Small Business Awesomeness
Jotform App Builder: Small Business Awesomeness
Jay Smith, Owner, Root of Pi
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’ve dreamt of some sort of app that can make your life easier, save you some time, make you more money or more productive, or some combination of any of these things.
Larger or more established companies you compete with seem to have more money and more resources and at times the ability to just out-innovate or out-maneuver you, particularly when they already have in-house development or a larger company behind them providing the technology you just can’t afford yet.
What if there was a way to level the playing field and get an app that would streamline some processes for you or elevate your status with clients?
With Jotform Apps, you can create small business apps without spending a fortune (in time or money) on traditional app development. In this article, I’ll show you how it works.
Sweet sweet business apps
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What is the Jotform App Builder?
Jotform Apps is a platform that allows users to create small business apps without traditional app development. The process is simple and user-friendly, making it an ideal solution for small businesses that want to get an app up and running quickly and efficiently.
If you’re not familiar with Jotform, they’re an online SaaS provider that’s been around since 2006. In the last few months, they upped their game by allowing users to take forms directly into an app that can be used by clients, employees, friends…whoever. Installing your mobile app on a device is a little different than through the app store we’re all used to…for now, but it’s not a big hurdle.
One of the absolute best things about this tool? You can get started for free and not for just 14 days like many other online solutions you’ve tried. You can build your entire app in the free tier and level up (for a very modest monthly fee, more later) when your form usage grows. I’ll discuss pricing more later on.
Nothing quite feels like free
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How to create an app with the Jotform App Builder
This article will assume you already use Jotform, as creating forms on the platform would take an entirely different post (which I’ll write soon!). Luckily, the fine folks at Jotform have given us a ton of templates not only for forms but also for the Apps Builder. Let’s go through a simple form to app quickly. I’ll do this one in the free tier as this is an introduction.
Create a free account (if you don’t already have one), and click the menu right next to the logo in the top left corner of the screen. NOTE: This logo is your lifeline back to your dashboard, as Jotform doesn’t have a lot of internal navigation set up between the tables, forms, and apps.
The top navbar logo will become your best friend when you’ve followed too many squirrels.
You should now be on the Create App dashboard, let’s select Use Template for this exercise.
I’ve been creating apps for small business owners in Jotform pretty much since they launched the service, over time you’ll make extensive use of the Clone existing app option, especially as your apps get more intricate. For now, we’ll rely on the extensive library of pre-built app templates Jotform provides.
Choose a template
As you can see in the screenshot below, the App Builder template library is pretty huge, there are app templates for just about every use-case you can imagine, and each of them can be customized for your particular need. Let’s select the Scheduling App template. In my dashboard, it’s the first one in one list.
Jotform will show you some general information about the template you’re previewing, show you some similar options, and even present a QR code so you can see what it looks like on your device and how it will look to your customers! Let’s click the Use Template button.
The first time you enter the App Customization dashboard, there’s a lot to look at and can feel a little overwhelming, but there are just a few items to keep in mind.
- Overall styles for the entire app can be modified using the little paint roller icon in the top right of the screen. You can update your logo, colors, and images here as well as modify the button layout of the app itself.
- Buttons and fields on the app itself will have their own customization menus.
- Some of these fields will just open a text editor right on the app for you to update things like hours of operation and business address.
Other buttons are Jotforms in the backend and will require a little more customization for your particular needs. Click on the Schedule an Appointment button to see the side menu.
Jotform has gotten us within sniffing distance of the goal line, but to make this app useful for our business, here’s where we have to step in and start customizing the form. If you still have the Edit Form menu visible as in the image above, go ahead and select the orange button. If not, click on the Schedule an Appointment button, then go into the Edit Form menu.
This will open a new window and take you right into the Form Editor for that particular form, if you’ve used Jotform in the past this should look familiar.
Another nice feature throughout Jotform is auto-save, you don’t have to constantly save your work for fear of losing it all if you lost connectivity or forget. As noted above, this article isn’t going to delve into creating forms on Jotform, we can do that another time. Once you’re happy with your form updates, you can close this window and go back to your App dashboard to keep updating each field.
Once you’ve got everything to your liking, click the Preview App slider button in the top right to see how it looks!
Jotform also provides an extensive video and blog library to help you work your way through building the best app for your small business needs, just click the Support menu in the top navbar to access their content. You can always hire an expert like Root of Pi to help you get it done quickly too ;).
Now that we’ve got our app where we want it, we click the Publish Tab in the top middle of our edit screen to get a link to share our app with all of our users! As long as you’ve got your account set up with a valid email, you’ll have a nice and easy table in the backend (remember your home button!) to take in all of your form submissions.
Some Benefits of using the Jotform App Builder for your small business
- Save time – Automate mundane back-office tasks with form integrations and approval flows. I only scratched the surface on the capabilities of the app builder and have built out very complex frameworks for customers using this tool.
- Save money – A custom mobile application coded up for your particular business by a developer could cost thousands of dollars. Ask yourself if such a robust solution is needed or if a no-code platform such as Jotform Apps can get you where you need to be.
- Impress clients and employees – Having a mobile application for tasks such as scheduling and reporting not only saves you time and money, it also helps your potential customers and your team members realize what a top-notch business you’re running.
- Save money (part 2) – C’mon, as a small business owner myself I know cost is one of the most important aspects of any new software or process. There are a ton of form providers online and more of them are starting to add no-code app building into their offerings. But I have yet to run into one that you can build your entire app and have it functioning before you ever spend a penny on the platform. That’s just 24K awesomeness right there.
Who’s as awesome as this cat for creating their own app? You are!
Photo by Djordje Vezilic via Pexels
Creating an effective app with the Jotform App Builder
Here’s the hard part, to become efficient at creating apps that can be truly transformative for your small business, you just gotta get in there and create. You can start up and delete as many forms and apps as you want with Jotform, and trial and error will teach you quite a few lessons that you won’t want to repeat very often, particularly when creating more complex Jotform Apps that include customer authorizations (for projects, e.g.), Zapier integrations and other more in-depth uses.
Examples of successful apps created with the Jotform App Builder
Here are just a few of the apps I’ve created for local customers in the last few months:
Private Investigator Operations App that allows the owner to intake a customer request, pass that along to their online investigator, who then passes all information along to the field investigators who complete the cycle. Up next is automatically pulling all of this into Customer reports. All of that can be accomplished through Jotform!
Home Renovation Company App used for timekeeping, PTO requests, customer proposals, accepting payments, and general daily worksite reports that include images and videos, as well as customer approval flows that let them know when a potential client accepts a quote and wants to schedule work.
A Bakery Pickup Scheduler used it at the tail end of a local shutdown to ensure customers who remained enthralled with their cookies were able to arrive for pickups at staggered schedules, allowing them to keep their clientele happy and their employees working. We even incorporated real-time chat to further enhance the customer experience.
Many small businesses are one significant step forward away from an amazing transformation in their success, and I believe that for many a no-code app could be that thing they’ve been hoping for. Have you tried Jotform App Builder? If so, leave a comment below with your experience or tips that can help others!
Want to try out the Jotform App Builder for yourself? If you wouldn’t mind using my Jotform affiliate link, if you sign up I get a couple of bucks that helps me keep providing content such as this! I also don’t write articles such as this for affiliate traffic, I only support platforms I use and believe in.
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