Confused About Types of Application Development? Start Here.


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Application development can be a confusing field, especially if you are new to it. But even if you’ve been crafting software for a long time, many things have changed.

To help you navigate these waters, we’ve put together a list of some of the important questions to ask and popular industry terms with it comes to picking the right types of application development.

Custom Application Development

This is the classic type of application development. When a business unit has a problem that needs to be solved with software, they may first go and try to find a readymade solution. However, often nothing exists or the challenge is so specific that it requires a special solution.

This is when businesses turn to custom application development. There are many reasons that businesses prefer custom application development instead of readymade software.

  • Your IT team might require all software to be built in-house to address security concerns
  • You may require certain functionality that is not available in any existing solution
  • The technology may be very specific to your domain or industry for which no one has created a solution yet
  • You may be creating or working with proprietary software that you might license out later

After deciding on custom application development, there are two main ways to go about it, depending on how your organization is structured. If you have your own IT department, you may have developers on hand whose job it is to build these kinds of solutions for your company. They tend to know the specific technology you are working with and also know the industry and business use case. However, these developers are often busy with other projects and may not be able to get to something new for weeks if not months.

If you don’t have an in-house option, then you’ll need to outsource your application development. This involves finding an IT services firm or freelancer who can create a solution.

Choosing your App-Development Stack: 11-Point Checklist

Application Development Platforms

Once you determine who will be developing the application, you need to think about how the software will come to life. There are three main types of application development platforms.


The first is the classic hand-coding model. Here, a developer uses a specific language and writes out every line of code to make the software functional. Hand-coding ensures that the entire project is crafted exactly as the developer wants and gives him or her complete control over the whole project.

Low-code platforms

The biggest issue with hand-coding is that it takes a long time. A new type of application development platform called low-code has emerged to help speed up the process. Low-code platforms use visual modules and drag-and-drop features to create large blocks of error-free code that can be used by developers to speed up the process. The developer writes custom lines to link together objects and modules.

Using a low-code platform, developers can double their output, while also improving their accuracy since each block of code is already tested. Most low-code tools will also let you dive into the base code to make changes if you need.

No-code platforms

Beyond low-code is one of the newer types of application development called no-code. With no-code, everything is in blocks and drag-and-drop features.

However, no-code really goes back to the question of who makes the application rather than how. No-code is designed so that business users, or citizen developers, can make applications on their own instead of relying on overworked programmers. No-code platforms are more restrictive in that they are usually only for one use case (such as automated business processes), and don’t let you alter the base code. However, if you don’t have the time or funds ready for using a developer, they can be excellent solutions.

Application Development Methodology

A further type of application development depends on the methodology. Here, the main options are waterfall, rapid application development (RAD), and agile.


The waterfall methodology plans everything out very carefully and collects all the information ahead of time. Once all the requirements are laid out, the development team works on the product and doesn’t show it to the requestor until it meets all the predefined specifications. It works best with highly structured projects and when you have junior developers who need to be taught.

Rapid application development (RAD)

The downside of the waterfall method is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility. That’s where rapid application development comes in. With RAD, the development team is usually smaller, but much more experienced. RAD focuses on building a working prototype as soon as possible and showing it to the requestor. The requestor can give immediate feedback, which shortens the iteration process down the road. Developers continue to add features and then show them to customers, even if a whole module is not fully developed. Testing and UI work may be done later after the customer is satisfied with how everything functions.


Agile is a bit of a blend of these types of application development methodologies. In agile, the whole project is broken down into key features and modules. A feature is assigned to a team including the designer and tester. The feature is usually not shown to the requestor until it is finished and testing. But unlike the waterfall method, the requestor may have several times to view the project and will sign off after each feature or module is completed.

Types of Software Built With Application Development

Finally, we can focus on the type of projects that application development can deliver.

Mobile Application Development

This type of application development focuses only on applications that will be run on a mobile platform. Everything from the design to the functionality is dedicated only to mobile devices. Most application development platforms offer the functionality to build mobile apps, but there are some platforms that focus only this style.

Business Process Application Development

Here, the apps built are focused on digitizing and often automating core business processes inside an organization. Most business processes consist of a payload like a form that carries information through a predictable workflow. Usually, approvals and advanced routing are required to build the tool correctly.

Database Application Development

A database application focuses on storing and accessing a set of information such as your customer or vendor contact list. Databases are used in other forms of application development, but again, some are dedicated to providing advanced features to allow you to sort, parse, and take action on your key database.

Time to Get Started!

Now that you have a good overview of the types of application development, where will you start? Who is best to build the software? What methodology fits you? What type of application will you build? What kind of platform will work best?

Kissflow is a no-code platform dedicated to building advanced business processes. Because business leaders are building the applications themselves, they can follow the RAD model to quickly build and test applications.

If Kissflow sounds like a good fit for you, try the complete version today for a 30-day trial!

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