Should you build your own community app?

3 min read
May 20, 2022

One of the top reasons why our customers sign up with Ugenie is to take advantage of our mobile app. As people across the globe are using their phones more and more every day, our community leaders want to ensure that their content and community is easily accessible on the go, on their members' phones.

And further, in our noisy digital world, they want to use push notifications to ensure that members don't miss important updates.

Now, of course, mobile responsive websites are getting better and better and can save you the stress and money required to build your own mobile app. However, no matter how good your mobile responsive site is, it can never take full advantage of the native features of a well-built mobile app. Having built both a web and app version of community hubs, we know this from experience.

On Ugenie Hubs+, you can create, curate and host your membership community on our mobile app. Your members simply down the uHubs app on either iOS or Android and join your community.

They can then access all the your resources and connect with other members of the community where-ever they go. Even during the pandemic, our communities have been actively engaging in their communities via our apps.

This solution works really well for lots of communities who want to leverage the power of mobile apps without the enormous costs of designing, building and maintaining their own at a low monthly price point.

Some of our clients, however, asked us if we could build them a copy of our app in their branding. This process of copying an app and making it available in different branding is called white labeling. To learn more about this, you can read more here.

As with anything, there are pros & cons of using a white labeled solution versus building your own.

Let’s start with the PROs

You save a lot of time and money!

Building an app can be expensive and stressful, especially if you are not a technical person. There is a big learning curve in understanding the whole process and you will not always be the right person to evaluate whether the app has been built well.

By using a white-labeled solution, you can let technical people worry about the tech and you can focus on how your business can best leverage your app or how your members would use it.

You can focus on growth

The money you save on the tech can be used for others things, like hiring a community manager or marketing. The strategy of 'if we build it, they will come' definitely does not work in the app world. The biggest challenge in building an app for your brand is not actually building it. It's about making sure that people use it. (More on this on another day)

You do not have to worry about ongoing maintenance and bugs

When build your own app, you have to budget for maintaining it and fixing any bugs that your members may find. This can include updating libraries, Apple Store or Google requirements and fees, hosting your data and more. There is an on-going cost of running any app.

You can leverage industry expertise with white labelled apps designed for a specific thing

Let’s take our app. We built Ugenie to give membership or community led businesses access to a private and curable platform at a price they can afford. Because this is our niche, we focus on features that best serve our customers. for example, our admin tool had a member management section which shares important member analytics.

Now the CONs

You may not get all the features you want

The white label platform may not have all the specific features you would build in your own app. And it may not be possible to add them.

You may not get the features you want at your own pace

Even if the company you choose to use is willing you add a feature you want, it may not be at the pace you want it. For example, we do a lot of demand-based development. This means we are always building new features for our customers, but we tend to prioritise the ones useful to the most of them.

You will not own the code

By leveraging a per-built system, you will not own the code or tech. It belongs to the company you are getting your white label from. This can be an issue if you are a startup raising funds with investors. That being said, at Ugenie, although you don’t own the code, you do own your data.

If you are still not sure, check out some additional resources that we found which may help you in choosing whether you should build your own custom apps, or white label it from another company. Alternatively, if you are looking for an app for your customer or member community, book a time to discuss this with a member of our team here.

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