App Maker Buying Guide (2022)

If you want to create mobile apps without writing code, an app maker is your best option. 

An app builder makes it easy for business owners and entrepreneurs to create apps at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. You can also get your app to market quickly, in days or weeks, as opposed to months or years. 

There’s just one problem—the marketplace is flooded with different app makers. Finding the best app maker for your and your unique situation can be challenging, especially if you’ve never gone through this process. 

That’s why we created this guide. You can use the criteria below to evaluate the best app builders by weeding out the bad options and narrowing down the serious contenders. 

What is an App Maker?

App maker software is designed to create mobile apps without any code. Anyone can use an app builder to create their own app for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Historically, mobile app development required specialized skills and developers. Only those who were fluent in writing code in specific programming languages could create an application. Those who didn’t possess these skills either had to learn them or hire people to create the app. 

But app makers bridge the gap to app development for non-technical users. 

All of the technical specifications of the app are handled on the backend of the software. You just need to tell the app builder what features and functions you want included in the app using drag-and-drop technology or plugins.

Some of you reading this right now are already familiar with how this works. Lots of small business owners and entrepreneurs use website builders to power their sites. App makers use the exact same concept, except the end result is a mobile app instead of a website. 

Check out our list of the best app building software to see some examples. 

Benefits of Using an App Maker to Create Mobile Apps

Why should you use an app maker? 

There are significant advantages to using an app builder compared to traditional development. Examples include:

  • No coding or technical skills required
  • You don’t need to hire and manage a development team
  • Faster path to app launch
  • It’s much cheaper to use an app maker
  • There’s virtually no learning curve
  • You can work on your app from anywhere without downloading software
  • It’s easier to make changes and update the app
  • All of the backend infrastructure is managed for you
  • Build for iOS and Android at the same time

Overall, app makers provide a faster and stress-free development experience—saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

Just be aware that if you’re planning to build a gaming app, VR/AR app, or app that’s highly graphics intensive, an app maker might not be the best option to consider. But for any other type of mobile app, app builders get the job done great and your end-users won’t know the difference. 

What to Look For in an App Builder

There are certain factors you should be using to evaluate app makers and compare them side-by-side. Use the criteria below as a buying guide to help you determine if a prospective app builder meets the specifications for your project and needs:

Simplicity

The first thing you need to consider is the ease of use. That’s one of the main reasons you’re considering this method for your mobile app.

If it’s going to take you weeks or months just to learn how the app development platform works, then the software is likely too complicated.

Don’t get me wrong. An app maker is like any other piece of software. There’s going to be a slight learning curve the first few times you’re using it. Even Facebook or Instagram took a few sessions for you to learn where everything was on the app.

Finding an intuitive app builder with a user-friendly interface needs to be a priority. So take advantage of any free trials offered by the platform to get a feel for how it works. You’ll know within a week or two if the software can accommodate your needs or if it’s just too complex for your skill level.

Cost

There will obviously be a cost variation between the platforms you’re considering. Even within a specific platform, you’ll likely see different subscription options—each with more features and functions at different tiers.

Don’t like price alone drive your decision. Instead, look at the value you’re getting.

For example, you might find an app builder on the market for $200 per month and another one for $350. But if the $200 plan only lets you create an Android app and you want to build for iOS and Android, then that’s useless for your project. 

The best app makers let you create a mobile app for iOS, Android, tablets, and PWA (progressive web apps). They also come with app analytics, built-in security, access to premium plugins, push notifications, and more. 

You should also consider the level of service and support you’re getting if you need some help or want something customized. You’re probably not going to get that from a free app builder. So spending a little bit more today can actually help you out tremendously in the long run. 

Features and Functionality

What type of app are you building? What do you want your app to do?

You need to know the answer to these questions as you’re comparing platforms. 

Let’s say you want to create a mobile app to manage memberships for your gym. Or maybe you’re creating an app for internal employee communication. Does the no-code app builder you’re considering have the functionality you need to make this possible?

Don’t just look at what your app will be when it launches. You also need to make sure the app builder offers the functionality you need as your app grows down the road.

BuildFire has more than 150+ plugins that you can use to easily add features to your app with a single click. From appointment scheduling to videos, maps, push notifications, and more, we have you covered.

The best part about BuildFire, compared to other app makers, is its limitless functionality.

If you have a unique or custom feature idea that isn’t available in our plugin marketplace, it’s no problem—our in-house development team can create it for you. So you’ll never outgrow the platform. 

Compatible Platforms

Where do you want to launch your native mobile apps?

With traditional development, you need to code separate versions of your app for each operating system. Your iOS app and Android app are essentially two different projects, both requiring different developers to complete the job.

But app builders let you create multiple apps for each platform with a single build. So just make sure the software you’re considering has that option.

At a minimum, it should offer iOS and Android versions. But the best tools provide you with iPad versions and PWA as well. This helps get your app into the hands of the widest possible audience.

Design Tools

There are lots of makers on the market that really lack design options. Even though you’re using an app creator, it should still feel like your very own mobile app—not a cookie-cutter version that looks exactly like every other app created on the same platform. 

Starting with an industry-specific template is always a plus.

For example, the homepage of an educational app probably shouldn’t be too similar to the homepage for a religious app. An ecommerce app should have a different design from an event planning app.

You should have full control over color schemes, buttons, menus, fonts, and every other visual component of the app and user interface. 

For more information, download a free copy of our ebook—The Definitive Guide to Mobile App Design.

Support

This is a huge factor in the app creation process that’s often overlooked.

No matter how easy it might be to use different app makers, there’s a good chance you’re going to have a question at some point or another. It might not be today or next week, but it could be next month or next year.

When that happens, will the support team be there for you?

Support is more than just a chatbot sending you to a knowledge base article. It’s someone who can offer you real advice and suggestions to get an answer. 

I strongly recommend that you use an app maker from a company that also offers app development services. This will give you the best possible support compared to standalone app development tools. 

In a year or two, you might want a completely customized feature or function to accommodate market demands or a shift in your business model. When this situation arises, you want the ability to lean on your support options without being forced to move your app elsewhere. 

If you’re going to outgrow the platform in a couple of years because the support options are limited, then it’s probably not the best app maker for your project. 

App Performance

At the end of the day, the mobile apps you’re building need to perform at a high level. 

Your customers and user base don’t care what platform you used to build the app or how much you spent. They just want something that works as it’s intended to do.

Downtime, crashing, bugs—all of this spells disaster for your app. 

Instead, you want an app that’s bug-free and loads quickly. You should be able to monitor all of the app analytics from your admin panel to see if users are experiencing problems and how they can be improved. 

Look through some of the apps that were built on the platform you’re considering. Read the reviews and download them to see how well they’re performing. This will give you a good indication of how well your app will perform if you build it with the same platform. 

Why BuildFire is the Best App Maker to Create an App

BuildFire is unlike any other app maker on the market today. It’s a simple yet powerful way to create an app for iOS, Android, and PWA—without any coding experience or technical knowledge. 

You can get started in minutes and choose a stunning template from a unique selection of industry-specific categories. From there, it’s just a matter of adding functions by installing plugins from our marketplace. You have full control over the design, and it’s easy to make changes to your app from anywhere.

But where BuildFire really stands out from the crowd is its limitless customization. 

We also offer full-service app development. So our in-house team is fully capable of creating custom features and functions on top of the platform. 

With other app builders on the market, you’re limited to what your app can do based on the feature list. If a feature isn’t available, then you’re out of luck. 

If you want a custom feature and don’t want to use our developers, that’s fine too. The BuildFire SDK makes it possible for you to use your own developers to create that functionality. All of which can be built on top of our existing infrastructure. 

We also offer exceptional support through each step of the development project. So you can always reach out to our team for assistance and guidance. 

Once your app is done, we’ll even help you get it live on the app stores. All of the security, maintenance, and backend requirements are handled for you. 

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. So you know that it’s a reputable and reliable solution. 

Start your 14-day free trial to see if BuildFire is right for you.

Final Thoughts

Using an app maker is the best path to development for the vast majority of mobile apps. 

Make sure you use this guide as you’re shopping around and comparing options. If you use the criteria and buying considerations mentioned above, you’ll easily find the best platform for your app development needs. 

Create Educational Apps: Tips and Best Practices

Educational apps and mobile learning are trending upward. In fact, roughly 50% of smartphone users use mobile apps for learning and education.

Apps for education are penetrating a wide range of categories, as they’re versatile enough for so many different use cases.

Schools and universities are using educational apps as an extension of the classroom. Tutors and educators are using mobile apps to create their own learning environments. Even businesses are using educational apps for employee training and compliance. 

Regardless of your unique use case, this guide is perfect for anyone who wants to create an educational app

The proven tips and best practices in this guide will help you engage mobile learners, drive more app downloads, and ultimately scale your business. 

Get Inspired by the Best Educational Apps

Lots of educational apps use the same core principles and concepts for success. 

Whether you’re creating an app for employee training, teaching language learning skills, or expanding your educational organization, you can learn from the best educational apps on the market. 

At the end of the day, your mobile app will still be fully customized to your specific needs. But you can borrow ideas and apply the same concepts used by apps that are already thriving in this space. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best educational apps that you can use for inspiration:

Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy Kids is a free app for younger children. 

The learning program helps keep kids engaged through educational games, animated videos, and interactive lessons that hold their attention. The app includes fun and charming characters that guide kids through the learning journey.

Khan offers educational content in core subjects like writing, math, language, and reading. The app is designed to not only teach young students but also help them build creative, emotional, and social skills. 

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is designed specifically for educational institutions. The app makes it easy for these organizations to create, distribute, and grade assignments. 

The core goal of this app is to streamline the way files are shared between teachers and students. It enhances the learning experience and simplifies the way assignments are submitted.

Teachers have the ability to create an online classroom. From here, they can manage all of the documents that their students need to access for lesson plans, homework, study materials, and more. 

Students and teachers can use the app to take photos and attach them to assignments. It also simplifies file sharing on the go, and it’s supported by offline access. This means students can access classroom materials even when they’re not connected to WiFi.

NSF Science Zone

Science Zone is a mobile app with free resources from the National Science Foundation. 

The app has hundreds of video lectures, photos, and educational content for iOS and Android devices. It’s a fun way for children and other students to access information from the NSF. 

Teachers can use the app to engage with students in the classroom. Parents can use the app to teach their kids at home. And anyone interested in science can use this to learn more about interesting subjects.

Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps in the world. 

It’s versatile enough for teachers to use in the classroom at any level. The app can help pave a child’s learning path through elementary school and beyond. It’s also used by adults who want to learn a new language.

The app uses AI to facilitate personalized lessons. It includes educational games to keep users motivated throughout the language learning process. 

Kahoot!

Kahoot is one of the most versatile learning apps on our list. It’s trusted by 97% of the Fortune 500 and more than 50% of teachers in the United States. 

There are more than 50 million public games available through the app that can be used for educational purposes.

The app stands out from other educational apps for its ability to drive engagement, regardless of the use case. It’s used at the elementary level all the way through higher education. Kahoot is also used in the workplace by employers for employee training and education.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get started with educational app development, you should definitely look at the five apps listed above. 

Create Educational Videos

Up to 75% of all global video consumption is watched on mobile devices. The average adult in the United States watches at least 30 minutes of video per day via mobile.

In short, people are already consuming videos on their smartphones and tablets.

So when you’re creating an educational app, it makes sense to have video content for your audience to consume. 

58% of people are already using videos to learn new skills.

Video content is easy to consume, and it’s what your audience prefers. In fact, 45% of students in elementary school said that watching videos is their favorite way to learn something new. 

The great part about having video content on your education app is that it appeals to users of all different ages and backgrounds. It can be applied to virtually any mobile learning use case as well. 

Videos help speed up the learning process.

It’s easier for someone to consume content via video, as opposed to simply reading through slides or digital books. 

All of the best educational apps have some form of video learning. So your app should have it as well. 

If you’re using BuildFire to create an education app, it’s easy to add video content. You can simply sync the app with your YouTube or Vimeo channel to repurpose your existing content. 

This can be done with just a few clicks. All you need to do is add the YouTube or Vimeo plugin from the BuildFire marketplace. The rest of the steps are very straightforward.

From there, you can organize your video content by category or lesson. You can even set up a video sequence for different lessons so that certain videos aren’t available until others have been watched.

This ensures that your audience is going through the right sequence of learning—with each lesson building on the other. 

Make Learning Apps For Different Age Groups

Not every mobile app is intended for the masses. That’s because everyone learns differently.

Think about it for a second. Apps for kids will have different materials than apps for high school students. 

You can keep younger kids engaged through animations and cartoons. Those tricks for young learners shouldn’t be used on your adult audiences. 

If you look back at the best education apps that we discussed earlier, you can see that some are uniquely designed for specific age groups. For example, Khan Academy’s app says it’s only for kids between the ages of two and eight.

So make sure you understand exactly who your app is for before you start building it. 

Your target age demographic will also impact how your app is submitted and managed. For example, Apple has specific rules if you’re building apps for kids.

Apps in the kids category need to comply with certain user safety instructions. 

When parents browse for apps in the kids category, they expect them to contain age-appropriate content. There are also rules you need to follow in terms of data collection and advertisements when you’re building apps for kids.

If your brand targets multiple age groups, you may ultimately decide to create more than one version of the app to simplify the distribution and compliance rules. 

For example, Khan has two different versions of an education app—Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids. 

The children’s version has more than one million downloads, and the other version has more than ten million downloads. As you can see, both versions of your app can still be highly successful. 

You can also repurpose the same core principles and learning instructions. But the content will obviously vary based on the audience. 

Check out our Kids Learning Tube customer success story to see how this brand used BuildFire to create an educational app for children across the globe. 

Start With a Free Educational App

Charging people to download an app can hurt your installation rates. 

According to Statista, about 94% of all apps on the Apple App Store are free to download. 

That number jumps to 97% when you look at the Google Play Store.

Simply put, most apps are completely free. So charging for downloads isn’t the right approach.

Instead, you can use in-app purchases and other monetization methods to make money from your educational app.

For example, maybe the free version has ads. But you can let users upgrade to a paid plan that’s ad-free. Or maybe your free app just provides basic learning materials. But users on a paid subscription have access to premium content.

This is how lots of educational apps make money, and it’s an approach that you should consider as well. 

Create a Personalized Learning Dashboard

Everyone learns at their own pace. So if you want to have a great app in the education space, you need to recognize this concept and adapt accordingly.

A personalized learning dashboard makes each user feel special and unique.

As a result, they’ll continue coming back to the app for more information and learning materials.

The app should help track the user’s progress and give them the motivation to continue learning. You can do this by creating different tiers for lessons and subjects.

For example, let’s say you’re using an educational app for employee training.

You might have different categories related to safety, compliance, and basic HR information in the employee handbook that everyone needs to follow. But beyond that, each unique position or department could have separate training materials. 

A new project manager won’t need the same job-specific training as a new accountant. So you can create personalized lessons and learning tasks for each type of user.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re creating a mobile app for your college or university. 

A freshman who is just arriving on campus shouldn’t be seeing the same content on their homepage as a junior in their third year. The freshman could get alerts and notifications that would be useful to their specific needs.

Maybe you want to send out an alert that tells them how to check out books from the library. Or maybe you’ll be asking them to fill out a survey related to the freshman move-in experience. 

But someone who has already been on campus for three years probably knows how to borrow books from the school library. So that type of information wouldn’t be useful to them. 

You could also have specific information for users based on their major, class schedule, and whether they live on or off campus. The possibilities are endless.

Drive Engagement With Interactive Quizzes

Engagement is crucial for mobile learning. This holds true for all target audiences at every level.

In many cases, the average user won’t always find learning to be fun. Not every student loves going to school. Similarly, adults that want to learn new skills on their own time might struggle to stay interested, especially if it’s not a requirement.

The best educational apps understand this and find ways to keep users engaged.

In addition to educational videos, interactive quizzes and tests help drive engagement. That’s because a quiz forces app users to stay active when they’re using the app.

They’re not just sitting back and watching videos or scrolling through flash cards. They need to answer questions to progress through the learning experience.

Adding interactive quizzes to your app is simple if you’re using BuildFire. Just use the Free Text Questionnaire Feature from our marketplace to create a test or quiz.

You can use this for opinion surveys, practice tests, graded quizzes, and more. 

Check out our Free Text Questionnaire Tutorial from BuildFire University to learn more about how this plugin works and how to add it to your app. 

Educational apps are boring if they don’t have some level of interaction from the end-users. Creating quizzes is one of the easiest ways to solve this problem and drive more engagement from mobile learners. 

Final Thoughts on Educational Apps

There are a growing number of use cases for educational apps. 

Educational apps are great for elementary schools, high schools, universities and higher education institutions, tutors, and more. They’re also trusted by businesses for employee training and compliance. Entrepreneurs are even creating educational apps as a completely new business for things like teaching people how to speak a new language. 

With so many education trends shifting towards mobile learning apps, now is the perfect time to get started creating one on your own.

You can use BuildFire to create an education app for iOS and Android without writing a single line of code. Our simple yet powerful app builder for iOS and Android lets you create an app from scratch in a fraction of the time compared to traditional development. This also helps lower your costs and gets your app to market quickly.

Sign up today to start your free trial

We have plenty of education app templates that will give you a head start on your development project. Then it’s just a matter of customizing the app content for your particular use case. 

If you need some assistance getting started, we’re happy to help with that as well. 
Just request a free consultation, and an expert from our team will get back to you shortly.

How to Optimize App Store Keywords

When you submit an iOS app to the Apple App Store, you’ll see a “keywords” field in your App Store Connect account. 

App store keywords explain what your app is all about. These terms help Apple’s search algorithm display relevant search results to people on the app store.

App store keywords are private and won’t be displayed publicly anywhere on the Apple App Store. But they’re still crucial for your mobile app marketing and app store optimization (ASO) strategies. 

Understanding how to optimize your keywords properly will give you an edge over other apps, help you rank higher for related searches, and ultimately get more app downloads.

This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about optimizing app store keywords for the Apple App Store.

What is App Store Optimization?

App store optimization (ASO) is the process of enhancing a mobile app’s organic visibility on app stores. It involves strategies and tactics, including keyword optimization, to help your app rank higher for keywords and related searches.

Elements like your app description, app store icon, screenshots, keywords, app title, metadata, and other factors all have an impact on app store searches. 

If you’re familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), then you already understand the core concepts of ASO. But instead of applying strategies to rank organically for Google searches (like you do with SEO), you’re leveraging different tactics that are specific to app store searches.

Refer to our complete guide to app store optimization for a deeper explanation of the topic.

App Store Optimization vs. Apple Search Ads

ASO is commonly confused with Apple Search Ads. While both mobile app marketing tactics help boost your app downloads, they’re very different from each other.

App store optimization primarily focuses on organic reach. You’re setting up the app store listing to rank high for searches.

Apple Search Ads are paid promotions. They appear at the top of the search results, marked and highlighted as an ad.

Running search ads is a shortcut to the top, and it’s good for fast results. 

But ads don’t guarantee downloads. You still need to optimize your app store listing. Users who click on your listing from a search ad will still look at your description and screenshots before they download it. 

The best app download strategies focus on a mix of both organic and paid tactics. But prioritizing ASO and keyword optimization is crucial for each approach.

15 Tips to Optimize Keywords for App Stores

Below you’ll find proven strategies and best practices for app store keyword optimization. Keep these in mind as you’re submitting your app and adjusting your ASO strategies.

1. Split Terms Into Separate Keywords

You do not need to enter complete search terms when you’re submitting keywords. The algorithm will automatically create combinations for you based on your keywords.

For example, the term “buy hats” can be split into “buy” and “hats.” So you would only have to enter the keyword “buy” once instead of including it for every product you’re selling through the app. 

This is a great way to get the most out of your character count and add as many keywords as possible without being redundant. 

2. Eliminate Spaces

Remember, app store keywords are not public. So you don’t have to worry about the list being aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. 

This means you can eliminate all spaces between your keywords. As long as you’re using a comma to separate one keyword from another, Apple will automatically recognize them as different words. 

3. Avoid Plurals

It should come as no surprise to learn that Apple has a highly sophisticated algorithm. 

The system is smart enough to recognize the plural form of words without you adding extra characters to your keywords. 

It might sound like a simple fix, but pluralizing words can really eat into your character count.

Hats, shoes, sneakers, belts, socks, and shirts. You can get back six characters just by eliminating the “s” on each of these keywords. 

4. Remove Stop and Connector Keywords

Apple automatically filters out basic keywords that are too generic. These are commonly known as “stop” or “connector” words.

Examples include:

  • a
  • the
  • of
  • by
  • but
  • this
  • with
  • you
  • all
  • an
  • any
  • app
  • if
  • is
  • no
  • here
  • do
  • to
  • who
  • why
  • would
  • me
  • i

You get the idea. Do not include these in your keywords, as Apple will just ignore them. 

5. Keep it Simple

Think about how people search for apps on the Apple App Store. 

Remember, they’re searching from a smartphone or tablet. So they won’t be typing out long or complicated phrases. 

App store searches are short and simple. 

For example, most people probably won’t search for words like “purchase” or “obtain.” They’d just search for “buy.”

Take a glance at your list and look at words that jump out as being too long or complicated. Look for ways to shorten those keywords and put them into the simplest, shortest, and most casual phrasing possible.

6. Don’t Use Your Brand Name or App Name

Branded and generic keywords don’t perform well either when you’re adding app store keywords.

That’s because the algorithm will automatically look at other parts of your app, in addition to the keywords. This includes your app name, developer name, and app category.

So adding these to your keyword list is just a waste. 

7. Start With Your Best Keywords

The order of your keywords is important. 

Apple’s search algorithm puts a stronger priority on words at the beginning of your list compared to the end of it. 

Once you’ve come up with a list, make sure you organize your keyword rankings before you submit everything. Always put your most important keywords at the front of the list. 

8. Maximize All 100 Characters

Apple gives you 100 characters of keywords to use. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of every character. 

This gives you the chance to get as many related keywords into your app store listing as possible.

Simple tips like avoiding plurals and eliminating spaces are easy ways to maximize the limits.

If you’ve done this already and you’re still at 97/100 characters used, see if you can get rid of a character somewhere else and add another four-letter word to the end of your list. 

9. Avoid Duplicates

Surprisingly, we see lots of people use the same keywords multiple times. This is definitely a mistake that you want to avoid. 

It typically happens when brands are targeting two different keywords that share a term.

For example, let’s say you’re selling jewelry through your app. You’re likely targeting words like gold necklace, gold earrings, and gold bracelet. 

But don’t repeat “gold” more than once.

Instead, keep the list as gold, necklace, earrings, and bracelet.

10. Eliminate Special Characters

Do not use special characters, like # or @. 

Apple specifically says that these do not carry any weight in your search ranking. So don’t waste space on them.

11. Use Digits Instead of Writing Out Numbers

If you need to include numbers in your app store keywords, be sure to use the digit form instead of writing them out.

  • 9 vs. nine
  • 15 vs. fifteen
  • 23 vs. twenty-three

Apple will recognize your digits as numbers, even if someone spells them out in their search (which would be rare).

If you have only one or two characters left to use and don’t have anything else to include, you could always put a digit in there. It’s a good placeholder and can’t hurt. 

12. Update Your Search Terms Regularly

Your app store search terms shouldn’t be left alone and forgotten. 

As your brand changes or you release new products or services, make sure you update the keywords to appropriately reflect those changes. 

Check your keyword rankings to see which terms are driving the best performance. If some keywords aren’t performing, you can always eliminate them or replace them with synonyms. 

13. Only Use Relevant Keywords

Make sure that you’re only using keywords that are directly related to your app and brand.

Some developers think that using popular app store keywords will help them appear for a broader range of searches. But this can actually backfire on you.

For example, let’s say you have an ecommerce app or banking app. You can’t use words like “game” or “social media” as a way to get more eyeballs on your app.

This will give you unwanted traffic that could lead to uninstalls—which can hurt your rankings.

14. Target Keywords With Less Competition

You can use app store optimization tools to search for popular keywords and compare them against your competitor apps.

Contrary to popular belief, going after highly competitive terms isn’t the best option for most apps. 

Instead, go for the low-hanging fruit. It’s better to target words that are highly specific to your target audience and have a lower search volume compared to terms with 20,000 daily searches that you’ll never rank for. 

Your end goal is always to get more app downloads. So be smart with your decisions and don’t try to compete for keywords that won’t move the needle. 

15. Monitor Your Keyword Performance

Statistics don’t lie.

You might think that some keywords will increase your visibility and drive app downloads, but keyword performance will tell you the truth. 

Just make sure you’re giving your keywords enough time to work. Adding new app store keywords and expecting an influx of downloads today, tomorrow, or next week isn’t realistic. 

But if it’s been three or six months and you see that certain terms aren’t performing, it’s probably a good time to reevaluate your strategy. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to optimize app store keywords will increase your organic app store exposure and boost app installations.

Every mobile app with a presence on the app store needs to prioritize keyword optimization and ASO. 

Whether you’re in the process of launching an app or you’re just trying to improve the performance of an existing app, the tips in this guide will steer you in the right direction. So keep this saved or bookmarked so you can quickly reference the strategies whenever you’re working on keyword optimization. 

30 Best App Ideas For 2022

Thinking of a unique mobile app idea can be challenging. Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to get your brain working.

That’s why we created this guide.

Based on current business trends and technology movements, we’ve identified the best new app ideas of the year. These money-making app ideas are poised for growth and success in 2022 and beyond. 

Innovative Mobile App Ideas For 2022

Coming up with the right idea is the first step of any mobile app development project. These ideas are great starting points for any entrepreneur or investor that wants to get involved in app development.

Parking Space Finder App

Parking is a big commodity in major cities and tourist destinations. Creating an app that allows users to find a parking space using their mobile devices can be a huge winner.

There are lots of different ways you can make this work.

One creative idea is a parking space marketplace, where people who own parking spaces can rent them out by the hour, day, week, or month. Alternatively, you can direct app users to both free and paid parking lots in the area.

You can make money by taking a commission on each transaction or charging a fee to list a parking space on the platform.

Food Donation App

The pandemic showed us the importance of food donations. According to Feeding America, more than 60 million Americans turned to food banks in 2020. That number is up 50% from the previous year. 

Such a high demand for food donations requires modern technology to facilitate the process.

Your mobile app development project can focus on this trend and look for ways to improve the way donated foods are collected and distributed. You can partner with existing non-profits and food banks to get started or create one of your own. 

Employee Communication App

Internal communication is the key to success in any organization. 

Employee apps help businesses with human resources initiatives, safety and compliance, employee training, benefits administration, and more. You can even use an employee self-service app for your staff to check pay stubs on their phones. 

Push notifications make it easy for organizations to notify employees about upcoming events and urgent scheduling changes. These such apps even work for crisis and emergency communication.

Check out our guide on the top benefits of an employee communication app to learn more. Then you can use BuildFire’s workforce app builder to get started. 

Grocery Delivery App

More than 60 million people will have a food delivery app installed on their smartphones by 2023. 

They’re already used to the idea of having food delivered to their doors. Coming up with new mobile app ideas in a space that’s already trending upward will help you succeed. 

Rather than partnering with restaurants, you can use that same concept of food delivery apps for groceries. People can use your app to order produce, baked goods, household items, eggs, cheese, frozen foods, and anything else offered at local grocery stores. 

Voice Translation App

There are about 430 languages spoken in the United States alone. This has created a significant demand for voice translators.

You can create an app that records someone speaking, then automatically transcribes that recording in the user’s desired language. 

This type of app can help break down language barriers in the workplace, for tourism and international travel, and even teach people how to speak a new language.

A voice translation app can help users travel abroad and feel comfortable enough to communicate with others in a language that they’ve never spoken before. There are countless ways to market this idea.

Content and Media App

Content creators that already have a presence on YouTube, social media, and other platforms can scale to create a standalone mobile app for their brands. 

This is an excellent way to produce and distribute exclusive blogs, videos, and podcasts.

You can either repurpose your existing content from all channels into a single app for your fans. Or you can use your app to promote premium content that isn’t available anywhere else. A combination of these two methods is also a viable business model.

This is a great way to turn your content into revenue by charging a subscription fee for your app users to access exclusive content. 

Click here to learn more about BuildFire’s solutions for content, media, and entertainment apps.

Supermarket Checkout App

Here’s another innovative app idea that users will love. A grocery store checkout app that lets you avoid the line.

As users are shopping, they can use a barcode scanner feature on the app to scan items and add them to their cart. When they’re done, they can simply checkout through the app and get charged to a credit card stored on file. 

They never need to take out their wallets or wait in line at the store again. 

Criminal Alert App

We’re living in a crazy world these days. Having an app that lets citizens monitor police activity or suspicious behavior in their neighborhood will help people feel safer.

Users can be notified whenever a new incident takes place within their geofenced location.

You can also set up a feature for users to report suspicious behavior in their area and create a community space within the app—like a virtual neighborhood watch program. 

Wedding Planner App

Planning a wedding is a full-time job. This great mobile app idea can be marketed toward wedding planners and engaged couples alike. 

Wedding planners can create an app to manage events and simplify everything from a single source of truth. They can use it to create schedules, connect with vendors, share information with their clients, and handle all communication. You can even use this app to manage, sign, and distribute contracts. 

Someone getting married can take advantage of wedding planning mobile apps to manage guest lists, discover local vendors, and create a checklist of tasks to complete. 

Church and Religious App

Even churches and religious organizations are going mobile. 

You can create a church app to deliver daily inspiration to your community, collect donations, manage upcoming events, and share your schedule. These apps are great for anyone that wants to upload videos of previous sermons so people can virtually attend church from anywhere. 

Check out our guide on how to build a church app and click here to learn more about BuildFire’s church app builder

Video Editing App

Good app ideas look at existing trends, habits, and consumer behavior.

People are using their smartphones for everything, and they’re constantly taking videos seemingly everywhere they go. What are they doing with these videos? Most people are sharing them on social media.

But the problem with social media is that it’s tough to stand out from the crowd. Everyone is using the same built-in video editing tools, filters, and features—so everyone’s content looks the same.

You can come up with your own unique video editing toolkit and offer it in the form of a standalone mobile app. From there, users can connect with their favorite social channels and upload the edits directly from your platform. 

Random Chat App

A random chat app connects strangers. 

Every time someone opens the app, they’ll be connected with a new person. Think of this like a virtual pen pal. 

You can use it to connect people from around the world or use it for people to make new friends in their local area. 

Gym and Fitness App

This is one of the best mobile app ideas of the year. 

Personal trainers, gym owners, dietitians, nutritionists, yoga instructors—the opportunities are endless. 

It’s a great way for anyone in the health and fitness industry to scale their business. Mobile apps can be used to share custom workout videos or meal plans. They’re also great for managing class schedules and letting people manage their memberships. 

Personal trainers can earn recurring revenue on a subscription basis through virtual training. You can infinitely scale your client base by offering in-app training lessons without ever meeting them in person. 

Learn more about BuildFire’s solutions for fitness and wellness apps here

Home Security App

Innovative app ideas are always in high demand. 

Smart home technology paired with mobile apps is definitely something that users will be interested in. 

You can create an app that lets people lock their doors, put their lights on timers, and monitor security cameras from anywhere. Apps can even notify homeowners and renters about motion sensors that were tripped on the property.

These apps can connect with local police, fire, and medical services for fast responses to an incident. 

Augmented Reality App

Augmented reality apps have been trending upward for quite some time. In fact, augmented reality made our list of the top app development trends of the year

That’s because the use cases are so versatile.

We’ve seen augmented reality used in gaming apps like Pokemon Go. They’ve also been used in home furniture apps, letting users see how a couch, desk, or table looks or fits in a space before it’s ordered and delivered. 

You can apply these same concepts to nearly any type of business and create an app that leverages AR technology. 

Digital Receipt App

Here’s an innovative app idea that can benefit business users and general consumers alike.

Help your target audience get better control over their finances with digital receipts. They can simply take a picture of a physical receipt or download copies of digital receipts and store everything within the app. 

It’s a great way for people to track spending, separate personal spending from business purchases, create an expense report, and stay organized if they’re audited. 

Tourist Helper App

This is one of my favorite app ideas for startups. 

You can create a completely new business from scratch by targeting tourism in different areas. The app can serve as a digital itinerary for travelers both domestically and overseas. 

People can use it for something simple like finding a restaurant or museum on a weekend getaway. Or they can use it to map out a backpacking trip across Europe. 

Education App

There are dozens of use cases for educational apps.

You can create an app for schools and universities, make an app to teach a new language, or use apps to teach users new skills. 

E-learning is trending upward. Apps can be used to facilitate tests, share video instructions, access documents and learning materials, and create a digital community for learners. 

Disaster Management App

Disasters often happen unexpectedly. 

You can create a mobile app that helps people prepare for disasters, so they’re not scrambling when an unexpected event occurs. 

This is definitely one of the more brilliant app ideas for commercial use. We’ve seen these types of apps built first-hand here at BuildFire. You can read our Disaster Hawk case study to get inspiration and see how one app was used to help small businesses prepare for emergencies in the workplace. 

Social Networking App

You don’t need to be the next Facebook or Instagram to create a social media app.

Instead, you can focus on a niche community or group to target a more specific audience. For example, maybe you want to create a social networking app that’s specifically for bird watchers. Or maybe you have an awesome app idea for gardening that you can turn into a social network. 

Check out this story of Daylyy—a new type of social media concept that was created with BuildFire. 

Motivation App

Everyone needs a little motivation from time to time.

You can use an app to deliver daily words of inspiration or inspiration on-demand for your user base. 

This is another example of an app that we’ve seen succeed in the past. 

See how a solo entrepreneur used BuildFire to create PepTalks—a mobile app that reaches thousands of people around the world and earns recurring revenue by providing motivation. 

Virtual Shopping App

Mobile shopping has become the new normal.

If you currently have a retail store or ecommerce site, you need to create a mobile app to improve the user experience. This will help you increase sales and reduce cart abandonment rates. 

Check out our in-depth guide on the top reasons why you need an ecommerce app. You can also click here to learn more about the BuildFire ecommerce app builder

Anti Smartphone Addiction App

The average smartphone user checks their phone 150 times per day. 75% of people even admit to using their phones while driving. A whopping 47% of parents say their kids are addicted to their smartphones. 

You can create an app that monitors smartphone activity, helping people track how much time they’re spending on their devices and preventing people from overusing them.

The app can be used to set time restrictions and send users alerts when they’ve used their phone too frequently or have the screen on for an extended period of time. 

Mood Monitoring App

Mental health is a priority for millions of people worldwide. 

You can create a simple mood monitoring app for people to check in on themselves. They can record their feelings, take notes, and see how their mood progresses over the course of days, weeks, months, and even years.

This type of app can also offer tips, best practices, and methods for improving your mood. 

Gift Delivery App

There are countless occasions where giving gifts is appropriate.

From birthdays to holidays, Mother’s Day, engagements, weddings, graduations, special achievements—the list goes on and on. People even like to give “get well” gifts and send gifts randomly to family and friends. 

But if you don’t live within a reasonable driving distance of the person you’re gifting, this can be a challenge. You have to rely on regular online shopping, which just isn’t quite the same as having a gift delivered in person.

A gift delivery app would operate similarly to a food delivery app. App users can simply select gifts from local stores and get them sent to the recipient in person. Regardless of each party’s location, a courier will hand a gift to the recipient. 

Charity Donation App

Collecting donations for a charity is easier if people can pay using their smartphones. 

Most people aren’t carrying much cash with them anymore. Even fewer people are carrying checkbooks. 

So charity collections outside of local grocery stores and events aren’t keeping up with modern technology trends. 

But a charity donation app solves this problem. You can collect donations by letting people scan a QR code in person to give money. Apps can also facilitate recurring donations from your users—automatically. 

Goal Tracking App

People are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they’re written down. 

But what’s better than writing goals down? Using a mobile app to track and manage everything.

You can create an app that lets people track both short-term and long-term goals. They can add a goal in the app and monitor progress along the way. Each goal can even contain a checklist or milestone achievements that users can check off in real-time as they’re accomplished.

This can be used for personal goals, professional goals, education goals, fitness goals, and more. The possibilities here are endless. 

Meal Prep and Cooking App

Calling all chefs! This is your chance to share your recipes with the world.

You can create videos and upload instructions for all of your recipes. Categorize your recipes into folders like breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, vegan, gluten-free, pescatarian, keto, and more.

Use this as an opportunity to sell meal plans or create a digital recipe book. You can sell recipes for a one-time fee or offer collections of recipes on-demand for a monthly subscription. 

Real Estate App

You can create a mobile app to manage your real estate business.

Use it to schedule appointments, upload new listings, and add photos and videos of properties. The app can also serve as a contact management solution—a place where all communication is handled.

For property managers, the app can serve as a place to collect rent, manage applications, gather feedback, and handle all maintenance requests. 

Tip Calculator App

Create an app that lets users calculate tips automatically. People can scan a receipt, and the tip calculator can take care of the rest.

This is also great for situations when you’re dining with a large group of people. 

The app can calculate what everyone owes based on what they ordered and automatically include the tip amount for each person or group at the table. 

Final Thoughts

Use this guide as inspiration and motivation for the next great mobile app idea.

Once you’ve narrowed down an idea, you still need to validate it. Check out our guide on how to validate your app idea and turn it into a reality

From there, you can follow our step-by-step tutorial on how to create an app

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to get started with BuildFire—the world’s most powerful app builder for iOS and Android.

How to Conduct Mobile App Market Research

Mobile app development is exciting. New entrepreneurs and established businesses alike are always eager to bring their app ideas to life.

But before you rush into development, there are a few things you need to do first.

Mobile app market research is arguably the most important step for any project. It helps validate your ideas and lays the foundation for every other stage of mobile app development. No matter what type of app you’re building, mobile app research cannot be overlooked.

Continue below to learn more about mobile app research, the importance of market research, and the best market research strategies for mobile app development. 

What is Mobile App Market Research?

Mobile app research is the process of understanding your target market, competitors, industry, and current market trends. Market research is the first step of every mobile app development project. 

Mobile app market research helps validate your app idea and ensures your app is addressing existing market needs. 

Conducting mobile app research requires data collection and analysis. In some cases, you can pull data from existing sources. Other times, you’ll need to conduct unique research on your own. Most of the time, market research is a combination of these two approaches. 

Mobile app research aims to answer the following questions:

  • Is there a market need for your application?
  • Who is your target market, and what are their preferences?
  • What competitors and obstacles are you faced with?
  • Does your mobile app have a unique differentiator from the competition?
  • Do you have a viable mobile app business model?
  • How can you create an optimized marketing strategy?

When you’re sourcing information from existing sources, you’ll want to stick with trustworthy and authoritative references like Statista, Pew Research Center, Gallup, Google Trends, and similar sources. 

You can also refer to our Mobile App Statistics Guide for general information about smartphone users, industry trends, and other data related to mobile technologies.

Original research is typically conducted through focus groups, interviews, customer surveys, and observation.

Why is Mobile App Market Research Important for Mobile App Development?

Every successful mobile app starts with quality market research. 

Without thorough mobile app research, you’re essentially just guessing whether or not people actually want your app. This could prove to be a very expensive guess if you go through the entire mobile app development process only to discover there’s no market need for your product.

You can save a ton of time and money by simply validating the idea first—before you start writing code or hiring a development team. 

Market research also helps you identify competitors and obstacles on your path to success. 

For example, let’s say you have an app idea for a free video sharing platform, making it easy for anyone to share and watch videos from their smartphones. Users can create their own profiles, like videos, follow content creators, and write comments on videos. 

Great idea, right? Well, this idea basically just described YouTube.

Market research would help you identify this, and you’d likely decide not to directly compete with the largest video hosting platform on the planet. 

Instead, your market research could help you pivot your original app idea to target a different market niche. Maybe you still want to create a video hosting application, but you want it to be specifically for online education. 

Market research helps you better understand your customers. You’ll find out who they are, along with their wants and needs. You might think that your target audience wants to use your mobile app. But market research will help validate or disprove your hypothesis. 

Then you can lay the foundation for your mobile app features, brand positioning, and app marketing strategies based on your findings. 

Types of Mobile App Research

It’s much easier to perform market research when you break everything down into categories. 

Market research for mobile app development can be segmented into two phases—primary research and secondary research. We’ll take a closer look at each of these stages below.

Primary Research

The first thing you need to do is conduct in-depth market research on your users. 

Define your target market and find as much information as you can about them. Start with generic information, habits, likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. Then narrow that research even more, specifically related to their behavior with mobile applications.

Your primary research should also consider the latest technology trends and how the current market landscape works with your business model. 

These initial steps are crucial, as this early market research ultimately guides you through the entire mobile app development process.

Your findings here will help you determine whether or not to target certain users. You can also frame certain components of your mobile app based on this early market research.

For example, let’s say you want to create a real estate app. The initial idea might be focused on prospective home buyers. 

But after conducting your primary research, you could discover a lack of market need for this type of product. Maybe the market is too saturated, or maybe the app’s goal didn’t meet the needs of your target audience.

If you’re an expert in the real estate industry, you still might proceed with the app creation. Only you’ll pivot to an app that addresses the needs of real estate agents instead. 

Then the app’s features will be based on meeting the needs of your new target audience.

Secondary Research

The second step is your sales and marketing strategy research. 

By now, you’ve already validated your idea and decided it’s worth moving forward. You just need to take your existing research and get more information on how you’re going to reach your target audience.

You’ll use this information to create a marketing plan, optimize social media accounts, prepare ad copy, and other things that will ultimately speak to and attract your target market. 

What does your target user base respond to? How can you market your mobile app accordingly to pull on those strings?

Your secondary research will help shape your branding and market positioning within your niche.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a B2B smartphone app designed for other businesses. Rather than simply branding yourself as a project management tool, your secondary research can help define your market positioning as an application for productivity improvement.

This type of positioning would likely be more aligned with the problems your target audience is trying to solve. 

Best Strategies for Mobile App Research

Everyone’s market research will look a little bit different. But there are some proven strategies specific to mobile app development that will help steer you in the right direction:

Mobile App Idea Validation

The first thing you need to do is validate your mobile application idea. 

If there’s not a market need for your app, then there’s no reason to proceed with the remaining steps for market research. You might need to head back to the drawing board and rethink your idea.

Discovering that there is not a market need for your app isn’t a bad thing. Lots of people are disappointed when they hear this news. But you should be happy that you didn’t pour money into a project that wouldn’t deliver a return on your investment. 

Instead, you can take what you’ve learned during the validation stages and use that to frame new ideas. 

To validate a mobile app idea, you need to get out there and start talking to people.

Run customer focus groups. Conduct interviews. Send out surveys. 

Do everything you can to get as much information as possible about your idea and how it does or doesn’t meet the needs of prospective users. 

Identify Your Target Audience

Narrowing down your app’s target market must be another primary area of focus for your market research.

All too often, we hear things like, “my app is for everyone” or “my app is great for women of all ages.” That’s not specific enough.

You need to define more specific characteristics, like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Background
  • Income
  • Highest level of education
  • Personality traits
  • Values
  • Hobbies
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Behavior

With mobile app development, you also need to see if your target audience prefers some mobile devices over others. 

For example, if you discover that 90% of your target market uses iPhones, you may not necessarily create an Android app for the Google Play Store right now. You could focus your efforts specifically on Apple devices and make an iOS app.

When you’re doing market research on your target audience, it’s important to remember that you’re not excluding other users or other people who might be interested in your app. But your primary focus and efforts will be surrounding your target market. 

Conducting Competitor Analysis for Mobile Apps

Researching the competition is an absolute must for mobile app development.

It’s rare to see mobile apps today that are 100% unique. There’s a good chance that at least a few other apps on the market do something similar to yours.

Your job is to identify those competitors. Find out what they’re doing well, and find out where their apps fall short.

You can use this information to your advantage and create an app that fills the gap with your competitor’s shortcomings.

Even if you think those players have a head start because they already have apps available for download, you have a faster path to development by avoiding the same mistakes that they did.

Eventually, you need to figure out how you’re going to stand out from the competition. 

What’s your differentiation factor? Why should someone download your app over another app that does the same thing?

This could be related to your marketing strategy, feature differences, different target users, or all three. 

SWOT Analysis

Many of you might already be familiar with a SWOT analysis. It’s an acronym that stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

There are dozens of great use cases for running a SWOT analysis in different business situations, and market research is definitely one of them. 

Get together with your team and assess all of your findings from both the primary and secondary research. Now write out everything that comes to mind for each of these categories.

  • What is your advantage?
  • Where are you vulnerable?
  • Are there specific niches, users, or features that are open for a new market need?
  • What competitors or external market factors could hurt your app?

At the end of the day, a SWOT analysis helps prepare you for mobile app development and your mobile marketing strategies. By becoming more aware of yourself and the market as a whole, it also helps you stay ahead of the competition.

Final Thoughts

Mobile app research is key to the success of mobile apps.

If you need help with market research, schedule a free consultation with BuildFire. 

As part of our full-service app development solution, we assist with this part of the process. We’ll help you run a competitive analysis, so you have a better understanding of your market. Our team will also provide expert guidance with app strategy sessions to ensure your app is meeting your business goals.

Launch App Guide: How to Launch an App Fast

Most businesses recognize the importance of app development. But waiting a year or more for your mobile app launch isn’t realistic for everyone.

Sometimes a business needs to launch an app quickly to capitalize on an opportunity.

Maybe you need the app ready for an upcoming event. Or perhaps you’re releasing a new product or service that must coincide with the app launch. It’s possible that you’re creating an app to stay one step ahead of your competition or keep pace with other competitors launching mobile apps.

There are dozens of reasons why launching an app quickly is crucial for so many organizations. 

The average app development timeline before launch is at least six months. But this guide will teach you how to cut that timeline in half. Some of you will be able to create and launch an app in just one to three months by following the blueprint and tips for success outlined below.

Why a Successful Mobile App Launch is So Important

Your mobile app launch can make or break the short and long-term success of your application. 

If you wait too long to launch the app, you could miss out on some time-sensitive opportunities that have a direct impact on app downloads and usage. Conversely, rushing through development and putting out a sub-par product could cause people to stop using the app altogether because of a bad experience. 

A smooth launch with an app that’s bug-free and delivers a seamless user experience is the best way to ensure your app is successful for years to come. Prioritizing the user will keep them coming back to use the app, allowing you to maximize the lifetime value of each person who downloads the app. 

Launching your app in weeks instead of months is useless if the app itself doesn’t work the way it’s intended. So you need to find that balance between a fast launch and a high-quality product.

Full disclosure—some apps simply cannot be built in weeks or months. If you’re trying to create the next Facebook, Uber, or YouTube, it’s unrealistic to plan for a three-month development timeline. Gaming apps, augmented reality apps, and virtual reality apps typically have longer app launch timelines as well.

But the vast majority of business apps can be launched quickly, without sacrificing the app’s quality—assuming you’re using the right technology and following a proven blueprint for success (like the steps in this guide).

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. So we know what it takes to have success in this space, and we’ve seen our clients launch apps faster than the average development cycle. 

5 Steps for Fast App Launches

Fast and successful app launches are all about simplicity. The entire process can be summarized in just five easy steps:

Step 1 — Market Research

Anyone can come up with an app idea. But you need to validate this idea with market research before you start building anything.

So many mobile apps fall short of expectations because the app developer skipped this step. 

Taking the time to understand your target audience and research your target market will ultimately save you time and money when development starts. You might realize that certain features or functions that you thought were important aren’t actually necessary for the app. 

So you can launch the app quickly by omitting those features altogether. 

For example, let’s say you have a small boutique clothing shop. You want to make an app before the busy holiday season as a way to boost sales from mobile commerce. Great idea!

One feature you’re considering is a barcode scanner. This would allow customers shopping in-store to scan the barcode of an item in the app to see more information about the product, including customer reviews. Sounds like a reasonable feature to include.

But after conducting market research, you might discover that most of your customer base doesn’t want, need, or plan to use that feature. 

By eliminating this functionality from your development process, it will save you a ton of time and money—allowing you to launch the app faster and for less money.

Market research gives you the opportunity to research your current customers, prospective customers, competitors, and similar apps on the market. 

You’re forced to identify what makes your app unique, giving you an advantage over other apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 

Step 2 — Get Organized

Once you’ve completed the market research stage, you need to create a solid plan. Use the following bullets as an app launch checklist and answer some important questions before you start building anything:

  • What app stores are you going to launch on? 
  • Are you going to build your own app or hire mobile app developers?
  • If hiring app developers, will you assemble your team or work with an app development company?
  • Have you considered app builders and mobile app development platforms?
  • What is your app development budget?
  • When do you need to launch the app?
  • Are there other stakeholders that need to be consulted?
  • Do you need to raise money or pitch the app idea to investors?
  • How is your app going to make money?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, you’re not ready to build and launch the app yet. 

For the purposes of this guide, I’m not going to go too deep into each of those questions. 

Instead, we want to focus our efforts here today on launching a high-quality app as quickly as possible. 

But we have tons of great resources and how-to guides that will help you get organized and prepare yourself during the app planning stage. Here are some relevant articles to the questions listed above:

You can always reach out to our team of experts here at BuildFire for more guidance and information. Take advantage of a free consultation to learn more.

Step 3 — Identify Your Mobile App’s Key Features

By now, you should have a clear understanding of how you’re going to create an app. Whether you’re going to create an app on your own or outsource the project to a development company, it’s time to focus on the app’s functionality. 

This is arguably the most important step when trying to launch an app fast.

All too often, people get carried away with mobile app features. They focus too much on the “nice-to-haves” instead of the “must-haves.”

Start by creating a list of features that your app users need to solve a problem or achieve a goal. 

Your initial list of features might have more than a dozen different ideas. But that doesn’t mean you’ll actually develop all of them. Go through the list one by one and start to eliminate the ones that don’t contribute to the app’s core purpose.

For example, let’s say you’re creating an app for your restaurant. There are dozens of potential features that you can include in the app. But what is your real reason for development?

A restaurant app for mobile ordering and delivery will look very different from a rewards app for in-person dining. 

Would it be cool to have the app connect with the user’s contact list and camera? Sure. But is that actually necessary for the app’s primary goal? Probably not. 

Step 4 — Create an MVP

An MVP (minimum viable product) is often associated with beta testing and app analytics. But you can actually use an MVP for your initial launch on the respective app stores if you’re on a tight development timeline. 

With an MVP, you’re taking the core features that were identified in the previous step and putting those into development. 

You’re not going to worry about all of the extra bells and whistles. Just focus on the core functions and give yourself a working version of the app that achieves its goals and primary purpose. 

Here’s another example.

Let’s say you’re creating an ecommerce app as an extension of your shopping website. The primary goal of the app is mobile purchasing capabilities. 

So while a mobile customer loyalty program or mobile customer referral program sounds like great features, neither would be included in the MVP. Instead, you’d just launch an app with the bare-bones functionality for ecommerce purchasing. 

You need to make sure the app integrates with your online store and has a built-in payment gateway—that’s it.

Letting users customize their profile with a birthday, favorite products, and the ability to share items with their friends can be added in later. But the MVP is just for the primary feature or features.

Step 5 — Prepare for Launch

While the MVP development is still in progress, you can start taking steps to promote your app and get it ready for launch. 

Waiting until the development is complete to act on this step is just going to add unnecessary length to your launch timeline. Preparation examples include:

  • Create a dedicated landing page for the iOS app and Android app
  • Promote your app in a blog post
  • Build hype for the app on your social media accounts
  • Create app screenshots to use for marketing materials
  • Prepare for app store search using app store optimization (ASO) guidelines
  • Understand the differences between Android apps and iOS apps when you launch

If you’re stuck on some of these preparation steps, you can always look to free mobile apps and paid apps for inspiration and borrow ideas from their promotional strategies. 

This way, you can publish your app immediately after the development is done.

App Launch Methods For Success

There are actually five different ways to launch an app. But if you’re prioritizing speed without sacrificing quality, only two of these options are worth your consideration.

Method #1 — Using an App Builder

An app builder is the easiest way for DIY users to create their own apps without writing a single line of code. 

All of the backend app requirements are handled by the platform provider. So you just need to add your features and customize the content. 

BuildFire’s app maker is the most powerful way to launch apps for iOS and Android. It’s easy to use and offers limitless scalability. 

You can start in seconds by simply choosing a template. Then you can add features with a single click from our feature marketplace. 

The cool part about BuildFire is that it also supports custom functionality. So if you need something that’s ultra-specific and can’t find it in the marketplace, we can create custom features for you.

Once the app is built, we’ll handle the app store publishing process. You just need to click a button when the app is done. 

BuildFire makes it easy to launch an app fast and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. Maintaining the app post-launch and adding features later on is simple. So you can start with basic features and add more advanced functions months or even years after the initial launch. 

Method #2 — App Development Services

If you’re not a hands-on user and would rather outsource the development project, you can look for an app development service that will get your mobile app to market quickly.

BuildFire Plus is the ultimate solution.

Compared to traditional development, BuildFire Plus offers custom app development on top of BuildFire’s existing ecosystem and infrastructure. So our in-house custom development team doesn’t need to start from scratch. 

This gives you a significant head start compared to outsourcing your project to other app developers or assembling an internal product team. 

We’ll work with you through each step of the process to ensure that the app aligns with your business goals, budget, and development timeline. 

Final Thoughts on a Successful Launch for Mobile Apps

Launching an app quickly is important for many businesses and entrepreneurs. Just make sure your development timeline doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the final product.

You can also save time and prepare for a successful launch by working on your app marketing strategy and promotional materials during the development stages.

Focus on your app’s core features and functionality in the beginning. You can always add more features later on after the app launches. 

Turn Website Into App – The Ultimate Guide (2022)

Creating a mobile app is the best way to take your website to the next level. 

While websites are fine for computer browsing, 85% of people say they prefer mobile apps over mobile sites on smartphones. Mobile app users prefer the convenience, user experience, and speed of apps compared to websites. This gives you an opportunity to target a wider audience and generate more conversions.

So how do you turn a website into an app? This guide will show you how.

We’ll start by covering the main advantages of mobile apps compared to websites and web apps. Then you’ll discover the different ways to convert a website into an app and follow our step-by-step blueprint for success.

Benefits of Mobile Apps vs. Websites 

Why should you turn your website into a mobile app? Here are the top reasons:

Ease of Access

Let’s do a quick experiment. 

Take out your phone, and navigate to your website. How long did that take? You had to open your phone, navigate to a web browser, and then type in your site address (hoping not to make any spelling mistakes on a small screen).

Now open any app on your phone.

Obviously, it’s much faster to open an app than it is to visit a website. When you turn your site into an app, you’ll always be just a click away from anyone’s smartphone or tablet. 

Push Notifications

Push notifications offer a significant communication advantage over websites.

For websites to communicate with visitors, you need to rely on email opt-ins. Even if you manage to get subscribers, your next battle is getting them to open your email marketing campaigns—which is a completely different ballgame. 

But push notifications go directly to a user’s home screen, similar to a text message. So you can communicate with app users at any time, keeping your brand top-of-mind for any campaign or goal.

Loyalty

Mobile apps typically drive more loyalty compared to websites. That’s because apps live on a user’s home screen. They’re much more inclined to open a mobile application if they’re staring at your app icon dozens of times per day.

When you consider the fact that the average person picks up their phone 58 times daily, it drastically increases the chances of your app being used as well.  

Apps also make it easier for you to create customer loyalty programs, encouraging users to spend more money and convert more frequently. Then they can track their loyalty rewards progress directly from the app. 

Engagement

Apps provide a more pleasant experience for users compared to the mobile web. This translates to more engaged audiences.

If your site isn’t loading quickly or there isn’t a seamless navigation between screens, people often get frustrated and bounce. But native apps tend to perform much better, which translates to people having longer sessions and completing more in-app actions. 

You can also monitor user engagement statistics and tweak your app accordingly to ensure users open the app more frequently. They’ll continue having long, engaging sessions. 

Conversions

Mobile apps convert higher than the mobile web

This isn’t just an opinion or an observation—there are hard numbers to back this up. Just look at these app conversion rate differences between mobile apps and mobile sites:

Mobile applications perform higher in every industry. On average, apps convert at a 157% higher rate compared to mobile sites. 

Imagine getting a 150% increase in conversions simply by creating a mobile app. That alone should be a good enough reason to move forward. 

Meet User Expectations

People want to do more from their mobile devices. This includes everything from mobile banking to online shopping, scheduling appointments, watching videos, and reading blogs. 

Imagine trying to find a business online, only to discover they don’t have a website. You’d be shocked, right? 

While you wouldn’t quite have the same reaction to them not having an app, you’d still be a little surprised. Brands having mobile apps has become the new normal. We’re reaching the point where not having a mobile app is almost like not having a website. 

Improve the User Experience

Apps provide a better user interface and user experience compared to mobile sites in almost every way. That’s because mobile apps can use native device features, including cameras, Bluetooth, photo reels, contact lists, and more.

Mobile apps are made specifically for mobile devices, whereas websites are generally designed for larger screens.

Obviously, having a mobile version of your website improves the user experience. But it’s not quite to the same extent of having a fully native mobile app. 

Generate More Revenue

Apps give you the opportunity to make more money.

You can either use your app as a way to generate revenue using your existing business model or potentially open up new revenue streams. For ecommerce apps and subscription services, having an app is an absolute must. 

But even content creators can generate new revenue by offering in-app purchases to premium content or making in-app advertisements. 

You can use your app to book appointments, sell tickets, manage events, and even collect deposits as well. The opportunities are seemingly endless. 

App Store Presence

Having an app gives you an opportunity to expand your reach. Right now, you might only be reaching people who follow your brand on social media, read your blog or discover you through an organic Google search.

But you’re neglecting all of the potential users who are browsing the Google Play Store to find an Android app and the Apple App Store to discover new iOS apps. 

According to a recent study, 48% of people say they find new apps by browsing app stores. An additional 34% of users say they find new apps through app store recommendations.

These are both two of the top three app discovery methods. 

By having your app available to download on additional channels, you can attract an entirely new audience to your brand. 

Competitive Advantage

Creating an app gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. There are two ways to look at this.

One, if your direct competitors don’t have an app just yet, then you can beat them to the market and gain a significant advantage. Depending on the situation, you might even be able to steal their customers. Two, if your competitors already have an app, then you definitely need an app to keep up with them and stay relevant. 

Users could look at your brand and think that you’re not modern or keeping up with the times if you don’t have a mobile app. 

Offline Support

Mobile sites and website apps have a major flaw—they need internet access to work. So if someone is on the go and can’t connect to a WiFi network, they won’t be able to access your website without using cellular data.

But mobile apps work offline, meaning they’re always available to users. 

You can also set up your app to have offline-specific features. For example, look at an app like Google Docs. People can’t save changes to documents without an internet connection. But they can make changes and have everything saved to their mobile device. Then as soon as they get an internet connection, the files will be moved and backed up to the cloud.

6 Ways to Convert Your Website Into a Mobile App

There are lots of different ways to convert your website to an app. But not all of these options are great. We’ll cover each one in greater detail below so you can discover the best solution for your situation.

Use a Website to App Conversion Platform

Lots of tools on the market make it easy to create apps from a website. However, many of these conversion platforms are extremely limited. They’re essentially taking your existing website and just repurposing it into a mobile version, and that’s not what you want.

A mobile app should have distinguishably different features from your website. Your app could actually be rejected from the Apple App Store if it’s too similar to your site.

Most of these platforms don’t support custom features, and you can’t even send push notifications or do other basic actions. 

Pros

  • Cheap
  • No coding required
  • Get app to market quickly

Cons

  • Limited features
  • No custom capabilities
  • Can’t connect to native APIs
  • Not distinguishable enough from your website
  • Limited room for scale and growth

Overall, this option is really only viable for smaller websites on an ultra-tight budget. You want an app for the sake of having one but don’t really care about making money with it or getting lots of downloads.

Code the App Yourself

If you’re tech-savvy and want to create your own app without hiring anyone or using a third-party platform, you could always code it by yourself. But for most people, this obviously involves learning a completely new skillset. 

Learning how to code is not easy. Even after you nail some of the basic concepts, your first handful of projects probably won’t be amazing. Do you really want to experiment by building a native app from your website?

For business use cases, the answer is almost always no. 

Pros

  • You have full control over every detail
  • No need to hire other developers
  • Cheap
  • Complete customization options

Cons

  • Longer development timeline
  • Must learn how to code
  • Final product is likely to have some flaws
  • Need to maintain all of the backend infrastructure on your own

If you have some basic coding knowledge and you don’t mind experimenting, this could work for you. Maybe you even did all of the coding for your website, and you want to transition those skills to a mobile app. But for the vast majority of people, learning to code probably isn’t the best path for converting a website to an app.

Hire a Freelancer

Hiring freelance mobile app developers is an appealing option to many people. That’s because freelancers are often a cheap way to create native apps. There are plenty of freelance job boards and platforms to connect you with developers from all over the world. 

Risk is the biggest downside associated with hiring a freelancer. Your success and failures fall solely into the hands of a single person.

What happens if the project gets delayed? What if they get sick? How will you handle things if they’re not responding to calls or messages?

Language barriers can also be challenging, especially when you’re working with international developers. 

Pros

  • Cheaper than an app development agency
  • You don’t have to code anything on your own
  • Thousands of developers to choose from

Cons

  • Difficult to vet developers and find the best person for your project
  • Need to get the freelancer to understand your vision and business goals
  • Lots of back and forth communication is required
  • Costs can get out of control if there are any delays

Check out our guide that compares app development companies vs. freelancers for more information. If you know you want to outsource the project but don’t have the budget for a US-based development company, a freelancer could be a good option if you’re willing to take some risks.

Hire a Development Agency

Outsourcing your website app project to a development company is almost always a better option than going with a freelance developer. The costs will usually be a bit higher, but the final product and complete development option are usually worth it.

With an agency, you’ll have a complete team of experienced developers and designers at your disposal. This means your app will get to market faster, and the final product will be superior to other options. 

Most development agencies will also walk you through other key parts of the app development process, like wireframing, design, and post-launch support. 

Pros

  • Complete customization
  • Get your app to market fast
  • Entire team working on your project
  • Some agencies specialize in niche-specific apps

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Some agencies have strict contract terms

App development agencies can be amazing. Just don’t expect them to be cheap.

Use an App Builder Platform

An app development platform makes it possible to create an app on your own without writing a single line of code. Many of you might be familiar with this concept if you used a website builder like Wix or Squarespace to launch your website. 

These tools are designed for DIY users that want to keep costs low and still have an excellent final product. 

There’s definitely some work to do on your own, but it’s usually not very challenging. You can start with a template and just customize everything else from there with your branding and content. 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • No need to outsource
  • Start with a template
  • Control everything on your own

Cons

  • Not every app builder offers custom solutions
  • You may need to test different tools to find the best one for your needs
  • Some app builders aren’t built to scale

Just be aware that not every app builder is the same. Some have stricter limitations on what you can build and how much you can customize. Other options are good for post-launch features like unlimited push notifications. 

Use BuildFire

BuildFire is the best way to convert your website into an app. It’s an app maker platform with custom development services under one roof—providing a solution for everyone, regardless of your goal or budget.

For DIY users, you can use BuildFire’s app builder to convert your website to an app with ease. Our drag-and-drop platform has virtually no learning curve, and you can start building today. Adding features is easy. Just find what you’re looking for in our feature marketplace, and you can add it to your app with a single click.

Compared to other app builders, BuildFire stands out with its limitless scalability and functionality. Even for DIYers, our team can provide assistance and create custom features uniquely for your app. That’s the value of app development services vs. stand-alone app builders

If you want to completely outsource the project, we also offer a fully custom app development service that includes planning, design, development, updates, and post-launch maintenance. 

Pros

  • Build iOS apps and Android apps simultaneously
  • No coding required
  • Affordable alternative to traditional development
  • Limitless scalability
  • Fully customized features and development solutions
  • App builder and development services under one roof
  • One-click publishing to Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Cons

  • Not ideal for gaming apps
  • Not ideal for VR or AR apps

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to get started, or schedule a free consultation to learn more about our custom development solutions. 

How to Convert a Website to a Mobile App in 7 Steps

Now let’s look at the exact steps required to turn your site to an app. The entire process can be summarized in seven simple steps.

Step 1 — Verify the Need for a Mobile App

The first thing you need to do is make sure there’s actually a market need for your app. In some cases, having a website alone could be fine for your situation. 

Let’s say you’re just starting off with a small personal blog right now. If you’re on a really tight budget, you might consider growing your blog organically before taking the plunge into mobile development. Creating mobile apps does involve some time and money. So if you’re not ready to commit, then it’s probably in your best interest to wait. 

You should also do some market research to make sure your app will offer something that people actually want or need. This will also help you stand out from your competitors. 

Step 2 — Brainstorm Features For Your App

Now you need to take some time and think about your app features. Instead of focusing on the features first, you can start by brainstorming functionality.

What problems will your app solve? How will your app be different from your website?

Remember, the app needs to be distinguishably different from your mobile site to be accepted by the app stores. You can’t just reformat the same content and put it into an app. 

While your initial list of features might be long, you’ll eventually want to narrow that list down to a shortlist of features that support your app’s primary purpose. Start with those features, and you can always add more down the road. 

Step 3 — Determine Your Budget

Take a look at your finances. How much money are you able to spend on an app? 

The answer to this question will be really important when you get to the next step, and it also plays a significant factor in your app’s features.

Generally speaking, complex apps with lots of features will be more expensive to build. But if you’re just creating a simple app with slight variations from your website, you can probably get away with spending significantly less. 

For example, BuildFire’s app development platform starts at just $159 per month. 

This is a cost-effective alternative to traditional development, which can cost upwards of $100,000 or more. 

Step 4 — Choose Your App Development Method

Based on your goals, budget, and technical capabilities, it’s time to select an app development method. Here’s a quick summary of the options we discussed earlier for creating mobile apps:

  • Website to app conversion tool
  • Code the app on your own
  • Hire a freelancer
  • Higher a development company
  • Use an app builder
  • BuildFire

Refer to our full guide on how to make an app for more information on different app development solutions. You can also get a free copy of our Buyer’s Guide for Mobile App Platforms ebook

Step 5 — App Design

Once you’ve chosen a development method, it’s time to start thinking about your app design. 

There are a couple of different options to consider here. First, you can simply sketch out the UX/UI design on your own before passing it off to an app designer. Alternatively, you can start with a template and customize everything on your own.

With BuildFire’s app builder, you don’t need to hire a designer or pass the project off to a design team. You do it all on your own. Check out our app design resources for inspiration, tips, and best practices. 

If you don’t want to design the app by yourself, that’s fine too. We also offer full-service design and development. 

Step 6 — Testing

Testing is something that you should do in stages throughout the development process. 

The best testing options depend on your development method. If you’re outsourcing the project to a development team, they’ll likely handle all of the testing on your behalf.

Making sure your app functions the way it’s supposed to without any bugs, glitches, or crashes is crucial—especially when you first launch. If your app doesn’t make a good impression on your audience, they likely won’t come back and use it again. But on the flip side, a great first impression helps ensure that the user will continue using your app again and again—allowing you to drive engagement and conversions. 

Step 7 — Prepare for the App Stores (Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android Apps)

Start thinking about how your app is going to look and appear in the app stores. Just know that your iOS app has different guidelines from Android apps.

Each app store has unique rules and submission guidelines that you need to be aware of. 

Our complete guide to app store optimization (ASO) will help steer you in the right direction. If you use BuildFire to create your app, we’ll also help get your app published. You just need to make one click, and we’ll handle the rest on your behalf. 

Turn Website Into App — Final Thoughts

Ready to turn your website into a mobile app?

Sign up for a 14-day free trial of BuildFire. It’s the easiest and most powerful way to create an app for iOS and Android—no coding or technical skills required. Alternatively, you can let our team handle all the design and development for you with our all-inclusive app design and development services. Schedule your demo to learn more. 

Top 10 Benefits of B2B Apps

Most mobile apps available on the app stores are made for mass consumption by general audiences. But there’s a growing need for other apps that target businesses and business users—B2B apps.

Whether you have an existing company that sells to other businesses or you’re an entrepreneur that wants to set up a B2B business model, creating a B2B app is an excellent opportunity.

This in-depth guide will cover everything you need to know about B2B apps, including how they work, key features, and top benefits. You’ll also learn more about some crucial differences between B2B and B2C mobile applications.  

What is a B2B App?

Business-to-business (B2B) apps connect businesses with other businesses, partners, and stakeholders. Some B2B apps are available for public download, while others are intended only for internal use cases.

Many B2B apps simplify business workflows or fulfill industry-specific needs. In almost all cases, they streamline operations and make life easier for business users and big-picture organizational goals. 

It’s worth noting that there are many different types of B2B apps.

For example, popular apps like Asana, LinkedIn Pulse, Salesforce Mobile App, and Google Analytics are all B2B apps that solve business issues or address pain points for different users. 

But you can also create B2B ecommerce apps designed specifically for wholesale buyers. Or you can build stand-alone apps for internal business processes, like workflow automation or employee communication

As long as the mobile application is built for companies or business users instead of general consumers, it falls in the B2B app category. 

What’s the Difference Between B2B Apps and B2C Apps?

There are several key differences between B2B apps and B2C (business-to-consumer) apps. 

The biggest difference is the target user. Every mobile app development project starts with the same question—who is going to use the app?

This is a question that everyone needs to answer before they start building. Apps built for mass audiences and customers fall into the B2C category. But apps designed for other businesses are B2B apps. 

Other differences include:

  • B2B apps solve business problems, while many B2C apps are made for entertainment or brand awareness.
  • B2B apps typically have fewer users, as they’re designed for a niche audience. 
  • User interface and user experience are important for every app, but the app’s UI is more important for B2C apps, and creating a user-friendly platform must be a top priority.
  • Some B2B apps are strictly for in-house use.
  • B2B apps and B2C apps have different user acquisition methods. 
  • Many B2B apps use a subscription business model. B2C apps are typically free and are monetized through in-app purchases or advertising. 

There’s also a higher level of competition for B2C apps since you’re competing with so many other businesses targeting the same customers. But there’s less competition in the B2B app space, and the target audience has more buying power. 

10 Advantages of B2B Mobile Apps

There are dozens of advantages to creating, implementing, selling, and using B2B apps. But we’ve narrowed down the top ten benefits for most businesses.

1. Scalability

Creating a B2B app makes it easier for your organization to grow. This holds true whether you’re using the app internally or externally.

Internal B2B apps can make it easier for you to streamline, automate, and otherwise improve tedious business processes. For example, let’s say you’re planning to hire 50 new employees in the next 18 months. Having an employee app for onboarding, internal training, and HR resources will make this process so much easier. 

For B2B apps geared toward your business customers, a mobile application can help you generate more revenue. Let’s say your company sells wholesale goods to other organizations. The app can simplify the ordering process and allow your customers to buy with just a few clicks. This reduces the need for phone calls or faxing purchase orders. 

2. Loyalty

B2B apps help you build long-term relationships with your customers. 

For starters, your business is always just a click away from their pocket at any time. You don’t have this type of accessibility through other channels. 

Loyalty apps are great for encouraging your customers to spend more money to reach milestones or save money. Having a B2B app can be an excellent way for them to track orders and progress towards rewards. 

If you’re creating a SaaS product designed to solve a particular business need, a mobile app can become invaluable to those business users. They’ll rely on that app for certain processes, ensuring they’ll need to use your app for the long term.

3. Analytics

B2B apps give you fast access to real-time data. This information makes it easier for you to make more informed business decisions and improvements. 

You’ll learn more about your users, their behavior, and what they’re using the app for. Based on this information, you can adjust the app accordingly to optimize it for conversions.

It’s always interesting when you compare your app analytics to Google Analytics for your website. Sometimes you find lots of parallels between the users, but you’ll typically find some variances from mobile devices. This information is crucial for improving your overall business goals and ensuring you’re reaching the right audience with all of your strategies. 

4. Improved Efficiency

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of any business initiative. This holds true across every industry and category. 

Custom business apps can fix inefficient processes and solve problems to make your entire operation more efficient. In some cases, you could be using an app to replace manual tasks, allowing your staff to spend more time on business processes that need a human touch.

Efficiency improvements typically come with higher profit margins. It costs you less money to do things when you make them more efficient. Even if these improvements are associated with an investment in technology, the investment often translates to a higher ROI in the long run. 

We have a complete guide on the ROI of internal communications apps, which falls in the B2B category. 

5. Enhanced Communication

Good communication is the lifeblood of any business. With a business app, you can improve communication internally amongst your staff, externally with partners and stakeholders, and even change the way you communicate with business customers. 

Apps can help connect in-office messaging, file sharing, and collaboration. Teams can easily work on projects together from anywhere—supporting remote work and multiple offices. 

Creating a business app can also give you a more direct communication channel with your business customers.

You can send targeted messages straight to their phones with push notifications. If you have more information about the user, like their role within the company, you can take that one step further and really customize those messages.

For example, it wouldn’t make sense to send the CTO of a company a notification about an upcoming delivery. But giving a warehouse manager a head’s up that an order is on the way would make that person’s life much easier. 

6. Technical Support

Mobile apps make it easy for business users to reach your support team. Rather than having to send an email or call a support line, they can submit a problem directly from the app.

This also makes it easier for your support reps to manage tickets and collect user feedback. 

Overall, tech support via mobile apps is a more affordable way for you to serve your customers.

7. Collaboration

Apps are ideal for collaboration, ensuring every team member is on the same page. 

Let’s say you’re creating a business app for project management. You can set up a feature to assign tasks automatically when certain steps of the project are completed. 

Externally, you can use apps to get aligned with vendors and partners. Maybe you set up a scheduling-sharing feature, so vendors don’t overwhelm loading docks with deliveries at the same time. Or maybe you use the app as a way to collaborate with managers at other franchise locations. The examples and use cases are seemingly endless. 

8. Streamline Business Operations

This benefit is actually the culmination of several other benefits on this list. But it’s definitely worth mentioning on its own. 

Refer back to some of the advantages we covered related to communication, analytics, support, collaboration, and efficiency. All of these help streamline your business operations. 

The idea here is to simplify or eliminate any unnecessary tasks in a particular process or initiative. Mobile apps give you a more modern approach to operations, and the sky’s the limit.

If you reach out to BuildFire for help building an app, we can customize any aspect to meet the needs of your specific operations and initiatives. Our team can build custom functionality that’s 100% unique to whatever operations you’re trying to improve. 

9. Inbound Marketing

Believe it or not, a business can actually help your marketing initiatives as well. This is a benefit that’s commonly associated with B2C apps, but some of these concepts still apply in the B2B space.

Here’s why.

Business buyers spend a lot of time and research on products and services before they spend any money. So if you offer something that they’re looking for, they’ll stack you up against your competition to see which brand shines.

Everyone wants to conduct business from a mobile device. So if you have an app and your competitors don’t, you’ll immediately stand out from the crowd. This is a significant competitive advantage in the B2B space, which can really give you an opportunity to corner the market. 

10. Support Business Goals

You can customize a business app to align with specific business goals and initiatives. Depending on the scenario, you can even create multiple business apps for different use cases.

For example, one of your big-picture business goals can be related to employee happiness and well-being. This is obviously an internal initiative, separate from your business model and customers.

To support this goal, you can create an app specifically for your workforce. 

Another goal could be related to targeting a different market segment within the B2B category. So you could create a separate app that’s customer-facing and built to help you land bigger fish. 

Key Features for B2B Mobile App Development

Now that you have a firm grasp on the benefits of B2B mobile apps, it’s time to take a look at some features to include. Here’s a look at some common features used in existing apps for business audiences:

  • Integrations with other apps (like Google Docs, Zapier, etc.)
  • Team collaboration
  • Custom dashboards
  • Data analytics
  • Content showcasing
  • Share videos
  • Create B2B lead pipelines
  • Login with social media accounts
  • Connect and network with other industry professionals
  • Offline connectivity
  • Task lists
  • Notes
  • Alerts 

This bullet list above is just a guide.

You don’t need to include all of these in your app and might even decide to create some custom functionality that addresses your goals. It all depends on the type of B2B app you’re building and why you’re doing it.

Final Thoughts

The demand for B2B apps is growing. To stay ahead of the curve, you should definitely consider building a mobile app if your organization falls in the B2B category. 

Instead of building an app on your own, reach out to BuildFire and let us help.

Our team of professional developers and designers has decades of combined experience creating apps specifically for business users. We can create whatever type of functionality you need based on your business goals and initiatives. 

We’ll also help get your app to market fast, so you can see a quicker return on your investment. Schedule a free consultation to learn more

What is an App Prototype?

Anyone can come up with an app idea. But your mobile app ideas alone probably won’t be enough to pitch investors or impress company stakeholders. 

Creating an app prototype will give you a significant advantage in these scenarios. 

When you create prototypes, it shows potential partners, investors, and stakeholders that you’re serious about the project. It also gives everyone an opportunity to see the look and feel of your software development project instead of just reading words on a page or hearing you talk.

This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about mobile prototypes and how to make them. 

What is a Mobile App Prototype?

Mobile app prototypes are preliminary mock-ups that look and feel like real apps. App prototypes exhibit the app’s fundamental purpose and design but do not contain any functional code. 

App prototypes can come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are just basic sketches, while others are high-fidelity prototypes, interactive prototypes, or clickable prototypes. 

You can create different types of prototypes at each stage of the app design process. Your idea might start as a hand-drawn sketch on a piece of paper. These types of prototypes are crucial during the early brainstorming phases of app development, and they allow your design team to quickly iterate the ideas. 

Low-fidelity prototypes often transform into digital prototypes that showcase the app’s functionality. These prototypes display the app’s basic structure and big-picture vision.

Benefits of App Prototyping

There are lots of different advantages to prototyping in the development process. Let’s take a closer look at the top reasons why you should create a prototype:

  • Fast Iterations — Even if you already have a clear vision of your app concept, prototypes let your team cycle through multiple drafts and versions of the idea before writing any code. This helps with quick iterations during the planning stages and even helps validate ideas.
  • Improve Clarity — Prototypes help get your entire development team on the same page. They align the creative ideas with the designers, developers, project managers, and stakeholders. You can even use early prototypes to get quick feedback before proceeding with user testing or more advanced market research.
  • Enhanced Selling — For those of you taking your app idea to an investor pitch in an effort to receive funding, a prototype will help you stand out. It’s tough for prospective investors to pour money into an idea without knowing what the final product will look like. In addition to selling your ideas to investors, you can also use a prototype for selling your idea to your board of directors or even prospective customers. 
  • Low Risk — Creating a prototype gives you the opportunity to fail early with virtually no risk. During the prototyping process, you and your team may realize that the idea isn’t very practical and won’t turn out the way you initially envisioned. It’s much better to come to this realization at this stage when there’s very little investment in the project. 

How to Make a Mobile App Prototype

Now that you understand what a prototype is and why it’s so important, it’s time to create a prototype for your mobile app. Just follow these simple steps below to get started:

Define the Problem

The first step of creating an app prototype is similar to the first stage of making an app. You need to identify the problem that your app will solve. 

For some of you, this might seem fairly simple. But you’d be surprised how many people come up with an app idea just because it sounds cool—even though it’s actually not solving a problem or addressing a market need. 

If you’re going to pitch an app idea to investors, partners, or a board of directors, they’ll shoot it down immediately if it’s not meeting a market demand that solves a problem. 

Don’t try to skip or breeze through this process. Taking the time to clearly understand the goal and purpose of your app will become the foundation for every aspect of the development project.

Identify Key Functions

Now that you’ve figured out the problem, you need to come up with features that will address that problem. In short, you’re defining the app’s functionality.

You can start the brainstorming process by listing all potential features that the app could have. But then you’ll want to narrow the focus specifically to functions that serve as a core requirement for the app to work.

Don’t get carried away here. Yes, any app “could” have certain functions. But ask yourself—does it really need this function for the app to work?

If the answer is no, then you can skip it now for the prototyping phase. You can always come back to this idea later on down the line. Stick with a maximum of five key features and design your prototype around that functionality before you worry about all the screens.

Sketch Your Ideas

Now it’s time to take your ideas and put them on paper. This step is the earliest part of the design process and doesn’t require a prototyping tool just yet.

You can draw your initial sketches and UI elements with a pen and paper. 

Take the primary functions from the previous step and start to think about the user experience. How will the user interfaces look when real users want to complete a task using the app?

If you’re stuck, you can always look to existing apps for inspiration. Borrowing ideas from other successful apps on the market can really help mold and shape your sketches. 

These sketches aren’t supposed to have advanced animations or act as a working prototype. You just want to create a fluid UI for your first prototype that will eventually transform into something more tangible throughout the process. 

Use Your Sketch to Create a Wireframe

Now you can take your sketch and bring it to the next level by creating digital assets. Start with a low-fidelity wireframing tool to speed up the process.

Many people confuse wireframes with prototypes. While the two terms are related, they’re actually very different.

Wireframes will contain the basic layout and structure of the app, which is something you’ll need to create a prototype. But a prototype is much more advanced. 

The best prototypes show more attention to detail in terms of design and visuals. Some prototypes are even clickable and interactive. You can think of the wireframe as your bare-bones structure of the prototype at its most basic level. 

Turn Your Wireframe Into a Mobile App Prototype

As mentioned above, prototypes essentially turn wireframes into something more advanced. You’ll definitely want to use a prototyping tool to help you with this step, and we’ll discuss some options to consider shortly. 

While your wireframes can be sent to your team members for feedback, the target audience of a prototype is a bit different. Prototypes are better for sharing with executives, decision-makers, investors, or even potential customers. 

The idea of a prototype is to make the app feel real for anyone who might have a vested interest in the project. You can also hand a prototype off to your developers, so they have a better sense of what they’re building toward. 

I like to think of the prototype as a way to bring the wireframes to life. You’re adding legs and giving the wireframe some personality when you create a prototype. 

While a wireframe might just be used internally, a prototype is something that you can show off. You can add it to your website or even share it on social media as a way to build hype for your app and start promoting it before launch. 

Best Prototyping Tools For Mobile Apps

Creating an app prototype is easier when you’re using a prototyping tool. While there are various tools on the market that seemingly offer similar solutions, the following five options are a good place to start your search:

Figma

Figma is branded as a collaborative interface design solution. It’s a web-based graphics editor and prototyping tool that’s an industry favorite amongst the design community. 

This tool is really useful during the early stages of app development when you’re working collaboratively with a team for brainstorming. You can take advantage of its online whiteboard for workshopping ideas before bringing them to life with a prototype. 

Then you can take those ideas and have them at your fingertips as you bring the design work from ideation to execution. 

Figma even offers a free prototyping tool that you can use to design a mobile app

Moqups

Moqups is an all-in-one platform for wireframes, UI design, and prototypes. This prototyping tool has been used by more than two million people to create a prototype. 

The platform comes with out-of-the-box stencils for different use cases and design elements. This includes mobile app design for both iOS and Android. 

You can use an extensive list of fonts and styling options to bring your mockups to life and easily drag and drop images to the prototype to fit your branding. 

Plans for solo users start at just $13 per month. 

BuildFire

BuildFire is an app-building platform and app development service under one roof. It’s not actually a prototyping tool in the traditional sense, but you can still use BuildFire to create a prototype.

Here’s how. 

BuildFire Plus is our all-inclusive design and development service. Our team can take your idea and turn it into a reality through each step of the process, including pre-launch and post-launch initiatives.

During these early stages, we’ll create a wireframe and eventually turn that wireframe into a prototype before we start building anything. This service is ideal for anyone who would rather pass off the app development responsibilities to a trusted development partner. 

You’ll have the opportunity to review the wireframes and prototypes before any development begins, ensuring everyone is on the same page before the app gets built. 

Justinmind

Justinmind is a free prototyping tool and UI design platform for mobile and web apps. 

You can use it to transform your wireframes into a fully interactive prototype. 

Unlike some of the other tools on our list, Justinmind is not a web-based solution. You do need to download software to your computer to use Justinmind to make a prototype. It’s available for both macOS and Windows machines. 

The basic plan is free forever, and premium subscriptions for advanced interaction and design start at $9 per user per month. 

Proto.io

Proto.io is one of the most popular tools on the market for creating an app prototype. 

It was initially built to work on mobile devices, but the platform has since expanded to a web-based version that still supports any mobile app prototype initiative. 

What really makes this tool stand out from the crowd is its simplicity. It’s trusted by entrepreneurs, marketers, project managers, entrepreneurs, and UX designers. If you have a great idea and want to create a mobile app prototype, Proto.io makes it possible.

It’s a bit pricey compared to similar tools. There’s no free forever plan, and the entry-level package starts at $29 per month. 

You can save up to 20% by committing to an annual contract, and you can try Proto.io with a 15-day free trial. 

Final Thoughts on Mobile App Prototypes

Creating a prototype is a crucial step in the early stages of app development. 

You can make a prototype on your own by following the steps in this guide and using one of the prototyping tools on the list above.

Alternatively, you can reach out to BuildFire and let us create a prototype for you. 

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.