Recently, I’ve noticed a barrage of Facebook advertisements touting, “Build Your Own App” or “App Development for DIYers”. You’ve seen these ads. They show up almost as often as Dr. Oz’ miracle cure-of-the-week or Living Social.

If you don’t mind ads and don’t plan on selling your app, a DIY app builder seems like a great deal! Or for a nominal fee, the offerers will remove the ads and let you sell your app for as little or as much as you want.

For a small business or a start-up wanting to increase engagement with current and potential customers, this seems like a no brainer. After all, if four-out-of-every-five minutes spent on a smartphone are spent interacting with an app*, it’s hard to imagine that a business without an app is going to own much of that other minute of smartphone usage. Forty-seven percent of mobile and brand marketers agree – their companies have apps.**

So, of course, you want an app. It’s the cool (and in many cases, necessary) thing for brand marketers who want to reach their consumers or for HR executives who need to streamline communications with employees to do. And if you don’t have a big budget allocated for development, clicking on a DIY app builder ad might be tempting. As one ad notes, hiring an app developer can be expensive.

Remember when DIYers in past decades pulled up website builders like Geocities or Homestead or Typepage to build and host very rudimentary personal or commercial websites? The technology was very basic, and only if you paid a subscription fee could you get any kind of tech support or access to tools that would make your website seem semi-polished. Back then, web visitors were still forgiving if your site had a few glitches or design mis-steps.

It’s now 2014 and apps have been a daily part of most of our lives for the last seven years. As users, we all have a level of expectation that they run well and are largely bug-free. As entrepreneurs and brand marketers, we require the user-experience to be seamless and for our apps to deliver against certain business objectives.

But without the benefit of working with an app development company where strategic planners help you configure your app attributes based on business needs, your DIY app may suffer from lack of tech support, limited functionality and a poor user experience.

What sets having a development partner apart from a DIY approach?

For starters, a developer is your partner. The right developer cares about your business and your business objectives. An automated plug-and-play app builder doesn’t do that. The right developer also has past experience to help guide and shape recommendations based on the apps they have created in the past.

It’s important to consider that your app may need updates in the future. You may also find business reasons to create additional apps. Having a development partner who knows your user experience and business needs will ensure timely updates or that you have a partner who is excited to start a new project with you. And who doesn’t want a partner who is as excited about your brand’s technology as you are? Maybe even more so because they created what is to them a shiny, new piece of technology for their portfolio.

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room. Cost. “You get what you pay for” is a time-tested cliche because of its inherent truth. Value comes with a cost. Don’t leave your customers’ and your potential customers’ engagement with your brand up to a free Facebook ad click. Your brand deserves more and your customers deserve more. Give both the absolute best you can afford. If you choose the right app development partner, you will never regret it.

*comScore. “Mobile Future in Focus,” Mark Donovan, February 2013
**ExactTarget. “2014 State of Marketing,” January 2014

Jason Russell

CEO and Co-Founder at Stable Kernel

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