There is really no single answer to the question of how much it costs to build an app. Most mobile app experts will give a long and structured answer to help you estimate what app that you have in mind will cost to build and deploy. Depending on the intended purpose, an app will have varying integrations with third-party apps. It will also use different built-in features in the hardware device it will be installed. These include GPS navigation and Augmented Reality.
Detailed preparation is required in order to ensure you set aside enough funds to oversee the development project to completion. Many development projects stall because the owners hadn’t factored in all costs involved in the project. App development is a capital expenditure akin to commissioning a new plant in a factory.
Here are 10 costs to consider when budgeting for an app.
1. Business Analysis
The first step in any app development project is establishing a business case for the app to be built. The business might even hire a business analyst to conduct a market analysis before embarking on the actual building. In fact, if there is already a budget for the app, 10% should ideally go into the analysis phase.
If there are existing competitors in the app, the proposed app must have a unique selling point to ensure that it can gain and grow its share of the market. Part of the preliminary work includes preparing the documentation for the project. All the requirements of the app must be put down succinctly before being handed over to the development team.
Another reason to carry out an analysis is to establish whether you can achieve everything in the project scope within the budget and time constraints. If not so, it may be necessary to scale the project down to make it achievable.
Once the requirements of the app have been established, the next cost item is prototyping. Here, the development team prepares mock-ups of how the app’s UI will look like. The goal is to ensure that the final app’s visual design is perfect and that the app is consistent in terms of colors, fonts, placement of buttons, navigation menus, and other factors that influence user experience.
Normally, the preparation of prototypes can take up 10-15% of an app’s budget.
3. The Development Phase
The bulk of your app development costs will go to paying the team to write the code to bring your app to life. The development team is likely to have a front-end engineer or a UI/UX designer, a backend engineer, a mobile developer, and a quality assurance engineer. Building an app requires experts in several fields to collaborate on the project. The cost of hiring each of these experts is north of $100 an hour.
In order to get the best value for money, it is best to work with a development team that adopts an agile delivery/development methodology. They should be able to provide weekly updates on the progress of the project. There must be deadlines in place for the achievement of major project milestones.
4. Features that Drive Costs
The length and cost of the development phase will heavily depend on the features intended in the app. Today, it is standard for mobile apps for instance to include screen optimization for different devices. Support for tablets, in particular, adds complexity and drives up development costs.
It also matters the number of platforms for which the app is being built. Normally, mass-market apps will need to include an Android as well as an iOS version.
Modern apps also require push notifications as an added feature to add to the amount of interaction users have with the app. It’s also quite common for apps to now allow users to create accounts and sign in using their social profiles. This is meant to add to the speed of signing into the app but it also adds a layer of security. If all these added features need to be present in the app, they will undoubtedly result in tens of additional development hours being billed.
5. App Marketing
An often overlooked but important part of the app development and deployment process is marketing. Having a marketing strategy and setting aside a budget for it is crucial in ensuring the target audience of the app is made aware of its existence and where to access it. The landing page can also be used to collect emails of interested users before the formal launch. These emails can be used in retargeting and user retention campaigns.
It’s best practice to have a landing page from where people can be redirected to various stores for download. The landing page might also have a blog section where the company shares useful content to users. The blog content can also be shared across the different social media platforms that the company uses.
Your app must also be properly optimized for the stores where it will be available. This includes having proper description of what it does as well as high-quality images of what the various UI-screens look like. You must categorize the app accurately for users to be able to find it organically.
6. App Maintenance Costs
The success of an app greatly depends on the ability of the owners to respond swiftly to bugs as well as user feedback after the launch. The norm today is to go through many iterations of the app throughout the year, each with incremental changes. This way, customers feel that the app is constantly improving while the learning curve for new features of interfaces is not too steep.
Normally, app maintenance costs will amount to about 15-20% of the initial development budget. Besides bug fixing, part of the maintenance budget goes to paying of commercial licenses for technologies used in the app. Apps also require paying for hosting services.
Another common hack is to work with a development partner who can handle design, development, and maintenance. Negotiating for all these services with one partner is likely to be much more cheaper than working with multiple firms.
Ideas on How to Reduce Your App Development Budget
Limited resources means businesses will often have to make compromises or shrewd decisions on how to approach the app development process.
One such shrewd move is to use cross-platform development technologies instead of native ones. This means that the development team can simultaneously build Android and iOS version of the app. This will not only cut the development time but also costs.
Another move would be to strip down the app so that the first version to be released only contains fundamental features. This is called a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP approach ensures that the bulk of the budget goes to building the features that provide the most utility to the intended users of the app.
If your business is looking for an app development partner, reach out to NS804. We are a world-class mobile app development company. Our team will help your business develop specifications for the MVP, carry out the development and also help with the launch and marketing strategy. Book a consultation call here.