What you need to know: Custom vs. White Label Apps

One of the earliest questions that crops up in the discussion of a potential mobile application is: should we build it from scratch or rely on a platform?

It's not always a clear choice so in this post we compare some important criteria for both options.

Design & User Experience

A significant part of mobile applications is its design and user experience (UX). Designing for apps requires in-depth knowledge of user behaviour and also of the mobile device. White label apps have the advantage of experience and analytics with a "road tested" product. Everything has been done according to industry best practices and ongoing evaluation based on real data. Starting completely from scratch and designing for a particular group of users can be a big undertaking.

App Features

The main advantage of opting to build a custom app is the flexibility to define app features and the overall structure of the app. This process suits apps with a clear, simple structure and specific features. However, for larger, more demanding projects that has multiple layers of content - this can introduce needless complexities that slow down the development process.

The fixed structure of white label apps can inspire creative ways of organising content and rethinking how content can be presented.

Maintaining the App

Smartphones and their operating systems (OS) are frequently updated, which means that maintaining the app requires not only the standard bug fixes but regular updates to ensure OS compatibility and a smooth user app experience.

Maintaining the app in terms of content is also a key consideration. Can the app scale? Be updated in real-time? White-label apps are linked to a content management system (CMS) where content can be modified instantly, without an app update or developers. Integrating this functionality into a custom app is possible but usually not as straightforward to do or use.

Cost

Perhaps the biggest deciding factor in figuring out the answer to this question is the difference in cost. Because custom apps require greater project management, longer development cycles and reiteration, the costs involved are generally much higher than white label platforms. This should come as no surprise because it's the 'price to pay' for an app designed around a project's requirements to the letter. White label apps are cheaper because they offer a convenient, tried-and-tested platform that has already been through the motions of intensive prototyping and testing.

Conclusion

Depending on a project's requirements, developing an app entirely from scratch could be the best option if there are no time or budget constraints. Realistically, most projects do in fact have limited time, budgets and resources, making white label apps the more appropriate choice.