Building Shopify Apps: App Developers Share Their Experiences

building shopify apps

Building Shopify Apps can be a challenging experience, especially if it’s your first time. Knowing how to get started, which APIs to leverage, and where to seek help can be overwhelming. Thankfully, with such a large community of app developers building Shopify Apps, there are plenty of people who have been in your shoes—and plenty of them are willing to share their experiences.

In this article, we round up some of the many blog posts (and one podcast!) by developers describing their experiences. Whether it’s a developer who built their app in little more than a week, or the one who started their journey as a merchant and product developer, the experiences below have a little bit of everything. Let’s dive in.

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1. Axel Hardy: How I Built My First Shopify App in Less Than 3 Weeks

building shopify apps: axel

Start simple. Don’t create an app that will require you to make calls to tons of Shopify APIs. Doing that is the best way to give up, because you will be overwhelmed with documentation to learn, code to implement, etc.

Axel Hardy

In just three weeks, Axel Hardy built his Shopify App PoppyScroll, got it approved, and had it featured in the handpicked ‘Useful apps for France’ section of the Shopify App Store. In his article based on the experience, he shares how he came up with his app idea, where to start when building a Shopify App, and requirements to consider to get published in the Shopify App Store. 

His advice is predominantly for those first starting out their Shopify app development journey: start with a small, manageable project, and build your app with the intention of learning, not creating a bestseller—you can always ramp up to more complex projects once you have a solid understanding of how the platform works.

2. Eric Davis: How to Build a Shopify App in One Week

building shopify apps: eric

The big question, and one you should really consider before anything else, is what's the purpose of this app? Why should you build it? How is it going to help the merchant or your client?

Eric Davis

This is one of our most popular articles on the Web Design and Development Blog, and for good reason—in it, Eric Davis provides a step-by-step walkthrough of how he planned, developed, and got his app launched in one week. 

Key among his findings is setting aside enough time to pre-plan not just the development process, but the ethos behind your app idea. Without planning, it’s easy to get lost in the many distractions that come up in the development process. By creating a focused roadmap, Eric was able to keep his guiding light—the needs of his users—at the forefront, and build something that really responded to those merchant needs.

You might also like: 8 Growth Metrics Every App Developer Should Track.

3. Kelly Vaughn, Ali Spittel, and Emma Wedekind: React, Vue, && Angular, OH MY!

building shopify apps: ladybug

Where the frameworks come in and become really helpful is if you’re building something large and at the enterprise level with a lot of contributors and that needs a structure that many people can understand. That really helps your application become more developer friendly, especially as it grows.

Ali Spittel

Though not about building Shopify Apps specifically, this episode of the Ladybug Podcast by Kelly Vaughn, Ali Spittel, and Emma Wedekind dives deep into the JavaScript frameworks that are most commonly used in front end development. Looking at the pros and cons of each, the trio discusses React, Vue, and Angular, and how you can learn to get started with them.

For more discussion on the tech industry, from how to learn code, to different career paths in the industry, to discussions about GraphQL and more, check out the Ladybug Podcast.

4. Todd Trimakas: How I Taught Myself How to Code and Built my Own Business

building shopify apps: todd

In the end what I realized is that our pricing model can change, though at the time I felt like it was going to be set in stone—I would create a pricing model and that was that; the market would support my model or the apps would die on the vine. This isn’t the case at all.

Todd Trimakas

In this writeup on Starter Story, Todd Trimakas shares how he started a successful app business without knowing how to code. Todd goes into detail about the process of getting his app Amazon Import: ByteStand built, but also shares the ongoing work of marketing his app and retaining customers.

One of the key pieces of advice that Todd recommends is being sure to listen to your users’ needs. Whether that’s adjusting your pricing if necessary or adding features, collecting feedback can help you roadmap and plan for the future of your app.

5. Julien Garrigues: A Developer’s Journey Through the Shopify App Ecosystem

building shopify apps: julien

The QA team was extremely helpful and available. They helped us identify and fix issues, sent screen captures and logs, and encouraged us every step of the way.

Julien Garrigues

In this post, Julien Garrigues shares a technical overview of how the team at Black Pug Studio got their app PugSync up and running, including what stack they chose to work with, and how they implemented the billing process for their app using the Billing APIs. Julien also shares the process of submitting their app and having it reviewed.

The review process with Shopify’s QA team is something important for everyone building Shopify Apps to consider, as there are certain requirements your app must meet to get listed in the app store. PugSync had a few modifications to make before making it not only into the app store, but into the New and Noteworthy section on the app store homepage.

You might also like: User Testing Your Shopify App: Public App Use Cases You Should Test.

6. Gaganpreet Arora: 10 Things We Learned Building Our First Shopify App

building shopify apps: gaganpreet

Our advice to developers starting with a similar project: use Polaris as the building blocks for your app. Not only did it save us a lot of time not having to write basic components, but our app also integrates right into the Shopify design.

Gaganpreet Arora

Gaganpreet Arora and his team learned a lot creating their first Shopify App. From the merchant’s admin, to building the backend of their app and injected scripts, Gaganpreet shares 10 major lessons from their development experience.

In particular, Gaganpreet and team relied on Shopify Polaris to create a merchant admin that’s consistent with Shopify. Polaris contains many components you’ll likely need when building your app. In particular, Gaganpreet and his team found the resource list helpful for displaying collections of similar objects (like products or customers). 

7. Ahmad Iqbal: Fall In Love With The Problem, Not The Solution

building shopify apps: ahmad

In order to grow your app installs, focus on your merchant support. Offer the best customer support you possibly can, and keep providing this level of support. It’s worked for us in the past, and it continues to work for us.

Ahmad Iqbal

Ahmad Iqbal decided to start building Shopify Apps when he realized, as a merchant, that he was losing potential customers when they abandoned the cart. In his article, Ahmad describes how his app ideas come out of a specific need, and how his team uses data to continuously identify new areas of opportunity for their apps Scout and Callback Request.

Because he was a merchant first, Ahmad was able to troubleshoot his app on his own store, and test its long-term utility before releasing it publicly. While that won’t be the case for everyone, Ahmad combines his experience both as a merchant and a developer to describe the importance of product-market fit and iterating on your product to fulfill the needs of your users.

You might also like: GraphQL vs REST: How One Shopify Partner Increased Performance and Reliability.

Learning from peers

Shopify App Developers consistently build solid products. By learning from other developers who have found success in the Shopify ecosystem, you can glean some tricks of the trade to build a great app, find the users who need it, and grow your own app development business.

Did we miss your favorite article about app development experiences? Share in the comments below!

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