Building vs. Buying an App

5 min read
May 8, 2024 9:00:00 AM

Building vs. Buying an App 

Need an app but aren’t sure if you should build one or buy one ready-to-use? 

To begin, let’s go over what it means to build versus buy an app. To build an app means to plan, design, develop, test, deploy, and maintain a software platform from the ground up. To buy means to purchase a solution, or the use of a solution, that is already built and ready to use from a vendor.  

Applications have become an integral tool for various organizations, projects, and individuals. However, deciding whether to build or buy an app can be challenging as each path has unique opportunities and shortcomings, from customization to timing and cost considerations. 

Phone and computer

In this blog, we’ll cover the pros and cons of building an app versus the pros and cons of buying a ready-to-use app, as well as which option would be best for your objectives and needs. 

Building an App from Scratch 

Building an app from scratch to fit your needs comes with its own set of pros and cons that you should be aware of before making a decision. An app built from scratch will go through rigorous research, development, and planning based on specific requirements. 


The pros of building an app can include customization, unique branding, and ownership. 

  1. Customization: Arguably, the main reason you would want to build an app is to customize it. Building an app from scratch allows you to tailor every aspect of it to fit your requirements. Some apps that you can purchase to use may have a degree of customization, but building allows complete creative freedom with its features, design, and functionality. 
  2. Branding: Include unique branding within your app to perfectly integrate it into your brand identity and requirements. This can allow users to have a seamless brand experience. 
  3. Ownership: Building your own app means full ownership of the code and intellectual property rights that are associated with it. There is no third-party provider you are dependent on, and you have full control over the development roadmap and security measures. 

App building


The cons of building an app can include time and cost, technical expertise, uncertainty, and upkeep. 

  1. Time and cost: In order to create an app fit for specific requirements, significant time, resources, and investment are required. If unexpected challenges, security risks, or requirement changes occur, further development costs may be incurred.   
  2. Technical expertise: Building an app requires a certain skill set, which means a development team will be essential. Finding and training developers can be challenging, especially if they are inexperienced with the specific app development and programming languages that will be necessary. 
  3. Uncertainty: There is a level of uncertainty in the app-building process of not knowing how the app will work when put into users' hands, if layout will make sense to users, and whether the app will be successful. 
  4. Upkeep: There is a certain level of upkeep that an app should undergo to ensure users are getting the best experience, security issues are fixed, and features are updated to match changing requirements. When an app is built instead of bought, the responsibility of maintenance and cost fall on you, the app owner, instead of the vendor you are purchasing from. 

Buying a Ready-To-Use App 

Now that we’ve gone over the pros and cons of building your own app, let’s discuss the pros and cons of buying a ready-to-use app. 


The pros of buying an app include time and cost, validated solutions, and reduced risk. 

  1. Time and cost savings: Avoid the initial development phase, which can take anywhere from 3-12+ months and requires a large investment. This option ensures you know the cost upfront, rather than having it fluctuate due to unseen circumstances such as feature enhancements or security fixes. 
  2. Validated solutions: Buying an app that is already used by others can give you the confidence that the app will work as intended. It has a performance track record and may already have user feedback implemented into it. With user feedback, you can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the platform. 
  3. Reduced risk: There is less investment on your end when you buy an app. Additionally, maintenance of the app, including security updates, is the responsibility of the app vendor. 


The cons of buying an app include limited customization, integration challenges, and vendor dependence. 

  1. Limited customization: Some platforms allow for a degree of customization to make the platform fit your needs. However, the options for customization are constricted compared to building an app from scratch. You will likely have to work within the constraints of the existing codebase, features, and design. 
  2. Integration challenges: Some platforms may not be configured for an integration that you require and would need further coding to implement, which can increase the cost of buying. 
  3. Vendor dependence: when buying an app, there is a degree of dependence on the vendor for support, maintenance, and updates. If the vendor runs into a problem with the platform, it can also impact your usage of the platform. 

Development team

Finding the Right Fit for Your Needs 

So how should you determine whether it's better for you to buy or build an app? Ultimately, this decision will be impacted by elements such as your budget, timeline, technical expertise available, and objectives. Each approach comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. 

In most cases, it will be more worth the cost and time to buy a ready-to-use app for your objective. The time and cost that goes into building an app from scratch are not going to be beneficial, especially if you only plan to use it for a short-term. 

For companies that have a high budget, longer timeline, and are looking to have an app long-term, building it from scratch may be more viable for the customization that can be built into it. 

Whether you prioritize complete control and flexibility or seek to expedite the process and mitigate risk, careful consideration should go into this decision to make sure you decide on the most suitable path for your app journey. 

Example of a Ready-To-Use Platform

Looking for a platform for your next project or research study? Electronic data capture platforms, such as Zamplo Research, allow you to purchase the use of an already built platform for your project needs. 

When integrated with the Zamplo App (participant-facing platform), Zamplo Research can be used to monitor and collect electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePROs) and longitudinal data for any medical condition or therapy with built-in participant compliance monitoring to improve adherence. 

Set your project up quickly without a fluctuating price by using an existing platform. Depending on the budget of your project, customized features such as device integrations can be coded into the platform for more flexibility.  

The Zamplo team has written guides, video tutorials, email support, and one-on-one call support to ensure you are able to fully utilize the platform and to help get you set up for success with your project. 

To get started with Zamplo Research, book a meeting with us.

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