You’ve had a great idea for a mobile app to shake-up your market. You already have a team of in-house developers – they’ve built your website but should they build your mobile app as well? After all, there’s so much information available online on how to build mobile apps.

While your team could learn how to build a mobile app, there are definite advantages to partnering with an app development company. Developing an app requires a niche set of skills. App development companies have the skills, the expertise and experience to make your project a success.

Web app vs mobile app – what’s the difference?

The first thing to understand is the fundamental difference between a mobile app and a web app. Unlike web apps, that are predominately designed for consuming information, mobile apps are typically built for a distinct purpose – like calling a ridesharing service through the Uber app or managing your travel itinerary with the Qantas app.

A mobile app is a software application that can be downloaded, installed and run on a mobile device. Often, mobile apps are designed to take advantage of device capabilities like the camera, GPS or Bluetooth and can integrate with other apps on your device, for example by sharing content like photos or text.

As mobile apps are installed on the mobile device, they can often be run even when the device isn’t connected to the internet (i.e. when the device is ‘offline’). Conversely, web apps are only available when there is an internet connection.

Furthermore, because mobile apps are developed for a specific mobile device and run locally on the device, they typically exhibit better performance than web apps. On the other hand, web apps rely on server-side logic coupled with browser-based rendering (a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript), which can often limit their performance when accessed from a mobile device.

With the increasing demand for app development, many businesses claim to offer their ‘expert’ services in both web and mobile app development. However, given the differences between the two expertise, it’s important to make sure you select a team with the skills and experience in building mobile apps.

Niche skills

Sure, anyone can build a simple app by watching YouTube videos or following some online tutorials. But as the complexity of an app increases, more specialist knowledge, expertise and experience are needed to develop and maintain it.

Mobile app development requires a niche set of skills. A successful mobile app is an app with a high-quality user experience, coupled with well-architected cloud services. An app development company will have the experience necessary to optimise the user experience in order to achieve the specific purpose of the mobile app. They’ll also be able to ensure that any cloud services are tailored specifically to be used by the mobile app.

One of the decisions to make when building a mobile app is which platform, or platforms you’re going to develop the app for. Most mobile applications are developed for iOS and Android but it’s important to remember that there’s a world of desktop, tablet and laptop computers that your application could run on if you were to develop for Windows or even MacOS. Once you’ve decided which platforms you’re going to develop for, you need to make sure the selected app development company has the skills to develop for those platforms. They should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the development options available for each platform, along with the different programming languages and frameworks for each platform.

The most common mistake with app development is to concentrate all the efforts on the tech side of your app without focusing on project management. An app development company will take care of scheduling the development work, often applying an agile-based methodology, in order to deliver the highest value features early in the development process.

An app development company will look at the big picture when developing each stage of your application. It’s essential to have a clear idea of the overall roadmap for the application. Each new feature of the app should be developed in line with the plan, rather than just being developed in an ad-hoc manner.

Staying up to date with the latest frameworks, tools, licensing, certification requirements and automated testing options – are also expertise that an app development company should have. They will provide you the after-care necessary for your app and advise you on its future evolution. Lack of forward planning runs the risk of extra features not flowing well in the app, and not being intuitive to the user.

Unravelling complexity

An app development company knows how to handle the challenges associated with increasing size and complexity of data consumed by mobile apps. They have the expertise to know how to optimise the backend services and communications required by the mobile app.

The more data that is needed, or generated by an app, the more complex the backend needs to be. It brings a host of other decisions – like how frequently to update the data, should the data be available when the app is offline, how the data will be synchronised from the users’ devices and how much processing does the app need to do.

In 2019 more than ever, you know that analytics is gold for your business – how often and what the user is doing with your app, are two pieces of information that can help measure engagement and satisfaction. As mobile apps are developed to achieve a specific purpose, it’s also relevant to capture task-based metrics – how often was a task started, was the task completed successfully, what caused the task to be canceled or left incomplete. These metrics provide feedback into the development roadmap for the app and will help to adjust the user experience and the prioritisation of new features.

Time = Money

An experienced app development company will already have the skills and expertise to jump straight into your project. They don’t need to take time to be trained in programming languages, frameworks and tools necessary to develop a mobile app. As an added advantage, they’ve likely already dealt with common quirks or challenges you will encounter when developing your app.

App development is an area that has undergone rapid change and is still evolving. An app development company will be up to date with changing technology, updating their skills and keeping abreast of industry developments. If you wanted to keep your in-house team up-to-date, it could be an expensive exercise.

Developing an app that’s available on multiple platforms – primarily iOS and Android for most companies – comes with extra challenges. Each platform has its own specialised knowledge and to do it correctly, you should dedicate a team to each platform. Although hiring different teams with expertise in different technologies does become expensive and isn’t always possible.

As well as costs involved in training and employee hires, there are extra costs in equipping your in-house team with other resources such as development software, hardware, certificates, licences.

Getting an app to market

Putting an app into the Google Play Store is a different process to putting it into the Apple App Store. An app development company will already have an understanding of the licensing and processes needed to get your app into the stores you need.

You also need to consider the support and on-going management of your app. Every app will need bug fixing and regular updates to keep up with changes in the market and in the devices that constantly evolve their architecture and functionality. An app development company keeps up with the market and trends and can support the ongoing evolution and maintenance of your app.

A clear winner

Partnering with a specialised company offering mobile app development services is a clear winner over upskilling your in-house team. It has advantages in time and cost and allows you to take advantage of the expertise of the external company. This gives you the capacity to focus on the core competency of the business.

Built to Roam is a strategic partner who is not only focused on building a product but thinks about a road map of ongoing development and long-term engagement.

Want to save time and money on your app project? We’d love to chat about building you a cross-platform app to meet your needs.

Talk to us today.