Being an app developer is not easy (full disclosure, I am one). Most of the time, they have a vision for a great app and decide to sit down over the course of weeks and build it themselves (because they can code) or they will more than likely outsource it to a group of individuals who can build it for them. Apps are regularly outsourced because coding isn't the only thing that needs to be done. Apps are a blend of good engineering, design, user experience, originality and more. Typically, one person can't do all of those jobs from a logistics standpoint, let alone from a talent perspective. Great apps require teams.
On top of that, app developers (specifically the apps founders) have day jobs, where they slog it out, day in and day out, doing jobs that are difficult or that they hate, while their app is being built. At the end of the process of app development, they are presented with their final product. Sometimes it is good, and many times it is a horrible, horrible mess. Because of the euphoria of the development process coming to an end however, most app founders don't even realize that they are about to put a bad app onto the market, and it never takes off.
My belief is that the main reason that apps are made badly is that the developers are putting their hopes and dreams of helping their future app users (whether it is giving joy with a game or even teaching people to read and write) into the hands of the lowest bidder. People who promise the moon for 70% below what others are asking. Founders can't help themselves, they just say "Okay, build it," and their app never recovers.
Education apps are the worst offenders. There are so many bad apps out there. Whether you touch a certain object and nothing happens or screens of random, bright colors that would make Willy Wonka himself nauseated from the contrasts appear, it can be pretty bad. The fact that poorly made education apps exist saddens me.
Our kids and even learning adults deserve better than a lowest bidder build. If you are building an app, don't put it in the hands of the lowest bidder. It will only bring you woe and sadness. Users will complain to you, no one will cover your app positively, and worst of all, your users will not be helped with their "pain point." You need to start small. Start with a few cool features that you love, not a ton of features that can't be executed well. Make them love you and your app and they will tell you what they want to see next. You will have help, from your customers and it becomes a collaboration and everyone will win.
If you are willing to make the sacrifice -- and if you are building an app, you are no stranger to sacrifice -- put it in the hands of the builder who is going to do the best job, even if it costs more. It is tough to make that call, but it is worth it when you hear "Your app looks amazing" by everyone who sees it.
Parents, if you are purchasing apps for your child, please support the great ones. Post comments, give a like on Facebook, these developers worked hard on this project to help your child, and a simple click can go a long way in the life of a struggling developer. Let the makers of the apps that your children love, know that your children love them. They will continue to make great things, and you can continue to enjoy and learn from them.
Just a thought.