iOS Development

How to Get an App Made: 7 Strategies

Have an amazing idea for an app, but not sure how to get it made? Let’s compare the top 7 strategies for app development in 2021!
Austin Betzer
Posted on
August 6, 2021
Minute Read

So, you have an idea for an app that will change the game—How do you get that idea into the palm of everyone’s hand? 

When it comes to app development, you have a few options. We’ll cover seven strategies on how to get an app made and help you choose the right one for your idea based on your budget, free time, and risk tolerance. Let’s get started.

Related: What Does the App Building Process Look Like?

1. Work With a Mobile App or Software Development Agency

Hiring an app development company is the most surefire way to turn your idea into a live, functional app. While it may cost more upfront to go this route, you’ll typically save money in the long run for two big reasons:

  • Your app will be ready to go to market much faster.
  • The finished product will be solid—It will solve a clear problem and excite your users.

Software development companies will have teams consisting of developers, designers, and project managers, and they’re all experts in their field with exceptional skill sets. They’ll work closely with you to turn your idea from a concept to a live app.

You know those superbly polished, successful apps that regularly top the charts in their respective app stores? The odds are that those apps were created by a development agency. While there are exceptions—there are plenty of popular apps that came from indie developers—if you want the highest chances of creating a chart-topping application, a professional development company is the best way to go.

When choosing an app development agency, it’s important to find one that aligns with your goals. Check out the apps they’ve created before and get in touch with them to learn about the rates, process, etc.

This is the most risk-free strategy to get an app made, but let’s go over some other common ways that you can go about turning your idea into a finished product.

2. Work With a Freelance App Developer

Paying a freelance developer to create an app for you can potentially bring great results, but this strategy also comes with much more risk than choosing an established developer or agency. While it’s possible to find exceptional freelance developers at much lower costs than you’d pay working with an agency, it’s crucial to understand what can go wrong.

So, what are the risks of working with a freelance app developer?

  • There’s no project manager. Project managers ensure that your app gets delivered on time and that the project stays within your budget. They also coordinate the efforts between each person working on the app.
  • The team might not know each other. In many cases, the different people working on your app—think programmer, UI designer, etc.—have never worked together before, leading to risks of miscommunication and important things falling through the cracks.
  • Your app might not turn out the way you imagined. Working with a freelance developer, you must have a perfectly clear idea of what your finished product will look like. Unlike working with an agency, they’ll simply create whatever you tell them to, rather than making suggestions to improve it for a successful launch.
  • The overall experience could be terrible. If you’re considering hiring a freelance developer, you’ve likely heard the stories about poor quality, missed deadlines, hidden costs, etc. It’s always a possibility that you end up hiring a subpar freelancer, even if they have fantastic feedback from previous clients.

If you decide the risks are worth it and hire a freelance app developer, make sure that you look for someone with an exceptional track record with the proof to back it up—Don’t just pick the cheapest one.

Related: The Worst Developers to Create Your App

3. Purchase a Starter Kit or App Template and Hire Someone to Customize it

This is a strategy on how to get an app made that many people overlook, but it has a big caveat—It only works if your app idea is similar to something that’s already on the market. As you likely know, once an app gets popular, clones with small tweaks always follow. If you’re looking to have an app made that’s similar to another one, the chances are that a developer somewhere is selling a source code for relatively cheap. These sales are usually for a single license, meaning that you can only publish it to an app store once.

However, if you decide to go this route, you’ll still need someone to customize the app template. At a minimum, you’ll need to replace the graphic assets in the source code. If you’re artistic, you could create them yourself, or you could hire a freelance designer to make them for you.

Then, if you want to change how something in the app works or add extra functionality, you’ll be looking at hiring a freelance programmer to make the changes.

If you have to hire freelancers anyway, why would you purchase an app template? It’s still a cheaper option overall—You’re leveraging pre-existing code, so the developers already have something to work with.

Now, let’s talk about the risks of this strategy (other than the inherent risks of working with a freelance developer that we discussed above).

  • The app template isn’t going to be perfect. The more changes you have to make, the most it’s going to cost. The source code may be buggy, meaning that your developer will bill for more hours to find the bugs and take steps to fix them. It can add a lot of time and money to the project, especially since the developer isn’t familiar with the code—It was written by someone else originally.
  • There might be too many clones of the app already. This is a big risk with creating an app from a purchased source code—Who knows how many copies have been sold? Because there’s likely no limit to how many templates someone will sell, there could be countless copies of your “new” app available on the store already.

4. Purchase a Starter Kit or App Template and Learn to Customize it Yourself

Person learning app development with their smartphone and laptop.

We won’t spend too much time on this option—While it can save quite a bit of money, it takes a lot of time and dedication. Also, there’s a high probability that your end product won’t be what you imagined in the beginning. 

Learning to code isn’t easy. If you go this route, you’ll have to spend a lot of time learning and practicing before you can create something that might be acceptable to release as a finished app.

However, if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t plan on making any complex changes to the starter kit you purchased, it could be a viable option.

You can find plenty of free app development courses online if you decide to try this way, but it’s important to realize that it will likely be a long while before you can create your own app without any prior experience.

5. Learn How to Use an App Making Software or Online App Maker

This is another option that you can use to make an app—If your concept is relatively simple. App makers (or app builders/app creators) are online services or software that lets you build and customize an app without knowing how to code. Sounds great, right?

It’s not quite that simple. Because of the wide variety of applications and so many building options, many app makers are limited in what they can do. Typically, you’ll have to settle for certain types of apps, interfaces, navigation systems, etc., and make whatever customizations the program allows.

Other times, the app maker might offer too many options and configurations, making it almost impossible to figure out what to do. If you’re interested in this strategy, the best place to start is by finding a free app maker and getting a feel for how it works. If you find yourself thinking that you might be able to make this work, you can look into paid options that will offer more features.

If, on the other hand, it doesn’t go so well, you might want to consider one of the other strategies on this list.

6. Start Learning App Development and Work On Bringing Your Idea to Life

While this is realistically the cheapest option if you have no budget for your app, it requires the most time investment of any of these strategies. You can find basically all of the information you need to get started for free online. However, access to information and the determination and free time needed to learn app development are two different beasts. If you want to invest a little further, you could sign up for courses—Either online or in-person.

Once you learn to code—and code well—you’ll be able to build basically any application you want, but don’t expect to reach that level anytime soon. Luckily, helpful articles and tutorials are abundant all over the internet, and you can usually find a guide on how to implement specific functionalities relatively easily. However, even with these tutorials, you’ll still need to know how to understand and read code and how app development works before you can follow them completely.

For some people, coding comes pretty naturally, but for others, it can seem like an impossible thing to learn. If it’s something that’s interested you before, and you have a great idea for an app, it might be worth looking into—Just know that it takes a lot of dedication and time investment before you’ll reach the point of creating a successful application.

7. Partner With an App Developer and Offer Equity or to Split the Profits

The final option is pretty unrealistic for most people—It requires you to know someone that’s knowledgeable about programming and app development. Why? Most established developers won’t be open to this strategy unless they know you personally. They are taking a massive risk by working with a stranger, and even if they decide to take on the task, the chances of success are slim.

The only time this strategy on how to get an app made works is when you already know someone adept at app development, you can convince them your idea will work and be profitable, and you can also bring something to the table.

How Much Does App Development Cost?

App development costs vary widely based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Functionality and purpose. What will the app do for its users?
  • Supported devices and platforms. Will the app be for iOS, Android, or the web? Will it have specific device support?
  • Integration points. Will integrated third-party apps contribute content to your app?
  • Visual objects. How complex will the app’s visual objects be?
  • Hardware features. Will the app use features like NFC, GPS, augmented reality, etc.?
  • Maintenance. How much technical support will the app need once it’s released?

Because of the drastic differences in development costs based on an app’s features, the best way to determine a realistic price point is by consulting with an app development agency—They can help give you an idea of the overall price of your project.

Related: How You Can Develop Your App Idea For Less

Launch Your App in Weeks—Not Years—With Strides

A person holding a smartphone

We started Strides to bring founders and developers together on a level playing field. We help business owners and status build and scale their mobile and web apps.

It all starts with a strategy call where we can determine if you’re the right fit for us—and if we’re the right fit for you. We want to know about your idea, your story, your funding, and your budget.

Next is a business planning meeting. We’ll learn about your company, your overall vision, and how that app aligns with your goals. We’ll also discuss your marketing and hiring plan and monetization model.

Once everything is in place, you’ll get to meet your new development team! This is when the fun starts. We’ll map your features, determine a release schedule, and start diving into the specific spec of your app. 

Here’s the best part—You’ll get to see weekly feature releases as we work on your dream app.

Ready to turn your idea into reality? Schedule a free strategy call with our development team!

Austin Betzer
My only passion is helping others solve meaningful real-world problems. I will continue to do just that!

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