In today’s digital world, there’s nothing more exciting to a business or brand than a mobile app.
It not only makes everything easier and more appealing for the customer, but also adds a new and effective way of making money.
Unfortunately, most companies shy away from or procrastinate building a mobile app — especially in their startup years — due to fear over the cost. Many believe it costs an arm and a leg, but that’s not always the case.
In fact, there are plenty of different strategies that can help you properly budget your mobile app and phase out the development. This makes it possible for any business to offer a mobile app solution to their customers without having to break the bank.
HOW MUCH DOES MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT COST?
As you can likely imagine, the cost of mobile app development largely depends on the mobile app being developed and who’s developing it. Most developers charge an hourly rate and the amount of hours spent on the mobile app depends on the features and specifications involved.
Even if you’re working on a fixed-price contract, the developer will likely itemize each feature and task to determine the cost of development.
With that being said, most businesses and brands can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000-$250,000+. Where you fall on that spectrum can be generalized by the fast-good-cheap analogy, which explains:
- Mobile apps that are fast and good, aren’t cheap.
- Mobile apps that are fast and cheap, aren’t good.
- Mobile apps that are cheap and good, aren’t fast.
You’ll get to decide which type of app you want, but this allows you to provide customers with a cheap solution that you can eventually build on, update, and upgrade. It gives you a good start, which is a point most companies and brands won’t get to.
BUDGETING FOR MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
Every business or brand is going to have a budget when building a mobile app and it’s extremely important to respect that budget throughout the development process. It’s also important to leave yourself additional funds to support any changes made during the process.
Like we mentioned above, there are a wide range of factors that determine how much your mobile app costs to develop. Understanding these factors ahead of time helps you budget out your project and determine which areas you’re willing to invest your time and money into.
An accurate and documented budget is essential before you can start searching for the right app developer. That’s why it’s best not to pursue building a mobile app until you have a budget laid out.
To help you better prepare for the cost of mobile app development, we’re going to detail the most significant factors and how you can minimize the total cost with each factor.
NATIVE VS. WEB VS. HYBRID APPS
Deciding between building a native app, web app, or hybrid app is one of the first major decisions that affect the overall cost of the mobile app. More specifically, it will affect the amount of time that goes into the development, as well as the experience and knowledge required by the developer.
When looking at cost, a web app is going to cost less to develop than the other two — followed by a hybrid app, then a native app. A web app, however, is only available via a web browser and won’t show up in the app store.
A hybrid app is generally your cheapest option when releasing an app on an app store, largely because you’re building an app that’s compatible on multiple platforms — whereas a native app is only available on one platform. Unfortunately, hybrid apps don’t deliver the user experience, user interface, or overall quality that a native app provides.
If you’re looking for an app that looks and acts like a professional app, go with a native app. If you’re on a tight budget, a web app or hybrid app can help you keep the cost of mobile app development down. You can always switch to a native app at a later time when you have a deeper budget.
Your decision here will not only affect the cost, but it will also affect the type of developer you need. Different platforms and operating systems require different skills and experience, so you won’t be able to pick a developer until you know what type of app you need.
Once you determine the type of app you want to develop, the next major decision that factors into the cost of your app are the functions and features. Each feature you add to the plate will add to the overall cost, so it’s important to choose these features wisely.
As far as the function is concerned, mobile apps can be categorized into nine different categories: basic app (games), data-driven app (calendar), authentication app (user logins), social networking app (Instagram), ecommerce app (Amazon), on-demand app (Uber), marketplace app (both ecommerce and on-demand), and a hardware app (Beacons).
Certain apps require more time to develop, while others can be put together rather quickly. As you boil your mobile app down to specific features, you’ll want to write them all down so you don’t forget. It’s best to have a running list that’s always updated.
If you’re not on a tight budget, you can plan on hashing out a majority of those features right away. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you might have to pick and choose which features are most important to the user right now.
To keep the cost of development down, you’ll want to only focus on those important features first. The other features can be added as an update later on when you have the funds, which will actually give your users something to look forward to if marketed properly.
DESIGNING THE APP
Before an app can be developed, there needs to be a design. We know what most of you are thinking, but this doesn’t need to be a professional 3D-like design of your mobile app. In fact, this can be as simple as a drawing on a napkin – if that’s all you have.
The point here, much like the features of the app, you need to have some level of direction for the developer to follow. Without direction, your mobile app can fall off-track in no time.
When observing the cost of your mobile app, the design process will do one of two things:
- If your developer has experience as an app designer (which most do), then it’ll mean more time spent on the app (which means the app will cost more).
- If your developer doesn’t have experience as an app designer, you’ll have to take the time and spend the money on hiring a designer (which adds to the cost of your app).
There is a third option and it’s one most people take when on a tight budget — doing the design yourself and giving your developer some freedom in certain areas. It’ll allow you to have a sense of direction before the developer starts, helping you cut down on the amount of time spent developing the app.
In a way, developers enjoy it as well. The freedom gives the developer a chance to try new things and polish their own skills. It also shows you have trust in the developer, which adds to their confidence level.
THIRD PARTY INTEGRATIONS & APIS
Third-party integrations can add to the user experience and provide value to the user, but they also add to the cost of app development. Although you might want to go crazy with integrations and APIs, they aren’t always logical when looking at your budget.
You should always ask yourself whether or not an integration is vital to the app’s initial success when working on a budget. This can be rather difficult, especially considering all the integrations available — such as social media, speech recognition, camera, microphone, maps, calendar, and so much more.
Adapting your app so it can support the wide range of new technology we’re seeing in the app community should also be considered. Integrating your app to support things like smart technology, apps for cars, apps for video game consoles, wearable technology, and foldable technology can help boost its value — but also increase the cost.
TIME TO MARKET
Every project needs a deadline. Of course, when that deadline is will have an affect on the overall cost of the project. As a general rule of thumb, the more you rush the developer the more it will cost. Building a mobile app takes precision, which is difficult to do when being rushed.
If you’re working on a tight budget, avoid setting difficult deadlines and give your developer the time they need. Many developers are working on several projects at once, but they appreciate having projects lined up for when they complete one.
There’s really two things you want to pay attention to here — the amount of time you give the developer to start it by and the time it takes the developer to complete it once started.
You have a better chance of finding a developer that’ll give you a small discount if you give them time before starting. Likewise, you can save yourself some money by carefully selecting what features and functions you want the app to provide.
TESTING & MAINTENANCE
The final factor we want to highlight when determining the cost of mobile app development is testing and maintenance. Testing is something that can’t be ignored before announcing your app as ‘Ready for Release,’ but can also become an app owner’s worst nightmare.
The testing stage of the development process is where you get to see your app in action. Performance is extremely important in the app community, so avoiding bugs and errors is a must. Of course, this can’t be achieved without testing.
Having a developer capable of doing the testing will be the cheaper route, opposed to hiring a separate company to do the testing — just make sure your developer is skilled at it before proceeding.
Keep in mind, a quality developer generally leads to less errors, which leads to less time spent on testing, which reduces the cost of your mobile app. On the other hand, an inexperienced or lazy developer leads to a high amount of errors, which can wreak havoc on your budget.
FINDING THE RIGHT APP DEVELOPER
Developing a mobile app can be a complicated process, but having the right team by your side ensures your mobile app is put in a position to succeed. Although many startups are drawn to freelancers and self-employed developers, they often lead to higher costs and a longer time-to-market.
Since there are so many different stages to the development process — such as design, development, testing, and maintenance — we suggest searching for the best software development companies that provide all of the above. Having these services under one roof eases everything for you and ensures your users are delivered a quality app to enjoy.
When you’re ready to get started with your project, contact The Demski Group to speak with one of our highly-trained professionals. We’ll guide you through the process and help bring your mobile app idea to life!