Custom App Development or Template Applications? Here’s How You Know

How do you decide if you should develop an app from scratch, or start with a template app? It comes down to four key decision factors.

Custom app development vs. a template app is a discussion that inevitably takes place in any development process. Both come with great advantages, so it can be difficult to choose the right solution for your business. So what does the discussion entail, and when might custom software applications work best for you? Here’s what you should know.

The Two Options at a Glance

On its face, the difference between custom app development and app templates is relatively obvious. One stands for developing a software solution from scratch, while the other generally builds a few custom features on a previously existing platform.

Both come with a number of benefits that are worth considering. Custom software development, for example, means you can design a solution that truly meets all of your individual needs. Every business is different, and a template may not be individualized enough to help your business succeed.

Template or “white-label” apps, on the other hand, counter with lower development costs and (usually) a shorter development timeframe. So which works best for you? That depends on your business needs.

Understanding Your Business Needs

Before any software development begins, you should be able to answer the question of exactly what problem the new product will be able to solve and what new opportunities it might bring. A new iPhone app, for example, may increase your exposure to your target audience, while helping you position your brand and possibly bring in revenue.

Knowing the need that software should solve can be a significant help in answering the custom development vs. template question. If you have a simple goal, such as raising awareness, template may do – but only as long as competitors aren’t using the same template. If, however, you’re looking for the software or app to make a significant improvement in your business processes, custom will probably be the better choice.

Considering Short and Long-Term Costs

Of course, we know that budget will always play a role in software application development. Sometimes, you simply don’t have the money available to develop an app that is built completely from scratch. If you have the budget to at least be on the fence, however, you should consider the short as well as the long-term costs of both alternatives.

A template-based app, for example, may be updated more often and quickly than its custom alternative, and you may have less control over when these updates occur. At the same time, a truly custom app will brand your business more strongly and effectively, which will ultimately result in a higher impact for your marketing and sales efforts.

Thinking long-term can be difficult for anyone who works on a limited budget. But doing so can prove to be prudent, even if the initial costs may not suggest it.

When Custom Works Best

So when should you go for custom app development? Here are the variables that should have you leaning that way:

  • If you can afford it. As long as the budget is available, custom app development is usually the best choice.
  • If your need is unique. If helping your business requires more than a few add-ons on a global template, chances are you would benefit more from custom development.
  • If you have the time. Custom software application development does generally take longer than a template-based approach, so if your timeline is short, it may not be right for you.
  • If your need is lasting. Finally, if you don’t see the need for the app to go away anytime soon, custom development helps you create a solution that lasts and succeeds for a longer period of time.

In short, custom development has major advantages for businesses looking to build a solution that fits their unique needs. The costs may be higher, but if you aim to build software that accomplishes exactly what you’re looking for, that cost turns into an investment with positive return. To learn more about developing custom software applications, and how your business can get started in the development process, contact us.

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