How to Make an App for That

These days it seems there is an app for everything. Despite popular belief, acquiring one for your business isn’t as hard as it may seem.

With every big technology update, there is a shift in the business world. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon, evolving their businesses digitally through mobile applications, or apps.

Fort Worth’s own Righteous Foods, for example, recently developed an app that allows customers to order their food in advance. The app will also eventually incorporate a delivery service.

Chef and owner Lanny Lancarte said he often investigates what innovative ideas are working in larger markets in order to “stay ahead of the curve.” For Lancarte, the decision to create an app was beyond convenience or following a trend – it was purely a practical move.

“I think people are connected to their phones 24 hours a day,” he said. “The easier you can make people’s lives, which are already busy, the better.”

Creating an app is relatively simple, Lancarte said. Here are four ways to create an app that can advance your business and aid your customers.

Use a customizable, pre-developed app platform. Third-party companies with customizable, pre-developed app platforms are one of the routes businesses can take when developing an app. In Righteous Foods’ case, the restaurant partnered with third-party company ChowNow, which uses pre-developed app software that can be easily customized and turned into a platform unique to the company using it. Righteous Foods’ app features the restaurant’s own logo, content and design.

Not all pre-developed apps emphasize the company’s individual brand, however. For example, MINDBODY Inc. (used by Fort Worth’s own CycleBar) can help create apps that make the company’s brand highly visible, similar in style to Righteous Foods’ app. But businesses can also join the MINDBODY network, making them visible to customers searching for fitness centers via the MINDBODY app. The company’s brand is less visible, but the app still works nonetheless.

Hire an outside developer. Businesses can also create a personalized app by turning to a freelance developer or app development firm. For this route, it is important to have a solid idea of the app’s purpose and lay out a plan that can be discussed with the developer.

Develop the app in-house. If a company is lucky enough to have someone skilled in app development, then an app can be made in-house.

For Booster Fuels, a Seattle startup that now has a branch in North Texas, an app is essential to its business – customers use the app to tell Booster Fuels what gas they want, where they want it and when. Then the company delivers the gas right to the customers’ cars.

Booster Fuels had the in-house expertise of Diego Netto, an app developer and software engineer.

Netto developed a fully functioning app in around 90 days, said John Parker, head of operations and growth at Booster Fuels.

“In a very quick time, we went from nothing to having an app on the App Store,” he said.

Use a simplified app program. Simplified programs like AppMakr, iBuildApp and GoodBarber help non-software-oriented users make an app on their own. These programs don’t require the high cost or skillset of an app developer. However, the money saved may reflect in the quality of the app, as the app will likely not include as many features or advanced design aspects.