Interior design and decoration enthusiasts are increasingly using mobile apps to design their dream homes virtually. Apps like “Design This Home” are popular, and they have a growing market. Entrepreneurs are trying to tap this burgeoning market, and if you are such an entrepreneur, then you need to read this guide on how to build a home design app like Design This Home.
An introduction to the “Design This Home” app
Design This Home is an “Augmented Reality” (AR)- based mobile game app, and App Minis, the game studio has built this. This game app falls in the simulation category, and has the following features:
- Users can design and build virtual homes using this app, and the app also enables them to decorate it.
- They can paint the wall, arrange furniture, renovate the floor, etc. in this fun game.
- App users can choose from a variety of styles like modern, traditional, country, etc.
- The app features high-quality retina art and animation.
- Users can share their designs with their friends over Facebook or email.
- The app offers in-app purchases.
The market for similar apps
Design This Home had over a million downloads. Apps like this are mobile AR apps, and experts estimate that the installed base of mobile AR could reach 3.5 billion by 2022. Read more about this in “7 statistics every app developer should know about augmented reality”.
This is not surprising, considering AR has a rapidly growing market. The global market for AR will reach $198 billion, as this Statista report estimates.
How to create a home design app like Design The Home?
A software development project to build a home design app like Design The Home involves the following steps:
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1. Agree on the project scope
Work with your business stakeholders and define the project scope as follows:
- Plan on offering an iOS and an Android app.
- Offer features like AR simulation, sharing on Facebook, sharing using Gmail, in-app purchases, online payments, and push notifications.
- Build the app for launching it in one geography.
2. Select an appropriate “Software Development Life Cycle” (SDLC) model
I recommend that you launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) with the above-mentioned features, and launch it in the market. You can then enhance the app based on the response from the market.
This enhancement will likely take place in iterations. Such projects require the “Agile” SDLC model, and you can read “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?” to understand why.
3. Formulate a development approach
A right development approach can help you execute this project effectively, therefore, consider the following as part of this approach:
- Utilize a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform, so that you can focus on the development, instead of having to manage the IT infrastructure.
- Make use of “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) and “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) for implementing the key features like AR simulation, sharing on Facebook, etc.
- Use “Integrated Development Environments” (IDEs) and frameworks to ease development and testing.
- Design and develop the app keeping in mind that you might launch it in other geographies too, in the future. This requires you to follow “app internationalization” guidelines, e.g., keeping the code separate from the content. You can learn more about it in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
4. Build a “Scrum team”
Use the “Scrum” technique to manage this agile project, since it‘s a tried-and-tested technique. The project manager (PM) performs the role of a “scrum master”, and forms small, cross-functional “scrum teams” where developers and testers work together. The team works on “sprints”, i.e., iterations according to the Scrum terminology.
This scrum team requires the following technical roles:
- Business analysts;
- UI designers;
- Android developers, with Kotlin skills;
- iOS developers, with experience in Swift;
If you need guidance on the scrum technique, our guide “How to build a scrum development team?” can help.
5. Sign-up for an MBaaS platform
As an entrepreneur, your priority is to launch the app quickly to the market, and not IT infrastructure management. I recommend that you use an MBaaS platform since it offers several advantages, e.g.:
- You don‘t need to hire a cloud platform architect, moreover, you don‘t need a mobile backend developer. There is no need to spend your valuable resources on managing the mobile backend.
- An MBaaS provider manages cloud infrastructure and persistent storage.
- While mobile app development can be complex due to the multitude of mobile platforms and devices, MBaaS platforms deal with this complexity.
- You can integrate 3rd party APIs easily, moreover, it‘s easier to implement features like security, user management, and push notifications.
- Your team will find it easier to scale the app if you use an MBaaS platform.
Read “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?” to learn more about these advantages. You can use AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS offering from AWS, and take advantage of the excellent cloud capabilities of AWS.
6. Get an API/SDK solution for AR simulation
The most important feature in this app is the AR simulation, and I recommend that you use Amazon Sumerian for this. Sumerian enables you to create AR/VR apps quickly without AR/VR programming or 3D graphics expertise. You can consult the following resources to use Sumerian:
- The overall Amazon Sumerian documentation;
- Its scripting API reference;
- Amazon Sumerian user guide;
- This repository of tutorials, references, videos, and manuals to learn Sumerian.
Note that AWS Amplify supports Sumerian, and you can read more about that here.
7. Find an API/SDK solution for enabling users to share their designs on Facebook
Your app users would like to share their designs with their friends on Facebook. You need to use the Facebook SDKs to enable this, and the following can help:
- Find the Facebook SDK for Android here.
- “Getting started Android SDK” is a useful guide for this SDK.
- You can find the Android SDK references here.
- You can locate the Facebook iOS SDK here.
- Read “Getting started with the Facebook SDK for iOS”.
- The SDK reference for the Facebook iOS SDK is available here.
8. Get a solution for Gmail integration
Users of the app would like to share their designs via email with their friends. I recommend that you use the Gmail API for this. Note the following quick facts with respect to this solution:
- You can use the Gmail REST API for your app.
- It‘s an easy-to-use API, and you can check out the API client libraries for more details.
- Check out this link for extensive learning resources for the Gmail API.
- This guide to Gmail API can help your team.
- The API reference for the Gmail API is available here.
9. Sign-up for an API/SDK solution to implement the in-app purchase feature
An eCommerce API/SDK solution will make it easier to implement the in-app purchase feature in this app, therefore, I recommend that you sign-up with Shopify. You can use its solution as follows:
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- Get access to the Shopify eCommerce API in the Shopify developer portal.
- Shopify offers excellent guides for its API, and you can access it here.
- Your development team can also get help from the Shopify API tutorials, and you can locate them here.
10. Find an API/SDK solution for the online payment feature
The app needs the online payment feature, therefore, I recommend that you use the payment gateway solution from Braintree. The following steps are involved here:
- Sign-up for the “Braintree Direct” solution.
- Braintree provides extensive documentation for Braintree Direct, and you can find it here.
- Programmers can consult this guide while working with Braintree Direct.
- Braintree also has tutorials for their API, and the team can find it here.
11. Get an API solution to implement push notifications in the app
You would want to engage your app users, and push notifications help here. Implementing the push notifications feature is easier with a bulk SMS solution, therefore, I recommend that you use Twilio. You need to do the following:
- Sign-up for the “Programmable SMS” solution from Twilio.
- Check out the documentation for this API here.
- Programmers can also get additional guidance in “Messaging services and Copilot”.
Twilio publishes their pricing plans here.
12. Obtain the required development tools
You need to install the following “Integrated Development Environments” (IDEs) for this project:
Your testers also need detailed test reports and analytics, and commonly used open-source testing frameworks aren‘t quite enough for this. “SeeTest Reporter” from Experitest can help here.
13. The mobile app UI design
Your UI design team needs to design a great UI that‘s easy-to-use, yet appealing enough. I recommend the following resources for this task:
- Apple mandates “Human Interface Guidelines” for the UI design for iOS apps, and your team should follow this.
- For Android app UI design, the UI design team needs to consult the “Material design” guidelines.
- You need to choose the right mobile navigation menu pattern for the UI. AR simulation is the main feature in this app, therefore, you need to ensure that the users focus on this. Using the “Hamburger menu” is the right option, and you can read “Mobile navigation menu examples” to learn more about this.
- The mobile app UI needs an appropriate color scheme, which suits the characteristics of the app. Our guide “8 trends in mobile app color scheme” can help you with this.
- Design the icons for the mobile app using the appropriate best practices. For e.g., the design should be simple and restrained, and you should design icons that are easy to recognize and remember. You can find more guidance in “How to design the perfect icon for your mobile app?”.
14. Developing the Android app
I recommend that you code the Android app using the modern open-source language Kotlin. It’s highly popular for Android development since developers can code fast and performant apps using it.
The language has a concise syntax, which improves the productivity of programmers. Kotlin has powerful features that help developers to avoid common errors like null pointer exception. I have explained the advantages of using Kotlin in “Kotlin vs Java: which is the best choice?”.
Developing the Android app involves the following steps:
- Use Android Studio to code the app. This popular IDE supports Kotlin, and there is guidance available in “Get started with Kotlin on Android”.
- Integrate the APIs/SDKs for Sumerian, Facebook, Gmail, Shopify, Braintree, and Twilio in your code.
- Use Espresso, and the mobile device lab on the cloud from Experitest, for testing the app.
- You can now publish the app to Google Play, for which you can read this guide.
15. Code, test, and publish the iOS app
Coming to the iOS app development, my recommendation is that you use Swift. Apple champions this language for developing apps for its platforms like iOS, macOS, tvOS, etc. Swift has powerful features that help programmers become more productive, moreover, it enables coding fast and performant apps.
The language enables bug-free coding. It‘s easy to read, making it easier to maintain the app. Read “How to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift?” to learn more about these advantages.
Take the following steps for the iOS app development:
- Use Xcode to code the app.
- The next step is to integrate the SDKs/APIs for Sumerian, Facebook, Gmail, Shopify, Braintree, and Twilio in the code.
- You can use XCTest to test the app, along with the mobile device lab on the cloud from Experitest.
- To publish the app to the Apple App store, use these instructions.
16. Manage the project using an effective PM tool
A scrum team works as follows:
- A “Product owner” provides the requirements in a document called the “Product Backlog”.
- The team estimates the requirements, and plans sprints in “sprint planning meetings”.
- “Daily stand-up meetings” help the scrum master to gather the project status, and resolve issues.
- The team demonstrates the app in a “sprint review meeting”, where the project stakeholders approve the sprint, provided that the app works.
- A “Sprint retrospective meeting” after the completion of a sprint helps the team to learn the lessons from the work they just completed.
You need an effective PM tool to manage these activities, and I recommend Asana for this.
Planning to build a home design app like Design This Home?
You can expedite a software development project like this by using an MBaaS platform, APIs/SDKs, IDEs, and frameworks. However, such projects tend to be complex, and I recommend that you engage a reputed development partner. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you to find such a trusted and competent partner.
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