At AppsAustin, we take great pride in the custom mobile application builds we create for our clients and partners. We like to take the time and get a shared vision with them for the app, and involve them in every step of the process, so everyone involved in the project is delighted with the end result. Therefore, we're a little hesitant to discuss app templates when we're asked about them. We'd like to dedicate this article to a discussion of apps created from templates as opposed to custom builds—and why we heartily endorse the latter.
App templates are exactly what they sound like: they're sets of code that have been created beforehand, and when a client requests an app design, the templates are used as the foundation for that app. Since a bare minimum of new coding is needed for an application when a template is used, the cost to the client is usually lower than that of a custom build, and it takes less time for the application to be completed. Understandably, these can be attractive factors to clients for whom time and money are an important factor. However, we'd like you to consider the following advantages of custom application builds.
Exact Requirements. If your app's put together by a developer who uses a template, the majority of the app is gonna be predetermined. Sure, they'll customize the template to the extent that it'll carry your company name and branding, but it's still gonna be the same basic app that the template dictates. If you have specific requirements or specifications you'd like to have applied to your app, with a template you're often gonna run into extra customization charges according to the changes you request—at which point you may as well have gone with a custom build in the first place.
“Fresh” Code. What many app developers who use templates will do—and many don't tell their clients this unless directly asked—is take the somewhat lazy route of using templates that are sometimes quite dated. For example, you might get an app built from a template that was optimized for Apple's iOS 5, even though iOS 6 is now in circulation—not to mention iOS 7 is on its way. This can result in a slower and poorly-functioning app. A custom build will assure you're app's gonna run on the most current platform available.
YOUR Code. When all is said and done, is the code for your app actually yours? Is that part of the purchase price? With developers who use template apps, that is far less likely to be the case, since the essential template code is used for numerous application builds. In contrast, AppsAustin, as an example, turns over the custom app code to the client once the app is completed.
Easier Updates. As we said before, iOS 7 is on its way—and mobile device manufacturers are creating and introducing new operating systems all the time. Now, what if you need to update an app to a new platform? Or say your business has grown and you need to bring it up-to-date with those details? An app template can be a lot harder to update; for example, what if the programmer who wrote the original code is no longer around—or the company that designed the template is out of business? Keep in mind some app development teams use templates that were purchased from a third party. With templates, app updates can get downright messy. You not only want a developer who's gonna be there for you for the long haul, but one who's familiar with every line of their code.
Higher Functionality. Template apps are generally designed in a pretty “bare bones” fashion when it comes to functions and features. For example, a driving directions app template would probably have GPS and maps access, but not a whole lot more. With a custom build, you could add any features you wanted—and it's those unique features that make apps stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Device Flexibility. Let's say you have an existing iPhone template app made, but you want to have the same app modified so it'll work on iPads. With a custom app, the tweaks to modify your app can be relatively simple. But the templates a developer uses for iPhones and iPads can vary widely; they may have been written by different programmers, with radically different lines of code. You might be detecting a theme here, one of the developer's familiarity with their code. Well, that's much more likely to be the case when you use custom builds.
Meet the New App, Same as the Old App. Finally, apps built from templates are gonna have a similar look and feel to them. It's like those “customized” letters from Santa that are mass-produced: “Dear TOMMY, I hope you have been a good BOY this year...” This fill-in-the-blank kind of stuff might fool elementary school-aged kids, but grown-ups tend to catch on a lot more quickly. And when you have cookie-cutter style apps crowding the market, everyone loses.
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