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4 Common Misconceptions About App Development

Building an app is complicated. If you’ve never done it before, you might have a lot of misconceptions about what goes into it. You might think it’s something like building a sandwich: it takes a certain amount of time, you build it, and then you’re done. 

But in reality, none of that is true.

App development is not like making a sandwich. It takes longer and involves more ingredients. As a result, the whole affair is a lot messier and more complicated.

Here are a few misconceptions about app development:
  • You build it, and you’re done
  • You can build it in X amount of time
  • You can just use a no-code solution instead
  • You need native applications for every OS

You Build It, And You’re Done

Building a new app is really just the first step. Before launch, the app doesn’t exist. And right after launch, the app is far from finished.

The launch is the first step of the rest of development, which is all about collecting user feedback, making improvements, and iterating.

In reality, when you build an app, you aren’t just building an app. You are building a team that can continuously fix, modify, and refine the app. This process is known as CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery), and it extends far beyond the first build.

There are many reasons why it has to be this way. Software constantly changes, so you need to update yours to fix bugs and address security issues. And you can never fully know what your users will really want until after you do a release.
Darth Vader makes a project scope
Darth Vader makes a project scope
You Can Build An App In X Amount Of Time
If only life were so simple. While every sandwich can be made in just a few minutes, the time to develop an app is less predictable. More than 20% of all software projects are delivered late.

The best developers will not give you an exact timeline for completion. They will give you a general roadmap, a rough estimate of how long they think it will take, and a plan for working with you to make decisions at every step of the process.

This is actually a good thing, because clients often decide they want to change direction partway through development. Sometimes you can only tell what you really need after you’ve started building it.

You Can Just Use A No-code System Instead

No-code systems are exactly what they sound like platforms for building software with zero programming knowledge. Usually, they run on some sort of drag-and-drop interface.

These solutions certainly have a place. They are valuable for very small projects, often for automating routine tasks with high predictability.

low code and no code solutions
low code and no code solutions
But no-code systems quickly become unusable even for medium-sized projects. Their simplified nature can’t handle specific scenarios. And they are usually tied to a single platform, meaning you are locked in and can’t migrate to a different system.

While you can save time making a sandwich with pre-sliced meat, you can rarely save time making an app with a no-code platform.

If your project is complicated enough that you’ve even considered hiring a third-party developer, then you probably do need to hire a third-party developer.

You Need Native Applications For Every OS

A native app is one which is developed specifically for each operating system: one for iOS, one for Android, and one for any other OS you might want to put your app on.

Building a separate native app for every single OS is time-consuming and expensive. To some extent, you can share code and resources, but each platform has its own idiosyncrasies that need to be addressed.

Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t need to build a separate native app for every single OS. This is one way in which building an app can actually be easier than making a sandwich: you have to make a separate sandwich for each customer.

For one thing, you might not even need a presence on every operating system. If you discover that 99% of your users run iOS, for example, building a whole other app to serve that last 1% might not even be worth it.
React Native logo
React Native logo
And even if you do need your app to work on every common OS, in many cases, you can build a cross-platform app instead, using React Native. In this case, you build an app that can be accessed from any device.

This solution works well for many cases. Most of the exceptions have to do with extremely resource-intensive applications, which need to optimize to each OS in order to function.

Building an app is more like running a restaurant

Making a sandwich is a simple, one-and-done affair. You can take shortcuts and individualize to each customer.

Running a restaurant is a continuous, long-term process. It involves constant feedback from customers. And there are a few shortcuts you can take.

Building an app is a lot more like running a restaurant than making a sandwich. Each iteration of the app has to be handled with care, and every customer's opinion has to be taken into account.

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