Smartphone apps are big business. With over 2.7 billion of us across the globe owning a smartphone, naturally, that is to a lot of apps we are downloading and interacting with on a daily basis. These days we rely upon the apps on our smartphones to help us become productive, track our health, communicate, learn new skills and to entertain us.
The other alternative to build an app if you do not code is to outsource the smartphone app. This means paying for a professional company to do it – an expensive option.
Of course, not every app will become a major success. If you search for a single keyword in the Google Playstore or the Apple App Store, you will notice a plethora of similar apps all competing for that same userbase. Apps are having to stand out in terms of their offering, design, price, user-friendliness and even technicalities such as app permissions.
Traditionally, to build a smartphone app you need that big, bright idea and decent coding skills to make it a reality. These days it is, in fact, possible to create your own app without any coding knowledge!
Yes, thanks to the internet tools do exist to help you make this happen. While these tools are unlikely to help you build the next groundbreaking tech startup, they can be pretty helpful for bloggers, entrepreneurs or small business owners who need an app tailored to their needs.
Get a Plan in Mind
Before we get into exploring what tools there are out there to help you build an app, it is important to get to grips with your app idea. Firstly, you need to ask yourself why you are building this app and who exactly it is for. How will this app be worth the time and money you will be investing in it?
Secondly, have a rough plan of everything you want your smartphone app to do. A blogger will primarily want their app to display their latest posts and updates.
A small business owner will likely want their app to display crucial information (e.g. opening times, map, contact details). Spare also some thought into the design of your app – colour schemes, your logo, any images you will need to supply etc.
In this stage of planning, it is best to keep these plans as simple as possible. You can always add further detail when you know what tool you will be working with – each has its own extras and limitations.
Making the app unnecessarily complicated at this point is asking for frustration and disappointment. If for some reason these plans are very detailed/complicated you may either need to reassess the app or invest in learning coding yourself.
Cloud-based App Builders
There are a number of companies offering app building platforms. Individuals create their apps online- via drag and drop – using the company’s software. No coding knowledge is needed.
You actually get to see the app you are making in real-time, although it may take some time to get used to the interface. An advantage of using one of these platforms is that there is always customer support to help answer your questions.
Being able to see your app take shape in front of you is a highlight. As is being the one in control of everything. You are the one adding pages, assets and customizing your app without any coding knowledge. It is worth acknowledging that this route will take up your precious time. Although the process is far quicker than building your app from scratch.
However, the likelihood is that your smartphone app will need to fit some type of mould – e.g. small business, blog – rather than anything too unique. While this is a drawback for some, for those looking for somewhat simple and professional apps this could be the solution. As these services are often cloud based, this means that all you need is access to the internet to create and save them.
These app building platforms of course stretch across several price points – from relatively low cost options to being quite pricey indeed. The adage “you get what you pay for” holds true in this regard also. Example of cloud-based app builders include: Bubble, Pixate, App Makr, AppInstitute, App Machine, Appiepie and more. Often these companies charge a monthly fee so it is worth researching which service would best suit your individual needs.
App Development Companies
The other alternative to build an app if you do not code is to outsource the smartphone app. This means paying for a professional company to do it – an expensive option. Honestly, this alternative will more likely appeal to medium sized businesses as the cost outlay can be pretty huge.
However, by calling in the professionals, do expect an excellent quality product for the cost.
In addition, by paying for the development of an app in this way you won’t need to pay for it on a monthly rolling basis. Unlike those app building platforms, unless you pay for some level of support and maintenance for your app.
As this a unique process requiring individual research and a lot of money, this article is focussing on the former option. Cheap vs Mid Range App Builders or what you need to know.
What You Need To Know Before Using An App Builder
App builders on the whole are pretty straightforward to create with, once you get used to the layout and setup. Do expect do pay around £20 – £50 per month and or even upwards for an app, depending on the service you use. App Builders also let you preview your app as you are making it – making testing it simple.
If this whole process seems overwhelming, check out this guide for a step by step walkthrough on creating a smartphone app using an App Builder service.
It really is worth figuring out whether building the smartphone app is worth it. To distribute your app, you will need to pay registration fees with major app stores you intend to distribute on.
To get your app on the Google Play Store you will need to pay a one-off fee of around £20 to register as a seller on the platform. It is a bit more expensive to register on the Apple App Store – you will need to pay around £80 yearly for registration. Of course, these platforms don’t distribute your app for free and expect a cut of the profits.
If you are considering using an App Builder for the first time, consider trying out a service before you buy. A few of these platforms – such as AppMachine – let you “build” your app for free and begin charging upon publishing it. Even if you don’t select that exact App Builder or abandon the idea entirely, it can be a great way to test out your idea.
Once you create, publish and distribute your smartphone app, the last thing left to do is market it. After spending all that time and money on your app, you will want that return!
Hi there! My name is Kara and I write about games and technology for iTHINK Magazine. I am a Business graduate, a proud dog owner, and fervent tea drinker. In my free time, I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy novels, playing video games and writing fiction.