Mobile app for business or for any other reason has come to the top in the list of things to do. Not everyone has the budget, expertise, or the kind of time that is needed to build a mobile app from scratch. Building a mobile app from scratch needs a deep pocket and would take a long time depending on the kind of features and functionality you want it to have. However, there is an option for those with tighter purse-strings and are looking for faster alternatives – app makers.
It is because of these app makers that many small business owners too have the option to get their own apps made and reach out to customers far and wide. Through an app the small businesses can no only expand their customer base, but also can improve the level of their customer service, increase internal efficiency, and increase brand awareness. App makers are gaining popularity and are quite like a DIY app builder that would help you to develop a mobile app of your own without any programming, and you would not even have to write a single little line of code! Yes! It’s true! Let it sink in before you move on to read further. There are a number of options for it, from fully customizable platforms to app makers that generate apps from a single spreadsheet.
These app makers or app creation platforms are however not just for use by novices or non-programmers, even the most experienced programmers can browse through these and explore the unique and beautiful features that they offer and use them to create some of the most amazing customized apps. For a number of these programmes it is not just about the convenience and speed, they are actually packing in a lot of integrations, infrastructure, marketing support, dashboards, and cloud-based data storage.
Benefit of using app makers
When you want to get yourself a mobile app, especially when it is for a business, and you are thinking about getting a custom app made for you, it is extremely important that you find a highly specialised mobile app developer who has platform specific programming knowledge. Finding someone like that is going to be an uphill task and even when you do find one, it is going to pretty expensive. Going for an app maker would definitely be a lot cheaper for you, especially when it comes to a spreadsheet based data entry app where the focus is entirely on making data input and reporting easy and convenient for the end users when they are out in the field.
The second aspect is that of the time taken. The app makers would get you an app that is up and running quite quickly as the time taken for development, complex software architecture, back-end integration, or testing and submission cycles are taken away. Most of these app makers actually do not need any coding, but it is important to bear in mind that the more complex your app is, the more assistance you would need from a good developer and a designer to help you out with a variety of issues pertaining to graphics, integration, testing and any database-related support. There are some platforms who might have more services than others, it is a good idea to know what kind of app would you need and what is it that you would need from your app, before you jump into the market trying to pick one app maker over the other.
Listed hereunder is a list of few of the criteria or things that you need to think about, as you go out looking for an app maker who would be right for you.
1. The Type Of App You Want
The modern day app maker has the capability to make almost any kind of app, whether it is a e-commerce app, a gaming app, or any other kind. Then there is the matter of choosing the right platform and deciding whether you would want a hybrid, native, or a web app. At this point it is important to set your priorities right and decide whether you would like to go for a flawless user experience that a native app offers, or the cross-platform flexibility offered by a hybrid app or a web app.
- Native Apps – these are what come to your mind, the moment you think about a mobile app. These apps are hard coded to work on just but one platform – android, iOS, or Windows. This app once installed, runs on the device, does not need a browser or any configuration while offering direct access to push notifications and all of the hardware in the device including the camera, GPS etc.
2. Are You Aiming For Cross Platform Availability?
If you aren’t yet, then you must! Are you planning to make your app for any one of the three platforms – Android, iOS, or Windows? It might seem like something you would want to do to save your time and money, but in the longer run, might cause you a lot more trouble than you would think. It is a good idea to go for an app maker who would help you develop apps for all three platforms. It is quite possible that you might build an app just for the iOS platform, but down the line come to understand that a sizeable portion of your target audience is primarily an Android user. Now if you decide to port an app that is already made, it is not just going to cost you money, but probably will take a considerable amount of time as well. It might be a good idea to go for a cross-platform app right from the beginning.
3. The Budget You Are Aiming For
One of the most important aspects when you are planning to choose an app maker is the budget you have decided to attribute to the development of the app. The pricing for the app maker varies wildly from free to yearly subscription and according to the kind of app and the features you might need. There is always a possibility of hidden costs when it comes to some developers like publishing on iOS from your own developer account will cost you $99 a year for maintenance and other such things that they might tell you only when you have already entered the development phase.
4. What The Custom-Build Services Can Offer You?
The custom-build service providers specialise in developing unique apps fro each of their customer. The advantage of going for a custom-build app is that you can get exactly what you want for your app, with a step by step guidance for each stage of the development. However, the biggest disadvantage for you would be the kind of time and money investment it requires. As the app would be created from scratch without the use of any templates, it would definitely take longer than the no-code or hybrid way and would definitely cost you a lot more!
5. The Kind Of Graphic Design Support You Might Need
If you are not a designer and want to build an app that looks like a professionally designed product, there is no need to rush to learn design software. App makers offer a variety of templates, navigation styles, and UI customization for the non-designers. There are many that forgo templates completely and offer the option of customizable looks. In spite of these options there might be some features that need to be created or hand-coded by a designer. Would you be okay with an app with a design that comes in a standard format and box or are you looking for the whole package with branding including the logo, a specialised colour palette, icons, buttons, and other elements? In the second scenario, you’d have to uploads all these different graphics on to the app maker. On the other hand there are many app makers where all you have to do is submit the URL of your website and they’ll make an app for you.
6. Would You Need Ongoing App Maintenance?
This is one factor that is easy to miss and might bother you later. The app development process does not end at the delivery and launch of your app. It goes well after it. Like any other product – your app too would need to be maintained well. App marketplaces or stores frequently keep editing their guidelines for review and acceptance. The operating systems keep evolving from time to time and even your business may change and evolve with time. It is factors like these that affect your app as well and your app would have to evolve as the app stores, your own business and the operating systems evolve. It is therefore important to take into account the long-term maintenance of your apps while choosing the app maker for your app.
7. The Kind Of Plugins, Add-Ons, And Integrations You Would Need
Ask yourself some critical questions here, are you looking for social API integrations, would you need a payment gateway integration through a plugin, would you want to send out push notifications, or any other add-ons. It is on this basis that you would begin looking for an app maker and find one that can take care of these specific needs that your app might have.
8. In What Way Would You Import And Manage Your Content?
There are more than one ways to do this. Some app makers offer a CMS to manage the content, allow you to import the content from RSS or Atom feed. Are you going to feed the content you have on your word press or your website on to your app? There are some app makers though that offer the easiest option that is to scan the current website you have for your content and generate an app automatically. Then there are some that can completely create an app for you by importing the entire content from a spreadsheet on the cloud.
9. Would Individual Developers Make Sense For You?
Some of the SMBs are known to hire individual developers on contractual or full-time basis to develop their apps. This offers them the ability to tweak your app as per your wishes and requirements and roll out the updates accordingly. However, unless you go and hire an entire team of app developers the amount of time involved in developing your app would be a lot more than probably you can afford.
10. Consider And Explore The Templates & Functionality
This is crucial in determining what the product is finally going to be like. There are a number of templates available with the app makers and they have a variety of built-in functions. Take your time going through all the templates one by one and study them in detail. You must try to pick the template that not only looks good but has the ability to fulfil as many basic and advanced functions as possible, without spending time embedding these essential features.
11. The Requirement And Existence Of A Back-End Infrastructure
One of the most complicated parts of developing an app is the back-end integration, whether it is a cloud based web service or a conventional on-site server and database setup. If you do not have an established backend integration in place then this is a factor that should feature in your checklist. Some of the highly technical app makers offer an integrated backend while some of the most high end platforms might require the help of a developer for some of the more complex features.
12. The Time That You Are Willing To Invest
Time is of prime importance in any production, as it should be in case of app development as well. While picking an app maker, discuss the kind of timeline you are willing to invest in, and make sure that it is a tight timeline. The time spent on the app should be kept as low as possible, while keeping most of your time for business and its marketing or promotion.
13. The Kind Of Support You Would Need For Analytics And Marketing & Promotion.
Third party analytics like Google may need to be integrated and issues like advertising support and monetization may need to be considered. If yours is an e-commerce app, you might need features like coupons, rewards, customer loyalty programs or location based promotions powered by GPS. There are options like running ads on Facebook or other social media as well. Some of the app makers provide built-in marketing support and help the businesses building their apps market them in the appropriate way. Consider if you need these services before choosing the app maker.