BuildFire Receives Top Awards in G2’s Summer 2022 Reports

G2’s summer 2022 quarterly report is finally here! 

Similar to previous reports, BuildFire has earned 11 G2 achievements, badges, and awards for the summer of 2022.

Most notably, BuildFire was named a “Leader” for the sixth consecutive quarter in the Drag and Drop App Builder Software Grid report. We also received a “Leader” badge in the Small Business Drag and Drop App Builder Software category. Both of these awards are the highest level of recognition in the classes. 

In addition to our new leader badges, BuildFire was named a “Momentum Leader” in three categories and a “High Performer” in six additional app development reports.

Here’s a full summary of BuildFire’s honors in the report:

Grid Reports

  • Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Leader
  • Small Business Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Leader
  • Mid Market Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Small Business Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Application Development Platforms — High Performer

Momentum Grid Reports

  • Trending Mobile Development Platforms Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Application Development Platforms — Momentum Leader

Regional Grid Reports

  • Asia Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Asia Pacific Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer

For more information, check out BuildFire’s G2 profile.

Best App Building Software of 2022

Building mobile apps no longer requires coding skills and technical knowledge. With the help of app makers and app creation software, anyone can create their own mobile app without writing a single line of code. 

But not every app builder on the market is created equally. 

To help you find the best app development platform for your specific use case, we’ve reviewed and tested the best app makers and narrowed down the top ten options.

Top 10 Best App Building Software

Before you start building mobile apps, check out these reviews to see which app builder best fits your needs, app idea, and business model.

1. BuildFire

BuildFire is the most powerful app builder for iOS apps and Android apps on the market today. 

Trusted to create more than 10,000 mobile apps, it’s the easiest way for anyone, regardless of technical ability, to create an app from scratch and get it in the hands of real users. 

As a web-based solution, there are no software installation requirements or steep learning curves to get started. You can sign up for a free trial today and start building your app immediately. 

To get started, choose from a professionally-designed template in your app category. Then it’s just a matter of customizing the content to fit your vision.

Adding features and functions is simple. Just browse from the hundreds of pre-built functions on the BuildFire marketplace, and add them to your app with a single click.

What makes BuildFire stand out compared to other app builders is its limitless customization and scalability. You’ll never outgrow BuildFire, and you can always add custom features.

If you have a function in mind that you don’t see on the feature marketplace, just connect with a BuildFire rep, and the pro services team will build it for you.

BuildFire is the best way to build mobile apps quickly and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. When you’re done building the app, you can get it live on the app stores with a single click. The BuildFire team understands the publishing requirements for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and they’ll assist you with the publishing process.

BuildFire’s app development platform starts at just $159 per month, and you can try it for free with a 14-day trial. 

2. Inspire U Mobile Apps

Inspire U is a no-code app builder that advertises the ability to build your own app in four hours.

It’s a simple and intuitive platform designed for creating custom mobile apps without any technical knowledge.

The company was founded by a marketing consultant that quickly realized the opportunity and demand in the app development space. After working with so many clients that needed an app, Inspire U Mobile Apps was born.

This customer-oriented brand is built on the foundation of hard work, quality, innovation, and trust.

They also run app development workshops to help teach people how to use the software. 

To learn more about Inspire U Mobile Apps, check out the full story here

3. Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator is a no-code app maker designed for business process solutions. 

Unlike some of the other tools on our list, you do need some technical knowledge to use Zoho Creator for app development. 

The platform has been used to create more than seven million business process apps. It’s commonly used for business processes like:

  • Sales management
  • Project management
  • Customer portals
  • Data management
  • Enterprise resource planning

For the most part, Zoho Creator isn’t really made for customer-facing apps. It does have a drag-and-drop interface but still requires some technical experience to get the most out of this tool.

If you have an in-house IT team and want to provide them with ways to improve internal workflows, Zoho Creator is a top option to consider. 

4. MobiLoud

MobiLoud is a basic solution for anyone that wants to quickly turn a website into a mobile app.

If you’re not worried about any customization and just want your site transformed into a web app or native mobile app, MobiLoud gets the job done.

While this is a quick solution for web apps, it’s not really a viable option for a business app.

A website in the form of a mobile app is going to be pretty restrictive. MobiLoud doesn’t quite have the same customization options as other app development solutions on the market.

It’s also worth noting that some app stores require differences between your website and app before they publish your app. So this method could cause your app to get rejected.

That said, if you’re in a pinch and need a super basic app as quickly as possible, MobiLoud can be a good temporary solution. 

5. Unity

Unity is a niche-specific app development solution.

If you’re interested in creating a mobile gaming app, this app development platform should definitely be on your radar.

The software comes with custom tools for iOS and Android—making sure you have the power to create whatever you need for the game to work well on native platforms.

Generally speaking, games are a bit more complex compared to other types of apps. So some technical skills and general tech knowledge will definitely be helpful if you’re using this platform.

They have a wide range of tools and resources, including:

  • 2D game tools
  • Universal render pipeline (URP)
  • A game library
  • Addressable asset scripting
  • Visual scripting
  • Augmented reality foundations
  • Analytics

If you’re ready to take your game idea and bring it to life, Unity is a solid option to consider. 

6. Swing2App

Swing2App is a simple app development platform based in Korea. 

If you’re looking for a basic and low-cost solution to create an app, this is a viable option to consider.

It’s worth noting that the platform doesn’t quite accommodate custom capabilities. Swing2App is more of a cookie-cutter solution, which really only supports basic mobile apps. 

Cookie-cutters are fine for some people, but they’re not always ideal for business use or monetizing apps. 

Lots of customers rely on this solution for converting a website to a mobile app. 

7. Skuid

Skuid entered the app development space in 2013. 

For nearly a decade, the tool has been used to develop apps for business productivity and internal solutions.

Similar to some of the other app makers on our list, Skuid isn’t really designed for customer-facing mobile apps. 

One unique standout of this mobile app builder software is its recent partnership with Salesforce. It was recognized for its ability to create apps that drive customer success using this well-known sales tool.

Skuid can be used to create apps for guiding sales, partner portals, people operations, and other internal business processes. 

They also pledge to give 1% of their equity, employee time, and product licenses back to the community.

8. Linx

Linx is a unique app development solution compared to other options we’ve reviewed so far.

Based in South Africa, this low-code development platform is designed for creating and hosting backend applications. 

Like other low-code solutions, Linx does require some technical knowledge. You can host on-premise or cloud solutions that contain built-in monitoring, management, and metrics.

Some examples of what you can build with Linx include:

  • Integrated systems (like mining and supplier integrations)
  • Backend web applications
  • Automated backend processors
  • Endpoints for Webhooks
  • APIs and microservices

It’s worth noting that this low-code IDE is probably the most complex solution on our list. While you technically don’t need to write code, some basic coding knowledge and technical skills are definitely helpful. 

Linx is built for developers. 

9. Alpha Software

Alpha Software provides mobile app development tools for both low-code and no-code apps.

It offers two different Alpha app development solutions—Alpha TransForm and AlphaAnywhere. 

You can use this platform to create cross-platform apps using a low code system. If you want to create a no-code app, then you can use it for things like automating workflows and digitizing paper forms. 

The platform offers offline capabilities, simple licensing, and the ability to integrate with any system.

It’s commonly trusted by SaaS solutions and professional services that have specific use cases. 

10. Xojo

Xojo is a solid app development option for developers that want to create a native app across multiple platforms.

You can use Xojo for desktop apps, web apps, mobile apps, and Raspberry Pi. 

Unlike other web-based tools on our list, Xojo does require a software download for you to use it. The software is compatible with macOS, Windows, and Linux machines.

Overall, Xojo is a beginner-friendly tool that’s designed for developers. 

It has more than 40+ built-in user interface tools that you can use to customize the look and feel of your app. The software also supports advanced features like inheritance and polymorphism.

How Do You Create Apps With an App Builder?

Using an app builder to create mobile apps is a bit different from traditional development. The best app makers don’t require any coding skills or programming knowledge to get started.

It’s worth noting that some low-code tools on our list are made for developers and do require some tech skills.

For no-code mobile apps, getting started is typically as easy as creating an account and choosing a template. You can do this directly from your web browser, without any software downloads or installations required.

Here’s a quick glance at what the initial stage looks like when you’re creating apps with BuildFire:

Once you’ve selected a template, you can dive straight into the app development process. 

Just set up your account, and you can immediately start adding features and functions from the marketplace. 

This process will look a little bit different for everyone, depending on the tools you’re using. For more information, check out our in-depth guide on how to make an app.

How to Find the Best App Builders

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at some of the best app development solutions on the market, it’s time to find the right app development software for you. Keep the following considerations in mind as you’re comparing options and narrowing down a shortlist. 

Ability to Create iOS and Android Apps

This is the first thing you should look for if you’re seeking mobile app development software for real users. The best tools let you create iOS apps and Android apps in a single build.

If you can’t simultaneously create Android native apps and iOS native apps using the platform, it’s going to add to your costs and extend your project deployment time.

App Development Timeline

How long will it take for you to create the app?

Some app development solutions say you can build the app in hours. Others advertise weeks or months. 

This answer is going to vary for everyone. It depends on what type of app you want to build and the features you’re adding. If you’re going to add custom features beyond the plug-and-play options offered by the software, it’s typically going to take a bit longer.

Free Trial

Always sign up for a free trial of app development software before you start building.

These trials are the best way to get a feel for the app builder and what the solution offers. After playing around testing a handful of these solutions, you should be able to quickly identify which one gives you the most flexibility. 

App Development Software Cost

Your budget is obviously an important factor when you’re comparing app development tools.

With that said, you shouldn’t look at price alone if you’re assessing two tools side-by-side. While one tool might have a lower price tag, it could be extremely limiting compared to tools with more custom options. 

Generally speaking, cheaper app development software translates to less flexibility. You’ll be bound by certain restrictions of the tool, making it tough to scale or add custom features. 

Some solutions might have a higher price point, but they come with pro services solutions and added support before, during, and after you launch the app.

Check out our guide on the value of mobile app development services vs. app builders to learn more about this concept. 

Customization

Lots of app makers on the market are rigid and don’t leave much room for customization. You’re bound by the limitations of the software and what that tool can handle.

BuildFire is the only app maker that truly allows you to create fully custom apps without writing any code. That’s because BuildFire offers limitless scalability and customization. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the feature marketplace, BuildFire has a team of expert developers that can create custom functionality for you. 

Assess All the Features

This is something you can focus on during your free trial of an app development tool.

Assess the features and see if there’s something missing that you’d need to complete the full app. The best tools should include features for push notifications, analytics, app publishing, and more.

You can also look at the pre-built functionality for things like calendars, video integrations, polling, social walls, event management, images, ecommerce integrations—the list goes on and on. 

Ease of Use

Simplicity is key when you’re comparing app development tools.

If you don’t have any technical skills or coding knowledge, you need a solution that lets you create native mobile apps without writing any code. 

With any software, there’s always a slight learning curve. But you shouldn’t have to go through any complex training or courses to figure out the tool. Some solutions on our list are a bit more advanced and designed for developers. These often come in the form of low-code app development as opposed to no-code app development. 

White-Glove Support

Having a team of experts at your disposal definitely makes some tools stand out from the crowd.

If you have some questions or need something done for you, you’ll definitely want to lean towards a tool that offers white-glove assistance. This can range from basic questions about using the software to full-service feature creation. 

App Performance

The best app development software delivers a stunning final product. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?

Some tools might be cheap and easy, but the end result is a rigid app that crashes and has too many problems. 

Check out some of the existing apps that have been built using the software you’re considering. See if those apps perform well or if they have bugs and errors. You can also refer to the user reviews of those apps to see whether or not real users are happy with the in-app experience. 

App Submission Process

Development is just the beginning part of creating and managing an app.

But once the process is complete, how are you going to get your app live on the app stores?

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store each have a unique publishing process. So it’s in your best interest to use an app builder that provides a seamless submission process. 

White-Glove Support

Having a team of experts at your disposal definitely makes some tools stand out from the crowd.

If you have some questions or need something done for you, you’ll definitely want to lean towards a tool that offers white-glove assistance. This can range from basic questions about using the software to full-service feature creation. 

Final Thoughts on the Top App Building Software

The best mobile app development software should be easy to use, customizable, and built to scale. 

This guide contains something for everyone, but some of these tools definitely stand out compared to others. 

We also have an in-depth ebook—a Complete Buyer’s Guide to Mobile App Development Platforms that can help you narrow down your options and find the right solution for you.

If you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial of BuildFire and start making your app today.

How to Create a Design Concept For Your App

An effective design concept is the foundation of a mobile app and its goals. Creating a design concept requires a firm grasp of the problems your app aims to solve, your target audience, and the ideal aesthetics of the final project. 

Starting the mobile app design process with a clear design concept is crucial for success.

As a designer, entrepreneur, or business user with an app idea, our minds automatically create a concept when we’re brainstorming an idea. But creating a conceptual design helps ensure everyone’s goals are aligned and puts you on the path to creating a good UX/UI design for your app.

This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about design concepts and why they’re so important. We’ll also walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a design concept and cover the key principles of concept design. 

What is a Design Concept?

A design concept is a general idea and perception of a product that drives its development explained through sketches, images, written statements, and other visuals. 

Conceptual designs help developers, designers, and stakeholders stay on track during the design stages and creative process—ultimately ensuring that the final product delivers value to its target audience when it’s brought to market. 

The best design concepts showcase the core objectives of a product with precision. It requires a clear understanding of the target users, problems that need solving, preferred aesthetic styles, and visions of all stakeholders. 

Why You Need a Solid Design Concept For Your Mobile App

Conceptual design is vitally important during the early stages of a mobile app development project. It provides the foundation to visually shape an idea and concept.

Investing in a design concept reduces the chances of running into problems, confusion, or setbacks down the road. Everyone on the team will have a clear understanding of the concept, which makes it less likely that they’ll take the project in the wrong direction.

Starting a project without a clear purpose is dangerous, especially when you’re putting real money into the product. Re-designs and big changes once development has started can be expensive and will likely extend your development timeline as well.

The final product also suffers if a design concept hasn’t been clearly established from the beginning. This results in a sub-par user experience, which can ultimately impact your brand image and revenue.

Conversely, a solid design concept speeds up the design process, development stages, and helps deliver a visually stunning final product. Users will experience a great UX/UI design that keeps them coming back to the app for more. 

Concept design establishes the moods, emotions, and gut feelings of artistic methods. It’s about creating something that’s aesthetically pleasing while describing your brand image and conveying information about the app.

At its core, a design concept is essentially a thought or an idea. But putting that idea on paper bridges the gap between abstract perceptions and attainable visuals. 

You can use design concepts to establish a design language that clearly communicates with UI/UX designers. A design concept does not actually dive into the stylistic details of the app—it simply lays the groundwork for the design features. 

5 Steps to Design Concept Development for Apps

Here are the five steps for creating a design concept. Make sure you start with these steps before you dive into other parts of the mobile app design process

Step 1: Get Organized for the Creative Process

The first step of this process is all about gathering your thoughts. You can’t communicate the concept in the next stage until you have a clear understanding of everything first.

Depending on your role in the project, you must have a firm grasp of the app’s purpose, goals, and business objectives. If you’re a business owner or an executive-level decision-maker that’s leading the charge for this project, you probably already know the answer here.

But if you’re a designer or project lead, you’ll likely need to obtain a lot more information from the clients or stakeholders before you can continue. 

Take some time to research the competition. How are other apps in your category designed? Do these apps have a good UX/UI design? Or are they missing some essential features?

Then you need to decide whether or not you’re going to mimic certain concepts or you’re going to create a concept that’s 100% original. It’s worth the investment to conduct internal tests with real users to see how they react to competitor apps.

Gather all the data from your tests and use that information to guide your concept design.

Step 2: Verbalize Your Design Concepts

Again, a concept starts as just a thought. But you need to draw these thoughts out before you can formalize them. Verbalization is the first step of this process.

Many creative individuals struggle to put their thoughts into words. It all depends on the project.

For example, an app designer will likely have a very different background than an architecture student. A UX/UI designer won’t necessarily have interior design skills. Yet all of these roles require creativity and precision when it comes to completing their respective projects. 

If you’re struggling to put your thoughts into words, try going through the mind mapping process.

Start with just a word or phrase related to the brand or other designs. Then use that word to come up with similar words or phrases that come to mind. This will help you establish a unique sequence for your thoughts and the characteristics associated with that concept. 

Establish a time limit on this process. You should give yourself enough time to let the creative juices flow, but you don’t want to spend all day on it. 

It’s vitally important that you schedule your brainstorming sessions at a time when your mind is free from distractions. Everyone is different. Some of us are more creative in the mornings. Others are more creative on nights and weekends. 

Try to limit distractions from phones, computers, TVs, and other technology. Going for a walk or spending time in nature will also help with the creative process. 

The final step of verbal ideation should be a complete phrase or single sentence that illustrates the concept with precision. This will help you focus your efforts on that specific concept throughout the entire design process.

For more inspiration and examples, check out our app design resources

Step 3: Sketch Your Design Ideas

Now that you’ve verbalized your ideas, it’s time to put those words on paper. You must have a firm grasp of the core goals of the app to complete this step of the project. 

Even if you’re not super creative, that’s ok. Get out a pen, paper, colored pencils, and markers. There’s no right or wrong way to sketch your concept.

Starting with informal low-fi sketches is your best bet. Don’t worry about the details or intricacies just yet. You’re just putting your thoughts on paper. 

You might experiment with different app layout ideas or templates. Or maybe you just want to get some of your core principles displayed. Your sketches might look completely different from someone else going through the same creative process, and that’s 100% ok.

In fact, your sketches don’t even need to be related to mobile apps just yet. They can be any creative concept or inspiration for the next steps. 

Step 4: Narrow Down Your Design Concept Choices

You can eventually take your sketches and use them with other visuals as creative inspiration. But you ultimately need to narrow your design decision to just one design. 

If you’re a designer, you can take each concept directly to your clients and get their input. If you’re a stakeholder, you can also run additional tests and focus groups to see if certain concepts resonate with your target audience compared to others. 

Having lots of different ideas, sketches, and visuals is great during the brainstorming process. But you don’t want to overwhelm the design team and developers. 

Giving them too much is just as bad as giving them nothing at all, especially if the different concepts are unrelated.

Finalizing a direction to take your design concept is arguably the most important stage in this process. The final choice will act as your north star for the duration of the design and development stages. 

Step 5: Develop Your Mobile App’s Design Concept

Actually developing the final concept is the final step of this process. This means passing off the concept to the people who will be turning your thoughts into reality. 

It’s important that the final concept has been reviewed and approved before development begins. 

This often involves taking a concept and using it to wireframe your app or create a prototype. Sketches aren’t usually professional enough if you’re presenting a concept to clients, stakeholders, or investors. But creating a wireframe and prototype will showcase your concept and get everyone on the same page. 

If you need some assistance with this step, you can consult with our professional team here at BuildFire. We can handle all of the designs, prototyping, and wireframes on your behalf. Our strategists will even run a competitive analysis to see how your design stacks up against other apps on the market. 

Once the design concepts have been finalized and approved, we can take that concept and use it to develop an app for you. So there’s no need to hire an in-house team or work with freelancers to bring our idea to life.

BuildFire handles all of your design and development needs under one roof. Learn more about BuildFire Plus here.

Key Principles for Design Concepts

As you’re going through this process and finalizing your design decisions, you must consider the following design concept principles. This will help steer you in the right direction at each stage.

Color Scheme

Defining your color palette will really help drive the rest of your concept. Colors are a powerful way to convey a feeling, emotion, or brand message. 

It’s also worth noting that different tones convey different messages to end-users. For example, yellow conveys youth, optimism, and happiness. Blue exudes trust, professionalism, and formality—which is why so many banks have blue in their logos.

Choosing a color scheme early can help pave the way for other design choices in your project. 

UI Elements

You won’t actually be finalizing any user interface elements in the early stages of the project. That’s ultimately for a UI designer to implement.

But with that said, you should still have UI in the back of your mind as you’re creating a concept design. 

This will ultimately translate better to the design team when you’re passing deliverables to the next stage. Rather than having to come up with the UI concepts from scratch, they’ll have at least some direction of what you’re thinking. 

Understand the Users

So many people fall in love with their app idea, but they don’t actually validate it. You might think your design concept is amazing, but that alone isn’t enough to bring it to market. 

Figuring out if real users will accept your design choices is an absolute must for app development. 

Waiting until the app has been fully developed to conduct these types of tests is a mistake. What if the users reject your idea? It’s easier and much less expensive to make changes while those concepts are still on paper before any code has been committed. 

Familiarity

People have a certain expectation whenever they’re using a specific product. This includes mobile apps.

So while it’s important to let your creative juices flow, you don’t want to step too far outside of the box when you’re creating a design concept. 

You should mirror familiar choices that have been used for similar apps on the market. This will drastically reduce the learning curve of users, as the design concept ultimately shapes the user interface.

Typography

Look through different fonts and typography templates to see which ones resonate the most with your concept. 

Your brand message and app perception can easily be conveyed through the right typography.

For example, certain text choices look very professional. Others are a bit more fun or silly. 

Creativity

Be unique and showcase your style in the design concept. The best concepts invoke emotions and have a personality of their own.

At worst, the design concept gets rejected before it goes into development. That’s ok. You can still take some creative chances and express your ideas at each step. Just don’t try to reinvent the wheel with every decision. 

Final Thoughts

Creating a design concept is an important step in the overall app development process. It gets everyone on the same page before development begins, ultimately saving time and money for your project.

If you need some help creating a design concept, schedule a free consultation with an expert strategist at BuildFire. 

We can handle all of your design, development, and post-launch needs—getting your app to market faster than traditional development. This allows you to focus more on your business and customers while we take care of all the technical requirements. 

The Value of Mobile App Development Services vs. App Builders

There are lots of different ways to create mobile apps.

Most businesses and entrepreneurs are torn between two options—using an app builder or leveraging mobile app development services. 

But what if I told you that you didn’t have to choose? The vast majority of people building mobile apps fall somewhere between these two paths. An app builder alone isn’t flexible enough to accommodate their needs, but they don’t quite want to outsource the entire project.

This guide is a must-read for anyone that wants to develop a mobile app. You’ll learn the advantages of each method and discover an alternative option that’s the best of both worlds.

Comparing Mobile App Development Services and App Builders

First, let’s make sure you have a clear understanding of these two options for mobile application development. Side-by-side, app development services and app builders are very different.

Mobile App Development Services

Traditionally, these services come from a mobile app development company or agency. You’re essentially outsourcing the entire mobile app design and development process. 

The exact services vary slightly from company to company, but most offer some version of a total package to build native apps. These agencies have a team of in-house mobile app developers that can create a custom mobile application based on your specific requests. 

Depending on the company, iOS app development and Android app development might be two different services. So if you want an app built for multiple platforms, it’s usually in your best interest to work with an agency that offers both in a single solution. 

The best mobile application development services focus strictly on mobile apps. You’ll find some agencies on the market that offer app development alongside other agency services like web design, SEO, social media marketing, PPC, and more. It’s generally in your best interest to avoid these. App development shouldn’t be a side project or an afterthought—it should be the company’s core service.

It’s also worth noting that not every app development service falls into the same category. 

Some agencies simply build what you ask them, and that’s the end of it. But if you’re using a service like BuildFire Plus, you’ll benefit from services that go above and beyond basic app development.

For example, BuildFire offers more consultancy and assistance during the pre-development stages to align your business goals with your app vision. We’ll also handle wireframes, prototyping, designs, a competitive analysis, and everything else to ensure your app is a success.

Our team continues to be a partner in your success even after your app launches. We’ll run reports on user engagement and app store performance to ensure your app is optimized for growth. 

If you have ideas for new features down the road, we’ll handle that too.

Not every app development service on the market offers this level of white-glove support. So it’s definitely something to consider as you’re shopping around and comparing different options. 

App Builders

App builders are designed for non-technical users that want to create a mobile app. Anyone can use an app builder to make an app without hiring a mobile app developer or learning programming languages. 

Some of you might have some experience with website builders like Wix or Squarespace. Most app builders fall into this same category. All of the backend technology and infrastructure are built for you—all you need to do is add your content and customize the app based on your needs.

App builders are great for DIY users with lower budgets. But like most software on the market, there are significant differences when you’re comparing platforms. 

We have a complete Buyer’s Guide to Mobile App Development Platforms that can help you narrow down the best option based on your needs. 

In short, some app builders are more flexible than others. Many plug-and-play app builders are fairly rigid and not scalable. You’re bound by the restrictions of the platform, and customization is limited. Basically, if the app builder doesn’t have a feature or function you want, then you’re out of luck.

That’s where BuildFire stands out from the crowd, and it’s really in a league of its own when you look at this category as a whole.

First and foremost, BuildFire’s app maker is really easy to use. It’s a web-based platform that gives you full control over your app design, features, and content. Just start with a template and start customizing everything from there.

BuildFire also offers limitless functionality. You can take advantage of the 150+ pre-built plugins in our feature marketplace. But if there’s a feature you want that doesn’t currently exist as a plugin, we can build it for you.

You can create an app for iOS and Android without writing a single line of code and for a fraction of the price compared to traditional development. 

But you’re not completely on your own during this process. If you need some help or have a custom feature request, BuildFire’s team of experts is just a click or call away.

Pros and Cons of Mobile App Development Services

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and potential drawbacks of working with an app development company. This can help you determine whether or not this path makes sense for your mobile app development projects.

Benefits of Mobile Development Services

  • You don’t have to hire an in-house team or freelance mobile app developers.
  • The best companies offer more than high-quality native apps. You’ll also get a project manager, quality assurance agent, management services, and other related services that focus on business growth.
  • App development services can create iOS apps, Android apps, and sometimes build a web app for your business. 
  • You’ll be working with a team of experts that know what it takes to create a successful mobile app. So you’re not alone during the process and always have someone that can answer your questions and guide you through each step.
  • The best app development companies offer everything from strategic consulting to UX/UI design, app development, and post-launch support. 

Potential Drawbacks

  • Not every agency that creates mobile apps specializes in development. Some offer services that are unrelated to app development (SEO, PPC, etc.) that often take away from the quality of your final product. 
  • Compared side-by-side with an app builder alone, development services are a bit more expensive. 

Pros and Cons of App Builders

Not all app makers are created equally. But generally speaking, these are some of the pros and cons to consider if you want to build mobile apps using this method.

Benefits of App Makers

  • App builders make it possible to create cross-platform apps without hiring mobile app developers.
  • They use mobile technology that bridges the gap between software development and non-technical users. This makes mobile app development more accessible to the masses.
  • Using an app maker simplifies the mobile app development process. It shortens the development timeline and gets apps to market quicker than traditional cross-platform app development. 
  • You can use a template to get started, build momentum, and get inspired with your design and ideas. 
  • App makers save time and money when you’re building cross-platform mobile applications.
  • All of the backend infrastructure is handled for you. You won’t have to worry about servers, databases, backups, push notifications, and everything else your app needs to be successful.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Some app makers use development frameworks that create hybrid mobile apps. These aren’t ideal for certain types of apps, like gaming apps, augmented reality apps, or graphics-intensive mobile apps. 
  • Many app builders are rigid and can’t be customized beyond the plug-and-play features (although this is not the case for all of them).

The Best of Both Worlds — Mobile App Development Services and App Platform Under One Roof

BuildFire is the ultimate solution for cross-platform app development. Between our robust platform and pro services, we’ve created over 10,000+ mobile apps in every category that you can imagine. 

Whether you’re a solo user that prefers the DIY approach to mobile app development or an enterprise organization that wants a full-service solution, BuildFire has you covered. 

That’s what makes our software and service so unique compared to other players in this industry. BuildFire is truly in a league of its own. 

Our app development platform and custom development services are both industry leaders.

First, we have the only app maker on the market that offers truly limitless functionality. For most DIY users, there’s a good chance you can find whatever feature you need in our plugin marketplace. If not, no problem—we’ll create that feature for you.  

Most app development solutions offer just one solution—app builders or development services. But BuildFire has both.

Even when you compare BuildFire side-by-side with other development services, our offerings blow the competition out of the water. That’s because BuildFire is a dedicated partner in your success. BuildFire Plus offers:

  • Competitive analysis
  • System architecture
  • App strategy sessions and planning
  • Wireframes
  • UX/UI app design
  • Prototyping
  • User engagement reports
  • App store performance reports
  • Content updates
  • Post-launch maintenance and support

The list goes on and on. Most app development services end the engagement when the app is complete. But with BuildFire, we’ll be there for the lifetime of your app.

App Platform + Development Services vs. Standalone App Builders

Not everyone needs or wants full development service. That’s ok.

If you’re a smaller business or operating on a tighter budget, an app builder might be fine to accommodate your needs. But if you fall into this category, it’s crucial that you find an app development platform that can truly support your needs and growth.

That’s why it’s so important to find a robust app platform that also offers custom development services—and this is where BuildFire shines.

With standalone app builders, you’ll eventually run into growth restrictions. It may not be today or tomorrow, but at some point you’ll want something that the platform doesn’t offer. Now what? You can’t just move your app to another platform. You’d have to start the project over from scratch, which would likely crush your initial budget. 

BuildFire is different. DIY users can take full advantage of the app development platform and use it to create 90% of the app. But if you run into that small 10% that requires some white-glove support, we can handle this for you in-house. 

You’ll still be able to build your app for a fraction of the cost and at a fraction of the time compared to traditional development. But you’ll also benefit from having development services at your disposal. 

Even if you can build 100% of the app using the platform alone, BuildFire still shines over other mobile application development companies for several reasons. 

Once you finish building the app, we’ll get it published on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for you. As new Apple and Android mobile devices get released and OS changes over time, we’ll make sure your app is compatible by handling all of the updates on your behalf.

If you want to add new features down the road, we can take care of that as well—even custom features that aren’t offered in the plugin marketplace.

BuildFire is a dedicated partner in your success, even if you’re not using the full-service development option. We’ll survey your users, provide you with in-depth analytics, and be there every step of the way as your app scales and evolves over time. 

Other mobile app platforms on the market might seem cheaper at first glance. But they don’t offer these additional services. So the end product is more rigid and less creative. 

Final Thoughts — Which One is Right For You?

Now that you’ve seen the difference between mobile app development services and mobile app development platforms, it’s time to figure out what’s best for you and your unique needs.

If you’re on a tighter budget and just need a basic mobile app, an app builder will likely be fine for you. 

For midsize businesses and other business use cases, app development services can really help take your idea to the next level. It’s still easier and most cost-effective than assembling a team on your own or hiring in-house developers to create a mobile app.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between these options. With BuildFire, you have a robust mobile app platform with all the benefits of a full-service solution. 

Schedule a free consultation today to get started and see how BuildFire can be a partner in your success.

How to Create a Mobile App Wireframe

Wireframing is a crucial step in the mobile app development process. It helps provide a clear vision for stakeholders, development teams, designers, and everyone else associated with the project.

An app wireframe is the backbone for creating a successful design and building an app that users will love.

This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about app wireframes, including how to make an app wireframe and best practices to follow.

What is a Mobile App Wireframe?

An app wireframe is a two-dimensional blueprint and visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a mobile application. 

The wireframe stage takes place early on in the product life cycle before any actual development or design begins. This initial stage of an app project helps demonstrate how the app will work and what it will look like.

Wireframes should visually illustrate different steps in the user journey as a way to identify potential pain points before the dev team starts building. It should include all of your page elements, navigation screens, content, and main objectives. 

An app wireframe gets everyone on the same page, so the team knows what they’re building, and stakeholders know what to expect as the final product. 

Wireframes do not include any colors, stylized graphics, images, logos, fonts, or mobile app design elements. They’re simply early sketches that show how the app will be used.

You can think of a wireframe like the blueprint of a house. It contains all of the rooms, doors, windows, electrical infrastructure, and plumbing but does not include any furniture or decorations.

Why Are Mobile App Wireframes Important?

App wireframes are a crucial part of the mobile app development and design process.

Wireframing helps provide a clear picture of how end-users will interact with your app. If you can’t explain how your app idea solves the problems of your customers, then you might need to go back to the drawing board. 

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so important to create an app wireframe.

Visual Blueprint of the App

Having an idea is great, and having a good idea is even better. But even the best ideas are useless if you don’t have a clear plan and vision.

Verbally conveying your idea to a development team and assuming they’re going to deliver what you want is unrealistic. 

But a wireframe gets your point across and makes it easier to share your vision with project teams, investors, and stakeholders.

You can’t think about funding, user testing, or other business-related decisions without a wireframe. Putting these ideas into a wireframe first will make your life much easier. 

Faster Iterations

An app wireframe helps simplify an otherwise large or intimidating development process. Breaking your project into smaller, attainable tasks is a much easier way to achieve success. 

The great part about building a wireframe is that it doesn’t take a ton of time. This helps you build momentum and get the ball rolling as you’re assembling your team, giving presentations, and pitching investors. 

Executing these iterations in the early stages of development is much easier, and you can continue building on these steps. 

Avoid Mistakes

Your app wireframe should lay out the different screen functions. 

It helps you determine where certain app features should be placed and if there’s enough room on the screen to accommodate those functions. 

An app wireframe helps you establish a hierarchy of elements before you implement the design. It’s much easier to do this on paper than after you’ve committed any code. 

Mistakes here are really easy to fix. But fixing mistakes post-development is much more challenging. 

Saves Time and Money

As previously mentioned, an app wireframe helps you identify potential flaws and pain points before anything has been coded. This saves you a ton of time and money on development costs. 

Wireframes also provide your developers and designers with a clear picture of what they’re building. So starting with a wireframe can actually speed up the development process and shorten your overall timeline. 

Even things like content creation will be streamlined since the structure of your app’s screens have already been organized. Content creators and designers won’t have to ask any questions about where certain elements should be placed.

An app wireframe makes it easier to estimate costs as well. For example, if you’re outsourcing a UX/UI design team, they’ll likely provide you with a more accurate estimate since they know exactly what you’re looking for. So the chances of running over budget are reduced. 

How to Wireframe Mobile Apps in 5 Simple Steps

Creating a wireframe is easy when you follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. Map Out the App’s User Flow
  2. Organize the Mobile App Content
  3. Determine the Layout
  4. Create a Detailed Wireframe
  5. Integrate the Design Elements

Step #1 — Map Out the App’s User Flow

User flows are the backbone of wireframes for mobile applications. 

A user flow is a visual guide that showcases the series of actions a user must take to reach a specific goal. Not all user flows are linear—meaning there might be multiple paths to achieve a goal within your app.  

You can start creating a user flow by sketching your idea on a piece of paper. Eventually, you can take this sketch to the next level with a digital version of the flow.

Remember, an app wireframe does not contain design elements just yet. So you can use simple rectangle boxes as image placeholders with arrows to showcase the flow. 

You can start to think about dropdown menus or the bottom tab bar of each screen, but these won’t necessarily be included in the early sketches of UX flows. 

After you’ve visualized the flow, you can share your early concepts with others. This allows you to get feedback from your team and other people. It forces you to create each screen with a clear purpose for achieving the end goal.

If a screen does not help a user do something related to the app’s purpose, then it can be removed from the flow. 

For example, let’s say you’re designing a food delivery app. The app’s goal is to get food in the hands of users who can order from different restaurants. 

After selecting a restaurant, should the user be brought to an “Our Story” screen for that particular establishment? No. That would disrupt the flow of ordering. 

These are the types of things you need to take into consideration when you’re going through this process. 

Step #2 — Organize the Mobile App Content

Now that you have a clear vision of your wireframe design, you can start to think about the actual copy and content that you’ll use in the app. 

What is going to appear on different mobile screens? How will that content integrate with the user flow?

Using a simple spreadsheet or reusable content blocks is an effective way to organize your content. You can start to list out things like headers, images, links, and anything else that will appear in your mobile frame.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a fitness app to expand your personal training business. You could put together a spreadsheet with your main app content that includes training videos, meal prep instructions, and fitness guides. 

Then you could organize that content even further by segmenting cardio exercises from weight lifting. Within a weight lifting category, you can have sub-segments for arms, legs, back, etc. 

It’s much easier to organize your content now, as opposed to later on when you’re mapping out the screen layouts. You can refer to your content list as you plug things in during the next steps.

Step #3 — Determine the Layout

Next, you can establish the visual hierarchy and interface elements of your key screens. This will eventually set up the interaction design. 

Your app layout is essentially a combination of the first two steps we’ve already gone through. You’re going to take the content from step two and integrate it with the user flows in step one. 

You can still use basic shapes and tab bar placeholders instead of using any actual copy. But you can eliminate at least some of the placeholder text or screens with headers.

For example, your home screen layout might initially include Lorem ipsum placeholder text. Now you can get rid of those placeholder headers and add the main headers from your content list. 

You can establish the hierarchy of screen elements using size as a point of reference. 

Larger buttons, text, and CTAs are more important than smaller text located at the bottom of the screen. You can play around with different variations of the screen layouts as you’re going through this process. 

I strongly recommend using easily recognizable design patterns when you’re thinking about the screen layouts. 

For example, let’s say you’re going to include a bottom tab bar navigation on each screen of your app that includes the app’s most important screens. Having a house icon for a home screen makes more sense than a random shape or icon. This is something that users are already familiar with, and they understand exactly where that button is going to take them. A smiley face icon is not appropriate for your settings page. 

Look at the example above. You know exactly where the home button and settings button are, even without any text on the page.

Similarly, these icons would not fit in the middle of the screen, but they make sense placed at the bottom navigation. 

These are the types of things you’ll have to consider when you’re mapping out the screen layouts. 

Step #4 — Create a Detailed Wireframe

Detailed wireframes go beyond a basic sketch or hand-written notes. They are often high-fidelity versions of what your app will look like, including ready-made templates for your screens. 

You don’t have to put in real images, videos, or anything like that just yet. But the wireframes should be digitalized and include the real spacing between buttons and content. 

A detailed wireframe does not need to include any logos, custom fonts, or specialty UI elements. But they are a bit more formal for sharing with stakeholders and other team members. To make something stand out, you can use bold text, sizing, or spacing. 

For example, here’s an example of a wireframe for a reading mobile app. 

As you can see, there is still some Lorem ipsum placeholder text in the author bio section of that particular screen. But the sign-up screen has been replaced with actual text.

The screen in the middle of this example shows how different book topics will be displayed on the screen, but it doesn’t actually go into detail of the genres. 

Step #5 — Integrate the Design Elements

Technically, design elements are not part of the actual process for wireframing. Design is a completely different stage in the development process. 

However, wireframing and design are so closely related that it makes sense to start thinking about it now. 

If design isn’t your strength, you can consult with multiple designers to show you different design patterns and ideas. 

The responsive design development stages and other design elements will be implemented later on, but you can still add some of them now, depending on your goals. 

For example, let’s say you need to raise money to fund your app. Pitching the app to investors is probably better if the wireframe includes more than just black and white placeholder text. Even some design elements can make the wireframe a bit more visually appealing. 

Additional Resources: The Definitive Guide to Mobile App Design — Free Ebook Download

Wireframes vs. Mockups vs. Prototypes: What’s the Difference?

Sometimes the term “wireframe” gets used interchangeably with other design concepts during the initial stages of a project. But an app wireframe is not the same as a mockup or prototype. 

While all of these terms describe different types of app blueprints, there are distinct differences that you need to understand during the wireframing process. 

Wireframes

Your idea might start with a simple sketch of a mobile or web app. These could be hand-drawn interfaces of screens. But an app wireframe takes this step to the next level. It should include a more detailed illustration of the app’s functionality and structure. 

Mockups

Mockups are more advanced versions of wireframes that include UI elements. You’re bringing in everything that was intentionally left out of the initial wireframe, like colors, logos, fonts, and other visuals. Mockups are a much closer version to your final project in terms of design and can even be used in pitch presentations to investors or other stakeholders. 

Prototypes

A working prototype is an interactive blueprint of your mobile app. It should include clickable functions that allow you to move between screens, the same way your end-users would be navigating and using the app. 

Mobile App Wireframe Best Practices

Now that you understand the basics of wireframing and how to wireframe an app, it’s time to share some of our secrets for success. Keep these tips and best practices in mind for your wireframe app:

  • Start your wireframe in the early stages of development to help visualize the idea.
  • Think about how your wireframe will change on different mobile devices and screen sizes (iOS vs. Android or smartphone vs. tablet).
  • Use a wireframe template and UI kit for mobile design as inspiration. 
  • The UI/UX flow must be a top priority for your mobile app wireframe. 
  • User flows should be synonymous between devices and platforms (Example: if a user switches from your iOS app to Android app, they shouldn’t have to re-learn how the app works).
  • Start with a basic sketch before creating a digital or high fidelity version of the wireframe.
  • Don’t add any actual content or design elements until the very end. 
  • Test all of your design decisions before you start building. 
  • Make sure your entire team is on the same page before any coding or design work gets completed. 

Final Thoughts on Mobile App Wireframes

Creating a mobile app wireframe is one of the first things you should do to visualize your app idea before it goes into development. 

You can make a wireframe on your own by following the steps in this guide. If this sounds too intimidating for you, our team at BuildFire can help.

BuildFire Plus, our all-inclusive app development and design service, includes everything you need to hit the ground running. Not only will we create an app on your behalf, but we’ll also create wireframes to bring your vision to life. 

In addition to wireframes, this service includes prototyping, system architecture, design, and so much more. We’ll even handle your content updates and post-launch maintenance. 

Schedule a free consultation if you’re ready to discuss your app idea and get the ball rolling on a wireframe.

Hiring an App Development Company vs. Freelancers

If you’re tasked with creating a mobile app, one of the first things you need to do is answer a simple question—who will build it?

There are lots of different options to consider for mobile app development. But most businesses find themselves between one of two options—hiring a mobile app development company or hiring a freelancer.

This is a crucial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your mobile app development method will have a significant impact on your project timeline, budget, and the quality of your final product.

There are pros and cons to each mobile app development path. We created this guide to help you decide whether a custom software development company or freelance developer is right for you. Let’s dive in!

Types of Mobile App Developers

Before we compare mobile app development companies side-by-side with freelance app developers, it’s important that you understand the different categories for mobile app development. 

This will make it easier for you to weigh your options, as each type of app developer and development company is better for different types of mobile apps. 

Mobile App Development Company

The best app development companies offer full-service solutions for custom mobile apps. These are typically enterprise-grade services that include everything from mobile app design to project management, UX/UI design, and everything you need to build successful apps.

For enterprise clients, a mobile app development company provides all of your mobile development needs under one roof. You can outsource the entire project to a highly qualified team of developers and designers and feel confident in knowing you’re getting the highest quality product in return. 

The top mobile app development companies provide cross platform mobile apps, meaning you’ll benefit from Android app development and iOS app development simultaneously.  

Some mobile app development companies even offer services beyond basic app development. They provide your backend infrastructure, assist with app publishing, provide post-launch support, and even help with refining your mobile app idea to ensure there’s a viable market need.

Read More: Resources for Outsourcing App Development

Boutique Mobile App Development Companies

A boutique mobile app development agency is a bit smaller than a traditional app development company. They still provide many of the services of a full mobile app agency, but they do so on a smaller scale.

These solutions are typically better for smaller businesses in niche categories. For example, you might find a boutique app developer that specializes in building a certain type of app, such as a gaming app. But they don’t do anything outside of that highly specific category. 

Boutique app developers have fewer resources than larger app agencies, meaning they may only be able to take on a handful of app development projects per year. They might be a bit more limited in what they provide with infrastructure, publishing, and post-launch support. 

In-House Mobile App Developers

Some larger organizations employ a team of in-house app developers. But this is really only a viable option for businesses that continuously create, launch, and maintain mobile and web apps. Otherwise, hiring full-time employees specifically for app development isn’t really worth it.

For example, let’s say you want to create a dozen mobile and web apps over the next three years—strictly for internal use. Business productivity apps or extensions of web apps commonly fall into this category.

Then it might make sense to go with in-house developers over an app development company.

But even the top app developers may not have the same experience as an app development company. Plus, hiring full-time employees comes with extra costs and obligations. You’ll have to factor in added costs like health insurance, payroll taxes, PTO, and everything else associated with maintaining your staff. In most cases, outsourcing is a much easier path to app development.

Freelance App Developer

A freelance mobile app developer works for themself. You can find them on freelance job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, Flexjobs, and similar alternatives.

Companies are typically drawn to freelance developers for the lower cost. But these low price points can end up costing you more time and money in the long run—so it’s best to tread cautiously if you’re considering this path to app development. 

Some freelancers might charge lower hourly rates, but they take two or three times longer to create an app compared to an app development company. It’s also rare for the same freelancer to build both an Android and iOS app. Since Android platforms and iOS platforms require different tools, skills, and development languages, you’ll likely need a minimum of two freelancers to get the job done.

With that said, freelancers do have some benefits for smaller projects and non-business apps. But they’re never a good idea for enterprise app development.

Benefits of Hiring App Development Company

Finding a top mobile app development company will make your life much easier compared to in-house app development or hiring a freelancer. Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the top advantages provided by software development companies. 

More Experience

All of the top app development companies employ multiple developers. The best mobile app developers are versatile and have lots of experience working on a wide range of different mobile and web apps. 

A mobile app development company will also produce significantly more apps in a given year compared to a solo freelancer. 

Even the best mobile app developers probably can’t create more than four to six apps in a year. But an app development company can produce hundreds.

If anything comes up during the development process, there’s a good chance that someone in the app development company has seen it before. But if a freelancer runs into an issue or stumbling block during development, they don’t always have someone to lean on. 

Multiple Mobile App Development Services and Pricing Options

Custom software application development is not a one-size-fits-all offering. You can expect an app agency to provide several different software solutions and development services to accommodate your needs. 

A freelancer typically won’t be able to match these service offerings, and they’ll likely be priced at a fixed hourly rate for the duration of your project. 

But with a mobile app development company, the pricing is much more straightforward and transparent. Rather than paying an hourly rate, you’ll often pay a fixed monthly rate for app development services or be quoted on the entire project. 

For example, here’s a look at some of the BuildFire Plus development services and pricing. 

BuildFire also offers an app development platform with multiple pricing tiers and a white label app development solution. In total, that’s six different plans between three unique development services to choose from.

There’s something for everyone, regardless of your project scope or budget. 

Simple Communication

Effective communication is crucial for creating successful apps. 

Mobile applications are complex, and any miscommunication or discrepancy between the client and the developer can be disastrous. So it’s really important to make sure you’re on the same page as the development team before the build and throughout the development process.

This is much easier when you’re working with a mobile app development company. The best app development companies will take you through strategy sessions, build out wireframes, handle prototyping, and ensure you’re getting exactly what you ask for before any code gets written. 

You’ll also have multiple points of contact whenever you need to ask a question or make changes, which is not a luxury when you’re working with a freelancer.

It’s also common for freelancers to be working in different countries, making it more difficult to sync up with calls. In some cases, you might even be dealing with a language barrier if you’re working with a freelance app developer. 

More Resources

A top mobile app development company has significantly more resources than a freelancer. 

For example, it’s rare to find a freelancer that handles native app development and UI/UX design. Those are typically two different roles. 

But an agency has both of those roles, and more, all under a single roof. They also have the capacity to get your app to market faster compared to a freelancer, as multiple people will be working on your project simultaneously. 

Agencies also have the funds to provide their team with the highest quality software and equipment, which ultimately translates to a better final product. Whereas a freelancer could just be working from a single laptop using outdated software. 

All-in-One Solution

A custom software development company has everything you need under one roof. 

This typically includes a project manager, cross platform app development for iOS and Android platforms, UI/UX design for web and mobile, quality assurance agents, mobile app testing, and more. 

With BuildFire Plus, we’ll even help you run a competitive analysis to ensure there’s a viable market need for your app. We’ll also assist with app strategy sessions and post-launch support.

A freelance developer just can’t compete with these types of services. You’ll ultimately need to hire multiple freelancers to truly complete projects. The hiring process is a challenge in itself, and it’s even more difficult when you’re assembling a development team that’s never worked together before. 

Fortunately, a mobile app development company has everything you need under one roof. 

Scalability

Look for a mobile app development that goes beyond basic app development services. The job isn’t complete when the development process is over. 

You also need to consider post-launch maintenance, app updates, bug fixes, and everything else required to get your app to the next level, even after it’s been installed on thousands of mobile phones.

What happens when you want to add a new feature in a year or two? A freelance developer may not be around or available at this time. But an agency is always there to help guide you through the process of scaling your app and business. 

Support

Building an app is just one aspect of development services. 

You also need to think about software testing and getting your app published on the app stores. This isn’t always a simple process. For example, the Apple App Store has strict publishing requirements. 

A top mobile app development company will help you navigate these requirements and publish the app on your behalf. On the other hand, a freelancer will likely just deliver the app and leave the rest up to you—without offering that extra level of support.

Potential Drawbacks of Hiring an App Development Company

As you’re comparing different mobile app development companies, you should also be aware of some potential downsides of going this route. 

Choosing the Right Mobile App Development Company

If you run a quick Google search for mobile app development solutions, you’ll likely find hundreds if not thousands of options. Finding the right mobile app development company for you and your specific needs might feel a bit overwhelming. 

You can quickly start to eliminate some options based on their location or your budget. For example, if you’re located in North America, you may decide to eliminate any app development companies located overseas. 

Once you come up with a shortlist of options, you’ll have to request a consultation with all of your top considerations. Based on those consultations, you can move forward with who you feel the most comfortable with. 

You can read our guide on how to hire a mobile app developer for more information.

Identifying Core App Development Services

Many agencies offer a wide range of different services. The key here is deciding what they’re best at to ensure it aligns with your goals.

For example, you might run into a web development company that also offers UI/UX design in addition to mobile and web development. Or maybe you find a graphic design agency that also dabbles in mobile design.

Neither of those situations is ideal for mobile app development. 

The best app development companies focus strictly on mobile app development. If they’re also offering SEO services and web design, they’re likely spread too thin. 

Benefits of Hiring Freelance App Developers

There are some situations when hiring a freelance developer does make sense. Here’s a look at the advantages of working with a freelancer.

Lots of Options

Some of the best mobile app developers started as freelancers. So there are definitely plenty of quality developers out there. You just need to find them.

If you browse through freelance networks like Fiverr and Upwork, you’ll find thousands of options to consider. In some cases, you can filter these developers by specialty, location, category, or budget.

So if you’re on a tight budget, you can just adjust the filter for an hourly rate within your budget to only show options that meet your criteria. 

Good for Quick Projects

Freelancers are great for mobile solutions and web app development projects that have a specific start date and end date. If you just need something built without any extra support or post-launch maintenance, a freelancer is probably better than hiring an in-house employee.

But it’s rare for most mobile applications to be defined as a quick project. There’s often a lot more that goes into this compared to web development or other software.

Lower Upfront Costs

Most freelance developers charge a fixed hourly rate for their time. If you compare this side-by-side with an app development company, the upfront costs will probably be cheaper. 

But it’s also worth noting that the development process and timeline will vary based on your project. For example, it might take a freelancer longer to build Android apps than iOS apps. React native app development won’t have the same timeline as other frameworks. 

If cash is scarce, a freelancer might be a better option for you. Just be aware that lower upfront costs don’t always translate to lower total project costs (which we’ll discuss in greater detail shortly).

Potential Drawbacks of Hiring Freelance App Developers

There are definitely some downsides to hiring a freelancer compared to working with a mobile app development company. We’ll discuss those pitfalls in greater detail below.

Less Dependable

A freelance developer is a single source of failure, which is always something you want to avoid in business. What happens if that developer gets sick, goes on vacation, or gets hit by a car? Your mobile app development project just stalled.

Freelance developers don’t have as much accountability as developers working for an agency either. It’s not like they’ll get fired or reprimanded if they’re working slowly or pushing out sub-par code. Nobody is monitoring them or their work. 

Less Security

Freelancers typically don’t have the same security protocols as a leading global technology company. In fact, they might not have any security standards in place beyond basic antivirus installed on their personal devices.

This can be a big problem for mobile apps that contain sensitive company data, sensitive user data, or payment details.

If there’s a breach and that data gets compromised, who is at fault? Your company is on the hook for the software you own—not the developer who built it.

Limited Bandwidth

Your mobile app development project might not be the only thing a freelancer is working on. They’re likely working on multiple projects simultaneously, which leads to a longer mobile app development process.

What happens if they get another project that pays double or triple what you’re paying them? Chances are, they’re going to prioritize that app over yours.

Some freelancers might even work a full-time job and just create apps as a side hustle. 

They just can’t compete with an agency that has a team of developers all working 40-60+ hours per week. 

Quality Concerns

Experience is crucial for mobile app development. If a freelancer has bandwidth restrictions, isn’t using the latest and greatest software, and doesn’t have anyone holding them accountable, there’s a good chance the quality will slip.

It will ultimately be on you to hire quality assurance agents and testers to find bugs or flaws in the code. 

If you’re unable to fix quality problems prior to launch, it’s going to have a direct impact on the user experience. Poor UX is disastrous for apps, as users won’t come back to use them in the future. 

Additional Costs

Earlier, we talked about the low upfront costs of hiring a freelancer. But this often leads to larger expenses that get pushed to the backend of your mobile app development project.

For example, let’s say you hire a freelancer to handle Android app development. Even the top mobile app developers in the world don’t build Android and iOS apps simultaneously. So you’ll eventually need to hire another developer to handle the iOS version.

You also need to consider project management, UI/UX development services, web development services, server maintenance, quality assurance, testing—the list goes on and on.  

Check out our complete guide to building an expert app development team. This breaks down more information about the roles required and the costs associated with those positions. 

How to Find the Top Mobile App Development Companies

Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of development companies and freelancers, it’s time to find the best mobile app development solution for your specific needs.

As you’re going through this process, there are certain factors you need to keep in mind. This will ultimately help you narrow down your options so you can feel confident with your decision. 

Timeline

How soon do you need to get your app to market? 

An exact deadline isn’t always realistic. But a top mobile development company should be able to offer an estimated timeline. They might even establish some milestones and deliverables to meet along the way to ensure the project gets completed on time.

Team Resources

Who exactly will be working on your mobile app development project?

Find out if the agency is assigning the project to a single developer or if a team of developers will be working on the project together. How much time will they be spending on your app? Are they going to be working on other projects at the same time?

These are all reasonable questions that you can ask during a consultation. 

Budget

You should have a mobile app development budget in mind before you start consulting with app development agencies. When you see a proposal, you can start to narrow down your options based on the quotes you’re getting.

Look beyond the exact dollar figure and think about the value you’re getting. 

Some agencies might come in at a lower price, but they’re not actually offering everything you need to build, launch, and maintain a successful app. They’ll be additional costs that you’ll have to incur if you’re not getting everything baked into a single proposal. 

Location

Location shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for mobile app development. It’s more of a factor when you’re dealing with a freelancer compared to an agency.

Let’s say your business is located in Los Angeles. If you’re working with a developer in India, communication is going to be a challenge with a 12-hour time difference. They might be going to sleep when you’re starting your workday.

But agencies typically have dedicated staff working in different regions to accommodate international enterprise clients. So a business located in Asia or Europe could still work with a US-based app development company.

Portfolio and References

Not every mobile application development company has experience building every type of app. Some agencies develop digital business solutions for HR and internal communications. Others excel at building gaming apps for mass consumption.

What type of app do you want to build?

If the developer or mobile development agency doesn’t have a similar type of app in their portfolio, you might want to look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of different options to consider for app development. 

When comparing a mobile development company side-by-side with a freelancer, there are pros and cons to consider for both paths. While there are definitely some situations when working with a freelancer makes sense, an app development company will usually be the best option for most midsize businesses and enterprises. 

Book a free app strategy session with our team of experts to learn more about BuildFire Plus and our custom mobile app development services. 

BuildFire has been trusted to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps across a wide range of industries and categories. We provide everything you need under one roof from app development to design, post-launch maintenance, and support. 

BuildFire is more than just an app development company; we’re a partner in your success.

Create a Shopping App

The ecommerce industry is booming, and mobile shopping trends dominate the overall ecommerce category. 

In fact, 73% of the total ecommerce market share worldwide comes from mobile commerce. 79% of mobile users have purchased something online from a mobile device within the past six months.

But not all mobile shopping experiences are created equally. 85% of people say they prefer mobile apps to mobile sites, and apps convert at a 157% higher rate compared to the mobile web. 

So if you want to maximize the potential of your ecommerce operation, creating a shopping app is the way to go.

This ultimate guide will walk you through the step-by-step process to create a shopping app.

How to Create a Shopping App in 9 Steps

Anyone can make a shopping app by following these simple steps:

  1. Market Research for Your Online Store
  2. Platform and Tech Stack Selection
  3. Choose Agency for Shopping App Development
  4. Identify Features for Minimum Viable Product
  5. List Additional Features for Your Store to Stand Out in the Future
  6. Create a Mockup of Your Online Store App
  7. Begin Mobile Shopping App Development Process
  8. Test Your Shopping App
  9. Launch Your Shopping App

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a complete understanding of shopping app development and how to succeed in this space. Let’s dive in!

Step 1 — Market Research for Your Online Store

Before you start building anything, you need to validate your idea with market research. This step will look a little bit different for everyone, depending on the stage of your business.

There’s a good chance you fall into one of two categories:

  • You have an existing ecommerce business and want to add a mobile app
  • You’re starting a new business from scratch and want a mobile app on day one

For those of you who are already selling products online, you probably went through the market research step when your business first launched. So some of these tasks may be a bit repetitive. 

Anyone starting a new shopping business from scratch must take the market research step very seriously. Otherwise, you could pour money into a business that the market doesn’t want or need.

Identify Customer Needs and Requirements

The first thing you need to do is identify a target customer profile. Who are you selling to?

Selling to “everyone” is not a recipe for success. You need to narrow things down to an ideal customer profile. Then you need to find out if your products actually meet a market need for your ideal customer. 

Running a SWOT analysis is the best way to start your research.

This process not only looks at your potential customers but it forces you to evaluate your internal initiatives, competitors, and overall market landscape. 

Very few new businesses offer something that’s 100% unique to the market. There’s a good chance there are other online stores and shopping apps selling something that’s almost identical to your offer. 

What makes your product unique to the market? Are you taking a broad product and targeting a niche audience? How will your value proposition stand out from the competition?

These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and answer with confidence before you can proceed.

Business Model

Shopping apps typically fall into three different models:

  • B2C — Business selling products directly to consumers.
  • B2B — Business selling products to other businesses, sometimes at wholesale.
  • C2C — Customers selling to other customers through an online marketplace (like eBay or Etsy).

Which model are you going to use for your shopping app? 

Monetization Strategy

Next, you need to determine how you’re going to make money from your shopping app.

Compared to other mobile app categories, shopping apps are fairly straightforward. For B2C and B2B shopping apps, your primary focus should be sales revenue. I would not recommend adding ads to your shopping app, as this can ruin the customer experience.

For C2C shopping apps, you can make money by either charging sellers a fee to use the platform or by taking a commission of each sale. You could potentially charge for promoted products to appear high in the search results as well.

Step 2 — Platform and Tech Stack Selection

Once your idea has market validation, you can start to think about the technical aspects of your shopping app. 

Choose Your Platform

What platforms are you building for?

  • Android — Android apps are available for download on the Google Play Store. Android dominates the global market share, with 71.7% of smartphone users owning an Android device. 
  • iOS — iOS apps are available to download on the Apple App Store. It’s a bit more challenging to get your apps approved for the App Store, and iOS controls 53.66% of the OS market share in North America. 

If you’re strictly targeting users in countries outside of North America, it makes more sense to build for Android. But if you’re targeting North American consumers, building for both iOS and Android is the best option. 

This will make your shopping app available to the widest possible audience, and you won’t be neglecting any potential consumers. 

Native Development

Next, you need to decide on how you’re going to create a shopping app for the platform or platforms you’re targeting. 

Native app development requires low-level coding specifically for a single operating system.

So if you want to create an Android and iOS app through native development, you’d essentially be building two completely different apps—one for each operating system. 

This is the most time-consuming and most expensive path to development, and it’s typically not necessary for basic shopping apps. 

If you want to add complex features like augmented reality built into the app, then you might need to go native. But otherwise, this development path is only necessary for gaming apps, virtual reality apps, or apps that require precision and the highest possible performance. 

Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform app development is typically the best option for most shopping apps. This means that you can create an app for both iOS and Android with a single build and codebase. 

Cross-platform development typically saves you at least 40% on development costs and drastically reduces your development timeline. 

If you want to create a shopping app on your own without hiring a developer, you can take advantage of no-code ecommerce app makers like BuildFire. 

It’s a simple and cost-effective way to create an ecommerce app for iOS and Android without writing a single line of code. So even non-technical users can do this on their own.

Step 3 — Choose Agency for Shopping App Development

Assuming you’re not going to create the app on your own, you need to find an agency that can create a shopping app for you.

This is typically better than hiring a freelance team that hasn’t worked together before. There are lots of different roles and responsibilities in the app development process, so it’s usually best to go with an agency that has a proven track record. 

Team Composition

The exact number of developers and team members required will vary slightly depending on your project scope. But here’s a general idea of the positions required to create a shopping app:

  • Android developer
  • iOS developer
  • UX designer
  • UI designer
  • Project manager
  • Web developer
  • Quality assurance agents

Again, this is why it’s much easier to just go through an agency. Assembling a team like this on your own is challenging. Ecommerce app development agencies will have all of the resources in-house to accommodate your needs. 

How Much Does it Cost to Create a Shopping App?

The average cost to create a shopping app ranges from $30,000 to $700,000, with a median of $171,450, according to a recent survey,

But there are lots of different factors that contribute to the cost, including:

  • Development method (native vs. cross-platform)
  • Location of development team
  • App complexity
  • Features
  • Tech stack

For example, hiring a freelance developer in India to create your app will likely be cheaper than using a US-based agency. But there will likely be a significant difference in the quality of the final product between these two options as well.

Using a cross-platform development solution is one of the best ways to save money here, as you won’t need to create two separate apps for iOS and Android. You can make an app for both platforms with a single build.

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is an important step here when you’re consulting with different agencies. You can shop around and get a quote from your top considerations to get a better understanding of the cost, timeline, and other factors.

Essentially, you just want to get a feel for the agency and see if they sound like a good partner for your shopping app development project.

BuildFire Plus is our all-inclusive app development service. 

We offer everything from pre-development strategy sessions to post-launch maintenance and support. We’ll help you run a competitive analysis to validate your idea and get started with prototypes, wireframes, and mockups before the build. 

Our expert development team can create a custom shopping app for iOS and Android faster than traditional development solutions without sacrificing quality. We’ll work with you each step of the way to ensure your app achieves its intended goals. 

Step 4 — Identify Essential Features for Your Shopping Application

Now it’s time to think about the features you want to include in your shopping app. Try not to get too carried away here with the “nice-to-have” features. First, focus on the bare minimum and essentials required for your app to run smoothly.

You can always add more features later. 

We’ll cover some examples of different essential features in greater detail below:

User Registration and Sign-In Process

The best shopping apps offer the ability for users to sign up and create an account. This gives them the ability to save key information in the app, like their name, shipping address, billing address, and payment information.

This will help increase your conversion rates as your users won’t have to manually enter these details for each purchase. They can simply add something to their shopping cart and buy it with a single click. 

Letting users create an account can also help you customize their shopping experience with recommended items based on their purchase history. 

Easy Navigation

It should be really easy for users to find what they’re looking for when they’re browsing for products in the app. A good rule of thumb is that every product page should be no more than three clicks from the home screen.

That’s why it’s so important to put your wireframes on paper before you start building anything, as this will help you design a smooth user flow. You can borrow ideas from big players like Amazon to map out your navigation. 

User Profile Editing

Give users the ability to edit their profiles with preferences. Registration should only ask for the minimum information required to create an account. But give them the option to go back and change their settings at any time for an enhanced customer experience.

For example, users shouldn’t have to enter their birthday to register. But you can ask them to add that information to their profiles later on if they want to receive special deals on their birthday. 

This is a chance for them to customize other preferences, like managing what types of push notifications they want to receive. 

Product Catalog

Obviously, you need to sync your shopping app with your product catalog. This is not only necessary for the app’s functionality, but it will also help you manage inventory and fulfillment. 

For example, if you have an existing Shopify store, you can simply sync your Shopify account to the app to import the product catalog. 

In-App Smart Search Engine

This feature is really important for any shopping app with more than a dozen or so products. 

You can’t expect users to scroll through hundreds or thousands of products to find what they’re looking for. So you need to give them the option to search for products by name or narrow down the results through a search filter. Filter options could include parameters like gender, size, color, product type, etc.

User Reviews

Roughly 95% of consumers read reviews before they buy something. 

That’s not all. According to BigCommerce, products with at least five reviews are 270% more likely to sell. 

It’s no secret that user reviews have an influence on mobile purchasing decisions. So make sure you include reviews on your product pages. 

Shopping Cart

Obviously, you need to have a shopping cart feature and payment gateway to process transactions. 

There are hundreds of options to consider here, like Stripe. In many cases, you can use the same shopping cart solution that you’re using on your website. Otherwise, you can talk to your development agency to see what they recommend.

Easy Checkout and Payment Options

The best shopping apps have a smooth checkout process. Eliminate any friction in this process and make sure that customers can add items to their cart and finalize the purchase with as few clicks as possible.

Offering as many payment options as possible is another way to keep conversions high.

The options will typically depend on the shopping cart software you’ve selected. But the best shopping carts will support:

  • All major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)
  • Debit cards
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

This is the bare minimum that you should be accepting. But the more payment options you have, the better it will be for your conversion rates. 

Ideally, you’ll want users to buy from their profile. But having a mandatory login can be problematic, so you should still offer a guest checkout option. 

Shipping Options

You should offer some form of free shipping option, even if you require users to spend a certain amount of money to receive free shipping. Roughly 70% of consumers say they abandon shopping carts due to shipping costs. 

Offering multiple shipping options at varying costs can also boost conversions. Give your customers the option based on how quickly they want the shipment. Examples include:

  • Free standard shipping (5-7 business days)
  • $7 rush shipping (3-5 business days)
  • $25 expedited shipping (next day)

Again, it’s all about giving your customers as many options as possible to accommodate their needs.

Key Admin Panel Features for Online Shopping Apps

In addition to the customer-facing features for your shopping app, you need to consider the features that you’re going to use on the admin side to manage your application. 

  • Order Tracking
  • Inventory Management
  • Catalog App Builder for Product Management
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Customer Support Tools

This is something you need to evaluate when you’re comparing different development solutions and agencies. See what they’re going to offer you in terms of management features and how those features will impact your costs.

Step 5 — Identify Additional Features That Help Your Store Stand Out

Now you can start thinking about other features that go beyond the basic functionality mentioned above. To be clear, you do not need to add these additional features right now. 

For your first build, you should focus on simplicity and getting your app to work as it’s intended. Adding too many features at once can be messy and ultimately take away from your app’s primary purpose. 

With that said, you can start to brainstorm these ideas now and think about them for future updates. Examples include:

  • Customer wish lists
  • iBeacon
  • Maps
  • Augmented reality
  • Machine learning
  • Social media sharing options
  • Barcode scanner
  • Push notifications
  • Chatbot for improved customer service

Again, none of these features are required for your ecommerce app to work. But they are “nice-to-haves” that could ultimately help your app stand out from competitors.

For example, if you’re creating a shopping app as an extension of your brick-and-mortar retail business, adding a barcode scanner can enhance the in-person shopping experience with mobile. Users could scan a product in-store to see user reviews and save it to their wish list for a later purchase. 

But for now, you probably don’t need to worry about adding these features. Just focus on getting your app to market. 

Step 6 — Create a Mockup of Your Online Store App

Mockups are non-functional static designs of an app. This will help you and your team understand the look and feel of your final product. 

The purpose here is to help establish things like fonts, visuals, images, content layouts, color schemes, and the overall user experience from a design standpoint. 

Wireframes, designs, mockups, and prototyping are all part of the BuildFire Plus white-glove service offering. 

This stage ensures that you’re on the same page with our design and development team before they start building your app. 

Step 7 — Begin Mobile Shopping App Development Process

By now, you should know the answer to the following questions:

  • What platform or platforms are you building on?
  • What development method are you using?
  • What app development company are you proceeding with?
  • What features do you need for an MVP (minimum viable product)?

Now you can actually start building the shopping app. If you’re outsourcing this to a development company, then there’s really not much work for you to do here.

Just make sure you have a basic understanding of the development timeline and have a rough idea of when the app will be ready. In the meantime, you can start putting together promotional materials and build some hype for your app with marketing strategies prior to the official launch.

Step 8 — Test Your Shopping App

Once the app is finished, you need to test it before making it available for real users. 

First, you need to make sure the app is bug-free. Then you need to verify that it works as intended. There are lots of different approaches for application testing, including alpha testing, beta testing, user testing, and more. 

Aside from looking at software glitches, you should use this as an opportunity to gather user feedback and conduct additional research. 

No app is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. So try not to focus on getting everything perfect prior to launch. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in development forever.

But the idea here is to put out a product that’s fast and functional without crashing. 

Step 9 — Launch Your Shopping App

Now it’s time to officially launch your shopping app!

You’ll need to get it submitted to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Each of these platforms has different requirements for approvals and submissions, so make sure you understand the guidelines thoroughly before submitting.

Examples of what you’ll need here include an app name, description, screenshots, app category, and an app icon. 

To ensure your app is highly visible in searches, check out our complete guide to app store optimization (ASO)

Make sure you’re promoting your app on your website, social media, and as many channels as possible to get the word out. Your app marketing strategy will have a direct impact on your downloads.

Conclusion

Shopping apps are superior to mobile websites in terms of revenue generation, conversions, and customer satisfaction. 

If you’re ready to get started, reach out to our team at BuildFire for a free strategy session. We can create a custom ecommerce app with all of the features you need to succeed. We’ll assist you with the pre-development steps and even handle your post-launch updates and maintenance. 

Click here to book your free consultation.

How to Publish an App to the App Store

Creating a new app is exciting. But getting that app into the hands of real users isn’t always easy.

First, you need to publish your app to the App Store so it’s available for download.

The two major app stores are the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store—one for iOS and one for Android. But each platform has its own unique guidelines, rules, and submission requirements. 

This guide is going to focus specifically on publishing an iOS app to the Apple App Store. Once the app is published here, it can be downloaded on an iPhone or iPad.

It’s worth noting that Apple is very particular with its submission guidelines. You’ll need an Apple Developer account, and the App Store listing must match the app’s functionality. There are lots of other small details that Apple takes into consideration before they’ll approve apps.

That’s because Apple wants to protect its users. Apple wants its user base to feel comfortable knowing that any app downloaded from the Apple App Store is safe and won’t break their devices.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

Where to Start: Submitting an iOS App to the App Store

Submitting your iOS app to the App Store is the final stage of development. By now, the app should already be built, tested thoroughly, and you should have an app name that you’re confident in using. 

If your app is still in development, there’s nothing wrong with looking ahead toward the App Store submission. Just know that it’s too early to take any of these steps. Apple won’t approve any unfinished apps to the store, even if you have all of the other app information required for the listing. 

You should also consider the legal prerequisites of launching a mobile app. For example, if you’re launching an app in EU markets, the app must comply with GDPR guidelines. If you’re going to offer app purchases and collect payments through the app, you’ll need to think about things like PCI compliance as well. 

How you’re collecting, handling, and sharing user data is really important here. You should refer to the official Agreements and Guidelines for Apple Developers to ensure you’re following all of the appropriate requirements regarding user data. 

App submissions must only have content that was either created by you or that you have the proper authority to use. If you’re using content from another source without the proper legal licenses or permissions, it can be grounds for either rejecting your app from the App Store or getting it removed from the App Store.

You’ll need to have an Apple Developer account and Apple ID as well. Submitting your app from a computer running on macOS is not a requirement, but it’s definitely common considering the software and tools you’ll be using.

For example, if you’re using Xcode to create an iOS app for iPhone and iPad, you can take steps to prepare your app for publishing directly in the IDE.

App Store Submission Requirements

Before we get into the steps required for publishing, you need to understand the App Store guidelines for app submission.

You can review all of the App Store review guidelines here. These are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Developers are responsible for making sure everything in the app complies with Apple’s guidelines, including analytics services, third-party SDKs, ad networks, and more.
  • Attempting to cheat the review system or manipulate ratings is grounds to remove your app and kick you out of the developer program.
  • You must comply with Apple’s guidelines regarding apps for kids.
  • Apps may not include objectionable content (discrimination, explicit materials, etc.).
  • The app’s privacy policy must comply with all Apple guidelines. 
  • Apps must be complete and fully functional before you submit them for review.
  • Apple has certain technical requirements and software standards that must be followed.
  • You may not just copy another app and make subtle changes to pass it off as your own.
  • Apps must have minimum functionality that goes beyond a mobile website.

In total, the App Store Review Guidelines are quite lengthy. There are five major categories—safety, performance, business, design, and legal. Each section is broken down into different subsections, like this:

So give yourself ample time to review this document in detail before you go through the steps for submission.

6 Steps to Submit and Publish an iOS App

The App Store publishing process can be summarized in just six steps. 

  1. Sign up for the Apple developer program
  2. Prepare the app for submission
  3. Create a listing via App Store Connect
  4. Capture App Store screenshots
  5. Upload the app using Xcode
  6. Submit the app to be reviewed by Apple

We’ll cover each step in greater detail below:

Step 1 — Join the Apple Developer Program

You must be a member of the Apple Developer Program to submit an app to the App Store. So if you haven’t done so already, sign up for an Apple developer account

If you’re enrolling as an individual or sole proprietor, you can sign in using your Apple ID and enable two-factor authentication. Apple will ask you for some personal information, like your legal name and address.

To enroll in the developer program as an organization, you’ll also need an Apple ID with two-factor authentication enabled. In addition to the Apple ID, enrollment requires:

  • D-U-N-S Number
  • Legal Entity Status
  • Legal Binding Authority
  • Website

Just click “Start Your Enrollment” on this page to get started.

The membership pricing starts at $99 per year, and it gives you access to other exclusive Apple developer tools and services. 

You can use the account to manage your apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The membership also comes with beta software, app analytics, testing tools, and everything you need to manage your App Store listing. 

Apple developers also have access to TestFlight—a way to collect feedback from up to 10,000+ testers before submitting the app to the App Store. You can invite them with an email address or public link.

Step 2 — Prepare the App for Submission

Identifying bugs and problems with your app before submitting it to the app store is just one aspect of app development. There are other things you must do to get it ready for review.

First, you need to set the bundle ID in Xcode. This is used to uniquely identify your app in the system. Xcode will give you a default identifier when you create a project from a template, but it’s important to create one that’s unique. Just be aware that you cannot change the bundle ID after it’s been uploaded to App Store Connect. 

You can adjust these settings in the “General” menu of your project editor in Xcode.

Next, you need to configure your app version number and build string. The version number will appear in the App Store, and it’s expected to be in a format of [Major].[Minor].[Patch], such as 9.12.1.

Apple requires you to set an app category with your submission. This is designed to help users discover your app in the App Store. Options include:

  • Books
  • Business
  • Developer Tools
  • Music
  • Medical
  • Navigation
  • Education
  • News
  • Finance
  • Photo & Video
  • Productivity
  • Food & Drink
  • Reference
  • Games
  • Graphics & Design
  • Shopping
  • Social Networking
  • Lifestyle
  • Sports
  • Kids
  • Travel
  • Magazines & Newspapers
  • Utilities
  • Weather

Primary categories must match the primary purpose and function of your app. Choosing a category that doesn’t fit your app’s functionality is against Apple’s guidelines and grounds for removal. 

You need to prepare an app icon and provide a launch screen as well. The launch screen is the UI that appears when your app launches and quickly disappears when the first screen loads. The purpose of a launch screen is to enhance the UX by offering some visuals while the app is loading. 

Review all of Apple’s official guidelines to prepare your app for distribution. 

Step 3 — Create a Listing via App Store Connect

The App Store Connect is where members of the Apple Developer Program can upload apps, submit apps, and manage apps post-launch. It comes with everything from sales reports to analytics, test resources, and more. 

Here’s a quick overview of how to create a listing for App Store Connect:

  • Log into your account
  • Select the “+” button from the “My Apps” menu
  • Add the platform (iOS), primary language, bundle ID, and SKU
  • Add the app name and category
  • Provide a URL to your app’s privacy policy
  • Choose your app’s pricing

You’ll also have the option to decide how your app is released after the review information is approved. 

You can manually sign back into App Store Connect and release it when you’re ready, or set it to be published on a certain date (assuming it passes certification). Apple gives you the option to select the app to be released immediately following its approval as well. 

Step 4 — Capture App Store Screenshots

Now it’s time to prepare your screenshots for the App Store. There are two basic approaches here that you can follow. You can either use raw screenshots from your app or use a mockup template to showcase your app.

These screenshots are the perfect way to help showcase to the world what your app does and how it works when they find you in the App Store. 

Here’s an example of how Delta Airlines uses app screenshots to showcase its top features:

Apple does have a lot of different screenshot specifications for app previews that you must take into consideration. That’s because they have so many different devices on the market.

iPhones range from 4.7-inch screens to 6.5 inches. iPads range all the way up to 12.9 inches.

You can view all of Apple’s screenshot specifications here. I also recommend reviewing this API collection resource for app screenshots for more technical requirements.

Step 5 — Upload the App Using Xcode

Now it’s time to actually upload your app from Xcode. Do not proceed with this step until you’re confident that the app is free of bugs and it runs as intended. If the app doesn’t function, it won’t get approved for the App Store. 

For new apps, the version should be set to 1.0.0. 

Xcode 11 makes the publishing process really easy. In the past, lots of extra steps were required. But not most of the work now gets handled in a couple of clicks. 

Start by creating a full app archive. Go to your list of simulators in Xcode and click “Generic iOS Device” from the menu. 

Then select “Product” and “Archive.” This will prompt Xcode to bundle your app. Depending on the size, this could take quite a bit of time. 

Once this process is complete, just go to the “Archives” tab, and click “Distribute App” on the right side of your screen. Then select “iOS App Store” when it asks for your method of distribution.

Xcode will go through a few steps to ensure you’re not trying to upload a broken app. If something is missing or there’s a problem, Xcode will likely stop the upload and ask you to add missing assets. 

You should see some type of confirmation on the screen when the upload is successful. 

Step 6 — Submit the App for Review

By now, the archive from Xcode has been sent to App Store Connect. But you still might have to wait until App Store Connect actually processes the upload. So don’t freak out if it’s not showing up in your account right away. 

You should get an email when the archive is officially processed and ready for you. This can save you some time so you don’t have to keep manually checking.

Once it’s available, just select the archive and click the “Submit for Review” button at the top right of the page.

According to Apple, 50% of apps get reviewed within 24 hours and 90% are reviewed in 48 hours. So assuming your submission is complete, there’s a good chance you’ll have an answer within two days.

The app’s status will get updated upon review, and you’ll receive a notification with the status change. 

Conclusion

Publishing an iOS app and going through the Apple review process might seem a bit intimidating, especially if you’ve never done this before. But if you create an app with BuildFire, we’ll handle the publishing process on your behalf. 

You’ll still need to create your own Google and Apple Developer accounts, but our team will handle the majority of the heavy lifting. So you won’t have to worry about most of the steps in this guide. 

If you’re still in the planning stages of your app project, request a consultation to see if BuildFire is the right partner to achieve your goals. 

How to Distribute an iOS App Without Using App Stores

How to Distribute an iOS App Without Using App Stores

Publishing an iOS app on the Apple App Store is not mandatory. As an app developer, you actually have multiple distribution methods to consider.

The App Store is definitely the best option for mass distribution. But if you’re creating an internal mobile app for your business or custom apps for B2B purposes, you may want to keep the app private and only available for certain users.

Think about it—you wouldn’t want a random person to access an app built for your employees, right? In this scenario, you need more control over each mobile device that the app gets installed on. The public App Store isn’t an option.

This simple guide will show you exactly how to distribute your iOS app without using the Apple App Store. Let’s dive in.

iOS App Distribution Without Apple’s App Store

Most iOS apps are made for the Apple App Store. But the App Store is public and gives anyone with an iOS device the opportunity to download. 

According to Statista, more than 43 billion apps will be downloaded from the App Store in 2025.

As you can see from the graph, the Google Play Store is projected to have more than four times the number of app downloads that same year. This is largely due to Android dominating the global market share. 

But it’s also worth noting that Apple has a much stricter approval process for developers that want to publish an app to the App Store.

This same concept holds true for private app distribution. Compared to Android, distributing apps outside of the App Store is much more complicated for iOS apps. Apple does offer a few options for specific use cases. But the direct download and installation of any iOS binary files is strictly prohibited by Apple. 

Apple’s Solutions for Alternative App Distribution

There are three ways to distribute an iOS app without the App Store:

  • Apple Developer Program — The Apple Developer program makes it possible to distribute apps for testing purposes only.
  • Apple Developer Enterprise Program — The Apple Enterprise Program is intended for organizations that want to distribute apps internally and privately to employees.
  • Volume Purchase Program for Enterprises — The VPP app deployment method allows organizations to create a private app store to manage apps in bulk, typically used for custom B2B apps and MDM (mobile device management).

We’ll discuss each of these distribution methods in greater detail below, so you can find the best option for your app.

Beta App Distribution Using the Apple Apple Developer Program

This iOS app distribution method is designed specifically for testing. Developers can distribute a prerelease version of an app to a specific group of people for beta testing purposes. 

You must have an Apple Developer Program account to do this. The Apple Developer Program membership costs $99 per year. Nonprofits, government entities, and educational institutions might be eligible for a fee waiver.

This is the only scenario where an app intended for a mass audience can be distributed privately. But the distribution is only allowed during the testing stage and limited to a certain number of devices. Beta distributions are limited to 100 iPhones, 100 iPads, and 100 iPod touch installations. 

Releasing your app to beta testers won’t be the same as distributing a fully complete, fully functioning, ready-for-release app. 

It’s important to know that your app is protected from being copied or redistributed during the beta testing distribution. 

Ad-Hoc Deployment Using the Apple Developer Program

For private beta testing or temporary distribution, Apple allows developers to use the Ad-hoc app deployment method. In this scenario, the developer will deliver the app binary to each unique user via a download URL or email. 

To ensure the app binary works on the intended device, developers are required to register each device to the Apple Member Center and include the UDID for the device. App binaries will not run on an iOS device until the registration has been completed. This process protects your app from being duplicated or redistributed without your approval. 

You’ll see this option in Xcode when generating the IPA, open the Organizer, and navigate to Archives.

Pros of Ad-Hoc Deployment

  • No need for iOS approval process
  • App is private and cannot be installed by the public
  • Apple Developer Account profile is valid for one year

Cons of Ad-Hoc Deployment

  • Limited to 100 devices
  • Manually UDID registration is required for each device with a provisioning profile

Upgrading to the Apple Developer Enterprise Program

The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is designed for large organizations that want to distribute internal apps to employees. The Enterprise Program allows for internal distribution through secured internal systems or through MDM (mobile device management) solutions.

Not everyone is eligible for an enterprise account. It’s only for internal use of proprietary apps in scenarios that can’t be addressed through the public Apple App Store, Apple Business Manager, beta testing, or Ad Hoc distribution. The app must be developed by the organization and specifically for use on Apple platforms.

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Minimum of 100+ employees.
  • Must be a legal entity (no DBAs, trade names, fictitious names, etc.)
  • Program must be used for internal in-house apps for employees.
  • Must have measures to ensure the app is only available for employees and all membership credentials are protected.
  • Must pass Apple’s verification process and continuous evaluations. 

Pricing for a Developer Enterprise Program account costs $299 per year for a distribution certificate. If you’re already enrolled in the Apple Developer Program for distributing apps through the public Apple App Store, you’ll need a separate Apple ID for the Enterprise Program.

In-House Deployment With the Apple Developer Enterprise Program

The in-house deployment option is great for larger organizations that want to distribute custom internal apps for employees. It also helps corporations get more control over app security and device security through MDM—mobile device management. 

Pros

  • No App Store approval process
  • You have full control over who can access and use the app
  • Ideal for internal distribution to employees

Cons

  • Only for larger businesses
  • Strict eligibility requirements

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for B2B App Distribution

The Volume Purchase Program, VPP, makes it possible for organizations and educational institutions to buy corporate apps in bulk and deploy them to iPhones, iPads, and Macs within the organization. 

For example, a school that provides students with Macbooks can use the VPP to pre-install different applications on those devices prior to distribution. 

The Volume Purchase Program also supports custom B2B apps that can be distributed through a private app store. 

Larger organizations could use this program to share apps with other businesses, vendors, and partners that work closely with the company. 

This is another scenario where you can create custom apps and distribute them privately without going through the App Store. Let’s say you create a custom business workflow app that involves vendors working with your company. You could grant them access to the app through a private app store using the VPP. It’s also common for organizations to use this distribution method for MDM. 

Note: The Volume Purchase Program is no longer available as of January 14, 2021

You can upgrade to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager to access similar benefits offered through the VPP. See more information from Apple here.

Android App Distribution Without Google Play

While we’re on the subject of distributing apps without app stores, I wanted to quickly touch base on how the Android app development and Google Play process is different from alternative distribution methods. 

As previously mentioned, the iOS process is a bit difficult. It’s much more straightforward to distribute Android apps without going through the Google Play Store. 

You can do this through a direct webpage link or direct email for download. Android apps are also easier to distribute through a third-party app marketplace. 

Refer to this Android developers resource on alternative distribution options for more information. 

App Distribution Methods in Summary

Most developers will want to use the Apple App Store for iOS app distribution. This is the best way to get your app in the hands of the widest possible audience.

But there are some scenarios that require an app to be kept private. Distributing internal employee apps or private business apps is the most common reason to avoid the App Store. 

Some apps just aren’t made for public use. If you fall into this category, you can use the Apple Developer Program or Apple Developer Enterprise Program as a solution. The former is best for beta testing, and the latter is intended for the internal distribution of an enterprise app.

Interested in creating an internal workforce app for your business?

We can help. BuildFire’s custom app development solutions are perfect for larger organizations and enterprises. We’ve built workforce apps for compliance, employee communication, business workflows, field sales, field service workers, employee safety, HR, employee onboarding, scheduling, and more. Reach out for a free consultation and book a strategy session to learn more.

BuildFire Receives Top Awards in G2’s Spring 2022 Reports

G2 just released its spring 2022 quarterly reports on March 22, 2022. We’re thrilled to share that BuildFire continues to thrive and hold a top spot across multiple categories for mobile app development!

This is the fifth consecutive quarter that BuildFire was named a “Leader” in the Drag and Drop App Builder Software Grid Report, the highest level of recognition in the category. We also received a “Leader” badge for Small Business Drag and Drop App Builder Software—up a notch from our “High Performer” rating in the previous quarterly report. Again, this is the highest possible badge awarded in that category. 

BuildFire earned the “Momentum Leader” honor across three categories, and six additional “High Performer” ratings across the most competitive app development reports. 

Here’s a closer look at all of BuildFire’s 11 G2 achievements, badges, and awards for the spring of 2022:

Grid Reports

  • Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Leader
  • Small Business Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Leader 
  • Mid-Market Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Small Business Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Application Development Platforms — High Performer

Momentum Grid Reports

  • Trending Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Mobile Development Platforms Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Application Development Platforms — Momentum Leader

Regional Grid Reports

  • Asia Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Asia Pacific Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer

Check out BuildFire’s G2 profile for full access to our scores and reviews.

Best UI Kits For Mobile App Design

UI design is crucial for every mobile app. But creating a user interface from scratch can be challenging. 

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution—UI kits.

The best UI kits simplify mobile app design projects. They improve a designer’s workflow, saving time and money—ultimately delivering a beautifully designed final product. 

Ready to transform your design system for iOS and Android with UI kits, mockups, and templates? This in-depth guide will teach you how. 

What Is a UI Kit?

A UI kit—or user interface kit—is a pre-packaged collection of all UI components for a mobile app or website. This includes fonts, colors, typography, shapes, navigation menus, text styles, and other UI elements. UI kits can even contain icons, layered design files, HTML files, and CSS files.

With a UI kit, designers don’t need to create every design component from scratch. You can just edit or tweak them based on your needs. It’s not worth it to re-create a new drop-down menu or form for each new design process, especially if you’re just prototyping. 

Designers can easily integrate UI kits into their design system workflow to speed up and simplify the entire process. 

Many UI kits can be used as templates for niche-specific use cases. For example, all ecommerce apps should have a similar user interface. So a designer can use an ecommerce UI kit or wireframe kit as a starting point and then customize the interface from there. 

Why Is UI Important For Mobile App Design?

Functionality is just one component of a successful mobile app. Apps must also look professional and provide a seamless user experience. If the interface is rigid and doesn’t allow users to navigate with ease, an app will struggle with conversions and retention. 

That’s why UI design and UX design are so important.

Your app should also have consistent branding across all digital touchpoints. The color schemes on your web design should mirror the colors in your app. You might even use the same typography from your website in the app design. 

Mobile UI kits make it easy for you to replicate the design features and functions, all translating to a smooth user experience. Designers love UI kits because it makes their jobs easier, and app publishers love UI kits because the end-users benefit as well.

UI design has a massive impact on how much time users spend in an app. If the app is well designed, easy to navigate, and responsive, users are less likely to churn or uninstall the app.

Examples Of Great Mobile UI

Let’s look at some examples of real apps that have a sleek UI design. All of the apps below were designed and launched with BuildFire, and you can get more UI design inspiration from our app showcase page:

AMMA (Agent Multimedia Assistant)

AMMA is a multipurpose media and branding solution for real estate agents and brokers. The mobile app offers templates and resources that agents can use for social media posts and digital marketing. 

The interface design of this is sleek but also delivers in terms of functionality. It’s easy for users to navigate and find what they’re looking for with just a few clicks from the menu.

NowRise

NowRise is designed to help entrepreneurs reach their personal and professional goals. If you visit the NowRise website, you’ll see the fonts, colors, and branding elements match on both channels. 

The use of white space is a great design trick that will still look great if Apple or Android users decide to enable dark mode on their devices. 

My Wealth & Wellness

My Wealth & Wellness is a financial resource app. Unlike other banking apps or finance apps on the market, this entire design system helps put the end-users at ease.

The design is light, bright, airy, and super inviting. These design elements help encourage users to learn more about good financial habits, investing, budgeting, and more. The user interface doesn’t have a boring, outdated, or intimidating feel—like other apps in this space. 

How Do I Create a UI Design Kit?

Effective interface design all starts with the right software and design resources. All of the design tools below will improve your workflow and overall design system.

The best option for you depends on your budget, technical ability, and goal. Some might be better for basic material design or mockups, while others provide all of the UI components you need to create a mobile app.

InVision

InVision is branded a whiteboard software to transform the future of work. But this versatile platform also supports designers, which is why they offer an extensive library of free design resources.

You can use InVision to find free UI kits, mockups, icon packs, and more. They even have some great options for niche-specific categories like food and ecommerce.

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is an all-in-one solution for UI/UX design. It’s one of the most popular design tools for both web and mobile worldwide.

In addition to providing a design platform, Adobe XD also offers UI kits. They have kits for both Apple and Google across a wide range of devices. This includes UI kits for iOS, macOS, watchOS, Google Material Design, and more. 

Sketch

Sketch is a design tool built strictly for Macs, and it’s perfect for app prototyping. The software is versatile, beginner-friendly, and something that can be used on a daily basis for collaborative design. It’s also worth noting that starting at $9 per month, Sketch’s pricing is really affordable.

What I like about Sketch is its compatibility with other UI kits. You can bring in components from an outside source and then make changes to the interface directly in Sketch. But in terms of mobile UI kits out of the box, the software lacks a bit compared to other resources. 

Figma

Figma is a popular graphics editor. It’s a free online UI design tool that can be used for a wide range of use cases. But lots of users rely on Figma for mobile app design prototyping. 

The best part about Figma is its extensive resources for designers. You can quickly find UI kits, wireframes, illustrations, design systems, icons, typography, illustrations, widgets, and more. The platform has resources for both web and mobile designs alike.

Advantages Of Using a UI Kit?

Here’s a quick overview of the benefits you’ll experience using UI kits:

  • UI kits save time and money, allowing projects to be completed much faster.
  • Design resources can be allocated to more complex areas of a project, rather than tedious or repeatable items like buttons and navigation.
  • UI kits can provide inspiration for wireframing and speed up prototyping and mockups.
  • Designers don’t need to create every UI component from scratch.
  • UI kits are versatile and support product design for mobile apps, web apps, websites, and more.
  • Designers can quickly and easily make design changes.

Overall, these resources improve the entire UI design system for your mobile app. Designers can even learn new skills when they’re working with UI kits, as they can pick apart different design concepts during the process.

Disadvantages Of Using a UI Kit?

As with anything else, UI kits aren’t always perfect. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re considering an app UI kit:

  • Not every kit has everything a designer needs out of the box. This is especially true if you’re using a free UI kit. 
  • Some designers think that UI kits limit their creativity. 
  • If you want to match a new UX design to an existing design product, it can be hard to find a UI kit that matches everything exactly (fonts, colors, etc.).
  • Pricing for different UI kits varies depending on the source and quality. You may need to spend some money to find good ones. 
  • If you’re using an open-source UI kit, the design may not be unique. 

If you want to build something for yourself or for a client that’s 100% unique and customized, a UI kit may not always be the best option.

Conclusion

Overall, UI kits simplify the role of an app designer. But they’re not the only way to create a stunning UI design for your mobile app.

BuildFire has a wide range of app development and design services. You can use our platform to create an app on your own with no coding knowledge. Just pick a template, and you can quickly customize all aspects of the design on your own.

We also have an expert team of designers and developers that can create an app for you. With BuildFire Plus, we’ll handle all of the wireframing, prototyping, mockups, design, and development to bring your vision to life. Request a free consultation to learn more.

iOS App Design: Simple Tips and Inspiration

There are more than 2.22 million iOS apps available on the Apple App Store. With so much competition on the market, you can’t afford to have a lackluster iOS app design.

But design inspiration can be tough to come by, especially when you’re trying to create unique designs for iPhones.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. This extensive guide explains everything you need to know about nailing your iOS app design with actionable tips and best practices. We’ll even show you some examples of designs you can replicate.

The Most Important Tips For Designing iOS Apps

The following sections contain simple steps for designing better apps. Not only will this impress your users, but it will also help you stand out from other iPhone and iPad apps on the app store.

It’s also worth noting that the mobile UI design for iOS apps will look and feel different compared to Android apps. Your design concept for one platform may not translate to the UI elements of the other.

Choose the Right Color Palette

An app’s color scheme can significantly affect the user experience and usability of the app. That’s why it’s so important to start your iOS design with the right color palette.

Your color palette should match your branding, which ultimately influences user behavior based on familiarity. The colors help give users an immediate association with your brand and offerings.

Predefined color palettes are not only easy on the eyes, but they also help showcase important elements of the app. For example, contrasting colors can impact how CTAs are displayed or how other UI elements are viewed on each screen. The color palette must be consistent across each design element of the app.

Use Finger-Sized Tap Targets

This is another design concept that’s directly tied to the user experience. Users must be able to seamlessly click, scroll, and navigate throughout your app. But if the tap elements are too small or too disruptive, it will hinder the app’s usability.

Apple recommends a tappable touch target size of 44x44px for any user interaction element. This ensures that users don’t miss buttons or get frustrated when trying to click throughout your app.

Here’s another pro tip to consider when you’re designing tap targets. You can extend the tappable area of a CTA beyond the visual size of a button. So if someone clicks on the outer edge of a button but in an area that was clearly intended for action, the click will still be recognized.

Create a Wireframe For Your App

A wireframe is a simple layout of an app that demonstrates the key UI elements for key app screens. It’s essentially the initial design concept that you’ll put together before the actual design work starts.

Wireframes can start as basic sketches on a piece of paper or a napkin. The idea here is to think about the user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design for each element.

There are tons of popular tools out there that are perfect for creating wireframes. Try Balsamiq Mockups, Illustrator Figma, and Photoshop if you’re looking for options.

Wireframes help improve the brainstorming process, and they also can help you save a ton of time and money. It’s much easier to change something while it’s still a concept, as opposed to making changes after you’ve committed your design to code.

Did you know that BuildFire Plus handles all of your app design and development for you? This includes wireframes, prototypes, and everything else you need to create a stunning app.

Add Extra Views

Clutter is arguably the biggest design mistake that hinders the user experience. Rather than trying to cram a ton of information into a single view or screen, you can make things easier by adding extra views.

Extra views can come in the form of scrolling or buttons that bring users to another screen. Not only does this remove clutter from your screens, but it also avoids confusion when users are navigating through the app. This is something that you should take into consideration while you’re crafting a wireframe. 

When in doubt, it’s always in your best interest to leave white space and negative space instead of adding additional text, visuals, or buttons to a screen. 

Consider iOS Gesture Norms

Apple is unique compared to other platforms when it comes to gestures. You should familiarize yourself with the standard iOS gestures, as users will expect certain actions to yield specific results.

For example, when a user taps on a button once, they expect something to happen. So don’t require a double-tap on all of your CTAs. In fact, users expect another action to occur when they table tap—this is a standard iPhone gesture for zooms.

You also should make sure that your in-app gestures don’t interfere with system-wide iOS settings. For example, certain gestures will automatically bring the user back to the home screen. Swiping down from the top of the screen reveals the control center.

If your app does something different, it will add confusion and frustration to your users.

Don’t: Design Your Light and Dark Appearance Settings

Do not create separate designs for light and dark appearances. Dark themes are a growing trend in web design, but you shouldn’t apply this concept to your iOS app design.

That’s because Apple already has built-in system settings that allow users to adjust the appearance of their devices. Your light and dark designs could clash with the existing theme settings on a user’s phone or tablet, ultimately hindering the user experience. 

This is also a significant concern for people who have certain settings applied for accessibility reasons. So it’s best to avoid light and dark settings altogether. Let users apply those themes on their own devices, and don’t worry about it on your end.

Do: Design an Adaptable User Interface

One major point of emphasis for interface design is adaptability. You can’t design the UI elements with just one device in mind. Your interface design must work seamlessly across all iOS devices.

This includes all iPhone models and tablets running on different iOS versions. 

The user interface should change automatically when the app is being run on a different device. For example, split views for multitasking on an iPad should be taken into consideration. How will the typography or UI kit change when an iPhone user rotates the screen?

If you’re not designing for adaptability, there are going to be flaws in your app design and its usability.

Best iOS App Design Inspirations

If you still need help coming up with a design concept, the examples below will help steer you in the right direction. You can find iOS design inspiration for apps across a wide range of categories while following the latest UI/UX design trends.

Templates and existing apps are always an excellent source of guidance when you’re designing a mobile application.

Banking App

Here’s an example of a banking app design from Ishtiaq Khan Parag for unflip on Dribbble.

As you can see, it’s somewhat unique compared to traditional financial apps. The color palette is soft and friendly, which is something that users really appreciate in an iOS app.

If you look closely, you can see the design is also built for functionality. For example, if a user wants to click or access a credit card through the app, it’s easy to distinguish one card from another because of the color differences, space, and size.

Social Media App

The iPhone X Social App by Shakuro on Dribbble is a modern iOS app concept for social media. 

The design prioritizes a smooth user interaction when navigating through profiles. There’s a clear visual hierarchy for images, and the layout is easy to follow. 

You can clearly see the ability to search or quickly navigate to parts of the app. Overall, it’s really clean and works perfectly for iPhones. The imagery style is also visually appealing. From a user perspective, the design looks great but also functions well.

Ecommerce App

Here’s an e-commerce app design from BuildFire.

This design uses white space to focus on what matters most for the app’s purpose—the products. In each screenshot, the products clearly jump out at you. 

The lack of clutter on each page makes it easy for users to browse through products and add items to the cart. Since the screens aren’t filled with extra information, the CTAs like “add to cart” are a clear point of emphasis. 

Having a menu at the bottom of the screen also makes it easy for users to navigate to the app’s most important pages. 

Smart Home iOS App

The Smart Home Control App Concept by Kristina Malik for Steelkiwi Inc. on Dribbble is a great example that showcases a great design without sacrificing functionality.

This smart home app concept has a minimalist aesthetic but still has a highly functional dashboard. 

It’s easy for the user to navigate across screens, and they can get a ton of information at-a-glance from a single view. The color palette is unique and on-brand with the feel for this concept. 

All of this translates to a positive user experience as they’re trying to control so many different aspects of smart technology throughout a home.

Music App

When looking for music app inspiration, it’s tough to look past an industry leader like Spotify.

Beyond brand recognition, Spotify has a great app in terms of its functionality. Obviously, the primary function is a music player. But Spotify also makes it easy for users to find podcasts and customize their listening needs.

There’s a seamless ease of use throughout the app interface, and users can get different features and benefits based on the subscription pricing they select. 

If you want to create a podcast or audio content app, following the lead of Spotify or Apple Music is always a good idea.

Event Planner App

Here’s another event app concept from BuildFire.

You have a lot of flexibility with the mobile app design choices for events. It all depends on what type of event you’re planning.

For example, a concert app (like the design above) would be very different from a wedding planning app or a networking app for business conferences. The color palette must match the theme and feel of the event.

At the same time, functionality is always a top priority for iOS app design. Users should be able to clearly find event info, register, connect with other attendees, and perform other key tasks. Having a dedicated section of the app designed for sponsors and exhibitors should be taken into consideration as well.

So make sure you think about the CTA placement and colors when you’re going through the wireframe process for your event app.

Meditation App

Headspace is one of the most popular apps for meditation and sleep.

This is an excellent design concept to model after if you’re trying to create an app that offers similar functionality. The color palette is bright and friendly, which helps put users in the mood for meditation. 

It’s easy for people to navigate between screens to find the perfect type of meditation for unique scenarios. They can choose from stress meditations or anxiety-reducing tips. All of the options are quick to find and access because of the app’s functional design. 

Conclusion

UI/UX design is important when you’re creating an iOS app. Make sure you start with the right color palette, use finger-sized gestures, create a wireframe, add extra views, and consider iOS gesture norms in your design concept.

Following the latest design trends will keep your users happy and ensure the app’s usability isn’t compromised. You can get iOS app design inspiration from platforms like Dribbble, Behance, and Pinterest. Using a template is another useful starting point for inspiration. 

If you need some assistance with your iOS app design, request a free consultation with the experts at BuildFire. With BuildFire Plus, we’ll handle all of the app design steps for you. Then we’ll take that design and create a stunning app. Check out our app showcase page and customer stories for even more app design inspiration.

Getting Started: How to Create an App For Your Business

It’s no secret that mobile apps have become part of our daily lives. From increasing brand awareness to generating more sales and improving internal workflows, the use cases for mobile apps in 2022 are seemingly endless.

But how do you get started with app development?

The vast majority of executives and decision-makers understand the importance of mobile apps. Many already have an app idea in mind. But taking that next step to actually create an app is where they struggle.

If this sounds like your situation, you’ve come to the right place. This step-by-step guide simplifies the mobile app development process and explains how to create an app for your business that’s delivered on time and within your budget.

7 Steps to Create Apps For Your Business

App development is far less daunting when you break it down into simple, attainable tasks.

  1. Define your app development goals
  2. Set your budget and establish a timeline
  3. Assemble your app development team
  4. App design
  5. Add your key features
  6. Testing
  7. Promote and publish

We’ll cover each of these steps in greater detail below:

Step #1 — Define Your App Development Goals

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses skip or rush through this first step. Don’t make the same mistake.

Take a moment to truly understand your app’s purpose. This is the first building block on your path of building a successful app.

Avoid obvious or ambiguous goals like “we want to make more money” or “we want to make our customers happy.” These aren’t specific enough to drive the rest of this process and won’t get you very far.

Obviously, your goals will vary based on factors like your business size, target audience, industry, and other factors.

But one of the first things you should do is think about your app users. What pain points or frustrations are you trying to solve for them? Are you creating a customer-facing app that’s available for mass download on the app stores? Or is this an internal app for your employees?

Let’s look at some example goals for both consumer apps and internal apps so you have a better idea of how to approach this step.

Mobile Apps For Customers

The following example scenario may not apply to your specific business. But you can replicate the thought process and logic as you’re narrowing the focus of your goals.

Let’s say you run a gym chain with 25 locations across three states in your region. Each location has a different class schedule, and attendance varies by class, time, and instructor. Some classes are packed, and others are empty. Not only is this hindering the customer experience, but it’s also costly when you factor in the instructor’s fees to teach an empty room.

The solution—a mobile app with a real-time booking feature. Members can view schedules, class information, and sign-up for a spot directly from their mobile devices.

Can a gym app have features like membership sign ups, personal training videos, meal plans, and workout routines? Absolutely. But first, you need to focus on your primary goal and use case. Secondary features can always be added in at a later point.

Mobile Apps For Employees and Internal Processes

Internal apps are completely different from customer-facing applications. These are typically designed to improve the employee experience or reduce costs in specific workflows. 

In this scenario, let’s say you have a mid-sized organization with roughly 700 employees dispersed across eight corporate offices nationwide. In addition to those eight offices, 20% of your staff is fully remote, and an additional 35% is hybrid. The majority of those hybrid employees split time between their homes, offices, and working on the road.

The problem? Your HR department is confined to a single location in Chicago, and your HR staff is only in the office from 9 am to 5 pm EST. 

So when a hybrid employee working in California has a question about their benefits at 2:30 pm local time, they’re unable to reach an HR representative. Even if your staff is able to reach HR during office hours, they wait on hold, and it creates HR bottlenecks. This is not how you want your employees to spend time at work.

In terms of budgeting and personnel, extending HR office hours or opening an HR department in another location just isn’t an option for you right now.  

The solution—an internal mobile app for HR communication. You can set up a centralized HR communication hub and even customize an employee self-service dashboard. So if they have questions about their pay, benefits, or other HR information, they can access it 24/7 without the need to call or email an HR rep.

Other internal employee app goals could be related to training and compliance, employee onboarding, quick communication for urgent scheduling changes—the list goes on and on.

But again, rather than trying to build an app for everything, you need to focus on just one or two primary goals when you’re getting started. 

These goals will be your north star as you continue through the rest of these steps.

Step #2 — Set Your Budget and Establish a Timeline

Now that you’ve clearly identified the intent and purpose of your app, it’s time to assess your finances. Let your CFO and Controller do their jobs here and come back to the table with a reasonable budget for app development. 

They’ll obviously need to factor in some estimates for how the app will improve your ROI or change internal overhead costs.

Your HR costs might drop. But app maintenance costs will be a new line item on your expense report.

Common app development costs that you need to take into consideration include:

  • App developers
  • App designers
  • Backend infrastructure
  • Servers and architecture
  • Hosting expenses
  • Maintenance

In addition to the development costs, you’ll also need to consider the ongoing costs to maintain your app. Your costs don’t stop the day your app launches.

Beyond development, you’ll also need to consider your app marketing costs and user acquisition costs (assuming you’re building a consumer app). 

What kind of timeline are you looking at to launch your app? In some scenarios, you may not be in a rush. But depending on your company goals, you may need the app sooner rather than later.

For example, new ecommerce apps should be done and in the hands of users before the holiday buying season. Event apps would obviously need to be finished well before the event itself was taking place. 

Your budget and sense of urgency will ultimately help dictate your development team, which we’ll cover in greater detail next.

Step #3 — Assemble Your App Development Team

This step is often one of the biggest stumbling blocks for businesses. Many SMBs and enterprises have internal IT teams. 

But do those teams have what it takes to create the native app you need? How will this new project impact their existing job and responsibilities? That’s why the vast majority of companies tend to outsource their app development needs.

In short, you have four main options to consider:

  • Use internal resources
  • Hire app developers
  • Hire an app development company
  • Use an app maker

I’ll explain these options in greater detail below, so you can figure out the best method for your needs.

Using Internal Resources

I’d say less than 5% of organizations are equipped to handle app development in-house. Having some engineers and in-house developers on your payroll that know how to code isn’t always a qualifying factor.

It’s unlikely that your IT team has the experience required to develop apps. Even if they do have experience building apps, they probably haven’t built dozens, hundreds, or thousands of apps. Do you want to put your app project on the shoulders of someone who has only built one or two apps in their life? I assume not.

With that said, there are definitely some scenarios where you can consider using internal resources. If you’re building an internal application for a single workflow or business process, you might be able to get away with using your IT team.

But if the app is going to be used by your customers or employees at scale, then it’s definitely in your best interest to outsource.

Hiring App Developers

Many companies opt to hire freelance developers. But assembling your development team through Fiverr or Upwork isn’t always an ideal scenario. 

This option is better suited for small businesses with simple needs. Mid-sized organizations and enterprises could run into some problems with this method.

First of all, you’ll likely need multiple developers. If you’re coding an app from scratch, you’ll need at least two versions of the app. Android apps and iOS apps are written in two different programming languages. 

Could you hire a single developer who knows how to write both? Sure. But that essentially doubles your development time, as that developer would need to build two completely different apps from scratch. 

You’ll also need to hire a designer, tester, and project manager. You could potentially use an in-house manager to lead the app project. But again, you need to consider that person’s experience leading software development teams. 

When you outsource projects to freelance developers, you’re at the mercy of those individuals. Some of them might be overseas or working in different time zones, which could add complexities to your communication process.

But this also leaves you with a single point of failure. What happens if you’re six months into a 12-month development project and your Android developer goes cold? Maybe they’re sick, or maybe they’re working on another project. But you haven’t heard from them in a week—now what?

This happens more often than you might imagine when working with freelance developers.  

Hiring an App Development Company

The best app development companies give you an all-inclusive development service. You need an app—they deliver. 

BuildFire Plus is more than an app development agency—we’re a partner in your success.

At BuildFire, we’ll walk you through each stage of the development process. We’ll start by aligning your business goals with the project. Then we’ll help you with the pre-development steps like wireframes and prototypes. Our team will even run a competitive analysis to compare your app goals to leaders in your industry. 

We offer app strategy sessions, user engagement reports, and everything else you need to create and maintain your app.

Best of all, you won’t have to worry about anything. We’ll handle all of the backend maintenance, servers, architecture, and updates in-house. 

We have more than 10,000+ apps under our belt. So it’s safe to say we’ve seen it all in the app development space. 

Our white-glove touch paired with our technical expertise separates us from other app development companies on the market. 

This is by far the best option for SMBs and enterprise organizations. You’ll get the app (or apps) you need without the hassle or headaches associated with managing freelancers or in-house projects. BuildFire will work with you every step of the way to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need to achieve your business goals.

For the best end-to-end app development services, book an app strategy session with our team here at BuildFire.

Using an App Maker

An app builder is a viable option for smaller companies that don’t have the budget to hire a development team. 

So if you’re a solo entrepreneur or small business owner that prefers the DIY approach, this is definitely something that you can consider. 

Enterprise users are better off hiring a development company.

Step #4 — App Design

The approach for this step will depend on how you proceed in the previous step. If you’re hiring individual roles for your project team, then you’ll also need to hire an app designer.

If you’re using an end-to-end app development solution, they’ll have designers to handle this for you.

Start with a wireframe to get the blueprint and vision of your app. From there, you can create a prototype with your logos, branding, and color schemes.

If you use an app development company like BuildFire Plus, we’ll create a fully interactive app mockup with your design elements. This will give you an opportunity to see the look and feel of your app in the early stages. It also ensures that everyone on the app development team is on the same page for your goals. 

It’s also worth noting that the design might be a bit different for Android and iPhone apps. Each platform supports different devices. So the iOS app version and Android app version may need design variations to support those differences.

Changing your design down the road can be very time-consuming and expensive. So it’s important to nail this now.

Your design team will focus on your backend architecture, API design, technology stack, and other critical elements as they’re working on the visual components of your app. It’s important for decision-makers and stakeholders to participate during this stage. This ensures that their vision aligns with what the designers are producing. 

Step #5 — Add Your Key Features

Lots of organizations get off track during this step. It’s very tempting to add all the features under the sun. But this is expensive, complicated, and it can overwhelm your app developer.

Stick to the features that strictly align with your goals defined back in step #1.

Your fitness app to simplify class signups doesn’t need a social media-type feature for gym members (at least not yet). Your internal app for employee communication doesn’t need an ecommerce app feature to buy shirts and hats with your company logo.

Most apps will have the same core features, like push notifications, app analytics, and app user login screens. 

Each new feature you add will change the cost and timeline of your development process. 

Start with an MVP (minimum viable product), and work your way up from there. What are the bare-bones features that your app needs to achieve your goal? Save the “nice-to-haves” for later, and only focus on the necessities for right now.

Step #6 — Testing

Before you submit your app to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you need to make sure that it’s bug-free and ready for real users.

Your app won’t be perfect—no app is. Even Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Uber have bugs and glitches that need to be fixed over time. It happens.

But your app needs to have a fairly seamless user experience. If there’s too much friction and issues, users simply won’t re-open the app after downloading it. 

You should have quality assurance agents on your project team from the beginning. This makes things easier for testing purposes, as they can do continuous testing as each milestone is reached. It’s also less intimidating for an app developer to fix issues on the latest code deliverables, as opposed to an entire six-month project. 

Successful apps must be tested on multiple platforms. The iOS app might be fine, but there could be a glitch on the Android version. 

App testing is something that must continue for the lifetime of your app. As devices change and software moves to new versions, native apps can develop glitches or bugs that need to be addressed. 

For example, your iPhone app could work fine today. But in two months, when Apple releases its new version of iOS, your new features may not be compatible with the update. 

This is another reason why it’s so advantageous to work with an app development company. Not only will they deliver a professional app for your business, but they’ll also handle all of the testing and updates for you.

Step #7 — Promote and Publish

It’s never too early to start thinking about your launch. Build hype for potential app users and let them know what’s coming.

Create an app landing page and blast updates to your email subscriber list. Let them know your app is on the way, so they’re ready to download it once it’s ready. 

You’ll need to prepare your app for publishing on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Each platform has different submission rules and guidelines. 

In short, Apple is a bit stricter than Google. But in addition to the submission requirements, you’ll also need to start planning for ASO—app store optimization. This ensures that your app is highly discoverable when users search for related terms on the respective app stores. 

Are you making a free app? Or will you charge users to download it?

Even though you might be months away from launch, you need to start thinking about this in the early stages of development. 

If you outsource your app development needs to BuildFire, we’ll take care of the publishing process on your behalf. It’s just one less thing you need to worry about when you partner with BuildFire for your project.

Final Thoughts on How to Make an App For Your Business

Your business needs an app. That’s already been established.

In terms of execution, you have lots of different options to consider. The best path to development is different for everyone. But generally speaking, an end-to-end app development solution will be the best option for the vast majority of businesses. 

With BuildFire Plus, we’ll take care of all your needs under one roof. We’ve built more than 10,000+ apps for our clients, and we’re industry leaders in the app development space. This is much easier than building your own app with in-house developers or freelancers. If you’re serious about creating a successful app for your business, contact our team today to get started.

App Security: How to Build Secure Mobile Apps

Security always needs to be a top-of-mind concern for businesses. This is especially true for companies with mobile apps.

A data breach or hack can cause significant damage to your organization. Security breaches are not only expensive, but they can also crush your reputation.

To ensure security for your business and customers, you must take app security seriously.

That’s why I created this guide. First, I’ll explain some common mobile security flaws and vulnerabilities for mobile devices. Then I’ll show you how to build secure mobile apps.

Mobile App Security Threats

Most businesses understand the importance of securing websites, databases, and cloud storage systems. But mobile app security is just as important, if not more important than these other categories.

Think about the scale of your mobile deployment. It might be installed on tens of thousands of mobile devices—maybe more. 

Mobile app security issues are more prominent than you might realize. In fact, 70% of all internet fraud can be traced to mobile devices. One in five hacks come from rogue mobile apps, and there’s a high-risk mobile app installed on one in 36 mobile devices.

Let’s talk about some common application security threats and mobile app security vulnerabilities you need to be aware of.

Data Leakage

According to a recent study, 85% of mobile apps have little to no security protection. Hackers and cybercriminals have realized this and have increased the frequency in which they target mobile infrastructures.

When a user downloads an app, they generally grant the app certain permissions to other data on the device. So if a hacker can penetrate the app, they’ll gain access to sensitive data beyond the primary use-case of the app.

This could include digital wallets and passwords. If it’s an internal app for employees, the hackers can get their hands on sensitive corporate data as well.

Malware and Spyware

Like computers, mobile apps are also susceptible to malware. 

Some devices are more susceptible to malware threats than others. In fact, a new study found that Android devices are 47 times more likely to carry malware than Apple devices. 

That’s because Androids support third-party app stores more than iOS. It’s easier for an Android user to download apps from somewhere other than the Google Play Store. 
Nearly one in four people think it’s safe to download third-party mobile apps as long as those apps aren’t accessing corporate data.

This is something that Android developers really need to be aware of. Once a malicious app has been installed on a user’s device, it could compromise the other apps on their device as well—even the ones downloaded from legitimate sources. 

Compromised Passwords

Our society has a huge problem with passwords right now. Since so many different tools, accounts, and subscriptions require a password, people just reuse the same passwords across multiple accounts.

So if one account is compromised, hackers can run wild across other accounts as well.

What would happen if one of your developers or someone on your software development team had a compromised password? Could a hacker use that password to gain app access on the backend of your software? 

If yes, that poses a huge risk to your organizational data and app users. Cybercriminals could use that access to deploy malicious links or hacks directly to all users who have your app installed.

Outdated Operating Systems and Software

Failing to keep all of your devices, software, and OS up to date is a mobile security vulnerability. 

As malware, ransomware, and other cyber attacks become more advanced, outdated software can’t detect and prevent newer attacks. But many software updates contain security patches. This holds true for mobile apps, mobile devices, and mobile security as well.

Check out these graphs Verizon’s Mobile Security Index Report:

As you can see, newer Android versions contain fewer CVEs (common vulnerabilities and exposures).Just a fraction of the newest Android releases contain high security vulnerabilities.

Now let’s look at Apple’s CVE’s by iOS version:

It’s safe to say that this graph speaks for itself.

If people are using mobile devices that haven’t been updated to the latest OS, they’re significantly more susceptible to mobile security threats. 

Social Engineering and Phishing

Social engineering is on the rise for mobile. Also known as phishing, this occurs when hackers send fake emails, text messages, or malicious ads in an effort to access passwords or private information.

We’ve all seen these before. You get an email from someone claiming to be Apple or another reputable business, telling you to reset your password or update an expired credit card.

Shockingly, nearly 60% of people say they can’t confidently identify social engineering attacks. Roughly 40% think it’s smart to reply to these attacks.

These numbers are alarming and pose a threat to mobile applications and developers. 

Encryption Gaps

End-to-end encryption is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of mobile application security. 

Any data being transmitted from one point to another should be encrypted. Whether it’s going from your users’ mobile devices to your system, from your system to cloud storage, or from you to a third-party service, encryption is a must.

If these security measures aren’t taken seriously, hackers and cybercriminals can exploit holes in data transfer and steal data while it’s in motion. 

For example, let’s say you have an internal employee messaging app. If those messages aren’t encrypted, someone could potentially access everything your staff is saying when they’re chatting via mobile. This could put sensitive data and private company information into the wrong hands.

11 App Security Best Practices

Now that you’ve seen some common mobile app security threats, it’s time to talk about properly securing your app. The following security measures must be taken into consideration before, during, and after the software development process.

Here’s how you build secure mobile apps:

1. Choose the Right Development Platform

90% of your security vulnerabilities are eliminated if you build an app on the right platform. 

The best app builders have security features built into the system. You can rest easy knowing that your app is safe on the platform’s security architecture. 

If you’re planning to code the app yourself with an in-house development team or a third-party development agency, your app’s security could be a bit more vulnerable. The app code and sensitive data are at the mercy of your development team. If they have poor app security best practices, then your app could be in trouble. 

With BuildFire, not only is your app secure on the backend, but it also comes with features to enhance user security.

You can take advantage of features like SSO and custom registration to add an extra layer of protection to your app when people are using it. This helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing the app from a compromised account.

We have cutting-edge firewalls, robust encryptions, and data policies that are constantly being monitored and updated. Developers can rest easy knowing that our platform is built on AWS, and we have redundancies across multiple servers and geographic locations to reduce the risk of data loss. 

Not only is BuildFire the most powerful no-code app builder for iOS and Android, but it’s also one of the most secure ways to build an app.

So when you’re shopping around and comparing different development options, make sure you prioritize app security. 

2. Application Security Testing

If you’re developing an app on your own or with a team of developers, application security testing needs to happen on a regular basis.

You should test apps during the development process and after the app has launched as well.

Shockingly, 40% of businesses don’t scan app code for security vulnerabilities. 

The same study discovered that organizations test less than half of the apps they build. 33% of those companies never test apps to make sure they’re secure.

Not every security flaw is glaringly obvious. Mobile testing is one of the best ways to find potential vulnerabilities.

So why aren’t businesses testing their apps?

One of the main reasons has to do with lack of planning and poor budgeting. In fact, half of companies don’t have any budget for mobile app security.

Security needs to be part of your app maintenance process. So make sure you plan accordingly for this.

Not only is this important for preventing hacks and malware. But you need to ensure your application security evolves to support regulatory changes. I’m referring to things like GDPR, CCPA, ADA, HIPAA, PCI, and other data security standards.
Check out our guide on the five hidden costs of software you need to anticipate after you launch to learn more. App security and testing is definitely an important aspect of this.

3. Put Yourself in the Shoes of an Attacker

To build secure mobile apps, you need to think like a person with malicious intent. Ask yourself questions that a hacker or cybercriminal would ask when looking at your app.

  • How can your app get hacked?
  • What vulnerabilities are easily exploitable?
  • Do you have weak points or gaps in your app security?

Ask these questions on a regular basis. You can do it during the building process but continue after the app has launched as well.

Penetration testing (also known as pen testing) is a great way to implement this strategy. This involves ethical hacks against your own software. You essentially have a team member try to penetrate your app’s security as if they’re an outsider. If that person is able to break through your security barriers, it’s a problem that needs to be resolved quickly.

4. Keep Software Up to Date

As previously mentioned, failing to update software means you won’t be able to fight off the latest mobile threats, malware, and malicious code.

Make sure you keep your operating system up to date and make it mandatory for your team to do the same. This is one of the easiest mobile application security policies that you can implement in-house.

Updating your software can help protect sensitive data and close outdated security gaps.

This is another reason why it’s so important to use the right app builder or choose the right development partner. If you’re creating an app with BuildFire, you won’t have to worry about any software updates on the backend. 

We’ll automatically update your app to support the latest versions of Android and iOS.

5. Include User Authentication

Adding login credentials to your app is an excellent way to provide an extra layer of security to users.

User credentials help prevent unauthorized account access, which is crucial if your app contains sensitive information. Let’s say you have in-app purchases enabled. You wouldn’t want an unauthorized party to access user payment information, billing address, or other data.

You can take this one step further with multi-factor authentication, 2FA, single sign-on, and more.

BuildFire makes it easy to implement user authentication for your app. 

Everything from custom registrations to OAuth, SSO, and social logins are supported on the platform. Rather than forcing app users to create a new username and password for your app, they can simply log in using their existing social credentials. This is an easy way to authenticate users. 

This eliminates friction and improves the user experience without compromising app security. It also prevents unauthorized users from getting into the app if they get their hands on lost and stolen devices.

6. Prioritize Data Encryption

We talked about data encryption earlier when discussing common mobile app security threats. So it should come as no surprise to see it again here in our mobile app security best practices.

You must have security tools in place to protect data. But when that data is encrypted, it takes your app security a step further.

Let’s say someone is able to get their hands on sensitive user data or app data. If it’s encrypted, that data is useless to them without an encryption key.

7. Apply Strict In-House Security Standards

You also need to consider the security controls for your app development team. Your app is only as secure as the weakest link.

You could implement mobile device management policies and or use MDM software to enforce internal security policies. 

For example, you don’t want your developers, designers, or anyone on your app team to be working on the app from an unsecured device. Something simple like working remotely or writing code on unsecured public WiFi could threaten your app’s security.

Even if you’re using a secure app builder, you want to make sure that anyone who has access to the app on the backend is taking steps to prevent a breach.

If someone on your team is using weak passwords like qwerty or password to access your app, anyone could potentially hack their account and make changes to your app without your knowledge. 

Apply the principle of least privilege to your app team. This means that everyone on your team should only have access to parts of your app that are strictly necessary for their job or task.
I found an excellent graphic from Heimdal Security that showcases the POLP in practice:

In this example, a programmer would have access to write application code—as it directly relates to their job. But they wouldn’t have a reason to access a payroll database. 

Not every team member who works on your app needs to have admin privileges or access to make live changes.

8. Educate Your Team on Mobile Security

Creating and enforcing internal policies is just one aspect of in-house security. You also need to educate your team on application security best practices and the importance of mobile security.

Explain the dangers of using the same passwords on multiple accounts. Tell them why they need to update the software on their personal devices. 

Show them statistics, studies, infographics, and useful resources on mobile security. You can send them this blog that you’re reading right now! 

If you make it clear to your team that you’re taking this seriously, they’ll follow your lead. But if you have a haphazard approach and you’re not reinforcing these app security best practices, you can’t expect your team to care. You can even consult with your in-house security team on a plan for employee education.

9. Eliminate Unnecessary Permissions

What kind of permissions are you trying to access from mobile users?

Try not to collect confidential data or anything that’s not necessary for the direct purpose of your app. Does your app really need to access someone’s camera, pictures, or contacts? If not, then don’t ask for it.

The more permissions you collect, the more risk you’re putting on your company. 

Every additional permission or connection poses extra vulnerabilities. So use a zero-trust approach when you’re building secure mobile apps.

If a permission isn’t related to the app’s key features, don’t bother with it.

10. Be Careful With Third-Party Code

Many Android apps, iPhone apps, and apps available from the official app stores have similar code. So it’s not uncommon for developers to take shortcuts and take code from third-party sources.

Sometimes you can find pre-written code available for free. Other times they’re on paid platforms.

But you can’t assume the code you’re taking from a third-party source is safe. Hackers leverage these code-sharing platforms as a way to inject malicious code into software. If you’re simply copying and pasting someone else’s open-source code into your app, you could be unknowingly opening the door to new security vulnerabilities.

That’s another reason why it’s so much better to create an app with BuildFire. You won’t have to worry about writing a single line of code, so you know everything is secure.

11. Stay Informed on the Latest Mobile Trends

Your mobile app doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You need to keep your finger on the pulse and see what’s happening in the mobile apps industry.

Are there new emerging threats? Have there been any high-profile data leaks? How are hackers exploiting mobile data breaches?

I’m not saying you need to do this every day. But find a trusted source of mobile trends and information, and check on it at least once a month.

Mobile App Security Checklist

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you to reference as you’re building a secure mobile app:

  • Find a secure platform for app development
  • Encrypt your data
  • Keep all software up to date
  • Run app security tests
  • Create an internal policy for mobile security
  • Educate your team on app security best practices
  • Don’t request permission to data you don’t need
  • Limit your data exposure
  • Avoid unsafe code from untrusted sources or third party libraries
  • Follow mobile security trends
  • Implement a strong password policy
  • Authenticate users

All of these tips and app security best practices will help you create an app that’s safe and secure.

Final Thoughts on App Security

If you’re coding an app from scratch with a traditional development team, your security vulnerabilities are significantly higher. There is just so much that needs to be protected and taken into consideration.

Using a no-code app builder like BuildFire to create an app is a safer alternative. Not only is this faster, easier, and cheaper than traditional development, but it also alleviates nearly all of your application security concerns.

You don’t have to worry about applying advanced mobile security policies to the app. BuildFire handles everything on the backend. All you need to do is apply basic password protection to your account and be careful who you grant admin privileges to on your team.

BuildFire comes with built-in security, user authentication, automatic updates, and more. It’s everything you could possibly need to create a secure mobile app from scratch. For DIY apps, enterprise apps, business apps, internal employee apps, and more, BuildFire has app security covered.

If you decide to code an app on your own, that’s fine too. Handling the security aspects will be a bit more of a daunting task. But your life will be easier if you follow the tips and best practices explained in this guide.

What is a Push Notification and Why Do They Matter?

Push notifications are an essential marketing tool for anyone with a mobile app. It’s the best way to connect with your users, delivering important and time-sensitive messages directly to their mobile devices.

You can use push notifications to drive engagement, increase app usage, influence conversions, and so much more. The possibilities are truly endless.

But there’s definitely a right and wrong way to use push notifications, which is why I created this guide. Continue below to learn more about how push notifications work, why you should use them, when to use push notifications, and how to leverage them effectively. 

What is a Push Notification?

Let’s start with the basics and definitions before we move into the high-level strategies of push notifications.

Elements of a Push Notification

A push notification is a message that’s delivered directly to the home screen of a mobile device. 

Push notifications are superior to email and other customer communication methods because of the delivery. Similar to an SMS text message, pushes go straight to the smartphone user. This almost guarantees that they’ll see it the next time they check their phone or tablet.

When users download an app, they’ll usually opt-in to these messages by default. But the user ultimately has more control over how each notification gets delivered.

While push messages are similar to texts, there are also some significant differences you should be aware of. When users open a push message, they’re brought straight to the app. They don’t land on a screen where they can read the rest of the message. This means that the message must be short, ensuring the users can read everything in its entirety directly from the lock screen.

That’s one of the reasons why push messages with fewer words have a higher click rate:

Unlike emails and texts, push notifications can be sent without the user sharing any contact information. Assuming the user has notifications enabled on their device, app publishers can send them at any time.

Push Notification Functionality: How it Works

There are lots of moving parts behind the scenes for a message to pop up on a user’s notification center. 

A push notification service specific to each operating system is the first requirement. Then the app publisher needs to enable the app with each service. The push services ultimately give the publisher an API (application programming interface) as a communication method with each service. From here, the publisher must add an SDK to their app, which is a code library for each operating system.

Apple Push Notification service (APNs) is one example of an OS-specific service. Here’s a visual representation of how it works:

The process looks a bit different if you’re using APNs to send messages from multiple providers to multiple devices (like smartphones, tablets, and computers).

Beyond Apple, Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is an example of a notification service for Android devices. 

Once an app gets installed on a user’s device, incoming messages can finally get received.

Technical stuff aside, the basic concepts behind how this works from the publisher’s end is pretty straightforward. After you’ve been set up with a sending platform, it’s just a matter of drafting a new message, selecting the target audience, and sending the notification. 

Why Do Apps Use Push Notifications?

There are countless benefits of push notifications. They increase open rates, keep users engaged, drive user retention, and ultimately enhance the user experience. 

Think about the overwhelming amount of messages the average person sees on a daily basis. We’re constantly bombarded with TV ads, radio ads, billboards, social media ads, email ads—it’s never-ending. Most of those messages are of little interest to us.

But push messages are different. Users have already expressed interest by downloading a mobile application. This interest makes push notifications highly actionable. 

That’s one of the reasons why push notifications perform better than email marketing.

I’d like to quickly clear one misconception. Push notifications are not for user acquisition. Remember, the user has already downloaded the app. So campaigns surrounding acquisition wouldn’t relate to push notifications. Read this guide if you’re trying to get more people to download your app.

The great part about push notifications is the ability to target different users based on interests and intent. You can leverage automation to send targeted messages to the right people at exactly the right time.

For example, a user who just downloaded your app shouldn’t get the same message as an existing user who hasn’t used your app in a month. The former needs a welcome message, and the latter needs a nudge to come back.

Here are some common types of push notifications for different apps:

  • Promotional codes for discounts off next purchase
  • Sports score updates
  • Abandoned cart messages
  • Send an alert for rideshare driver on the way
  • Send an automated alert for food delivery arrival
  • Triggered messages based on a location or action
  • Reminder messages
  • Breaking news updates
  • Onboard a new user

As you can see, push notifications are really versatile. As an app owner, you’ll also have the ability to see data for your push messages. You can use that information to improve your campaigns moving forward. Tracking page visits to the promoted page, conversions, opens, and other KPIs will tell you which campaigns are working and which ones need improvement.

How Can Push Notification Campaigns Support My Business?

Now let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. Here’s where you’ll find the most important tips for high-converting push notifications. 

Whether you’re targeting existing customers who are highly engaged or want to focus on users who are about to churn, the following strategies will help you nail every push notification campaign.

Provide Valuable & Relevant Content

If only two words cross your mind each time you craft a new message, make them “value” and “relevance.” 

Is this message valuable? Is this message relevant? If the answer is no to either, then you need to rethink your intent and go back to the drawing board. 

So many apps make the mistake of sending messages just for the sake of contacting the user. But if you’re not adding value or the message is irrelevant, mobile users will unsubscribe. We’ll cover this concept in greater detail later on.

Here are my favorite ways to ensure you’re sending the most relevant content to a user’s device:

  • Send Targeted & Valuable Message Content — You should be segmenting users into different categories. Earlier we gave an example of sending a different message to new users than you would to an existing user. But you can break that down even further and send messages based on in-app actions, like a purchase or page visit.
  • Use Location To Your Advantage — With GPS and geofencing enabled, you can send targeted messages to users based on their real-time location. For example, if a user walks or drives within three blocks of your restaurant during lunchtime, you can send them a promo code off their next lunch purchase. If you have an ecommerce app, users in southern California could get targeted promos about bathing suits, whereas a user in Colorado could get promos for winter coats.

If your messages aren’t relevant and they aren’t adding value to the end-user, they can end up doing more harm than good. But if you start each campaign with these concepts, your messages will convert on a higher level.

Test & Optimize For All Devices

You need to keep the user’s device and operating system in mind when you’re crafting push messages. There are differences between Android devices and Apple iPhones. There’s even a difference in the way Android users behave compared to iOS users.

For example, the text gets cut off on an iOS device around 170 characters. But for Android, you can have a 65-character title and 240-character description.

Aside from Android messages being longer, they also appear differently on the screen:

Even on the same OS, you’ll see subtle differences in push notifications between different software versions. The iOS 10.0 push notifications look different than the iOS 15.0 push notifications, even if they’re being sent to the exact same iPhone model.

Beyond the initial send, you need to be aware of differences between devices and OS for what happens after delivery.

With iOS notifications, the message disappears once the device is unlocked. But Android notifications remain in the notification center until an action is taken. Web push notifications in Chrome disappear when users leave that screen.

Understanding these subtleties between devices and OS is crucial for success. A message might not be performing well just because it’s too long for the device. It could have nothing to do with the intent of the campaign. 

One way to combat this challenge is to segment users by device and OS. So your Android users will have different messages than iPhone users. 

Incorporate Best Practices For Higher Success

As discussed, there are many different types of push notifications. Whether you’re sending abandoned cart messages, subscriptions, re-engagement messages, onboarding messages, social media messages, transactional pushes, or something else, you should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Find the Right Send Frequency — Don’t send more than one push notification per week. Nearly half of all app users will opt out of messages if they get between two and five per week from the same app. So you need to be a bit more selective when you’re putting campaigns together. When in doubt, send at a lower frequency.
  • Keep Word Count Low — Aside from the differences between devices and OS, it’s typically in your best interest to keep your messages short and sweet. Earlier, we saw the data showing that messages with fewer words have a higher click rate. So trim the fat from your campaigns and craft short messages, ideally in ten or fewer words.
  • Personalize Messages For Higher Conversions — We’ve already discussed the importance of user segmentation. But you can take this one step further by personalizing campaigns with the user’s name, assuming you have that on record. Just look at the difference in opens between personalized content and non-personalized content:

Sending messages based on a user’s purchase history is an excellent way to do this. 

For example, let’s say you have a restaurant delivery app. You can send a quick “reorder your favorite” message to users who placed an in-app order within the past week. If they ordered a large pepperoni pizza last Saturday, send them a personalized message this Saturday for a one-click pizza order.

Gain Results in Customer Engagement & Conversion Rates

Earlier I discussed the importance of relevance and value when deciding whether or not to send a push notification. But now I have two words to focus on for the results—engagement and conversions.

What are you trying to accomplish from your campaigns?

Your push marketing strategy should all boil down to higher conversion rates and increased customer engagement metrics. 

That’s another reason why you should be tracking KPIs and other mobile marketing indicators. You’ll also want to monitor in-app user engagement and see if there’s a correlation between those numbers and your push campaigns.

Who is more likely to open and engage with a push message? An active user or inactive user? You might have an assumption, but the data will be the only way to truly know.

Always track the total number of notifications delivered. Then look at the number of clicks and the click rates for each individual campaign. You should also consider factors like the timing of your message or the day of the week.

Is it better to send notifications first thing in the morning so a user sees it when they wake up? Or do you get more clicks in the afternoon? Is there a difference between weekday pushes and weekend messages?

All of this needs to be taken into consideration and analyzed when you’re trying to optimize campaigns for engagement and conversions.

Dangers of Inappropriate Use of Push Notifications

App users are sensitive to mobile push notifications that are irrelevant and don’t add value. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize the user experience when you’re making new campaigns.

50% of people say they find push notifications annoying. Don’t burn your communication bridge with your users. Once they unsubscribe, there’s probably no chance they’ll opt-in again to pushes from your app.

You also need to ensure your campaign workflow is bulletproof. Some apps have accidentally sent inaccurate or inappropriate messages to an entire user base. That’s a quick way to hurt your brand reputation, and people could lose faith in your company. 

Push notifications are great when used correctly. But they can do more harm than good if you’re not careful.

Don’t just send messages haphazardly for the sake of getting something out there. Each message must have a valid intent. Otherwise, users will unsubscribe, or worse—they could delete your app altogether. 

Implementing Push Notifications For Your App

Ready to start sending push notifications to your app users? As previously mentioned, you need to set yourself up with a push notification service.

But if you’re using BuildFire to create your app, you can send and manage push messages directly from your admin dashboard.

As an app publisher, this will make your life ten times easier than going through a third-party.

In addition to crafting your messages directly from a simple dashboard, you can also enable automatic push sequences for different scenarios. BuildFire supports location-based messages with geofencing, and you’ll have full access to the message history and analytics.

Use BuildFire for activity-based notifications, drip notifications, messages for specific users, and custom user segments—the list goes on and on. 

BuildFire is the easiest way to manage push notifications at every step of the user journey. Here are some helpful how-to articles from our knowledge base to get you started:

Best BuildFire Apps of 2021

The new year is finally here. Like many of you, I use this time to reflect on the past 12 months and set goals for the future. 

As I look back on 2021, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some of my favorite apps created with BuildFire. Every app on this list had a significant impact on revenue for their companies in 2021. Read on to learn the reasons why each app made the cut for the Best of 2021.

Kidz Bop Live

Kidz Bop is a name that you’ve likely heard of—and for good reason. As the number one music brand for kids, Kidz Bop has sold over 22.5 million albums and generated more than 6.5 billion streams worldwide. 

Only three artists in music history – The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Barbra Striesand – have sold more top ten albums than Kidz Bop.

For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, the concept is really simple. Kids sing covers of popular music. The songs, music videos, and albums are available on all major streaming services, including Apple Music and Spotify.

In addition to selling albums in record numbers, the Kidz Bop brand also sells out arenas worldwide for concert tours. These concerts inspired the launch of Kidz Bop Live, the mobile app created with BuildFire.

The app gives the Kidz Bop core fan base a way to interact with the brand 365 days a year. Parents can find out about upcoming shows, buy concert tickets, purchase merchandise, get access to music, and watch videos directly from their smartphones. 

Unfortunately, most of the Kidz Bop 2021 tour was canceled due to the pandemic. But this only made the Kidz Bop Live app that much more important to the brand and its fans.

The app makes it easy for parents and children to watch exclusive Kidz Bop videos from anywhere. So while they can’t attend any concerts, they can still have fun and engage with the community every day.

Rob Decker, Kidz Bop Director of Marketing, explains why the app has been so popular over the past year. “The most used feature in our app is the video section. People are looking for a way to find and consume our content. While fans are stuck at home, they’re looking for some entertainment.”

2022 looks to be a better year for live music and concert tours, which means the Kidz Bop Live app will help to grow the brand and entertain fans even more in the new year.

311

Sticking with the music theme, this list wouldn’t be complete without the 311 mobile app.

311 has been making rock music for more than 30 years. With 13 studio albums and over 8.5 million records sold in the US, this band has created some of the most recognizable rock songs of the past few decades.

311 has a very loyal fan base. That’s where the 311 mobile app comes into the equation.

The app has everything you’d expect from a band. Fans can find tour information, buy tickets, get 311 gear, and see news about the members. But unlike the average music app, 311 has one of the most active fan communities on the planet.

Fans love the in-app message board.

With BuildFire, implementing this feature was as simple as installing a plugin from the BuildFire marketplace. The rest is history.

Fans use the message board feature on a daily basis to talk about the band and music. They discuss past shows, upcoming events, and share some of their favorite 311 stories. The app has essentially become the ultimate fan community hub. App users even use these message boards to coordinate post-concert meetups and after-parties. 

It’s truly incredible to see how the app evolved from something so simple into a must-have app for every 311 fan.

Amputee Walking School

The Amputee Walking School was founded in 1988 by Todd Schaffhauser. Todd lost his leg to bone cancer when he was just 15 years old. 

But that didn’t hold him back. As a Paralympic Games gold medalist and world record holder, he revolutionized the way athletes can run with prosthetic legs. Todd’s story is truly inspiring. 

Today, The Amputee Walking School has over 30,000 members, and they help more than one thousand amputees every year. 

Enter the Amputee Walking School Mobile app. Created with BuildFire, the app has become a lifeline for amputees and healthcare professionals. 

To summarize its top features, the app offers:

  • Resources for amputees and people considering an amputation
  • Help for people struggling with the mental aspects of amputations
  • Physical therapist training videos
  • Patient training videos
  • Direct access to the Amputee Coalition of America
  • Walking challenges for app users

Arguably the most impactful feature of the app is its physical therapist training. The Amputee Walking School works directly with hospitals, prosthetic companies, and outpatient services programs across the country. This role includes training for physical therapists who work with new amputees during the rehab process.

But an afternoon of training isn’t always enough for a physical therapist to retain information. The mobile app solves this problem by giving therapists direct access to walking videos, exercises, and techniques from anywhere.

So when a patient comes in for a rehab session, the therapist simply opens the app on a smartphone or tablet. They can play a video, and the patient just needs to mimic the movements on the screen. 

This mobile app has single-handedly bridged the gap between physical therapist training and patient care for amputees. The walking challenges and in-app leaderboard helps inspire the amputee community. It gives people motivation to get out there and walk, so they can post their step counts in the app. 

In 2021, the Amputee Walking School mobile app was used to connect doctors, patients, educators, and even prosthetic companies. The sky’s the limit for this app in 2022.

Kids Learning Tube

Kids Learning Tube is an education tool for kids. It teaches subjects through animated videos and songs. With over 1.25 million subscribers and more than one billion video views, Kids Learning Tube has been used by teachers and parents worldwide as a resource to make learning fun.

The app was initially launched out of necessity. After YouTube faced some compliance issues related to online ads in children’s videos, Kids Learning Tube needed to pivot.

They came to BuildFire and launched an ad-free platform where teachers, parents, and kids could access all of the videos. 

The app has proved to be extremely useful in 2021. Countless parents across the globe were navigating unfamiliar waters. All of the school closures and uncertainty forced parents to teach their kids at home. This is far from an easy task.

First, you need to get your kids excited to learn. Then coming up with teaching materials and a way to convey those lessons can feel impossible for parents. 

But Kids Learning Tube solves all of those problems. 

While the app was obviously built for kids, it’s actually used by students and educators at all levels. In fact, a Stanford University student wrote their thesis about how they used Kids Learning Tube to get an A in a college anatomy course. 

Here at BuildFire, we saw a significant increase in the demand for educational mobile apps in 2021. I expect that demand to continue in 2022 and beyond.

Grief Refuge

Many people across the globe experienced loss in 2021. 

Losing a loved one is always difficult, and everyone deals with loss in different ways. But once you learn to cope with your grief, it can make a significant difference in your life.

The Grief Refuge mobile app offers tools and guidance to ease the pain and deal with grief head-on.

This unique app offers comfort and support to individuals who are often at their most vulnerable. It gives them the opportunity to reflect on their grief, share personal stories, and track the entire grief journey.

Grief Refuge provides these support resources on the go. So whenever someone feels like they need some extra support, the app is just a click away.

The daily journaling feature is one of my favorite features of this app. It allows users to take notes and share thoughts about how they’re feeling that day or in the moment. App users can even listen to daily audio recordings to help ease pain and stress.

Sadly, we all need to deal with grief at some point in our lives. The Grief Refuge mobile app is one way to get through our pain.

Savannah Bananas

Savannah Bananas is unlike any baseball team you’ve ever seen before. The homepage of their website says it—they make baseball fun.

This unique team based in Georgia has sold out every home game since it was founded back in 2016, and they have thousands of people on the waitlist for games.

The Bananas have been featured in ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Good Morning America, and Cosmopolitan for both on-field and off-field performances. Here are just a handful of the wacky antics put on by the Bananas:

  • The players wear kilts
  • The team performs choreographed dances at every game
  • Post-game interviews are done in the shower, ice baths, or other unconventional places
  • The owner wears a yellow tuxedo to every game
  • Players run through the crowd when the team scores

You get the idea. It’s LOTS of entertainment, with a little bit of baseball mixed in there as well.

The Savannah Bananas mobile app takes that fun and excitement on the go. Fans can use the app to buy tickets, buy merchandise, view rosters, chat with other fans, and even access tickets on game day. The app has parking information, food and beverage maps, and digital game programs.

Since the games are always sold out, fans can also use the app to watch highlights at any time. These highlight videos include on-field action, as well as the wacky off-field antics. 

PepTalks

PepTalks is one of my favorite BuildFire apps of 2021 for two main reasons:

  1. The app itself is awesome, and it’s designed to help people.
  2. The app creator is even more awesome, and she’s a DIY entrepreneur that built the app on her own—without any prior technical experience.

Before we dive into the app, I want to give you a quick backstory on the owner and creator, Lindsey Eryn Clark.

Lindsey has her own branding studio and also hosts a weekly podcast for entrepreneurs. Unlike other entrepreneurial content, her podcast focuses more on the heart and soul of entrepreneurship. 

Out of necessity in her own life, Lindsey began writing daily pep talks to herself. These were just simple words of motivation to get her through the day. Realizing how much these words were making an impact on her, she decided to share them with friends as well. 

As the list of friends turned into a list with thousands of strangers, she eventually found a platform to text people daily words of encouragement. 

That’s when the entrepreneurial spirit in Lindsey kicked in. She wanted to scale her words of wisdom while simultaneously monetizing her content. That’s when the PepTalks mobile app was created.

Not only did the app allow Lindsey to scale her list and make money, but it also improved the experience for her subscribers. Rather than getting a text message, which wasn’t always supported on different devices, the app allows Lindsey to reach her subscribers with daily push notifications.

Users can customize these settings to control how many notifications they get per day and what type of inspirational quotes they want to receive.

Furthermore, app users no longer have to wait until a specific time each day to get a daily pep talk. They can access the app 24/7/365 for motivation on-demand. 

Lindsey is also using the PepTalks mobile app to promote her podcast and personal brand.

In a year when so many people needed advice, words of wisdom, and motivation, the PepTalks mobile app was there for support.

Final Thoughts

More than 10,000 apps have been created with BuildFire. So coming up with this list of my favorites for 2021 was no easy task. But each app above stood out to me for at least one or two significant reasons when I was reflecting on the year. 

As you can see, BuildFire’s platform is extremely versatile. Individual users, businesses, musicians, and even baseball teams have used our platform to create something special. From videos for physical therapy training to event sales, words of wisdom, and fan hubs, the BuildFire apps on this list are truly unique.

Do you have a creative idea for a new app? Start building it today, and maybe you’ll make my list of the top BuildFire apps next year.

BuildFire Receives Top Awards in G2’s Winter 2022 Reports

We’re thrilled to announce that BuildFire has earned some new badges and significant awards in G2’s latest quarterly reports!

BuildFire continues to hold a top spot in multiple categories, as we’ve earned G2 badges in several consecutive reports. Most notably, this is the fourth straight quarter that we were named a “Leader” for Drag and Drop App Builder Software—the highest level of recognition for that category.

We also earned the “High Performer” recognition in seven additional categories and made the list of “Momentum Leaders” for three different app development reports. 

Here’s a complete overview of BuildFire’s G2 awards and achievements for the winter of 2022:

Grid Reports

  • Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Leader
  • Mid-Market Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Small Business Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Small Business Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Mobile Development Platforms — High Performer
  • Application Development Platforms — High Performer

Momentum Grid Reports

  • Trending Drag and Drop App Builder Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Mobile Development Platforms Software — Momentum Leader
  • Trending Application Development Platforms — Momentum Leader

Regional Grid Reports

  • Asia Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer
  • Asia Pacific Drag and Drop App Builder Software — High Performer

You can check out BuildFire’s G2 profile for full access to our scores and reviews.

Mobile App Download Statistics & Usage Statistics (2022)

With over 6.3 billion smartphone users across the world, it’s no surprise that the mobile app industry is thriving. App usage and smartphone penetration are still growing at a steady rate, without any signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future.

Now factor in the 1.14 billion tablet users worldwide, which a number that’s grown about 36% over the past six years.

If you take a second to look up from your phone during the day, I’m sure you’ll notice that everyone else has their eyes glued to a mobile device as well.

In fact, studies show that the average American checks their phone 262 times per day! That’s once every 5.5 minutes.

We use our phones at work, at home, on the street, while we’re eating, in bed, and even in our cars. You might be reading this from a mobile device right now.

What’s everyone doing on their phones? Well, 88% of mobile time is spent on apps.

This is encouraging news for app developers, app publishers, and anyone who plans on developing an app. But in order to be successful in this space, two things need to happen.

  1. Users need to download your app.
  2. Users need to use your app.

These two seemingly simple actions are what inspired me to write this guide. Sure, we know that people are using apps more than ever before. But that’s just barely scratching the surface in terms of the available data on this usage. You can’t develop an app based on this information alone.

That’s like saying, “People like to eat, so I’m going to open a restaurant.”

If you want to compete and claim your share of this multi-billion dollar industry, you need to have a better understanding of exactly how people are downloading and using mobile apps.

Use the research that I’ve identified in this guide to help you develop or improve your mobile app.

Continue reading “Mobile App Download Statistics & Usage Statistics (2022)”

Mobile App Marketing Costs: How to Plan Your App Marketing Budget

When it comes to mobile app development, there are lots of costs you need to keep in mind. Many of those costs go beyond app development itself. 

If you don’t allocate funds to your marketing strategy, then nobody will know your app exists. That’s obviously a big problem. 

This guide contains everything you need to know about marketing costs for mobile apps. Whether you’re an app developer, white label reseller, launching an app as an extension of your business, or creating a completely new app from scratch, we’ve got you covered.

How Much Does it Cost to Market an App?

This is one of the most common questions our sales team gets when we’re consulting with new clients. But unfortunately, there’s really no single dollar amount that’s an acceptable answer. 

Some app marketers can only afford to spend $1,000 or $5,000 to promote the app. Others spend in the tens of millions. Everyone else tends to fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. 

One thing is for certain—spending more money on app marketing isn’t always better. You can’t just pour money into marketing campaigns and expect to see exceptional results. As long as your strategies are effective, you can get away with an affordable marketing strategy for your mobile app. 

At the end of the day, you need to focus on your cost per install, better known as CPI. This key app marketing metric helps you measure exactly how much each installation is costing you. Here’s the formula:

Tracking this KPI forces you to be smart about your marketing costs and helps you identify whether or not specific campaigns are working. 

Why is it So Important to Set an App Marketing Budget?

Setting an appropriate marketing budget is crucial for app marketers. If it’s your first time going through this process, you might be asking yourself why. 

Is this really necessary? What if you’re not working with a lot of capital?

Regardless of your situation, you ALWAYS need to create a marketing budget. 

Setting a budget for your app helps you allocate funds appropriately. Otherwise, you might put too much funding into a particular campaign or strategy, only to find out that it’s not working. But by setting a budget ahead of time and allocating funds for each campaign, you can make adjustments and switch your strategy based on what’s yielding a positive ROI. 

Marketing budgets also keep you on track for managing your goals. How many installations are you expecting per $100 or $1,000 spent on marketing? How many app users are you expecting in the next three months? What about the next year?

Budgets also help with long-term planning, which is why you need to create one ASAP. First, you need to assess the total app cost—including development and maintenance. Then allocate a part of that budget specifically for marketing. 

How long will that budget last you? When will you have more funds ready to invest in app marketing? 

Many experts recommend spending 12-20% of your gross revenue on marketing. As your app becomes more established, you can lower this percentage to 6-12%.

This is obviously a bit more challenging if your app is still in the pre-revenue stages. If you fall into that category, I’d recommend setting a fixed dollar amount aside that’s specifically for your marketing costs. 

Set a budget that’s something you can work with over time. Look ahead to the next 12-18 months at a minimum when you’re doing this.  

General financial responsibility is another important aspect of setting an app marketing budget. In every component of business, spending with no clear plan is a recipe for disaster. So it’s in your best interest to build these healthy financial habits from day one, as they’ll stick with you for the complete mobile app life cycle. 

How to Create a Mobile App Marketing Budget

Before we dive into the specifics of your app budget, let’s quickly go through the steps required to create your budget from scratch. 

Step #1 — Assess Your Marketing Funnel

The first thing you need to do is look at your marketing funnel. This refers to the entire journey a user takes before they finally install your mobile app. If you haven’t officially tracked users going through the marketing funnel before, it’s still important to assess the process and see what this journey looks like. 

Here’s a generic marketing funnel:

In terms of app marketing, the awareness phase happens when a potential user first realizes that your app exists. They eventually think about getting an app or similar tool in your category to solve a pain point or address a need—that’s the interest stage.

When they reach the desired stage of the funnel, they’ve started leaning towards a particular option or brand. 

The action stage is when they finally decide to download the app and install it on their mobile devices.

Why is this important for app marketing purposes?

Your marketing funnel will show you a clear picture of the journey people take from awareness to action. You’ll learn which channels are moving people through the funnel and driving the best results. Then you can allocate funds accordingly based on your findings. 

What was the trigger that moved a user from a desire to download? Where are users leaking through the funnel? These are areas that you’d want to prioritize.  

Step #2 — Define Your Goals

Many of us assume that the app install is the goal of every marketing campaign. While this is true in many cases, it’s not the only goal you should be focusing on. 

For example, some mobile apps want to sign up users for monthly or annual subscriptions. Others want the app to be an extension of an ecommerce site and drive purchases of physical goods. 

Both of these scenarios would have very different marketing strategies, and therefore would have different budget priorities. 

When defining your app marketing goals, it’s in your best interest to set SMART goals

This forces you to look beyond “we want people to download our app,” which will set you up for long-term success. 

Step #3 — Account For Other Operating Costs

As previously mentioned, marketing is just one portion of the big picture. You still have an entire app to develop and maintain after launch. 

These operations come at an expense. 

You need to think about paying developers, design costs, servers, utilities, subscriptions, and all of the other backend costs associated with app development. Are you renting an office or physical space for your business? Do you have to pay someone to maintain your website or create content? 

Some of you may even hire an app marketing agency to help you here, which is another added cost to consider. 

Everyone’s operating costs will look a bit different. But it’s important for you to understand that all of the money in your bank account can’t be allocated towards marketing. There are other costs to keep in mind. 

Step #4 — Identify Your Most Profitable Marketing Channels 

Which platforms or campaigns on those specific platforms are driving the best results? How are these channels addressing your previously defined goals? 

You’ll need to experiment with different marketing strategies and channels in the beginning. But eventually, you’ll want to weed out the ones that aren’t profitable. You may start with email ads, search ads, or paid social media ads. Then you may expand into long-term strategies, like organic search through content creation. 

Within these profitable marketing channels, you’ll want to test small variations of campaigns as well. For example, you could run A/B tests on your search ads, email promotions, or app landing pages. 

Start by keeping your tests small, and don’t exhaust your entire marketing budget in the beginning. You want to make sure there are plenty of funds left over for you to use in the campaigns driving the best results. 

Here’s a simple example to explain what I mean. Let’s say you have $24,000 allocated to app marketing in the next 12 months. 

Rather than distributing an even $2,000 per month for the entire year, you could start smaller in the first three months to identify your most profitable channels. To keep the numbers simple, let’s say you decide to spend $1,000 per month for three months split between four campaigns. This comes to $250 per month per paid ad campaign. 

Based on the results over those three months, you might learn that two of your four campaigns were useless. Then you can eliminate those and move forward with the remaining $21,000 split between your two most profitable campaigns for the next nine months. 

Step #5 — Compare Your Marketing Budget With Other Mobile App KPIs

Your marketing campaigns don’t live in a vacuum. So aside from the results and metrics coming straight from each campaign, you should also look at other KPIs that will tell you the full story. 

This will also help you find anomalies or events that could contribute to your goal’s performance. 

Check out this post on the top app KPIs and metrics you need to track. All of this will make a lot more sense once you can narrow down the metrics that can impact your marketing plans.

Components of a Mobile App Marketing Budget

How much does it cost to market an app? Your app marketing cost will depend on where you want to spend your money. To help you figure this out, I’ve narrowed down some of the key categories that you’ll need to account for.

Market Research

Lots of mobile app marketing starts in the pre-launch phase. Arguably the most important pre-launch marketing components is market research.

This isn’t the same as trying to identify whether or not potential users think there’s a need for your app. That’s part of the app development process. In this case, market research involves assessing the marketing funnel and preferred online channels where you can reach potential app users. 

Here’s a really basic and obvious example to showcase what I mean by this. Let’s say you have a health app designed to help people over the age of 55+ years old with weight loss. You probably aren’t going to be marketing your app on platforms like Snapchat. 

Instead, you’d need to find online channels, websites, forums, or places on the web where your target audience hangs out. This process would fall into your market research segment. 

Beta Testing

Beta testing is an often overlooked aspect of app marketing. But it’s crucial to the long-term success of your app and its functionality.

You’d want to see how real app users feel about your iOS app and Android app when they’re actually using it. 

Platforms like User Testing make it easy for marketers to test mobile apps. 

This marketing expense will depend on how many users you want to test your app. It will also depend on the platform you use and how long you want this testing to go on for. 

App Promotion Assets Costs

No matter what type of app you have, you need to create digital app marketing assets. Visuals used for your marketing campaigns would fall into this category. 

For example, who is going to create the custom visuals for your app landing page? How are you going to create promotional videos for YouTube or Facebook?

What about the visuals and marketing resources for your app store page?

Unless you’re a designer and content creator, all of these things cost money. The exact prices will vary based on what you’re getting and who you’re hiring. If you have an existing business in place, you might already have an in-house team dedicated to these digital assets. But you’ll still need to budget for the time it takes for those people to create digital assets for the app. Don’t forget to include those costs in your marketing budget. 

Viral Marketing

The concept of “going viral” can be a really cost-effective way to draw attention to your app. This isn’t always easy or guaranteed to happen. But when it does, viral marketing costs money.

By definition, this normally wouldn’t have a dollar amount attached to it. However, you need to think about the costs associated with the campaigns that have the potential to go viral. 

Let’s say you’re creating an edgy promotional video that has the opportunity to be shared by thousands of people on the web. How are you going to create that video? Are you going to pay for ads to get it in front of more eyes to increase its chances of getting shared?

These types of questions are usually answered with dollar signs.

Social Media Marketing

Establishing your presence on social media channels is a key part of app marketing. While it’s free to create social media accounts, keeping those accounts active will ultimately cost you some money.

Even if you’re on a bare-bones budget and don’t plan on spending any money on social media ads. Someone has to be responsible for writing posts, sharing content, engaging with your audience, and replying to messages. 

You might be able to handle this stuff on your own in the very beginning. But that’s not a scalable plan for the long-term. So you’ll eventually have to pay someone to manage your social media profiles.

Push Notifications

Targeting mobile users with a push notification after they’ve downloaded your app is one of my favorite marketing strategies. It’s a great way to drive in-app purchases or other actions related to your goal. 

But depending on how you’ve built your app, you may need to pay for push notification services to facilitate these messages. Push notifications platforms cost money, which needs to be accounted for in your budget. 

This is an important part of your marketing strategy because it’s intended to reach existing users. So you have a much higher chance of getting these people to convert, as opposed to targeting perceptive users who don’t have the app downloaded just yet. 
Different types of push notifications can impact your costs as well. For example, sending a generalized push notification to all of your users is fine, but sending a push notification based on their location drives more opens and conversions.

For the latter, you’d need a way to track your user’s location and send them geo-push messages based on that location. These types of services will likely cost you extra. 

Influencer Marketing

This is a marketing strategy that has exploded in popularity in recent years. You can pay influencers on social media to market your app using their platform.

It could be something as simple as an Instagram post or a Facebook Live promotion that features your app. You could use this as a one-time strategy or develop ongoing relationships with different influencers. 

If you’re having trouble finding the right influencers to fit your niche and budget, you could always look for assistance from a PR agency. But just be aware that app PR outreach costs will need to be factored into your budget as well, in addition to the influencer marketing costs. 

Website

You need to have an online presence and a promotional website for your app. 

If you already have a business and you’re creating an app as an extension of your business, this should be fairly simple. I’m assuming your business already has a website, so you’d just need to have a dedicated landing page on your site to promote your app. 

For new apps being launched as a completely new business, you can just use an online website builder like Wix or Squarespace to get started here. Create the site ASAP to start building hype for your app, even while you’re in the pre-launch stages. 

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Getting organic downloads from your app on the app stores requires you to invest some money into ASO. This will help you stand out from other options within your app category when someone searches the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store for a relevant keyword. 

It’s important for you to understand that your ASO strategy will look a bit different for your Android App vs. your iPhone App. 

That’s because each platform has a slightly different algorithm and formula used for ranking apps. 

Check out our complete guide to app store optimization for more information on nailing this crucial marketing strategy. 

Final Thoughts on App Marketing Costs

Before you launch an app marketing campaign, you need to take the time and plan for your app marketing expenses. 

Creating a budget is truly the only way to have success with your big-picture app marketing strategy. Otherwise, you’ll likely waste a lot of time and money on campaigns that aren’t getting you anywhere. 

Even worse, you could blow money on marketing that really needed to be used for development, testing, or app maintenance. 

I hope you found this guide useful and good look with your app marketing costs!

Ultimate Mobile App Stores List (2022)

At one time, social media consisted of just a handful of sites. Over time, however, numerous niche and specialty social media sites have proliferated, giving consumers more choices. The same is true of mobile app stores.

App creators and consumers no longer find themselves limited to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Many other options and alternative app stores exist, and since such app stores are smaller than the Big Two, apps prove far more discoverable via these platforms.

Mobile app stores designed for specific niches and industries or for particular markets deserve your attention if you want more app downloads and better visibility. No matter the nature of your app, you want people to use it and interact with your brand.

Unfortunately, many mobile app stores have shut down over the last few years, creating confusion among both brands and consumers. That’s why we need an updated mobile app stores list so you know where to reach consumers in 2022. Continue reading “Ultimate Mobile App Stores List (2022)”

Top Mobile Ad Networks (2022)

It’s no secret that we’re living in a mobile world. Everything seems to be trending in a mobile direction in 2022.

In fact, over 52% of all Internet traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices. That’s more than double the percentage of traffic from just five years ago.

As these figures continue to trend upward, mobile advertising is following suit and growing accordingly.

Marketers and publishers have recognized that they need to target consumers with platforms and devices that they are using the most. Consumers in the US spend 35 hours per week using mobile devices. 92% of mobile time is spent on apps.

But with mobile app usage on the rise, advertisers aren’t just using mobile browsers to advertise anymore.

By 2022 in the US alone, the gross expenditure of in-app advertising is expected to reach $201 billion.

If you combine that number with mobile app store advertising, that’s an anticipated $340 billion spent on mobile ads. We’re just two years away from those figures. That’s more than 2.5x higher than five years ago.

These advertisements are facilitated through mobile ad networks.

But there are so many networks out there. It’s overwhelming, to say the least, and difficult to choose which one is the best.

There are two ways to approach this. You can take advantage of these networks to purchase ads and promote your product, service, app, brand, etc. Or you can sell advertising space on your platforms. Maybe you’re interested in a combination of both options.

Regardless of your unique situation, you’ll definitely benefit from this extensive guide on mobile app networks.

Continue reading “Top Mobile Ad Networks (2022)”