What Makes A Great App Maker? | Comparakeet shares how they review and rank software
At Comparakeet, we make it our business to seek out and find the best of everything, so readers can make informed choices. Whether we’re reviewing something physical (like subscription boxes) or something a little less tangible(like web hosts), there are always three main elements we consider: features, price and customer service.
The specifics change with each product or service, of course, but everything we assess can be traced back to these big three factors. In this article, we’re going to talk about how these elements specifically play a their roles in reviewing and evaluating app makers.
Features with a Focus on Usability
Assessing an app development tool’s features starts with answering a few general questions:
- Does it have industry baseline features (i.e. what every other competitor has)?
- Does it have something extra/unique that some users might particularly need or appreciate?
Of course, the ultimate goal of using any kind of app creation software is to develop a working piece of software, so a third question needs to be addressed as well:
- How easy is it to use?
A great tool can be used by both beginners and professional app developers — though admittedly with varying results.
Similar to how you and Bob Ross can both hold and use a paintbrush, but the quality of the resulting painting might differ.
The Development Timeline Test
After addressing these initial questions, we like to walk through a typical app development cycle and shine a spotlight on things we would watch out for as customers:
First: Does the app maker support a single code base that it then translates to different OS versions (Android, iOS, Windows, etc.), or do you need to work on each native app separately?
Does it support HTML5/some other method of implementing custom code when pre-built components might not be enough? Do a platform’s resulting apps respond well and look good on a wide range of devices (smartphones and tablets, for example)?
Second: We test the app builder hands on— including its user interface, built-in tools, and pre-made components.
The best app makers are intuitive and don’t rely on tutorials that can feel patronizing or overbearing for some; although those should still be provided and easily accessible, just in case.
Many app makers highlight WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and drag-and-drop functionalities, along with a library of templates and themes to choose from, but what’s actually more important in terms of freedom and flexibility is the ability to view, edit, add to and export the source code of what you’re working on. The best ones allow you to do both simplified editing and writing your own code from scratch. After the builder itself, check for integrations that it supports: CMS, social APIs, third-party vendors, and more.
Third: Once your app is ready to go, you’ll have to release it.
Does the app maker allow for white label app reselling? Is app submission to Google Play, Apple’s App Store and other included in the service provided, or do you have to do it yourself? Are there extra costs for either? These offerings are important, too (and, for some potential customers, deal breakers). Of course, post-release tools are nice additions as well: automatic app updating, analytics, notifications, email marketing, and more.
Pricing and Value for Money
This element is likely the easiest to evaluate, because value is, in the end a subjective judgment call for each individual. Not only can we directly compare varied app makers’ pricing plans and offers, but we also consider ideal choices for different kinds of potential customers based on their unique needs.
For example: A solo developer looking to work on an idea during his free time may want to go with a service that allows you to create and maintain free apps, or at least has a lengthy trial period to let them learn the ropes. An enthusiastic start-up, on the other hand, may want access to the full range of services and tools of a platform. In this case, the service that offers the most functionality may end up being the best choice, almost regardless of price point.
For big companies or for people with great ideas but no manpower or time to fully work on them, the ability to hire one-on-one help from a platform, or even rent out their own developer team, might be an option.
Some app makers offer this, but typically with decently hefty price tag.
Learning Resources and Support
When it comes to app makers and other similar services we evaluate— such as website builders and digital game creators — even the most intuitive and user-friendly of the lot will have a learning curve of some sort. Every platform has unique rules and processes that you will have to get used to in order to work efficiently. Great app makers compile tutorials, guides and other resources for their users, and the best even have a structured learning sequence outlined for you to go through at your own pace.
A FAQ and help section is a requirement, but we also look out for things like a well-maintained blog and an active user community/forum. You can turn to these when what you’re looking for something that isn’t in the FAQ, but you don’t want to escalate your concern to direct contact with the support team yet.
If it comes to that, though, multiple avenues of support are appreciated: site contact form, direct email, live chat, and telephone hotlines are common. Plus points for 24/7 service. Support via social media channels like twitter and Facebook Messenger are also fairly common now.
The Right Choice Isn’t Always the Best One
We’ve touched on this throughout the article, but here it is plainly stated: Sometimes the right app maker for your particular needs isn’t the one that rates highest overall. It takes a truly stellar, one-in-a-million product to completely outstrip every single competitor and the more likely reality is that you’ll have a few standouts to choose from, but ultimately need to consider your own skills and goals to snag the “best” tool for you.
Typically, great app makers are similar on the whole, with a standout feature or two piquing our curiosity — our recently reviewed Aquro, for instance, offers a revolutionary “Visual Coding” workflow— that entice a particular customer base.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all winner, but we do our best to help you through the review legwork, regardless.