and the language. You‘ll learn the syntax as you keep practicing and soon realize it makes sense!


Are you thinking of learning how to build apps? I am starting a blog to help beginners overcome some of the same challenges I experienced when starting out. I will toss in some sweet design assets as well.

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