Bespoke Mobile Apps vs. Off-the-shelf Apps?


  • Your expectations and the features of off-the-shelf apps
  • User interface and user experience limitations of the off-the-shelf apps
  • Long term benefits of the bespoke apps
  • Security and update possibilities of the bespoke apps

The mobile app industry is growing very rapidly is part of what is considered to be a digital industrial revolution. Mobile apps have become a necessity rather than a luxury for businesses. Therefore, it is important to choose the correct path for your mobile app and to consider the future implications of bespoke mobile apps vs. off-the-shelf mobile apps.

As the mobile app market will reach $61-billion in 2018, the path you choose for your mobile app will determine your results in the future. 

Let’s start with the off-the-shelf approach. Probably, when you did your research for your mobile app, you came across to this approach and found it very tempting. They are quick to deploy, cost is lower, they come with a range of features, and maintenance costs are slightly lower.

The initial start-up costs with the off-the-shelf approach means that it is relatively affordable compared with the bespoke mobile apps approach. However, the initial cost is only the tip of the iceberg. Off-the-shelf mobile apps come with functions you may never need or they may lack the functions you really need. You have to be really lucky to find an off-the-shelf mobile app that matches your expectations perfectly, and this happens very rarely.  Some platforms do offer customisation for your needs. However, these customisations are limited and sometimes they can’t offer what you really need from a mobile app.

On the other hand, the bespoke mobile app is specifically designed for your needs and expectations. You will not find any unnecessary functions or any limitations. The whole of the mobile app is written to meet your needs and can be revised any time you wish. The flexibility in terms of controlling the whole mobile app platform offers a great deal of flexibility with regard to your business’s long term plans.

What about the design? The user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are the most important elements of a mobile app. User friendly design and easy to use controls are extremely important for the long term success of your app. Just imagine, if  WhatsApp had a very complex user interface and you couldn’t even figure out the simple functions, what would have happened to the app? 

The off-the-shelf approach usually comes with a standard user interface design and offers very limited room for revision. Once more, you have to be very lucky to find the UI that matches your expectations and your company’s brand identity. If all your branding is based on a flat design, a 3D look mobile app will totally contradict your brand identity. The important point of the UI and UX is that technology changes, but humans still have five senses when it comes to understanding their environment. Offering a complex user interface and outdated design will not bring any benefits to your business. Nowadays, the users judge mobile apps based on their user experience as well as their functionality. 

What about the long term? Mobile apps are not developed as a business hobby. They are here for a reason, and one of the key aspects is the long term scalability. In the digital era, nothing remains static. Products and the services are constantly changing and offering new features. Just compare the first iPhone with the latest iPhone, from the features to the design. Everything has improved and changed. To keep up with the mobile app competition, your platform should allow you scalability to offer new features, and APIs for further connectivity. The off-the-shelf approach may offer some scalability but it will be limited or cost to have it implemented. Nevertheless, the end result would rarely match your expectations or the expectations of the market. 

The bespoke approach offers an unlimited scalability option. You will be able to adapt any IOS or Android improvements to your app such as Apple’s HomeKit or Android Car features immediately. Your initial costs will be lower with the off-the-shelf approach and some of the future features may not be available with this approach. When the technology changes and the new features are revealed with regard to IOS and Android, you may have to start from scratch with a bespoke approach, and the total cost will be higher than initial cost of the bespoke, because you have already paid for off-the-shelf!

Updates and security are the most important aspect of a mobile app. Whether it is a very simple or a complex app, users are extremely concerned with data privacy and the updates of the app. As Apple has clearly declared, if you don’t update your app frequently, it can be removed from the AppStore. Updating your mobile and keeping up with the latest security patches are vital for your app. Any minor security or data privacy issue can be a catastrophe and you may lose all your users. The off-the-shelf approach usually charges an extra fee for updates and security patches.  In addition, you may not be 100% sure how they deal with data privacy. Therefore, the bespoke mobile app will always provide the opportunity to update your app at any time, maintaining security at the highest level and with full control of data privacy.

In the end, the off-the-shelf mobile apps come with a lower initial cost that may grab your attention. However, in the long term, this approach will cost you more and you will never be able to control your app 100%. Literally, the app will control you rather than you controlling the app. Bespoke apps are designed for you like a tailored jacket. Every single detail is designed to match with your expectations and the needs of your customers