Can I build an app?

Building an app for my school

I have been building websites for schools for many years now, and a reoccurring theme is schools asking “Can’t we just build a website ourselves?”
The answer of course is Yes, there are a huge amount of tools out there that enable you to quite cost effectively launch a website. You may have to use generic template and be prepared to compromise on certain functions but with a little knowledge you could have a website to be proud of.
Now a question that I have never been asked until very recently was “Can we just build an App for ourselves?”
I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, my first thought was no, but I didn’t want to say that outright just because it suited me to say no.
Designing and developing a native app from scratch for both Apple and Android is not an easy task and I found myself explaining this process.
However what about using one of the available online tools? This would be a more workable solution but still leaves you with quite a few hoops to jump through, App store memberships, push notification certificates, and application profiles. Not to mention the potential minefield that is the Apple review (That is a whole other blog post)
Then there is a question of cost, I would assume that any school wanting to build their own app would be doing so primarily to save costs, but the reality is that these tools are not cheap, in fact many of these tools are actually more expensive than our yearly subscription here at Apps for Schools.
So after some consideration next time I am asked how practical it is for a school to build an app I think I have an answer.