With 255 billion new app downloads and $167 billion spent in app stores in 2022, it’s no surprise that the mobile application industry is considered one of the most promising. However, businesses enter the sphere for additional reasons, too, including:
- Accessibility: Brands directly communicate with their customers via mobile apps, which is especially vital for retaining tech-savvy younger generations.
- Added value: Mobile apps are complementary platforms where companies can showcase their products, share recommendations, or engage the audience with loyalty programs.
- Automation: Apps allow businesses to automate repetitive tasks, making processes more efficient.
If the above reasons, among others, inspired you to build a mobile app, then your next question likely is, “Which app development method should I choose?” This article compares the top two most popular options – custom application development vs. white-labeled solutions.
Custom App Development vs. Ready-Made Solutions
As the name implies, custom mobile application development means building an app from scratch based on your unique business needs. Conversely, ready-made solutions come from app builders or ready-to-purchase adjustable platforms.
Often, ready-made solutions have limited functionality and fewer design options compared to custom applications. Therefore, the end-user product is usually mediocre and fails to stand out from competitors.
Nonetheless, there is a bright side to ready-made solutions. Besides being cheaper and quicker to implement, off-the-shelf solutions are:
- A good option if you want a basic app. If you'd like an app that does a single and simple task or facilitates a common process, you might find a solution exactly for that.
- A good choice for smaller businesses. Ready-made solutions come in handy when the budget is limited, yet the app is necessary. As the business grows, the company can always develop a new shiny custom app upon expansion when money is no longer an issue.
So, why do businesses spend more on custom mobile apps when it’s much cheaper to get a ready-made solution? It's the benefits that make a difference.
Advantages of Custom Mobile Application Development
Customization is among the main reasons why you should build a custom app. Custom mobile applications enable you to meet your business goals and needs on your terms and based on the technology stack of your choice.
When dealing with white-labeled solutions, you have to settle for the available set of features that may be unnecessary or insufficient for you. The advantage of customization is so significant that it drives four more benefits:
- Personalized UX: Off-the-shelf solutions typically offer a basic set of features and templates that provide a rather mediocre user experience. This can hardly help you win over your audience and provide maximum convenience when navigating your app.
- Brand identity: In the eyes of a customer, an artfully made mobile application with branded UI and UX always sets the business apart from its competitors. Considering how popular apps are today, it's a perfect chance to share your authenticity with a wider audience and raise brand awareness.
- Freedom of creativity: You can implement almost any idea and integrate any feature if you go off the beaten path. This also includes technology stack – programming languages and frameworks – which may not be an option in ready-made solutions.
A custom mobile app is easier to improve as you can add new features when needed. This approach allows you to start small and then iterate on the project.
With app builders, you are bound to a proprietary platform. Also, canned apps do not allow you to add non-standard features to the existing functionality.
Usually, even if you buy a premade app, you still won't fully own it. Premade apps can have several consequences, like:
- A lack of a solo image: The logo of the app builder platform may be displayed in your interface. For businesses that value autonomy, it can be unacceptable.
- Restrictions: Businesses that choose to go for ready-made solutions can often experience troubles with distribution restrictions, copyright claims, etc.
- An uncertain future: The provider may go out of business, have a data leak, get into a public scandal, and interfere in the app activity – in a word, provider lock-in is a primary concern.
When you are in charge and own the intellectual property, the risks of uncertainty and insecurity are significantly decreased. Therefore, your investments are much safer.
Integrations and compatibility
Going custom is a sure way to integrate seamlessly with your existing business ecosystem and connect your application with the needed devices, software, and operating systems. You can equip it with all the necessary functionality to communicate with your order processing, asset monitoring, or any other software.
Ready-made solutions have limited integration capabilities and can only connect with a few partner third-party services.
A mobile app isn’t always a means of dealing with consumers and enhancing the service. Very often, apps take the place of a reliable supporter that facilitates business operations, optimization, and automation.
Although it’s more expensive to build a custom app, it will better meet your business needs and establish a rapport with other software you may be using. While an out-of-the-box solution can still provide a sufficient number of features, it may also include unnecessary functionality that will only clutter your solution.
Security is where a custom app wins over an off-the-shelf one. First, custom mobile app development means your team pays due diligence to the chosen operating systems and API requirements. Second, you can integrate additional security measures like two-factor authentication and data encryption to safeguard your users' personal data.
Off-the-shelf apps are pre-coded, so you can never be sure if the code is vulnerability-free.
Additional revenue opportunities
When making a custom mobile app, it is in your power to choose a monetization strategy. You can sell your product, advertisement, subscriptions, or additional services. Everything is up to you, unlike with a ready-made solution, where you are bound to built-in features that may go against your monetization model.
A Step-by-Step Custom App Development Process
The process of custom software development includes quite a number of variables and requires you to put a lot of thought and effort into building a digital product. Below, you will find the traditional route toward a tailored mobile application:
Step 1: Analyze your app idea
You should start the development process by shaping your business vision. Do you need an app for a particular business case? What are your target audience and direct competitors? What set of features does your app include? The more defined your business idea is, the less time it will take to build and release your product.
During this step, you should also decide on the platform your application is premised on. Here, you have three options:
- Native development: Your custom software is designed to run on one platform – Android or iOS.
- Cross-platform apps: they cover both platforms with one codebase.
- Hybrid solutions: Those are web applications put in a native app shell.
This fundamental choice depends on the unique requirements of your project, including your budget, timeline, application lifetime, and business idea's maturity. If you struggle to strategize your concept, you can delegate business analysis to an app development partner.
Step 2: Find a trusted app development team
Unless you have a full-cycle development team on site, you will have to locate a reliable mobile app development company to take over your project. We recommend choosing an experienced partner with at least five years of hands-on experience and a cross-functional team to perform an end-to-end development process.
The go-to destinations for finding a tech partner include industry ratings like Clutch and Designrush. These platforms rank providers based on several quantitative and qualitative factors, including client reviews, company experience, portfolio, and more. They also feature a domain and service lines breakdown of each provider, which allows you to select a mobile development company.
Once you reach out to an app agency, they analyze your project requirements and set up an optimal app development team.
Step 3: Discovery and ideation
Brainstorming gets your collaboration with a development agency off to a good start. During the discovery phase, your development team (and business analysts, in particular) will perform thorough research on your project idea, study the market and your competitors, define user personas, and identify your product’s must-have features.
The insights from the business analysis stage turn into a project roadmap, functional requirements document, and product architecture. At this stage, you also get a clickable prototype of your application from the design team so you can validate the future look of your digital product.
Step 4: Design and development
Following the documentation and approved prototype, the UX/UI team creates a fully-fledged design for your custom mobile app. The final layouts of your app’s design are handed over to the development team for implementation.
Your development team then transforms your application requirements into features, sets up the frontend and backend of your solution, and integrates your solution with the necessary services or business applications.
To reduce your development costs, we recommend building a minimum viable product (MVP) first. This is an early version of your application that includes must-have features only. However, your MVP should offer enough functionality for the end user to explore your product. When your MVP gets enough user feedback, you can elevate your application and add other features.
Step 5: Test your app
Typically, development and testing are managed in the same sprint to ensure the high quality of each deliverable and accelerated release. Your quality assurance team and test engineers validate the code quality, check the performance of your application, and test it on real mobile devices to make sure it works as intended across multiple screens.
Step 6: Submit to the app stores
When your application is ready for launch, it’s time to release it into the wild. Keep in mind that both Android and iOS applications must meet the guidelines of each platform. Otherwise, your submission will be rejected.
When your application is published, ensure your store listing has all the information to help your application rank higher.
Step 7: Maintenance, improvements and upgrades
Mobile app development isn’t done after the release. Your next task is to collect user feedback, prioritize new features, and go through the same steps we mentioned above. Routine maintenance, such as security patches, version updates, and bug fixes, should also be performed regularly.
Custom App Development Process at Orangesoft
Orangesoft is a mature app development company with 12 years in the market. Since early 2011, we have been delivering custom, high-quality mobile and web applications to startups, SMEs, and enterprises across a variety of business verticals. From healthcare to finance to e-commerce, our developers take time to dive deep into the unique challenges of each company and develop an impactful solution with added business value.
Building on our wide experience, Orangesoft offers a wide range of game-changing benefits to our clients:
- The full-cycle native mobile app development process
- Cross-functional, autonomous teams with every skill needed for successful project delivery (iOS and Android developers, business analysts, DevOps, designers, QA engineers, and others)
- Adaptable hiring options (dedicated teams, time & material, fixed price, mixed collaboration models)
- Transparent, client-first development workflow (working build every two weeks, daily reports, etc.)
Following calibrated and time-tested software development lifecycle (SDLC), we drive your project from ideation to delivery on time, within budget, and according to your expectations. Typically, an SDLC at Orangesoft includes the following milestones:
- Discovery – our team analyzes your business and project needs, elicits functional requirements, maps out the development process, and creates wireframes (design blueprints).
- UX/UI design – the design team proceeds with creating a clickable prototype based on the approved wireframes.
- Development – iOS and/or Android developers transform the design into a fully functional application and set up integrations and other processes needed to power your application.
- Testing – our QA engineers and testers thoroughly check every component of your application to make sure it’s bug-free, operates well across devices, and meets pre-defined requirements.
- Release – our team transfers the product to the client and, if needed, helps submit the application to the app stores.
- Post-release maintenance – our support team provides L1, L2, and L3 support tiers to cover your needs after project release.
All in all, building a custom app from scratch according to your needs results in higher quality in the short and long term. For example, choosing custom iOS app development means that your application will be 100% aligned with the App Store and its regulations, hence offering seamless bug-free performance, as well as boasting high-quality branded design. This increases the chances of a positive experience, which can make 73% of customers choose your brand.
Although building a custom mobile application might seem like a tough and time-consuming process, having a great development partner like Orangesoft can help you make the next big app. The Orangesoft team has all the required skills and 12 years of hands-on experience in building custom apps. Contact us today, and we’ll find the solution together.