Reskin an app: 6 crucial stages and top examples for mobile

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If you are interested in this question, you’ve probably heard how much time or/and money it takes to make a custom mobile app. But what if we tell that you can spend ten times less money on reskin app and get a fine income from it. Intriguing, isn’t it?

What is an app reskinning

Probably, we should start from the very basis.

Reskinning – is making a new app using existing source code and different design. You can also make some small modifications to that code or develop it a bit, but the main sense is in saving money on a ready piece of strings.

Here is a good example of what we are talking about. In 1950s American producer Roger Corman came with a profitable idea. He quickly identified what audiences wanted and used one actors’ crew and even the same movie sets to make cheap films. While bigger companies were only working on their movies, Roger was gathering fast money in cinemas following trends. Maybe his work wasn’t а masterpiece but he managed to earn some capital.

In our case, a process is almost the same. You take a trendy code, e.g. Multi-Lined Slot Machine game, create a new design for it or even a few game versions and get profit. But let’s look at real examples.

Best reskin app examples

While surfing app stores you can notice many familiar apps you’ve never even used. It is very easy to find such examples in games. Candy Crush Sagas, Doctor games by George CL, Deer Hunter, Temple Run and many other can be found in the TOP charts of different app stores. They can have big variety clones or similar apps with look-a-like names but at the same time, those are not duplicates. They are reskins.

The main goal of reskin apps is getting new audiences by using popular themes and designs.

  • King’s sagas

how to reskin app

Different Candy Crush Sagas, Farm Heroes Saga, three Bubble Witch Sagas, Pet Rescue Saga and other were downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. And people don’t get bored with that games, although their main difference lies only in design.

  • Nice fonts & wallpapers

how to reskin app

People like to customize their phones both from inside and outside. This is the main secret of some apps’ popularity. Above you can see few applications that change fonts and emoji on mobile. Also here we can include apps that work with wallpapers.

It is a good possibility to release such apps on special occasions like Halloween or Christmas. At this time people tend to download twice as more apps as usual. Besides lifespan of these apps is quite long and usually, they don’t require changes in code.

  • Flappy series

how to reskin app

Original “Flappy Bird” game turned into dozens if not hundreds of similar apps. People just like the idea and good design makes the rest.

What’s even more interesting reskin apps, in this case, could appear thanks to the clone code “Flappy Crocodilethat appeared on marketplaces. As a result app stores were full with reskin app containing 3D birds, Nyan cats or even Miley Cyrus head.

  • Runtastic

how to reskin app

Not only the games can be reskinned. A good example of it are series of Runtastic apps.  They are described as ideal health and fitness partners for different sportsmen. Runners, bikers or even pedestrians – all of them can download the personalized app, both free and pro versions.

  • Deer Hunter

how to reskin app

Glue Games already produced many app series. One of them is about hunting deer. In 2017 this app returned with cool locations including Alaska and Zimbabwe. And if you think people are bored with hunting on deer look at that 794 thousand downloads on Google Play.

By the way, with Glu you can also hunt on dinosaurs. That is a real reskin experience!

  • Talking Tom and his friends

how to reskin app

This app is placed somewhere between games and entertainment. It was named #1 app in 135 countries and has billions of downloads. U.K. app maker Outfit7 agreed to sell a virtual cat for no less than $1 billion.

Now the game has nearly 300 million monthly active users. They can enjoy playing with original Tom, red Jinjer or white Angela. Dog lovers can play with Hank or Ben. And surfing app stores you can also find similar apps with other animals.

  • Angry Birds

how to reskin app

This list wouldn’t be full without the most famous game of last years – “Angry Birds”. It made $70 million in the first year, and now the game is worth billions. Besides developers don’t stop and create new “skins” for the game.

The most interesting of them are probably “Star Wars” editions. Both games have almost 2 million downloads.

  • Tips and Tricks

how to reskin app

Nothing can last forever. Except for maybe tips apps from Imtelligenti Ltd. For many years this company produces its apps with a recommendation for iPod and iPhone users. With each new iOS or device, you can find a new app from them.

But it’s not the limit. They produce their apps in different languages, write about Windows, Dracula or American football. But for all this variety they can use only one code. What a great saving!

  • Timberman

how to reskin app

This game was admitted as one of the best in 2014. The number of its followers is over 15 million. So there is nothing strange in the fact that the game was reskinned many times. Some of the apps became really successful like one in the eastern style where panda chops bamboo.

This list can be very long so we propose you to look for other examples in app stores by yourself and pay more attention to app strategies. Think what best can be repeated in your own apps and what unique can be brought into that sphere.

Benefits of reskinning apps

Reskinning is all about saving. It can reduce your spending of time, money and people.

  • Time

Period of creating your reskin app can vary. It depends on many factors like quality of bought code, a number of graphic elements and sounds, your concept etc. For example, if you have chosen a complicated theme you’ll probably need to work on it longer. However, if you only need to change a few graphic elements it will be fast.

But the main advantage here is in a fact that you mustn’t work on code from zero. Purchasing a source code you avoid many dangers like working on the wrong idea or paying incompetent developers.

  • Money

Buying ready code is far cheaper than developing it. At app marketplaces, you can find prices like $49/app. The same money you would pay for an hour (!) work of an average Ukrainian Android or iOS developer.

Besides working on reskin scheme you can decrease your expenses by turning one successful code into 10 smaller projects. Each of them would use the same code and your spending will divide into ten. Meanwhile, each app can target various audiences and bring you money from several demographic groups. In some cases reskin app can even become more popular than the original version.

You can invest $50-100 in a ready source code, while the same app development would be worth more than $6,000.

  • People

Human capital, in this case, can be regarded as a separate option cause some entrepreneurs manage to build reskin app empires on their own. A good example of it is John Hayward-Mayhew. Just in four years that iOS developer managed to produce more than 600 different apps and gain 25 million downloads. And he didn’t even know how to code!

So that you can also work on your own, or hire a professional designer. Sometimes developer’s help can be needed but even so your spending can’t be compared to the lasting and costly process of complete app development.

reskin app

6 steps to make a reskin app

After looking at that great and successful series of reskin apps you could think of doing something similar on your own. Believe it or not, it is possible to make with a really little amount of money, time and dedication.

For creating successful reskin app you must have two main things: good source code and qualitative design. Sometimes entrepreneurs or amateurs forget about that and don’t get expected results. Please, do not repeat that mistakes.

  1. Start with the basics

Even if you are not going to reskin any app on your own it is a good idea to get acquainted with main development tools. The process will be a bit different accordingly to chosen operating system.

iOS

While creating a reskin app for Apple you’ll need to use some special soft, in this case – Xcode. It is an integrated development environment (IDE), that works for OS X and iOS. Obviously, you’ll also require a Mac laptop or PC.

Xcode is not harder in understanding than Microsoft Word so you’ll learn to use it or understand properly after some tutorials. Plenty of them can be found just using Google. The program is adapted to not very skilled users and has an easy interface.

how to reskin app

Android

If you’re going to create reskin apps for this operating system you’ll need some special programs too. In this case, we’re talking about official IDE called Android Studio. It gives you the same possibilities as Xcode.

Besides Android Studio is not so hard to understand too. On the web, you’ll find many video and text tutorials that describe working with it. By the way, Google has own video lessons for amateurs. You’ll find not only good advice but also code examples in it.

how to reskin app

Just a little understanding of reskin app principles will help you to get better communication with your developer and designer. It is especially crucial when you are employing people on the hour-paid basis. Your knowledge of IDEs will help to save money by putting right tasks and explaining precise requests.

Also at this point, it’s good to find out popular trends in programming and actual prices for developer’s work so that you wouldn’t pay too much for the outdated code.   

  1. Get a source code.

You have two different options to start with. First of all, you can get your own unique code by hiring a freelancer or making a deal with developer company. It can cost you different sum starting with at least $6,000. After getting the personal code you can hire a designer and duplicate your app as many times as you want.

But there are much more economical solutions like purchasing a source code. Some of them can cost even $50! However, in this case, the process works like franchising. You don’t get a source code itself but only its copy. So actually regard it as getting a license for using a source code.

Licenses can have different types, but mostly they are limited or unlimited. In a case of a limited license, you can reskin app a set number of times (or even once) and then publish it. With unlimited licenses, you may reskin app as many times as you wish.

Usually purchasing a license also does not allow you selling your app to another person. It happens because you don’t own the code itself. So be careful while purchasing a license and better choose well-known seller.

  1. Make a research

After getting your code start developing an idea. Making some research before diving into reskin app would be a good decision.

First of all, you should visit app stores and look for similar applications or popular trends. Try those apps by yourself, read the descriptions, pay attention to keywords etc. At this point, you must understand, what users like and what your competitor’s apps lack.

Also, you should pay attention to possible audiences and make sure that your concept matches target demographics. At this point, you should choose mobile operating systems you are going to work with too.

Downloads on Google Play and third-party Android stores are forecast to grow to almost 300 billion by 2021.

  1. Start reskinning

In most cases reskin app is about changing a design, not the source code. Though you may want to implement some small changes or improvements into your code and make it a bit different.

So after you’ve chosen needed theme start redesigning. You can do it by yourself or hire Android developer (or iOS if you want to work at Apple’s field) Everything here depends on your possibilities.

If you want to make redesign by yourself, you’ll need some additional knowledge. Sound effects or ID modifications can be changed in IDEs but you’ll also need to make some graphics changes with editing programs like Adobe family (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects), GIMP, Acorn or many other.  

But don’t forget that high-quality design is one of the key moments in creating a successful application.

The original graphic asset is located in the particular folder of your app. You or your designer must find them and parts of code they refer to. Also pay attention to the dimensions, file size and the number of animations for each graphic.

After you’ve got redesigned files be sure that they match original elements. It is important because those graphics will later combine and form one design.

After changing all elements you’ll need to test your app at least a few times.

Best reskinners can use the same code up to 30 times.

  1.  Sign up for ad networks and developer accounts

First of all, you’ll need developer accounts on Google Play and/or App Store.  Memberships at the Apple Developer Program starts with $99/year while signing up for  Google Play Developer account costs one-time $25 USD registration fee.  

After that, you must choose one or few advertising networks like Google’s AdMob, Unity Ads, Chartboost, Revmob, AppLovin or any other you want. Don’t forget to change the ID of the project so that you can receive money from advertising. This requires using a software development kit (SDK) and occasionally can be tricky. So you can regard a support of professional developer at this point.

By 2020 worldwide mobile ad spending will rise to 247.4 billion U.S. dollars.

After preparation is done you can upload an app to the stores and work on it’s ASO (App Store Optimization), which means adding your own unique title, description, keywords, nice screenshots, personalized icon and other small but meaningful details. Also later you should work with app reviews and ratings.

  1. Marketing

Some entrepreneurs forget about this really important stage of reskinning an app.

It is not enough just to make a brilliant app and wait while it will gain success on its own. You should advertise your new apps in social media, blogs, video channels or any other possible ways.

The more people will try an app the better position it will get in store TOPs.

reskin app

Case study

What about some more practical example? We imagined being an amateur reskin app entrepreneur and counted his or her possible expenses.

Statistic says that in 2016 mobile users spent 11% of the time playing games on Android.  These apps formed almost 40% of all downloads and brought their owners more than 50 billion dollars. So let’s create our own dream game empire!

For the beginning, we chose one classic game source code – “Jelly Garden Match 3” and counted our possible expenses on it. It works both on Android and iOS phones, doesn’t require developer experience and even contains pre-installed ad networks. Here’s what we get while making one reskin application. 

Single license Multiple License
App source 99 259
Apple Developer Program *per year 99 99
Google Play Developer 25 25
Developers help *2 hours 100 100
Designer work *8 hours 360 360
Total $683 $843

We added some developer and designer help to our calculation and even so, we didn’t reach $1,000 point. And you can make these sums even smaller buying cheaper codes or making your own design!

App reskinning can turn $1000 into $100,000 by working with different audiences.

But let’s count some more. In the case of a single license, it would probably be wiser invest into more expensive and qualitative app, because your spending will not divide. But what about multiple cases? What if we make 5, 8 or even 10 apps with multiple licenses? Let’s take a look.

5 apps 8 apps 10 apps
App source 259 259 259
Apple Developer Program *per year 99 99 99
Google Play Developer 25 25 25
Developers help *2 hours/app 500 800 1000
Designer work *8 hours/app 1800 2880 3600
Total 2683 4063 4983
One app $536.6 $507.88 $498.3

We increased expenses on hired workers but still, one app’s price is smaller than in a case of a single license. And the more apps we make, the cheaper they become. Still, each of them can bring owner the same profit.

An average application can earn $5,000-$11,000 per month worldwide, though most of the developers get less than $1,000.

Of course the tables above are simplified but still, they show the main principle of reskinning an app: the bigger volume of your business is, the better results you get.

But don’t forget about quality, of course. If you buy a cheap code or make bad design constantly your audience will quickly regard all your products as bad and unpleasant.

Conclusion

Just a few main things you could take from our article.

  • Reskinning app – is a process of using one code with various designs.
  • Reskin app is many times cheaper than creating an app from zero.
  • You can save money by dividing constant expenses into many smaller projects.
  • Good code and high-quality design are two main options for getting a fine result.
  • You can perform all the process by yourself or hire just a few people to help you.
  • The more reskin apps you make the cheaper they become.

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