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Pros & Cons of Different Ways to Build a Mobile App

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Building a mobile app used to be a simple decision, Android or iOS. Today, the capabilities of an app have grown substantially; but with that change comes a plethora of options when choosing how to build a mobile app


All that choice can make starting an app seem overwhelming. The best approach for you depends on your resources, what your app needs to accomplish, and available expertise. To help, we’re narrowing down five of the 5 most popular ways to build an app and their pros and cons, so you can decide what works best for you.


5. Generic Apps

Generic, or cookie-cutter, apps use an existing platform that is used across multiple apps. You pretty much change out the branding, and the functionality stays the same for all similar apps. 


Often small businesses use generic apps designed for their specific business type. For example, restaurants often use these for reservations. Cookie-cutter apps are best where you have little need for custom functionality and it’s important to get to market fast and cheap.


For anyone who has more specific needs, the cookie-cutter app approach is probably insufficient. Customization and features are limited.


Pros

  • Fast: The app is nearly ready to go out of the box, you just plug in your info and branding

  • Easy: Requires minimal technical knowledge

  • Cost: One of the most cost-effective approaches to app development, especially if you have limited expertise available.


Cons

  • Low Functionality: Capabilities are limited, often only serve a single function such as collecting form-fills.

  • Limited Flexibility: Very little customization is available, and most of what you can change is strictly aesthetic.


4. Rapid App Development

Rapid app development (RAD) uses intuitive platforms to create an app without the need for too much technical expertise. Of course, the more technical knowledge you have, the more you can accomplish with RAD. That said, professional app developers may find this approach limiting.


RAD is best served for internal use. It has decent capabilities and is fairly quick to make. It lacks, however, the friendly UX and performance you want for customer-facing mobile apps.


Pros

  • Less Technical: Doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge, although expertise will dictate how much your app can accomplish.

  • Infrastructure: RAD design offers a strong infrastructure for development.

  • Good for Internal: A great choice for internal use apps, it’s functional but not flashy.


Cons

  • Cost: Depending on what the app needs to accomplish and how much external help you require, RAD can become expensive. Speedy development comes with a price tag. 

  • Lower Performance: Performance doesn’t match what more in-depth development can accomplish.

  • UI/UX: Not the best user interface. This can make it too clunky for customer-facing apps.


3. Low-Level Coding

If you have or are willing to hire a developer, this approach will help you get a lot more out of your mobile app. For any complex functionality, such as a game or AR, this is a good approach to take. As well, you’ll want the flexibility of low-level coding to build apps for devices that are not mainstream.


It costs more to build-out your app with low level-coding, but the improved functionality and customization add worthwhile value. If you want a user-friendly app with specific and/or custom features, this is a great development approach.


Pros

  • Capabilities: Capabilities are limited only by time and the technical expertise of your developer. 

  • Flexibility: Low-level coding offers a high degree of customization.


Cons

  • Cost: Since you are building this app from the ground up, the cost of low-level app development is higher.

  • Technical: A professional app developer is essential for this approach.

  • Time-Consuming: It takes time to create a quality app, which can be limiting if you need to get to market fast.


2. Hybrid App Development

Hybrid app development is on its way to overtaking low-level coding in popularity. It’s a little more limited but has a big advantage in only needing to be built once.


Most mobile development options require building separate apps for iOS and Android. Hybrid apps can run on both, so you only have to build once. Usually, a decision needs to be made about which platform to launch on first - or taking more time and resources to get to market with dual app creation.


Hybrid development typically means building on Javascript, so performance takes a bit of a hit. But, you get out on both iOS and Android quickly, so your app doesn’t lose momentum.


Pros

  • Develop Once: You can put a hybrid app on multiple platforms, that saves a lot of time and money on development.

  • Control: This app dev approach gives you a lot of control and limits outsourcing.


Cons

  • Technical: This approach is still very technical, requiring development expertise.

  • Flexibility: Having to work within the constraints of different platforms limits your flexibility.


1. Advanced Native Development From Scratch

While low-level coding is developing from scratch, it’s often done by an individual rather than a team. Working with a company that offers from-scratch mobile app development is the best available option. They have more technology, resources and expertise to draw on, making almost anything possible.


This advanced approach maximizes what your app is capable of, delivering seamless user experience with endless features and functions available. The cost is higher than hiring an individual, but the final product is far superior. It’s the gold-standard of mobile app development.


Pros

  • Capabilities: Maximum potential for capabilities, more features and functions are available than any other approach.

  • Performance: Best performance of all 5 options.

  • UX: Maximize user experience, while getting valuable feedback and insights on users


Cons

  • Technical Expertise: Requires significant expertise, best to hire mobile app development experts.

  • Infrastructure Requirements: A lot of backend infrastructure is necessary, best results come from working with a company that specializes in mobile app development


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