Why Use App Maker Software?
The top performers in our review are Como, the Gold Award winner; AppMachine, the Silver Award winner; and BuildFire, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 app makers.
Apps are essential for many industries and extremely useful for most others. Apps bring convenience for customers and inspire loyalty and repeat customers. Using an app creator, you have the ability to streamline your website and fit what's necessary and relevant to your apps' users.
In these reviews, we discuss how we tested each program by creating an app with it. Specifically, we created an account and built a business landing page, complete with an industry-themed template and icons, each with corresponding links. In addition to creating a static page, we tested the responsiveness of each app service to match any updates that happen on a desktop URL or mobile site.
By creating your own app, you save money and have complete control of how your finished product looks. For those business owners who don't have time to create an app, we also list the services with the option to have professional teams build the app for you. However, the price for third-party app design companies is greater than one you make yourself. If you want to use an app creation service to build an app for you, we also offer information on these services.
Similar Products to Mobile App Builders
In order to compete and be found online, your business needs a website. Whether you offer a product sold in a brick-and-mortar store or not, a purpose of your site should be to find monetization. Another purpose is to provide information for your customers. Our website builder reviews can get you started on the path of establishing that crucial online presence.
If your business has a standard desktop URL but no mobile-friendly version of your site, we've also tested multiple mobile site creators. The look and feel of mobile websites have much in common with a business app but don’t require a download. Even if you don't have time to create an app, a mobile site is an absolute must.
Our sister site, Business News Daily, recently put together a comprehensive list of 18 of the best app makers. This list highlights each software's unique features and defines the intended audience for each app maker.
Tips on Choosing the Best App Maker Software
Beyond the app-design testing we performed, we found that there were essential features that these companies provide. Often, the respective sites didn't boast about certain features, but we found them once we evaluated each app builder. In order to determine which programs ranked well, we gathered the results and compared the building tools with a business app in mind.
The first thing you interact with is the software’s interface. The "best" interface is a matter of personal preference – the layouts you respond most positively to help determine which app software you choose. Some interfaces are clean and simple, while others are packed with features. Most are drag-and-drop, but some are not. It is important to pick an interface that feels right to you so that you don’t get overwhelmed by extraneous information or frustrated at a lack of immediately available tools.
Another consideration is the level of customization. Most app generators pride themselves on being usable by everyone, even if you don’t have any programming experience whatsoever. This means that the programs are all pretty easy to understand. However, if you do have programming experience or specific imaging needs, you may want to look out for a more advanced builder that allows for code input.
Making sure that the app creator you choose has the ability to generate cross-platform iterations is key. This means that you design the app, and the software translates it into iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows-compatible software, depending on what the user selects. Now that app culture has become a little more mainstream, app-building programs recognize that it’s far easier to design one app and translate it into many operating systems rather than writing a different app for each type of operating system. However, you should still verify compatibility when you’re selecting an app builder.
We found that most of the app creator are compatible with iPhones and Android phones but may not offer responsiveness for Windows or Blackberry devices. Based on the most recent report from the International Data Corporation, Android and Apple devices make up a combined 96.3 percent of the smartphone market. Windows Phones only make up 2.7 percent of the market, so it's not crucial for an app builder to be compatible with that particular store; although, it's best to leave out as few potential customers as possible.
Engaging Your App Visitors
The end goal of creating an app is to get it into the hands of someone who has downloaded it and will consistently use it. That difficult job is still the responsibility of the app creator to keep the app relevant and make it a permanent fixture on someone's phone or tablet. If you utilize more than a landing page, an RSS feed will be your best friend. Content that you publish on your desktop site is transferred directed to your app. Push notifications should be expected, so these app-designing programs have focused on more efficient means of reaching an audience. Push notifications are now geo-targeting marketing tools. Based on your app analytics, you can send notifications to people in a certain region or to a particular operating system. The market has advanced so quickly that geo-targeting is a staple in the app industry. It is all part of helping you find the most receptive audience and improving your efficiency as a business owner.
App Maker Software: What We Tested, What We Found
As part of our testing, we evaluated each app maker's set of tools in the advanced plans. Our goal was to find the packages that provided a similar feature set. For example, a few of the app building companies offer basic plans for very low cost, but the features don't allow you to market the app once it's created. In that case, we tested the next most expensive plan so that we received access to standard tools that allowed us to create, distribute and market our apps. We then tested each software, without input from the businesses or based on a company-given methodology.
In order to reach a fair score for each app builder, we considered what each builder did best. Every app design program has its own unique traits that caters to certain industries. Throughout our reviews, we describe our experience for each app builder and what consumers can expect to experience.
The Apps We Created
Our main testing involved creating a home screen for a small business. We tested customization by finding industry-specific themes. We also tested to see whether you could add an image to create a theme or logo. Not every software we tested provides this level of customization; of the 10 programs on our lineup, seven app makers allow you to upload your own icon.
Once we chose the visuals, we created an application version of the mobile site with more emphasis on quick links for contact information, social media pages and coupons.
The first test relied more on creating an app that was largely static. For the second test, we delved into tools that added new content to the app without ever having to personally access the app dashboard and manually insert the information.
One specific button, typically named website, allows the person building the app to input a site they own by placing the URL into a hyperlink box while creating the app. We applied this domain to each program. Once inputted, it allows the app consumer to click the website button and access your mobile site without ever having to leave the app. What we found is that most, but not all apps, automatically update the content as you change the content on the actual domain. We were very impressed with the lack of constant maintenance needed with one product on our lineup; AppyPie allows you to add the corresponding website icon that automatically updates immediately after the desktop URL updates.
What You See Is What You Get in App Design
One of the scariest things about designing an app is the perception about coding and needing a professional company to actually design it for you. With app-making software, the process is relatively simple. While coding is allowed on most of the products listed on our lineup, the only mobile app maker that requires some coding experience is Appery.io. We didn't see the higher level of learning as a bad thing; instead, it's a service meant for prospective app builders who have some experience and want a few more capabilities.
Instead of coding, most app making software provides you with a WYSIWYG approach. This means that every change you make to the dashboard, whether it's through adding an image or uploading content, shows up in real time on the respective app preview on the side of the screen. The HTML coding happens behind the scenes. These companies don't want to confuse any introductory app creators by forcing them to add widgets through specific lines of code. Instead, the process of building each page typically consists of dragging and dropping icons from the dashboard into the app preview page.
To find the appearance usability, we left behind the subjective nature of the experience and focused on the tools that made it possible to create an app quickly.
Our results were based on tools that should be standard, yet are missing from some big players. In terms of customization, we tested the number of available layouts and what you can make from scratch. Most notably, we uploaded themes, logos and icons. Upon signing up for an app builder, we looked for a walkthrough or an app creation wizard that would guide a new user.
There are many tools to worry about in terms of design; we wanted the software to do much of the behind the scenes work for us, especially with creating a store page automatically for the App Store and Google Play. After creating an app, you will become entrenched in reading the analytics on the dashboard. That's a great feature, but it can change for every service. To supplement the first-party reports, we tested the ability to add code for Google Analytics.
The lowest usability scores sit at 70 percent. The programs listed are all very solid. Even some of the companies that offer fewer marketing features, like GoodBarber, attained 90 percent when it came to the ease of creating the app.
Our Verdict & Recommendations on the Best App Maker Software
When looking for the best app makers, we recommend that you read the reviews to see how each app maker ranked and what each software is best known for. Even if an app designer ranks higher, it may not be the best fit for your business. Restaurants will have a far different app design than a game app, for example.
Creating a game app will require far more creativity and coding than a blog-type app, for example. For the majority of the reviews, we focus more on the retail aspects of app builders. However, the app building software that provides the tools for more than just retail receive higher scores in the app creation category.
We found Como to be easy to use, and it excelled in marketing. For example, it allows for the icon addition of loyalty programs, reservations, app commerce and consumer photo uploads, via LiveAlbum. AppMachine, on the other hand, is fun to use. Its block builder lets you tap into your inner child while creating a dynamic design. Also, it's one of the few app makers to work with new Windows phones. If price is the only thing holding you back, AppMakr is your best option. Even the advanced plan is under 10 dollars, and that plan provides a number of features that allow you to monetize your app immediately.
Creating an app should be the third step of establishing your brand online. We recommend having a desktop URL and a mobile site, followed by the corresponding application. The right app builder can help you be seen across several channels and raise customer retention.