Mobile apps have become an essential piece of technology businesses use to engage with their customers. However, small business have been slow in adopting this technology, with less than 25 of them stating they have a mobile app, according to a survey conducted by Clutch. And the biggest reason for the low adoption number is the cost, which Clutch also revealed can be anywhere between $37,913 and $171,450, but could go as high as $500,000 or more.
To overcome the financial burden of creating an app, more small business are using app builders like BiznessApps and others. And with the DIY solution the average cost comes to only $61.50/month, which is much, much lower than hiring a developer.
So what is an app builder, and can anyone use it as most of the companies that offer these services claim? The answer of course depends on the company, so just as anything else you purchase, it is buyer beware. There are some very cheap services, but they have limitations, and you will have to deal with inefficient user interfaces (UIs), vendor branding and ads that are very intrusive.
If you are just starting, it is best to have an intuitive UI without any ads. If you choose the right company, you will be able to create an app that will address the vast majority or all of the needs of a small business.
How Easy is it to Create an App With an App Builder?
GoodBarber is one of the highest rated companies in the market, which addresses small businesses. The platform it has created is as easy as:
Designing your app by customizing the navigation mode, header, body, splashscreen and icon with simple clicks.
Adding your content by using the built-in CMS or connecting existing content sources.
Testing your app on your device to check it is working, and if it is to your liking complete the submission and send it to the app store of your choice.
For most of the quality companies, it is as easy as that.
Who Needs to Build a Mobile App?
Actually, everyone can use a mobile app, but small businesses with customer facing industries, such as restaurants, professional installers, realtors, gyms, bars, car dealerships, religious services and many others can benefit. With the right mobile app, these and other industries can engage with their customers to improve services, build loyalty programs, promote new offerings, compete in new markets and more.
Before You Start
Find out what type of app your business needs. You can go to any of the app stores and find thousands of examples. If you know of a business in your area that is in the same industry as you are and they have a mobile app, go through it and find out the pros and cons. When you are ready to start, make a list of the features you want and don’t want in your app.
What is a Mobile App Maker?
If you are not using a developer to make your app, you can do so by using a DIY mobile app maker. The platform you choose should provide you with all of the tools you will need to create and publish an app on your own without any technical skill. This of course depends on the service provider, so thoroughly research the company before you give them your money. In the vast majority of cases, the companies have a free trial period, so have a go at it and see if they deliver on the tools that are essential for your case.
Some of the things you should look out for include detailed step-by-step instructions with video if possible, easy to use platform, multiple templates to address different use cases, drag-and-drop functionality, customization options and reliable 24/7 support via phone, chat or email.
Choose the OS
Most of the DIY platforms provide iOS and Android operating system solutions. If you want Windows, BlackBerry or an HTML5 app, make sure they have those options. If you are going to target a specific OS or device, find a company that specializes in it because you will be able to take advantage of device and OS specific functionalities.
Apps can be used in many different industries, so there are many features you can choose from. Whether you are going to conduct ecommerce on your app or you just want to provide information, it runs the gamut.
For the customer end of the solution, you can choose: a shopping cart, mobile payments, reservation systems, delivery service, interactive menus, self-service appointments, real-time availability, automatic scheduling and more.
For your end, it should let you use social media, loyalty programs, location based services, one-click contact and other integrations to make customer engagement as easy as possible. Don’t forget to look for analytics, because it will let you see how your app is performing and the adjustments you need to make to improve it.
The cost will vary greatly depending on the type of app you create and for what device, where you want to sell it, app store placement, hosting and more. You can pay as little as one dollar per month with some promotions to a couple of hundred dollars. That is why it is so important to know exactly what kind of app your business needs before you begin. It will let you choose the company that provides the options you need without paying for things you might never use.
Developer or DIY App Builder
If you are considering using a developer to create your own app, the price puts it out of the reach of the vast majority of small businesses. As mentioned above, you can spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if you find the right DIY company, you just might end up creating the same features yourself for much less.
Mobile App Creator Photo via Shutterstock