When you’ve been researching mobile app development for a while, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed with all the options on offer.
Not only are there different types of apps to consider but there are also the intricacies of native and non-native platforms that you have to sort through.
Once you’ve finally decided on the direction you want to take for your business, you then have to actively identify the best approach for actually creating your app.
With solutions ranging from no-code and low-code app builders right through to software engineers that can design your app from scratch, you have a big decision ahead of you.
Would it be more suitable for your business to use a convenient no code tool or commit to a longer process and invest in custom coding?
What is a No-Code App Builder? #
A no-code app builder is a software platform that allows you to design and launch an app without any prior knowledge about coding.
Created to increase accessibility in the market for non-technical users, no code tools are now also used by software engineers on a regular basis.
They are a speedy and effective way to build a quality app as they reduce a lot of the repetitive work often involved with traditional app development.
“No-code platforms have evolved from just facilitating function-specific tools, making it possible for a broader range of business employees to truly own their automation and build new software applications with no coding in order to increase organizational capacity.”
What is Custom Coding?#
Custom coding, on the other hand, is quite the opposite of a no-code app builder.
It requires an extensive and intricate process that involves
writing code for your app by backend developers
having UX designers to create a design for your app
and frontend developers implement that design in your web app or in your native mobile app
This provides business owners with a lot of opportunities for personalisation, where they can design a platform to meet their needs perfectly.
However, it can be a time-consuming and often an expensive endeavor (with average costs ranging between $10,000 to $100,000).
What are the Major Differences Between App Builders and Custom Coding?#
While you might, at first, believe that the biggest difference between app builders and coding is the element of customisation, this is not actually the case.
Both solutions can present you with the ability to build the app of your dreams, but the core contrasts between the two include:
Time to launch.
Cost per app.
Access to support.
Therefore, prior to making your decision between custom coding and no-code app builders to create apps , you’ll need to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.
1. Time Needed to Build the App#
Regardless of the current size or shape of your business, you probably have upcoming targets you want to meet.
By using a no-code app developer, you can turn an app idea a quality app in no time at all. If you can dedicate just a few hours to:
Selecting an app template.
Dragging and dropping some features into place.
Customising the graphics and copy.
You’ll soon be able to fuel your business potential and make money with the aid of your new marketing asset.
Once you’ve received approval from the app stores, you’ll be able to click that “launch” button and connect with your target audience on a whole new level. In contrast, custom coding can take months to years.
Once they are ready to begin custom coding your app, they’ll have to write each line of script individually - editing and reviewing along the way. For a business that wants to grow as soon as possible, this is not an ideal approach to building an app.
2. Level of Flexibility#
When it comes to making your vision a reality, custom coding is the obvious route.
During the debrief stages of software development, you’ll be able to make it very clear to the engineering team exactly what you’d like to see on your app.
In some cases, you might even have a very specific goal that you’d like to achieve - one that’s unique to your business and unlikely to have been done before.
With the aid of experienced custom coding developers, you’ll be able to create the exact app that you’ve been imagining.
However, as we’ve briefly touched on, no-code app builders can also offer an incredible amount of versatility, so don’t place them on the sidelines.
Services like AppMachine are constantly being updated, with new features and functions frequently being added to the list available to you.
3. Costs Involved#
We can’t compare coding vs app builders without looking at one of the most important factors… cost.
Not only is the price significantly cheaper on average when you use a no code tool to build your app but it’s also more consistent.
With some dedication, you’ll be able to find a service that charges on a month-by-month subscription basis - allowing you to budget effectively.
With custom coding, on the other hand, you’ll be paying for a software engineering team during app development and you’ll have the ongoing maintenance costs to consider.
These will be charged according to the work required, putting you in a tricky spot when an emergency rises.
It’s much safer, then, from a business perspective, to go with no code app platforms that cost between $15 for one app and $159 for multiple every month (based on AppMachine’s pricing).
This number includes regular updates and maintenance, troubleshooting, and incredible customer support.
Technology nowadays is constantly improving.
This means we regularly have to update the operating system on our phone, whether it’s an Apple or a Android device.
For a custom coding approach to app building, this can prove to be a nightmare. Each time an external update is made, you’ll have to make sure your app can work in line with the new updates.
Alternatively, with no-code app builders, you can rest assured that each function used in your app will automatically be updated to guarantee usability according to the latest iOS or Android update.
As such, they require little to no maintenance as everything is done behind the scenes.
5. Ease of Maintenance#
As operating systems are updating and your native mobile apps inevitably require maintenance, one problem is presented with coding vs app builders… you’ll have to wait patiently for a software developer to be available.
This means that your platform could be out of action for a few days, doing significant damage to your reputation as a business and potentially losing you sales.
By using a no code development instead, you won’t have this same hurdle to overcome.
Maintenance will be conducted automatically as a part of your subscription price - meaning you should always be able to get the maximum value out of your app possible. No missed opportunities.
Alongside this, with no-code app tools, you don’t run the risk of your maintenance being conducted by a different developer than the one who created your platform. This can often cause inconsistencies in the back-end code that results in additional issues as time goes on.
Ultimately, it’ll always be the priority of your no-code app builder to keep their product functional and optimized to be fit for purpose.
6. Skills Needed#
When you are considering using an app builder vs coding, there’s another advantage that can’t be ignored. You’ll be able to keep everything in-house (rather than outsourcing your app’s creation).
Even if you have no prior experience with software development, all you’ll need to use a no-code app builder is:
A splash of creativity.
A vision for your app.
An understanding of user experiences.
A collection of insights into your customers.
A specific purpose.
A little bit of time to spare.
A good eye for visuals.
With these attributes, before you know it, you’ll be able to use the user interface to drag-and-drop elements of a no code platform to piece your app together. You’ll even be able to adjust the layout to position everything in a way that would make sense to your audience.
Comparatively, if you want to keep everything in-house with custom coding… you are looking at an extensive and complex learning and sprint process - or an expensive recruitment journey.
The Downfall of App Builders#
However, it’s not all perfect in the world of app builders. With such a range of providers on the market, you have some thinking to do.
At the end of the day, as with all decisions, you have to be careful which service you choose when you want to create mobile apps. The quality of your app will entirely depend on the existing code written by the builder’s development team.
For example, if they’ve published features to their clientele that still have issues present, you’ll quickly feel the consequences of this and will have to wait for the problems to be addressed.
Before making a purchase, you need to:
Carefully research each provider.
Read existing testimonials and reviews.
Test the product with a free trial or demonstration.
This way, you can guarantee that you make the right choice for your company - ensuring you aren’t handing control over to someone untrustworthy.
Thankfully, the majority of no-code app builders should be focused entirely on providing you with the best possible service, making this a safe and secure route for your business.
As long as you take the time to consider your options, you’ll be well on your way to greatness.
When Should No Code Development Be Considered?#
When you are pressed for time and would like to launch your app as quickly as possible, you should look into no-code platforms.
Not only do they require zero prior knowledge of coding, but they offer an innovative and efficient way of building an app that will have it live in no time at all.
This could lead to immediate results for your business, increasing your customer loyalty and retention rates to improve profitability. Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true?
The Downfall of Custom Coding #
As with no-code app development, the end result of your app through writing code entirely depends on the experience and skills of the software development team you use.
So, if you onboard a freelancer or organisation to do the work for you, be sure to look at their portfolio and ensure that they can actually produce the app you want.
The last thing you want to do is have a project stall.
Communication will be key during custom coding app development. When you are outsourcing your software development in this way (and investing such large funds into your app), it makes sense to take your time and choose the best service for you.
When Should Custom Coding Be Considered?#
When you want your app to complete a complex and unique duty (like running a game), custom coding is a suitable avenue.
Well, no code tools rely on existing templates and features - some of which might not be able to offer the purpose you need.
However, be warned. Custom coding comes with a pinch of salt. It’ll be an expensive and lengthy process before you can click that “publish” button on your app.
Ready to Consider an App Builder?#
The choice between app builders vs coding, then, seems like a no-brainer.
Whichever way you look at it, app builders are a convenient, affordable, and accessible route to creating your own app that shouldn’t be ignored.
Although custom coding certainly has its attributes, it’s an outdated approach to software development.
Today, there are so few steps to building an app through app builders that they have become an appealing and attractive solution to business owners, entrepreneurs, and engineers alike.
Two Types of App Builders#
Going forward, then, you need to select your provider. You can choose between:
A no-code app builder (like the ones we’ve already talked about).
A low-code app builder (if you have some software development knowledge).
Low code platforms are also a great choice for when you have a team member that can write their own code but just doesn’t have the time to code a whole app from scratch.
This way, you can really have the best of both worlds. Use a no code platform to quickly build the main parts of your app by non-developers. And if you have the possibility to get some help of developers, you can add more advanced functionality when you use the low code platform functionality.
The value this can offer you will be exponential.
“For several decades, organizations have had two alternatives when they needed new information systems. They could build a new system using their own developers, or they could buy a system from an external vendor.
Today, however, there is a third alternative that is becoming increasingly popular. No code and low code applications can provide a close fit to business requirements, can be implemented quickly, and typically cost much less than systems developed in-house.”
- Harvard Business Review