Wondering why you need a good developer to customize your free app?
This is a very important question that we will answer here.
First, let’s see what are the main features including the pros and cons of mobile app builders. This will help us understand the reasons behind taking professional help for app customization. Let’s start.
Features of Prominent mobile app builders
Let’s first review a few prominent app builders and understand their pros and cons. The following are a few examples of well-known app builders, which have emerged in recent years:
While each of them has its unique flavors, there are several commonalities, e.g.:
These app builders offer “Do It Yourself” (DIY) tools and users can create apps without coding skills.
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You can easily create mobile apps with a few standard features, moreover, you can quickly launch them. These standard features include push notifications, in-app purchases, social media integrations, etc.
Most of these companies offer a set of pre-built layouts or templates for the home screen, etc., and you can choose from them while building your app.
These app builders enable you to perform iOS and Android customization.
Most of these companies offer a free plan with limited features.
They have tiered pricing plans, therefore, you can add more standard features as you buy higher-priced plans.
These app builder companies offer customer support, and their higher-priced plans feature support by phone and chat.
They have reseller programs, i.e., you can build apps with your own logo and list them on the marketplaces of the app builder company. When other users buy this app, you make money.
Read more about these app builders in “Best mobile app builder: Swiftic vs Appy Pie vs AppMakr vs iBuildApp & more”.
These app builders have a few common limitations, e.g.:
You can’t customize your app to any great extent, and you need to work within the constraints set by the app builder.
If your business requires custom features, then these app builders won’t be enough for you.
Let’s now understand why you need good developers to customize apps created using app builders. The reasons are as follows:
1. Specialized features are very different from standard features
App builders enable you to build a few standard features, e.g., Appy Pie offers the capabilities to incorporate push notifications, social media integration, in-app purchases, a pop-up menu, etc. While different app builder companies offer these capabilities differently, the fact is that these standard features are easier to incorporate.
It’s quite different when you have to implement specialized features, e.g., aggregating user-generated content like TripAdvisor does. You need additional programming for such features, and app builders won’t do it. Read “The pros and cons of the app builder” for more insights.
2. The new desired features process sensitive data
When you build an app using an app builder, you use the cloud infrastructure of the company that provides the app builder. You don’t control and manage this cloud infrastructure, therefore, you need to depend on that company entirely.
This might be fine for standard features that don’t process sensitive information. However, when your new desired features need to process sensitive information of your users, you need to change the approach.
You would need to take control of the cloud infrastructure. The situation may demand that you use a private cloud for storing sensitive information and a public cloud for other information. We call this a “Hybrid cloud” implementation, as you can read in “Public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud: what’s the difference?”.
You certainly need IT, architects and developers, for this!
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3. The new features could introduce application security risks
Certain features could introduce application security risks in your mobile app, therefore, risk mitigation must be high in your priority. You can mitigate such application security risks, however, it requires some work!
The best ways to mitigate such risks are to follow the right coding guidelines and the appropriate software development project management practices. Guess what? You not only need developers, but you need a competent development team!
The “Open Web Application Security Project” (OWASP) top 10 list highlights the top application security risks, as you can read in “OWASP top 10 security risks – part IV”. These risks are as follows:
- Broken authentication;
- Sensitive data exposure;
- XML external entities (XXE);
- Broken access control;
- Security misconfigurations;
- Cross-site scripting (XSS);
- Insecure deserialization;
- Using components with known vulnerabilities;
- Insufficient logging and monitoring.
Could a new feature introduce any of these risks? You can only ascertain that and mitigate them if you onboard a competent software development team. We at DevTeam.Space can help you here, as I have explained in “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams”.
4. The need to deliver a great user experience along with new features
When you build an app using an app builder, you get a hybrid app. The app builder company allows you to create an app for both Android and iOS, and they might charge you higher for this. The app has one codebase and it works on both the popular mobile platforms.
React Native is from Facebook, and this framework was open-sourced in 2015. It offers several advantages, e.g.:
- React Native offers near-native performance.
- You can design the UI in line with the platform specifications.
- Much of the codebase is shared between Android and iOS, which improves your productivity.
- React Native expedites development.
Read more about the advantages of React Native in “3 big benefits of React Native development”. Having said that, you need competent developers to use React Native!
We, at DevTeam.Space, have considerable expertise with this popular cross-platform mobile development framework, and we can help. Read about the Dot VPN development project we have delivered, and you can judge our React Native capabilities!
5. The new features could require designing and developing APIs
“Application Programming Interfaces” (API) make development easier, therefore, you could use APIs to implement the new features. APIs offer many advantages, e.g.:
- They make the delivery of services and information more flexible since they access the app components.
- APIs make new data easily available to the applications that consume them.
- Integrating content from other apps becomes easier with APIs.
Read more about these advantages in “8 advantages of APIs for developers”.
Designing and developing APIs require a good deal of work, therefore, you certainly need competent developers. You could choose to implement RESTful APIs since “REST” (Representational State Transfer) is a popular architectural style to design and develop APIs.
Designing and developing RESTful APIs involves several aspects, e.g.:
- Identifying the right tools;
- Ensuring the security of the API;
- Managing the various environments for developing the API;
- Choosing an appropriate database solution for the API;
- Designing URL paths for the API;
- Formulating effective rules for requests and responses;
- Documenting the API.
We, at DevTeam.Space, have significant experience with RESTful APIs, and you can judge our capabilities by reading “How to build RESTful API for your mobile app?”.
6. The need for excellent documentation
A successful business not only builds and releases great products, but it also pays enough attention to the maintainability of the products. While you add new features, you ought to think about how you will maintain the app in the future.
This requires that you create comprehensive documentation for the app you have built and the features that you have added. Software documentation is hard work though, and you need programmers with good documentation skills.
We, at DevTeam.Space, use several best practices in documenting software development projects, therefore, we are well-positioned to help you with this. We create a document hierarchy, we use graphics and visual aids, and we build and sustain knowledge.
You can judge our documentation capabilities by reading “Software documentation: 6 best practices that work”.
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7. The need for review
A mobile app is a customer-facing tool and you can’t just add a new feature without taking care of the quality aspects. A thorough review of the work products is important, and you need to review the requirements, design, code, and test plan.
Structured reviews offer many advantages, e.g., code review has the following benefits:
- You catch bugs early in the SDLC, which saves time and effort.
- Code reviews improve your delivery consistency.
- You can create performant apps while mitigating application security risks with the help of code review.
- Since you detect errors earlier, you don’t need to do firefighting at the end of the project! This improves your schedule adherence.
You need experienced developers and IT architects for review. We, at DevTeam.Space, have considerable experience with code review, and you can judge our capabilities by reading “Build your own code review solution for your future projects”.
8. Managing testing and deployment
You can launch an enhanced version of the app with new features only after thorough testing, moreover, you need to manage the builds and releases on the Google play store and Apple store. All of these require a competent software development team with testing and DevOps capabilities.
Take the case of React Native. As I had explained, you will likely use this framework for adding new features to your app built with an app builder. You need a testing team that knows how to use tools like Appium to test React Native code.
Read “Flutter vs React Native: A developer’s perspective” for more insights.
Build and release automation requires DevOps capabilities, and you need a team that has this expertise.
There are 3rd party libraries to deploy apps for an iOS or Android device coded in React Native, as explained in “Shipping React Native apps with Fastlane”. We, at DevTeam.Space, have key expertise with testing and DevOps.
9. Putting it all together: You need a development team to customize your app!
As you can see, there are many aspects to consider when personalizing an app built with an app builder. You need to put it all together, e.g.:
You need to find the right “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform. We, at DevTeam.Space, have extensive experience with MBaaS platforms, as you can read in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.
You ought to formulate an effective approach for the project, and DevTeam.Space development teams know how to do so. Read “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to judge our capabilities in this regard.
Foster collaboration in the team to achieve high productivity. We at DevTeam.Space do so by forming “Scrum teams”, and you can ascertain our capabilities in “How to build a Scrum development team?”.
Plan upfront to make your app a success!
If you offer only a few standard features, then an app builder like Appy Pie could work with you. However, if you plan to enhance your app with specialized features, then you should engage a reputed software development company upfront.
Work with such a company to launch a great “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) first, subsequently, add features according to the market feedback. We, at DevTeam.Space, have the right capabilities to deliver great MVPs and subsequently enhance the app, as you can read in “5 tips to create a sleek MVP”.
You can easily partner with experienced software developers at DevTeam.Space by writing to us your app customization requirements via this form and one of our account managers will get back to you to discuss in detail how to customize your app efficiently through our competent app developers.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Customize an App
The most obvious and safe answer is to onboard an experienced developer to help you. There are online tools that let you customize any mobile app. You open an app from the app library or home screen and tap app changes using the customization app. You can either keep the original app or delete it. Free app makers are quite limited by their very nature. If you want to customize icons or your app to make it stand out, get a developer to do this for you.
Icon changer Programs such as Awesome Icons can help with customizing an app icon or designing a new shortcut icon using selected personalized icon packs. Also, you can create your own design for a new icon and get a developer to help you digitize it and attach it to your app. Read this article to customize your app icons using the built-in icon packs in the shortcuts app.
Free app creators offer good value for money. However, they are still very young and limited in what they can do. You will need a professional developer if you have anything but the most simple app that you wish to create.
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Alexey is the founder of DevTeam.Space. He is among the Top 26 mentors of FI’s ‘Global Startup Mentor Awards’ and is a Band Of Angels Technology Expert.Hire Expert Developers