App Builders vs Custom Development: What’s Right for your Business
App Builders are now gaining tremendous popularity. But is it really the right choice for your business? Or are you better off developing custom software? We find out in this detailed analysis.
No matter what industry your business runs in, having a digital presence has become a must for every business. Selecting the right foundation for establishing your business is vital for long term success in today’s competitive environment.
Having a dedicated software application for your business (a website or a mobile application) is the first step towards building a future of growth.
Deciding the approach: Web or Mobile?
Determining the software application that best suits your needs is the first thing you need to be doing. Do you start with developing a dedicated website for your business, adopt a mobile first strategy and start with developing a mobile app or do you need a combination of both these approaches?
If the aim is to focus on branding efforts and raise awareness about the organization, starting with a website is the best option. On the other hand, if you wish to have more functional usage which actively engages with the customers on a regular basis, a mobile app should be your go-to choice.
Here is a detailed guide to help you make the decision backed by evaluating the pros and cons of each of them and let you choose what works best for you.
Read the entire piece from top to bottom or jump to the section specific to you. Either way, this guide is bound to let you make an informed choice regarding what’s right for your business.
Feel free to skip to the section that best meets your needs.
No-code, Low-code and Custom: Exploring the options available
What do the terms no-code, low-code and custom development actually mean?
No code development, like the name suggests, does not need any coding skills for development of the software application. The visual development platforms allow even the people who don’t hail from a technical background to build the software applications from scratch. They make use of simple drag and drop of plugins to create functional applications – all without having to write a single line of code. While it’s super convenient and has shorter development time, the customization this method offers is very limited.
Low-code platforms support the development of significantly sophisticated applications as compared to no-code builders. While the use of graphical interfaces result in a lot less hand coding than the custom software applications. In addition to drag and drop functionalities, low code also offers minimal customization by coding of additional functionalities required.
Custom software development involves high degree of hand coding by the software developers and results in highly customized and sophisticated software applications from the scratch.
Now that we have covered the basics of what the options available to you are, let’s dig a bit deeper into how to go about choosing the right pick that best meets your business needs.
If you move forward with what the majority of the custom software development companies around the world suggest and go forward with developing a website first, you have to choose between no code website builders, low code website development platforms and custom website development.
Let’s take a look at what choices you have.
- No code website developers- A lot of platforms are now available for the non technical individuals which they can use to build their own websites. Some examples of no-code platforms are Wix, Squarespace and Instapage. These builders come packed with templates that you can choose from, drag and drop the plugins, upload your own images or choose from the stock images and you are good to go.
- Low code website builders- Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are more powerful tools for building websites. Although they are more complicated to use than no code platforms, they provide far more customization. The users can add plugins to the website and in absence of one that meets their specific requirements, they can always code their own plugins. The amount of coding thus required is minimal.
- Custom web development- Hiring team of dedicated developers to build your custom website from scratch is truly rewarding. Not only does it offer detailed customization based on your individual needs, the development process is also highly structured, which leads to development of a stellar website. For instance, with the popularity of many languages, there are multiple tech stack options available to you today. You can hire PHP developers, hire Ruby developers, or hire Python developers for your web development project. While the requirement for resources in significantly higher, you need specialized AI consultants to incorporate innovative solutions like artificial intelligence into your website when you go the custom way.
Choosing what best suits your needs
Now that you know what the options available with you are, how do you go about deciding on one?
While the question doesn’t necessarily have a singular answer, here is how you can decide what is the best for your business needs.
- Functionality- Define what end goal you wish to accomplish with your website. If it is just a tool for building an online presence and a part of your branding and marketing strategy a code website would meet your requirements. For higher functionality requirements, a low code solution would best suit your needs. Not only does it come with a low learning curve, is also allows for limited customization. If you website needs to be highly responsive, have custom features and have a robust functionality, custom software development is the way to go.
- Development Time- No-code and low code solutions have a faster time to market than the custom coded websites. Here’s the reason for it. Custom software development typically comprises of a number of stages, starting with wireframing and website prototyping, designing the user interface, and software The efforts that go in developing a custom solution are higher and hence the greater time requirements. If the goal is to be out there in the shortest time possible, no code variants are lightning fast options but for thoughtfully curated website development, the time required would be greater
- Customization- The name speaks for itself, custom development offers greater range of features implementation. No-code and low code website development offers you with a range of themes and plugins to choose from and implement on your website. While these may work out well for you, if you need an out of the box custom solution, hiring a web development company would be your best best to have customizations according to your custom requirements.
- Money- You get what you pay for holds true for website development as well. No code and low code website development are the budget friendly options while custom software development may set you back by a significant amount of money. The monetary resources that you put into developing your website are an investment which are bound to generate long term returns for your business venture.
- Maintenance- Custom development comes with a robust backend support from the development team. The support from non coded website developers is pretty limited and generic while in case of custom development, not only is your website thoroughly vetted for glitches in the testing phase, any issues that arrive after the website goes live are also covered under website maintenance.
Mobile app development
With the digital consumption gradually leaning towards mobile devices, a mobile app is a great tool for making your business reach out and connect with your customers. If you choose a mobile-first strategy for your business, you need to started with app development strategy. As with website development, you have numerous options available at your disposal. But first, check out our detailed guide on how to create an app.
1. App Builders- App builders are the cheaper and time saving alternatives for developing a mobile app. These require little to no code which is an advantage for you if you happen to be from a non-technical background.
A ton of ready to use app makers are now available in the market like Appy Pie, Kissflow, Apps Machine. A simple google search would land you among numerous options to choose from. Some app builders like Buildfire also provide limited custom coding of plugins to meet your specific needs. App builders have a shorter development cycle and subsequently a faster time to market.
2. Custom app development- The more complex the app, the greater is the need to have a team of developers working specifically on custom developing your app. The development time required is more and so are the resources required for the development but the results you achieve by having your mobile app developed by a team of talented professionals are unparalleled and cannot be achieved by simply using app builders.
Here is a quick rundown of question you need to ask yourself before deciding on whether you wish to go the app builder route or you want to get the app custom developed
#1 The kind of app you need- The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to develop a native app (that runs on native platforms – iOS/android/windows) or a hybrid app (cross platform). While with a custom software development company, it is easy to go either way depending upon your preferences and business requirements, the choice becomes limited when it comes to app builders.
#2 How responsive does it need to be- The performance of the mobile app depends on the coding prowess of the developers as well as the technology stack used. In custom coding, the solutions architects pick the right technology stack that is best suited for your product type, ensuring maximum performance output and staying current with technology trends. The apps thus developed are highly responsive with high functionality. App builders on the other hand function on a one size fits all approach which may not be the best to meet your business needs.
#3 What design elements would be required- App makers offer a variety of templates, navigation styles, and UI customization for developing the mobile app. While it is easy to drag and drop design elements for the app, the user experience that custom coding provides has the decided upper hand. The app builders offer limited customization and fall short in case of certain components that need to be hand coded.
Custom mobile app development also has a fresh UI/UX because it is specifically developed for your mobile app. A lot of thought goes into app design of user interface in custom coding and how each element works with one another is carefully considered. App builders lack this uniqueness because being limited to use of plugins and at are a risk of appearing too generic instead.
#4 What resources are available with you- App builders are the budget friendly option when it comes to developing a mobile app. The choices range from free to yearly or monthly subscriptions. Some app builders base the pricing on your requirements like what features do you want or how much storage do you need and their pricing varies accordingly.
There also may be hidden charges included like some builders require you to have a developer account in the app stores. Throw in the developer support that certain platforms like Buildfire offer and using an app builder may also cost you a significant amount. It is thus imperative for you to do enough research before finalizing.
Custom development of mobile apps by an app development company is more resource intensive option. It requires significantly more time to custom develop a mobile app as well. The development process starts with prototyping, which is followed by designing the UI/UX of the app and then the actual coding process starts. So if you have the resources available at your disposal, Custom app development is a good business investment. Here’s our detailed guide on how much does it cost to build an app.
#5 Support and maintenance- Backend infrastructure and database integration is a must while developing a mobile app. While app builders also provide basic support to varying degrees, custom app development provides a more comprehensive and robust support even after the app has deployed on the app store.
At the end of the day, what matters is making a choice that works out the best for your business. Depending on your specific requirements and the resources available with you at your disposal, you can choose the best path and top app development companies that align with your business goals.
And since you are already here, if you decide to go the custom development way, why not ask us for a quote?
With over 8 years of business experience, we are an award winning custom software development company that specializes in providing custom solutions for entrepreneurs and businesses across different industries and offering insights through our domain experts.