How to develop an "app"

I have been developing simple websites for clients on Windows using MS Expression Web. Now a client wants me to develop an "app" for handheld devices so that people can:
1. Submit questions
2. browse/search archives of previously asked questions

I haven't a clue where to begin - I don't even have a handheld device.

Are there instructions on how to do this? Can it be created in a Windows 7 environment? Can the testing of the final product be done without an iOS  or android device?

Thank you
Lev SeltzerAsked:
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Mikal613Commented:
Instead of developing an "App" for a device in which you will have to create an app for every platform, windows phone, palm, blackberry, android and iOs you can develop a mobile website

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/11/03/how-to-build-a-mobile-website/
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Development Platform
ios requires a mac https://developer.apple.com/devcenter/ios/index.action
android can be done on windows. http://developer.android.com/index.html

This page may be of interest: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/create-iphone-android-app-coding-skills/

There are emulators available but the final product should be tested on the actual device.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
1. Submit questions
2. browse/search archives of previously asked questions

Do you currently have a web page that does this?
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alexey_gusevCommented:
from you description, the "app" doesn't require any device-specific features, so it seems appropriate to continue using mobile web.

you do need to style it a bit differently (see e.g. http://www.bernskiold.com/2011/02/02/tips-and-tricks-for-ios-web-development/  and many many others), you can even get very close to the native UX.
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Lev SeltzerAuthor Commented:
Thank you for these initial tips.
Current website is at www.asktherabbi.org
I will wait a bit to see if there are other suggestions before awarding points.

Thank you.

Lev
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alexey_gusevCommented:
this should be the easy task: you detect at least the OS from USER_AGENT and then can customise the page.

native app (and we're talking cross-platform here) is huge overkill for such task.
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IanThCommented:
you can create a shortcut to the www by oening the website on the device and saving it

to my mind html 5 is going to be the thing to learn for smart phones
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Lev SeltzerAuthor Commented:
Great answers so far. I am discussing this with the client, and trying to sway him to develop a mobile version of the website, rather than an App.
I hope to award points shortly.
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