Deciding if you should build an application from scratch or use app templates comes down to many decisive factors that, while being wholly dependent on your app’s and company’s needs and requirements, should not be taken lightly.
It’s undeniable: for modern companies, leveraging the benefits of mobile apps, more than a luxury, has become a fundamental necessity. In today’s tech-driven world, if a business wants to stand out, empower their employees and customers, engage with their audience, and drive their sales, they need an application or some form of an online platform. But as this need for IT-powered grows, so do the demands and requirements for what these products can actually do. We want faster, better, and more intuitive apps regardless of what that means for the people that make it happen: app developers. As a result, we have been driven to find better and faster ways of shipping the products our users so desperately crave, which has inevitably ended in the birth of a more efficient and time-saving development approach: using mobile app templates.
While mobile app templates have been around for a while, especially for websites (think WordPress), it wasn’t until not too long ago that the app development industry started seeing their benefits and leveraging them for mobile app development. As a result, we’re beginning to witness the spawning of robust and innovative mobile products built solely using mobile app templates…and they’re surprisingly good! Additionally, although custom app development is still in vogue, template app development is gaining momentum. With almost 6.650 billion smartphone users worldwide, mobile app templates are helping us supply the need for immediate mobile solutions. And, if that wasn’t enough, their benefits and the agility they provide have become invaluable assets for enterprises and users across the globe.
So, what exactly are mobile app templates? What does using mobile app templates for app development entail? When and why should you use them? Here’s everything you should know.
What are mobile app templates?
I once heard someone say that app development is mostly repeating processes repeatedly. Although that is a very basic definition of app development, its gist is true, especially for custom app development, where many processes echo other processes, and most programming tasks are repetitive and time-consuming. Additionally, while highly beneficial for producing innovative, durable applications, custom app development is expensive and time-consuming. Think of a tailored suit. It looks fantastic, feels incredible, and is one of a kind but is costly and time-consuming. You’ll likely spend a lot of money and have to wait months to get your hands on your brand new suit.
On the contrary, when you buy off the rack, you get a ready-made suit that looks good, fits you as expected, and costs significantly less than a tailored product. Sure, it may not be as high-quality and unique, but you get an immediate solution to your needs. The same principle applies to app development. Neither approach is superior; it just depends on your and your client’s needs. Additionally, with the rise of app-based startups and DIY mobile solutions, the development industry must find ways to modulate its processes to reduce costs and deliver robust products faster. Here’s where mobile app templates come in.
Mobile app templates are standard, ready-made, and pre-configured solutions that you can use to speed up the development process and get a head start on all the time-consuming tasks related to custom app development. In other words, mobile app templates do most of the heavy lifting for you. They simplify the most time-consuming tasks, come with their source code entirely written, are flexible, significantly cost-effective, and require you to make minimal customizations and changes to adapt them to your particular business requirements.
So, even when templates are pre-configured solutions, with minimal tweaking, you can still specify and customize most of your application’s properties, attributes, and processes and set up your own environment’s specifications. This way, mobile app templates have their fixed structure but still allow you to build most of the core of your product so you can adapt it to your needs and have it contain as many elements and functionality as you wish.
Benefits of using mobile app templates
All of the above sounds great, right? Well, there’s more. Here are some other significant benefits of mobile app templates:
For most companies, whether large or small, developing a mobile app may come down to one thing: money. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same budgetary freedom for app-building purposes. As you might already know, custom mobile apps require a considerably more significant investment than template-based apps. So, when money is a constraint, templated app development is the best solution.
Faster time to market
Using mobile app templates means saving weeks, sometimes months, to develop any type of app. In custom app development, countless processes take significant amounts of time and effort, which mobile app templates forestall. As a result, using templates means you can reduce development times by as much as 30%! As a result, you can hit the market faster. In addition, your users can start enjoying your app sooner, making mobile app templates an ideal solution for those startups that can’t afford to wait months, or even years, to start reaping the benefits of their mobile products. However, keep in mind that, while significantly less than with custom apps, you might still need to spend some time customizing and standardizing some parts of your app templates to achieve the functionalities and performance you need to ship a robust, durable product.
Smaller team size
With mobile app templates, you don’t need separate teams or large talent pools to develop mobile apps, a huge perk, especially if you’re a startup building your own app or a small development company with little personnel. Using a ready app template can nearly halve your development efforts. It can also halve your need to hire extra hands or seek developers with additional skills such as advanced programming or experienced UI developers. This way, anyone can quickly get started with mobile app templates, even when they don’t have a deep understanding of the app development universe.
If you’ve worked with custom app development, you probably already know that the first source coding draft of an application frequently can contain several bugs and errors. You need to dedicate time and effort to go through these glitches to fix them, which is often part of a larger QA and maintenance strategy but can take significant resources to keep under control. With mobile app templates, the coding is already written with standardized coding and QA processes that ensure it is bug and error-free. Therefore, mobile app templates can help you save time and money and ship error-free applications every time.
As you can see, mobile app templates have a lot of benefits and represent a great opportunity for app building, especially if startups or development companies don’t have the resources to produce custom applications. Nonetheless, as with everything in life, mobile app templates also have some drawbacks that you need to consider before deciding to dive into templated app development.
Drawbacks of using mobile app templates
Since nothing in life is perfect, here are the main drawbacks of using mobile app templates.
Limited flexibility and scalability
The template market is becoming very dynamic, and more modern and flexible tools are hitting the virtual shelves every day. However, most of the mobile app templates available are very limited in their flexibility and customizable features, meaning that what you see is what you get. Sure, some templates allow for countless customizations, but the truth is that most of them don’t leave room for a lot of modifications. Additionally, they don’t adapt well to changes in screen sizes and resolutions, significantly impacting your app’s user experience and usability. This lack of flexibility means that templated apps aren’t very scalable. They can’t grow with ease, and you can’t adapt them to a spike in the number of users or add and remove features as quickly as you would with custom apps without creating conflicts in the ready-made source code. Mobile app templates also come with features you may not need but still have to pay for, which can be bothersome.
You may never find a complete match
Since each business has different requirements and needs, custom mobile app development is, in theory, the best approach to delivering digital products. Unfortunately, with templated development, you’ll never find a mobile app template that perfectly fits your company’s and your client’s vision. This drawback means that you have to choose the one closest to your vision and try to customize it and modify its code (as far as it allows) in an attempt to match your needs. However, keep in mind that it may never fully fit your initial plan, no matter how much you adjust your template.
Poor integration possibilities
Due to their poor architecture, most mobile app templates on the market don’t provide back-end, data connection, database, or API integration capabilities, all of which are crucial for delivering robust, innovative applications. Granted, there are some vendors, such as DronaHQ, who do provide templates with back-end integrations; the truth is that the majority of template providers out there don’t. So make sure you conduct your research and learn all about which vendor can provide you with the features you need to build a durable application.
Security issues may arise
While some vendors do offer mobile app template templates with built-in security protocols such as , the reality is that the vast majority of these products don’t provide robust security to protect your users. That means you must make sure to implement additional security measures to avoid hacking incidents and ensure your product has the security levels required by law to avoid fines and protect your users’ information and its integrity.
So, as you can see, just as with any tool or framework relevant to app development, mobile app templates have a myriad of benefits and drawbacks. No solution is perfect and whether or not it becomes valuable and beneficial depends entirely on your company, product, and needs.
So, should you use a mobile app template?
Now that you’ve got the cons and pros of mobile app templates, you’re left with the question: should you use them? Should you prefer them over a custom app? How do you know if you need them?
Are you pressed for time?: Maybe you’re pressed for time because you need to hit the market fast. Or maybe you’re developing an MVP and don’t want to wait to test it out and start tweaking it as you gather user feedback. In any case, situations in which you have time constraints can arise, and app templates are the ideal solution in this scenario. As we’ve touched on earlier, custom app development implies constant designing, coding, programming, building, and testing, all of which can take several months. Using a mobile app template streamlines many development processes–such as coding and designing–and allows you to spend that extra time only on the necessary customization and standardization tasks. As a result, you’ll take significantly less time building your app and can hit the market in a few weeks or even a few days.
How’s your budget?: As we mentioned earlier, custom app development can put a significant dent in your budget. Sure, it is worth every penny, but not everyone has the capacity or the disposition to invest the $70.000 to $100.000 or more than a custom-built app can cost. Mobile app templates can cost a fraction of that and can require lower upfront costs. Additionally, since templated apps usually don’t require much technical knowledge, you need to hire a smaller team, which is another excellent way to save costs. However, if you’re still interested in custom app development, you can start with a templated app and then work your way to a custom app as you test the waters and gain revenue.
Does your app have to be unique?: This point is crucial to determine if you should use a mobile app template. Regardless of your budget or timing specifications, if you need to build an app with a unique design and a one-of-a-kind look, feel, and functionality, you’re barking at the wrong tree. Mobile app templates are everything but unique. Sure, they allow room for some customization, but they’re generally not exceptionally original. And, since they are an “off the rack” option, there’s a chance another company may be using the same template that can end up in similar-looking apps. However, if you have a good team that can tweak the template’s characteristics enough, you can build a unique app that looks original enough to fulfill your needs. And there are also cases when uniqueness isn’t a priority. In that case, mobile app templates are the way to go.
Does your app need any special features?: Some apps are basic and don’t need any special features, while others need more interactive experiences that require specific features and functionality to meet their users’ expectations. For instance, healthcare apps often deal with telemedicine services and personalized medical experiences that a template simply won’t fulfill. In that case, a custom solution is the best way to go. However, if your app is simple and basic, let’s say a simple chatting app, for instance, then a mobile app template can quickly meet your needs.
The answers to these questions will help guide you in your development process and determine whether or not mobile app templates are the right choice for you. However, if, after asking yourself these questions, you’ve decided you don’t want to use templates but still can’t afford to build a custom app, there are other options such as Apple’s Xcode. These two frameworks can be beneficial for building mobile apps because they provide valuable tools such as:
- Simple UI design suite
- Drag-n-drop features
- Quick bug fixing
- Feature-rich emulator for mobile apps
- Fast coding
- Pre-built mobile app templates
- Easy testing
This article’s purpose isn’t to dig deeper into what these options entail. Nonetheless, these, and other mobile app builders, are a very interesting and accessible middle ground between app templates and custom apps. And whether they’re a good match for your project depends on your research, your budget, your team, and your product’s requirements, so make sure to look around to determine if these frameworks are suited for you.
Where to start with mobile app templates?
Okay, so you’ve weighed the pros and cons of mobile app templates, done your research, and decided you definitely should use them to develop your next mobile app. Now what? Now you actually need to get your templates. Here are the leading mobile app template vendors we recommend.
CodeCanyon: One of the top online template marketplaces, CodeCanyon boasts hundreds of both native Android and cross-platform mobile app templates you can select from, with prices starting as low as $24. Their templates offer different themes, hundreds of ready-to-use screens, and beautiful UI components. They also have countless other resources useful for app building, such as stock videos and photos, music, web templates, WordPress plugins and templates, animations, 3D visual elements, coding scripts, graphics, and much more.
ThemeForest: ThemeForest is an online marketplace where you can buy and sell thousands of templates and themes for popular OS and platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Pricing varies depending on the complexity and specifications of the product and is considered the most significant and most relevant marketplace of its kind.
JotForm: JotForm is an online platform that showcases countless online forms and allows anyone to create them quickly. However, they have an interesting offering of mobile app templates that range from booking and checklists to healthcare and reservations apps. Their templates offer intuitive drag-and-drop features and don’t require you to write a single line of code.
Enappd: Enappd offers thousands of and app template options that allow you to build live streaming, taxi booking, marketplace, and grocery shopping apps, to name a few. They claim they can save you up to $2000 with their products and that they are tested daily, updated frequently, and you can try them before you commit to them.
The mobile app templates offered by these and more vendors are usually ideal for both expert and non-expert users alike. So, whether you’re an experienced app developer delving into app templates for the time or a startup owner wanting to develop your own mobile product, any of the companies listed above can provide you with the tools to build a robust mobile product. Moreover, suppose you’re an experienced app developer or project manager who has already used templates and has a deep understanding of how they work. In that case, you can use them to get started on your project and customize them as you scale. At the same time, these mobile app templates can help your team of developers, programmers, and designers speed up the entire app development process and ship products in a faster, less expensive, and more efficient way.
Mobile app templates: The takeaway
Custom app development is the dream, no question about it. It is the most direct highway to deliver innovative, durable, and robust mobile products, and in a perfect world, we would all build and ship custom applications. Nonetheless, custom apps are expensive and time-consuming, and only a handful of enterprises can afford to spend the thousands of dollars that custom apps cost without batting an eyelash. For startups and smaller enterprises, mobile app templates represent an up-and-coming and encouraging alternative to custom app development. They provide ready-made components that can kickstart the app development process and save countless valuable resources for developers and company owners alike. Sure, mobile app templates can have scalability, design, and security limitations, especially when compared to custom apps. However, there are alternatives for customization and vendors that offer dynamic templates and tools to help you build a product that can stand the test of time.
If you have an idea for an app, have a template but don’t know how to use it, or want to develop a custom solution, we can help. So let’s get in touch and start making your idea come true!