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Is a DIY App In Your Future? App use by small businesses is set to double. The good news is they are easier than ever to develop.

By Susan Solovic Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The Starbucks mobile app is one of the biggest success stories in the app world. It has been a huge hit with the Frappuccino® crowd because it improves the customer experience two ways:

  • It simplifies payment, and
  • It rewards loyal customers.

Enhancing customer service is the primary reason small businesses are planning to launch their own apps, and we should be seeing a lot of this in the coming months and years.

A survey taken earlier this year by the software and professional services site Clutch showed that 15 percent of small businesses already had a mobile app and another 18 percent were planning to develop one. If that holds true, the number of small business apps lurking in smartphones and tablets will more than double.

On the other hand, 40 percent of the respondents said they probably wouldn't be working on a mobile app anytime soon. Here's is a snippet from an infographic that summarizes the survey.

DIY app development

If you think an app would be a good fit for your business, you might be surprised how affordable developing one can be. Not long ago, you had to find an expensive coder to develop an app. Now there are several DIY app-development services, not unlike the well known DIY web-design services, such as WIX.com and Weebly.com.

Related: Dear Politician: If Small Business Is So Important, How Do You Explain These Facts?

These services range from free – your app will display third-party ads – to several hundred dollars a year. Typically you design an app and pay between $10 and $40 a month to keep it in circulation. If you're all thumbs at app development, these DIY services have people on board who will do it for you, sometimes this is free, sometimes it's an added fee.

Push notices, loyalty programs, coupons, website integration, scheduling, maps, user reviews, and mobile commerce are among the common functions available for your app. I expect to see movement in this sector, but here are some of the DIY app building services available today:

There are more, but others are targeted for enterprise users. If you browse through this group, you'll see that several have templates for various business categories, which will help you get off to a fast start building your app.

However, even drag-and-drop, template-based design services can be tricky to get just right. And if you don't have an eye for layout, colors and the proper use of typefaces, you can easily create something closer to Frankenstein's monster than Starbuck's app.

As I said above, some of these services have help available. You can also find freelancers who have experience in this area by posting in one of the online freelance sites.

Related: Refuse to Be Sucked Into Uncertainty

Susan Solovic

THE Small Business Expert, Award-winning entrepreneur, New York Times bestseller, keynote speaker, media personality and attorney.

Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert.  An award-winning entrepreneur and Internet pioneer, she founded one of the first video-based websites and grew it to a multi-million dollar enterprise.  The company was recognized as the Best Investment Opportunity in the Silicon Valley in 2006 by a venture forum group.  She is a sought-after keynote speaker, New York Times bestseller, media personality and popular blogger.  Her experience provides her with a unique vantage point from which to inform and inspire entrepreneurs around the globe.


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