4 Lessons Learned From Building A Shopify App

By Cesar Beltran
4 LESSONS LEARNED FROM BUILDING A SHOPIFY APP created by Shopify expert developers

The Shortcodes App for Shopify is now LIVE.  You can check out the launch details here, see the demo store here, or try it for free here.

On Monday US EST (Tuesday for my fellow Australians), we’ll be launching our first ever, world-first, all-new Shopify App (with launch bonuses, too).  It’s called Shortcodes, and it’s going to help store owners build wonderful things on their stores to increase sales – and save hundreds of dollars in development fees. If you’d like to when it launches and get access to the launch bonuses, you can sign up here.

These are 4 crucial lessons we learned from building our first app.

1.  Mockups Are Important, Even If It Doesn’t End Up Being Exactly The Way You Drafted It.

Before we started, I created a mockup design using Keynotopia.  This mockup evolved over time into something slightly different, but it still conveyed what I wanted to do.  This helped keep costs down – I didn’t need to hire a front-end designer because I already conveyed what I wanted to do – and made the development process much faster.

Here’s the first draft I submitted to the developer:

First Mockup

Lesson:  Spend time developing mockups (rough designs) before talking to developers.  It’s worth it.  (Also – don’t wed yourself to your original designs, because they’ll probably change).

2.  Work With Someone Who Demonstrates The Ability To Actually Build The App.

When I submitted requests for quotes to build the App, I had several responses.  Some ranged from a 5-bullet-point hourly quote (immediate ‘no-thanks’) to in-depth customizations.  In the end, one developer went above and beyond, considering all the details, proposing how they’d complete the work, and even doing some of the work as pre-work.

Lesson:  Work with a developer who shows a vested interest and work ethic in your project, not the cheapest.

3.  Just Because One Developer Says It Can’t Be Done, Doesn’t Mean It Can’t.

Some developers told me this App couldn’t be built.  We found a way (and it’s going to be released next week).  If someone says it can’t be done, talk to someone else.  Chances are, there’s someone out there who can build it for you.

4) There’s A Lot Involved Outside The App Too.

In addition to building the app itself, you’ll need to spend just as much – if not more – time on everything else leading up to it.  For example:

  • Pricing
  • Logos/banners (4 logos of different sizes)
  • Promotional video
  • Sales page copy
  • Demo store
  • Testing sites,
  • Website
  • Hosting.

Lesson:  Devote a whole bunch of time (at least as much time as development) for the marketing & setup side of the App.



The Shortcodes App for Shopify is now LIVE.  You can check out the launch details here, see the demo store here, or try it for free


Thank you for keeping up to date with our Shopify Insider Blog @ Blackbelt Commerce. Please make sure to check out our services. We also have some top blog recommendations for you to check out; How To Back Up Your Shopify Store, best designs practices for an e-commerce store, which social media network is good for your brand?,  and  Wholesale Shopify Setup Service. Keep a lookout for new blog posts.

Do you have any questions? Please let us know in the comments below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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Comments 6

  1. In regards to point 3 (“Just because one developer says it can’t be done, doesn’t mean it can’t”)… may I ask you, what was the challenge you ran into that someone said was not doable? Just because one developer says it can be done, doesn’t mean it could also… A lot can be achieved with technology, but sometimes it’s just a matter of effort and being okay with certain risks that will exist as a result of a build or a workaround implementation. So I’m very curious what area of Shopify app development were you given a no-go for… technically- and business-wise?

    1. Hi Katya,
      When we were building the Shortcodes App for Shopify, our initial developer said that it couldn’t be done using Liquid. We had to use a lot of complex JavaScript which caused issues with themes. In the end we re-did it, using Liquid instead. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Tristan,

    Great article. Who was the final developer that you selected to build your app? What was your short list of development companies?

    1. Hi Ryan, thanks, I’m glad you liked it. It was done privately via someone I found through some circles I’m in. Can’t share the details here though, sorry 🙂

  3. I need a Shopify App developed that can be listed into the Shopify app store that generates discount codes and have those discount codes apply to the shipping cost of an item.

    Currently Shopify’s built in discount code maker only allows discount codes in $ amounts or % amounts off of the item’s price, or FREE shipping.

    I am looking to develop an app that will take a specific $ amount and/or % off of the SHIPPING COST.

    For example, say an item has a price of $10 and a shipping cost of $5. I want to go into the app and set up a code named EZSHIP or whatever I want to call it. That discount code will be for $3 off of the shipping.

    So when the customer enters EZSHIP in the coupon code box of Shopify’s checkout process their cart is updated to be Item cost $10 Shipping now $2.

    Please make sure you read through this description and can accomplish this prior to applying for this job. Thank you and look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi Fahran,

      Thanks for your comment. Wish we could help, but we don’t do custom app development here at Shopify Ninjas. We focus mostly on front-end customisation work. For app development, I can recommend the guys over at Bold Apps > https://boldapps.net/

      Best of luck with the project!

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