Our company has created Jump Links, the one and only Table of Contents App for Shopify blogs. We have no coding background or experience in building apps, so if we can do it, you can do it too.
We took copious notes throughout the app construction process and this article is written for inexperienced entrepreneurs that want to build a Shopify App, but don’t know how. We’ll link out our developers directly and give you step by step instructions for what to do. Bookmark or print this out and use it as a checklist.
After you finish your app be sure to come back to our our post about setting up Analytics Tracking for your Shopify App in Google Ads & Google Analytics.
You have to decide what you want. There are a ton of ways to build and app and this post is not about all the ways. It's about our experience building a Public App. It will apply the same with other kinds of apps, but the goal is to show you how to effectively get a high quality Public App built and approved on the Shopify App Store.
You need to figure out the purpose of your app. There are several ways to build it:
Click here to open this article by Shopify in a new tab and come back to it.
To build and sell or run an app you have to buy hosting. Shopify will not host your app. Here are the requirements for successfully building and getting an app approved on Shopify: Open this in a new tab and come back to it.
We have Namecheap manage all our domains, so it was easy to host there and that's where we started. We don’t recommend it though. It's very expensive quickly.
AWS is better. Less changes required than a dedicated server. If dedicated servers get flooded with traffic they can go down and take a couple days to get going again. Especially if your developer is in a different timezone. It's way easier to scale as the app grows. Lastly, there is a free tier, so you won’t even end up paying for it until your app has a bunch of users.
Here is the person we used to set up AWS.
If you don’t know what it is, Google it and read for 2 hours, or just take our word for it. It’s cheaper than cloud and you can host 3 apps in one hosting.
In our case we needed to make sure that we bought at least 2GB ram. If the ram was less than 2GB it would not be able to run the Laravel app and the app wouldn’t work. Your dev will tell you what you need. Don't worry.
You need a domain. Buy one. You can select a cheap domain also. Use Namecheap to host all your domains. It's really easy to navigate.
Don’t know what that is? Answer: http vs https.
It's a security setting for your URL. You pay an extra few dollars for it with the click of a button. But this in Namecheap.
SSL certificate is a must to review the app from Shopify. You may need to add it, activate it, or you get a certificate from support. No matter what your site needs to run through https otherwise the API won't work and will not be approved by the Shopify.
We found our developer, Apurba, on Fiverr and he has been a dream. There is a lot of great talent on Fiverr. You just need to spend time researching and testing them before hiring.
Probably the most important part of creating anything with a developer is your ability to articulate exactly what you want. If there is any room for interpretation then there is room for unmet expectations. They may not think the same way as you or assume the same things are obvious. Be clearer than you think necessary.
Spend way more time that you anticipate drafting the most detailed explanation of what you’re trying to accomplish. This includes competitor examples, visual elements that you like, thorough IFTT architecture, goals, prices, everything you can think of needs to be written in this brief because the most successful jobs have the best explanations.
Pro Tip: Make final payment contingent on app approval.
Click here to connect with Apurba.
Create a Shopify Partners account by going to shopify.com/partners and select “Join now”
The app goes for review from this account.
Give Your Developer Shopify Partner Access:
Have you been to AWS before? It's intimidating. There are thousands of offerings. If you’re overwhelmed, as we were, just pay the expert that we recommended $50 to set all this up for you. Create a group chat with your App developer and the AWS expert on Skype to get exactly what you need set up together.
What you need to know: There are two levels of access here. Ownership (Root) and team members (IAM). You should be the only person with ownership (Root) access at the end of the setup process. Don’t forget that.
Amazon’s full and overwhelming explanation can be found here.
Again just have your dev set all this up and save yourself hours of reading and mistakes. Once done, simply change the password to keep your account secure.
We're writing this knowing you’re probably not going to do it, but here we go.
Once your app is done you need to test it to death. Spend two extra days trying to break it. This includes testing on mobile. The app needs to run perfectly when submitted.
This includes successful payment processing. Test transactions to make sure everything goes through ok. The Shopify approval team is going to test it and reject your app if it doesn't work. This is a very simple thing to test and ensure effectiveness.
Before you submit your app for review, you need to test it on a development store to check for any bugs or errors. Test on mobile too.
First - You’ll definitely want to spend a lot of time on your installation instructions. It needs to be immediately obvious how to use the app and uninstall it. If it isn’t, users will either uninstall or ask a bunch of unnecessary questions about how to use the app. We’re speaking from first hand experience here.
Second - Make sure your app can handle increases in user traffic. First hand experience here as well. Our first decline happened when we submitted for review. We had used too much of our limit in testing and there was none left for the Shopify App team to test with. The namecheap server was maxed and could not continue. We then switched to AWS to solve the problem. And bada bing! We got approved.
Third - Make sure your app works with Shopify approved themes. This is a big deal. Most brands use a Shopify theme, so you’ll want to function on all those at a minimum. We don’t use a Shopify theme fyi, we use one found on Creative Market. You can find it here.
Fourth - Uninstall and Reinstall the app in your development store several times to make sure everything is functioning the way it should.
For more detail on things to double check before submitting watch this video the Shopify Team put together.
All apps are reviewed and if a bug occurs that prevents the testing of your app, it will fail the review process. This process takes a week. So its only after a week that you'll find out the problem. Then fix the issues, resubmit, and wait another week. Big delay.
We've heard that you can only submit an app 3 times before it is declined too.
Again test the app to death before submitting. It may feel redundant and annoying, but it will save you net time.
Once your app is approved you will want to track activity, create remarketing audiences, fire conversions and more. Click here to read our step by step guide to setting up conversion tracking for Shopify App in Google Ads & Analytics.