3 Alternative Routes to Building a Mobile App

Mobile apps can improve a company’s bottom line, customer engagement, and more.

Yet, app development is an expensive process. Many small businesses may think that app development is too much for their available manpower and budget.

A recent survey found that while nearly half of small businesses spend less than $25,000 on an app, 37% spend $25,001 to $100,000 and 15% spend more than $100,000. These price tags can seem unpalatable for cash-strapped small businesses.

While traditional app development firms are often the go-to choice for app development, other options exist. These options are sometimes more affordable for small businesses, especially if your desired product doesn’t require complex features or extensive customization.

This article explores three alternate options: DIY app builders, niche app development firms, and freelancers.

1. DIY app builders are cheapest but offer the least customization

DIY app builders are software solutions that allow people to make apps with little to no knowledge of coding.

The software usually offers preset templates, and users can drag-and-drop elements to change the look of their app.

Often, the software has a monthly fee while your app is being designed and when it’s published.

While the low price of DIY app builders can seem attractive, you should also be wary—this option offers the least amount of customization and quality.

Furthermore, you risk your app being rejected by an app store. The guidelines of Apple’s App Store say that they do not accept apps “created from a commercialized template or app generation service.” This could include apps produced by DIY app builders, especially ones that create very similar looking apps.

If a DIY app builder is spitting out apps that are too alike, it can negatively affect your app’s performance in an app store, or its ability to even be featured.

2. Niche app development firms build for specific industries

We just mentioned that app development firms are the most expensive option – but there are exceptions.

Niche app development firms specialize in building one type of app. By offering only specific types of app development, these firms can be cheaper and faster than traditional firms.

If you work in an industry where apps are common—such as the food industry or retail—then there might be a niche app development firm that can work for cheaper prices for your project.

3. Freelancers offer expertise and flexibility

A third viable option for cheaper app development is hiring a freelancer.

Freelancers can offer expertise, without the cost of hiring a full team to work on your app. They are typically cheaper and faster at creating mobile apps.

You can find freelancers from a variety of sources. Sites like Clutch and Upwork offer profiles of freelancers to hire.

However, do remember that hiring a freelancer is typically hiring just one person who knows how to code.

There is a myriad of other roles to fill in app development projects, especially larger ones. These roles often include a project manager, designer, and marketer.

A freelancer may not be able to offer you insight into the vision and design of your app.

Will you be able to fill these roles and responsibilities in-house? If not, you might need multiple freelancers, and you must ensure that they can communicate well with each other.

Mobile App

Which route is the best option for your small business?

DIY app builders work best for small businesses seeking to build a very simple app for the lowest cost.

Niche app development agencies work best for small businesses that require more guidance and are seeking a higher quality app, but who may not have the budget for a full app development agency.

Freelancers work best for small businesses that are willing to work hard to ensure proper communication, and who need less guidance during an app development project.

All three options can be the ideal fit for a particular small business. Be sure you research your options thoroughly and consider your small business’s exact needs before moving forward.

These views are made solely by the author.

Riley Panko

Riley Panko is a Senior Content Developer and Marketer at Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based research, ratings and reviews platform for B2B services. She conducts relevant research that aims to help consumers enhance their business and select the services and software best-suited to their needs.

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