App Maker Software Review
Why Use App Maker Software?
The top performers in our review are AppyPie, the Gold Award winner; iBuildApp, the Silver Award winner; and Bizness Apps, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the top 10 app makers.
The key to taking your business to the next level is sitting in the back pocket and purses of millions of American consumers. If you haven't guessed yet, it's their smartphones. Smartphones allow people to stay in touch with friends and family, stay on top of their schedule, stream music and video, and run third-party software or apps.
Apps offer convenience for consumers and, for businesses, they can inspire loyalty and repeat business among your customer base. Until now, the ability – financial and otherwise – for businesses, especially small businesses, to create a custom app has been out of reach. Creating your own custom app cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you had to hire a professional to do it for you.
Now, however, you can create and build your own app with app maker software. Using an app creator, you can streamline your website and build an app that serves your target customers and increases your reach to a wider audience.
And, more importantly by creating your own app, you save money and have complete control over how your finished product looks.
For business owners who don't have time to create an app, we indicate on our matrix which companies offer app creation services. However, the price to have a third-party app design company create your app for you is far greater (though not as much as it used to be) than what you'll pay if you make one yourself.
Similar Software to App Creators
In order to compete effectively and find new customers, your business needs a website. Whether you offer a product sold in a brick-and-mortar store or not, one objective of your site should be monetization. Another objective is to provide information for your customers.
If you don't yet have a website, our website builder reviews can get you started on the path to establishing that crucial online presence by helping you find a website creator that can help you quickly and easily create a website.
If you already have an existing website, but it doesn't offer a mobile-friendly version, read our review of mobile site creators. The look and feel of a mobile website is similar to a business app, but it doesn't require a download. Even if you don't have time to create an app, a mobile-friendly version of your website is a must.
To find the best app making software programs, we created an account and built a business landing page, complete with a themed template and icons, each with corresponding links. In addition to creating a static page, we tested the responsiveness of each app builder to determine how well the app reflected updates that happen regularly on a desktop URL or mobile site.
Choosing the Best App Maker Software
When deciding which software program will help you build the best app, pay attention to four areas: content creation, distribution, customer engagement, and help and support.
The first thing you'll interact with is the software's interface. The "best" interface is a matter of personal preference – the templates and layouts you respond most positively to are going to influence 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 you don't feel overwhelmed by all of the software's features or become frustrated by a lack of tools. All of the applications on our top 10 list offer a free trial, so you can test the software to see if it delivers what you're looking for.
Customization is also important. Most app generators pride themselves on being usable by everyone, even if you don't have any programming experience whatsoever. All of the programs on our list are pretty easy to understand and a novice with no past coding experience can build a decent app. However, if you have programming experience or specific imaging needs, you may want an app builder that allows you to input and manipulate code.
Distribution, Specifically OS Compatibility
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 for iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows platforms.
Now that app culture has become more mainstream, app-building programs recognize that it's far easier to design one app and translate it into multiple operating systems rather than write a different app for each type of operating system. However, you should still verify compatibility when selecting an app builder.
Most of the mobile app builders on our lineup are compatible with iPhones and Android phones but may not be for Windows or Blackberry devices. Based on recent data from the International Data Corporation, Android and Apple devices make up a combined 96.3 percent of the smartphone market. Windows Phones only comprise 2.7 percent of the market, so while it isn't crucial for an app builder to be compatible with that particular platform, you also don't want to exclude potential customers.
Engaging Your Consumers
The end goal of creating an app, of course, is to get it into the hands of consumers who will download it and 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 directly 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 geotargeting 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 geotargeting is commonplace in the app industry. It's all part of helping you find the most receptive audience.
Help & Support
When learning how to use app creation software, the service's help and support options play a significant role. We found that each program offered an extensive knowledgebase with tutorials, frequently asked questions and online manuals.
Most of the companies also list an email and phone number to contact the technical support team. Some of the services even featured live chat options that put us in direct contact with a technical support agent.
App Maker Software: What We Tested, What We Found
We focused on the advanced plans offered by each of the app makers on our list because, first, we wanted to compare software that provided a similar feature set. Second, some of the app-building companies offer basic plans for a very low cost, but once you create the app, you can't market it. Therefore, an additional reason why we tested the next plan up from the basic one is that these plans typically offered more tools that allowed us to create, distribute and market our apps.
In order to determine our score for each app builder, we considered what each builder did best. Every app design program has its own unique feature that caters to certain industries. Within each software review, we relate our experience for each app builder and what consumers can expect when creating an app with it.
Creating an App: Customization, Tools, No Maintenance Needed
Our testing involved creating a home screen for a small business. We tested the customization of each app builder by checking whether it offered any industry-specific themes. We also checked to see whether you could add images and logos to your app.
Not every software we tested provides a high level of customization. Of the 10 programs on our lineup, seven app makers allow you to upload your own logo without paying extra fees.
Once we chose the visuals, we created an application version of our website with an emphasis on quick links for contact information, social media pages and coupons.
Our first test involved creating an app that was largely static. For our second test, we scrutinized the tools each app maker offers that lets you add new content to your app so you don't have to manually insert it.
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. This allows your app's users to access your mobile site without ever leaving the app. Not all of the app builders on our list have this feature but of those that did, we tested it, entering our own URL into each program. What we found is that most, but not all, apps automatically update content in the app as you make changes on the actual domain. We were impressed with the lack of constant maintenance needed, something that you, as a business owner, will appreciate too.
What You See Is What You Get in App Design
One of the scariest things about designing an app yourself is coding: Do you need to know how to code or is it best to hire a professional to design your app for you? With app-making software, though, the process is relatively simple.
Each program allows you to input content with ease using the program's content management system. Further, most of the app makers allow you to create or edit the program's code to customize it to your company (which isn't necessarily a bad thing; instead, it's a convenience intended for prospective app builders who have some coding experience and want more functionality with the software).
Rather than input strings of code, most app making software provides you with a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) approach. This means that every change you make to your app through the software's dashboard, whether it's adding images or uploading content, shows up in real time on the respective app preview screen (which is typically on the side of the screen). All of the HTML coding happens behind the scenes.
These companies don't want to confuse novice app creators. Instead, the process of building each page for your app typically consists of dragging and dropping icons or elements from the dashboard into the app preview page.
Next, we focused on the tools that made it possible to create an app quickly. In terms of customization, we checked whether there were multiple layouts you can use to design your app as well as if you have the option of creating your app from scratch. We evaluated the themes and graphics in each program plus whether we could (and, if so, how easy it was to) add our own custom logo.
We also checked whether the program offered a walk-through or an app creation wizard that guides a new user – especially a novice – through the program and instructs them how to use it.
If the thought of dozens of design tools is overwhelming, don't worry. We sought out software that does most of the behind-the-scenes work for you, especially with assisting you with submitting your app to Apple's App Store and Google Play and helping you creating a page about your app.
Once your app is widely available, you'll want to stay up to date on its popularity and find out who your main customer demographic is that's downloading your app. All of the software programs on our list offer analytics, though it varies by each service.
Some software offers its own proprietary analytics, while others integrate with Google Analytics, like Appery.io and Appy Pie. While both options effectively alert you to who is using your site, we found that the programs that offer both provide more in-depth analysis.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
In addition to reviewing our matrix, we recommend that you read our software reviews to see how each app maker performed and the standout feature of each software application.
Appy Pie outperformed all the other app makers on our lineup. This software offers all of the features we looked for. It's easy to use and has a variety of templates that can appeal to a range of businesses. You can even use this app creation tool to create game apps.
We found iBuildApp to be easy to use despite the advanced features it hosts. This software not only offers numerous content-creation tools and marketing features, but it comes with convenience features, such as automatic site importing, that help you quickly create your app.
Bizness Apps also features app maker tools and marketing features. The program is easy to use and offers a strong support section with a searchable knowledgebase and countless video tutorials. It also features a nice selection of marketing and analytical tools to help you evaluate how well your app is doing.
If price is the only thing holding you back, AppMakr is your best option. Even the advanced plan is under $10 a month, 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. (The first step is establishing a desktop version of your website and the second is creating a mobile-friendly version.) The right app builder can increase your company's visibility across several channels, raise customer retention and open a new world for you and your business.
Contributing Reviewer: Karina Fabian