App Development 101: What is the difference between developing a website and developing an app?

Jun 14, 2010
Tech

Many people enter into having an app developed with having a web site developed as their only frame of reference. Although the two look similar, and it seems the pricing and development process should be alike, they are very different both in method and cost for several reasons. In the inaugural edition of our App […]

Many people enter into having an app developed with having a web site developed as their only frame of reference. Although the two look similar, and it seems the pricing and development process should be alike, they are very different both in method and cost for several reasons. In the inaugural edition of our App Development 101 series, Rachel Youens of Appiction explains the development differences for each platform.

What is the difference between developing a website and developing an app?

Many people enter into having an app developed with having a web site developed as their only frame of reference. Although the two look similar, and it seems the pricing and development process should be alike, they are very different both in method and cost for several reasons. Three years ago, there were no iPhone or Android developers, this is a relatively new field and there aren’t a glut of people doing it yet. Less competition in the space means that those who do it well can charge more. A second difference is that web design and development have been around long enough that there are lots of automated ways to complete it. Services like WordPress have made getting a professional-looking web site with a strong content management system very easy and affordable. Because app development is so young, there aren’t yet quick and cheap ways to automate app creation. A third difference is the quality and difficulty of code that goes into creating an app. Web sites use code like HTML, javascript and CSS which have vast online libraries and are easy to pick up and learn even as an amateur. But iPhone and Android development use advanced codes such as Objective C and Cocoa which are newer and more difficult, also making those who can use them more rare and higher priced. And finally, the abilities of a smartphone are much more broad than a simple website. A smartphone has all the point and click abilities of a web site, plus advanced features like GPS, Bluetooth, accelerometers. While these features have opened up a whole new world of possibility for what a phone can accomplish, they also make development more complex. For those with web site development as their only comparison, they will often be surprised at how all these elements can add to the time and cost that it takes to develop an app.

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How do I get accepted into app stores like the Android Market and iTunes store?

Asking “how do I get accepted to the iTunes store is a bit like asking “How do I get accepted to Harvard?” You may have a perfect SAT score, but not a good enough grade point, or the person looking at your application may just not like your essay. Imagine iTunes is a bit like that review board, they aren’t just doing a check list, they are subjective. At Apple there is actually an independent person that looks at your app and decides whether or not it is green lit, and their requirement list is always evolving. No one can guarantee your app acceptance but there are some things you can do to raise your chances:

• Avoid sex and vulgarity. Steve Jobs has made it very clear that adult themes won’t be tolerated in the iTunes store.

• Offer more than what a mobile site can offer. Apple is cracking down on apps that are just a vehicles for an RSS feed.

• Don’t compete with Apple or ATT functionality.

• Run your app through a strong QA process to check for any bugs or failures.

• Make sure you understand Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and abide by them. Something as small as putting a back button in the wrong place could lead to rejection.

As for the Android, and other marketplaces, there is little to no review of apps, and being accepted here is not difficult. One more thing to consider when it comes to app store submission is that if you have a specific launch date you want to have you app up by, you need to take iTunes acceptance period into account. Although a developer can promise you a date they will complete your project, they can’t control Apple, and an app can take between a week and a month to get acceptance.

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Rachel Youens

Rachel Youens is the Marketing Director for Austin, Texas-based smartphone app development house, Appiction. Rachel has worked in tech and media for a number of years with companies including FOX and Current TV, and in her spare time uses apps to chronicle her wardrobe, meals, books, movies and city wildlife.

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