Two people looking at a large screen presumably discussing app development

A guide to app development

Explore app-building options and how low-code software can help.

Should you use app development software to develop your app?

You have your business strategy and KPIs in hand. You’ve sketched out functionality and design. You’ve read every article on the Internet about how to develop an app. And that’s it, you’re now fully ready to build the app of your dreams.

But wait, there’s one more question to be answered. Which app development approach is the best one to bring your app idea to life? Hint: you’ll probably want to use low-code app development software.

Here’s another way to look at it—compare your options.

Diagram comparing code it yourself versus hire a developer versus low code software)

How to make your choice easier

Easy to code: If you know how to code or can quickly learn programming languages, it might be easy, but it still could take days or weeks depending on how complex your app is. The same is true for hiring someone else to write the code. Using a low-code platform doesn’t require any coding knowledge or experience.

Customisable: If you have a highly complex app for a specialised business, doing it yourself or hiring a pro are great options for building out all your specific wants and needs. Low-code app development software often includes built-in features and data management that can handle most customisation needs. You could also get the app as far as you can with an app development software, then hire technical help for further customisation.

Fast: Developing an app is no quick feat, unless you already know what you’re doing. Working with outside help could be fast if everything goes smoothly, but often takes longer than expected due to onboarding, availability, and feedback rounds. The beauty of using app software is that it automates many of the development processes, from coding to connectivity, cutting work that might take days/weeks/months into significantly shorter turnarounds.

Scalable: Most apps are scalable, meaning they can be redesigned to add functionality or serve a different audience—but it’s much easier with app development software. The software’s reusable code can quickly be modified to change the scope of the product without requiring extra resources.

Connected: Many apps rely on specific connectors to pull data into apps. App development software often has these connectors built in, making it easy to access data from popular services and other data sources you already use. Setting up these connectors may be challenging if you’re coding the app yourself or working with a company who doesn’t have easy access to connectors.

AI-enabled: Some app development software has advanced functionality that uses pre-built AI components to easily automate manual processes. This is helpful when you’re building a productivity app because AI tools can speed up repetitive tasks like extracting text and visual information from images and documents. AI capabilities aren’t always available when coding your own app or working with a supplier.

Affordable: If you already know how to code, developing it yourself is the most affordable option to build an app, since the labour is free. Using low-code app development software is often the next cheapest option—you’ll be doing most of the work yourself, but you’ll likely be charged subscription fees for the software. Hiring an app development company is usually the most expensive option, because you’re paying for custom work and will have to pay them every time you want to make revisions to your app.

The bottom line

When it comes to writing code yourself or hiring a company to do it, there are many uncertainties and potential headaches. Using low-code app development software is a great solution that provides robust functionality, control, and scalability for your new app.

Types of app development using app development software

When creating apps, many organisations turn to app development software to save time, retain control, and build at scale. When choosing the software, you’ll want to make sure it supports the direction you’re going to bring your idea to life. Here are some different approaches to consider when using app development software.

Custom app development

Most app low-code development software allows for some customisation. Even if those customisations are beyond your skillset, it’ll still be easier for your IT team to make minor adjustments for you, rather than building the app from scratch.

Low-code app development (LCAD)

The LCAD approach (also known as rapid app development—RAD) follows the agile project management strategy often used in software development. This method speeds up the app development process by building individual elements of the application simultaneously. Once you build out the separate parts of the app, you assemble them into the finished product. App development software uses intuitive interfaces, drag-and-drop features, and guided scripting to make low-code app development possible.

Mobile app development

Mobile apps are beneficial to businesses because they help employees work on the go and in the field. They can also be used as tools to help businesses simplify processes that help build better customer relationships. Mobile app development has special technical requirements that allow the apps to run on Android and iOS platforms. App development software makes it easy to create and deploy apps for any mobile platform using very little technical expertise and IT assistance.

Enterprise app development

If your big business app idea serves a large-scale audience like a global organisation, you’ll need to use capabilities that support enterprise app development. Usually enterprise apps have requirements like storing large amounts of data and automating complex business processes. App development software can accommodate these types of apps, but you need to make sure the software you choose offers the scalability you need.

Database app development

If your business relies on data and spreadsheets to get the job done, your app idea might involve database app development. These apps help you gather, organise, analyse, and manage data. Database apps are helpful when spreadsheets become too complex to keep up with business growth. App development software often includes built-in query functions and connectivity to a wide range of data sources.

5 features to look for in app development software

If you decide to use low-code or no-code app development software to build your app, here are some key features to look for:

  1. Multiplatform capabilities: Ideally, you’d build your app once and deploy it to multiple platforms. For example, you may launch your mobile app on iOS and Android platforms and make it compatible for a range of devices from tablets to phones to laptops. Look for app development software that works well with all the platforms your users prefer, including mobile and web.
  2. Easy-to-use tools: The sweet spot of low-code app development is that anyone can do it. When you’re evaluating software, give it a test run with a free trial to make sure the interface is easy for you to use. The best app development software has drag-and-drop functionality and intuitive tools that make building an app simple.
  3. Customisation: One of the biggest complaints about app development software is the limited options for customisation. Not all platforms have the same limitations, so research and ask about customisation options. It’s important to have flexibility with customisation so you can build apps that fit your unique business needs. If you know those needs before you shop for software, even better.
  4. Security: Most app development platforms offer built-in security, but you’ll want to make sure it covers your business and app requirements—especially for mobile app and device management. Security features you may want to look for include advanced identity management, user rights management, and secure encryption.
  5. Extensibility: Though one of the main reasons for using low-code app development tools is to keep things simple for non-technical app creators, there are times when you need IT to step in. It’s wise to choose app development software that allows professional developers to extend app capabilities, such as creating custom connectors to proprietary or legacy systems.

Start developing business apps with Microsoft Power Apps

Now that you have an overview of the types of apps you can create and have seen your options for building them, give low-code app development a try with a Microsoft Power Apps free trial.