A single mobile app development project may cost anywhere between $5,000 to several hundred thousand dollars and may take from seven months to more than a year to be completed.
With such enormous resources involved, managing the cost of a mobile app development project can be tough and challenging. While there is plenty of management wisdom available on the web, businesses and app developers are still struggling to manage their projects and finances.
Therefore, I have come up with this guide that will help you to plan and manage your app development costs. The blog also breaks down the factors that impact the cost and provides a better understanding of the required budget.
Phases Involved in the Mobile App Development Process
Every mobile app development project consists of several phases, each of which takes a share of the budget. Having a well-rounded understanding of these phases will help you allocate an adequate budget for each of them. Below, we present a breakdown of these phases.
Pre-research or Analysis Phase
Before you begin working on your app, it is necessary to evaluate your app idea and conduct a market analysis. It is an indispensable phase because the data collected here will be utilized in all the subsequent stages of the project.
According to the survey by Clutch, the pre-research phase may cost anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000.
During the analysis phase, you will get a chance to evaluate your idea and determine whether it will be feasible in the form of an app or not.
A good practice is to find similar apps (if any) in your niche and carefully study their features. However, you should be clear about how the functionalities of your app will differ from your competitors’ apps.
After evaluating the idea and conducting market research, it is time to start designing the user interface of your app. In the current competitive app market landscape, developers can no longer overlook the importance of UI & UX design of the app.
It should be appealing enough to attract prospects and convert them into regular users. For most apps, the design phase typically makes up 10-15% of the entire app development cost. However, if your app has some specific requirements, the budget for this phase might increase.
Coding is probably the most crucial phase of app development and, hence, takes the lion’s share of the entire development budget. Here, developers write strings of codes and try to materialize the idea of the app.
This phase usually requires more than 2 or 3 team members, depending on the complexity of the app. You should choose the developers carefully before you start the coding phase because you will have to take a fresh start if you change a developer or team member during the project.
Therefore, it is a good idea to work with an established app development company with a professional team instead of individual developers.
Testing and Deployment Phase
After developing your app, you should test the app and see if it is ready to be published in the app stores. It is a critical app development phase because it ensures that the final product does not have any glitches or lags.
Hence, a significant portion of your budget should also go into this stage to make your app error-free so that it can stand out in the app stores.
When building an app, most people overlook the fact that the development phase is only the tip of the iceberg. They focus solely on the earlier phases of the app development cycle, so the cost of the maintenance stage often takes them by surprise.
Every app needs proper maintenance and regular updates to function on different devices and various operating systems. According to industry research, the maintenance costs for a medium-sized enterprise app ranges between $5,000 and $11,000 per month.
Tips for Managing the Mobile App Development Cost
Now that you are aware of the phases of an app development project and the cost associated with them, we can move on to the tips to manage and reduce the cost of your app development project.
Note down the essential features
It is a good idea to think about the functionality of your app before you start working on it. Understand the problems that you want to solve and list down the features that you want to include in the app.
While some of the features and functionalities are easy to implement, others will require considerable effort and money to implement. Since the cost of features varies with projects, it is difficult to put a price tag on them.
To build your app without exhausting your entire budget, only include the features that are critical to the functionality of the application. Having a minimum viable feature is essential to your company’s success. By testing assumptions periodically, you will be able to reduce time-to-market and minimize the risk of wasting resources on features that users do not even want.
You can also cut the development costs by using pre-built features. For instance, instead of spending your time and money on developing your own push notification functionality, you can simply choose a third-party plugin. Numerous service providers offer these pre-built solutions at a nominal price.
Consider the location of the app developer
Although, every company and developer charges differently, their cost massively depends on their location.
For instance, app developers from North America and Australia charge as much as $150/hour on average. In contrast, developers in Eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent may cost as low as $30 per hour on average.
Choose cross-platform app
Businesses generally have two options to develop their app. They can either choose a native app development framework or a hybrid framework. The native framework allows you to create apps that operate on specific platforms like iOS and Android. Hybrid or cross-platform apps, on the other hand, run on various platforms without much variation in the code.
Since the native framework requires separate apps for different operating systems, their development cost is higher than hybrid apps. Also, it takes more time to develop a hybrid app.
So, if you want your app to be compatible with various devices, you should choose the hybrid framework. It will enable you to reach a broader audience through a single app.
However, the downside to cross-platform apps is that they may suffer from performance issues, app lags, and crashes. At times, the graphical elements may also fail to transform entirely to match the framework and result in various design defects. Hence, many app developers prefer native apps over cross-platform apps.
An app development project involves different methods and processes. Some of these processes may seem simple, yet they need proper time and resources.
The agile methodology allows a team to break up a project into various small stages and complete them in a collaborative manner.
In the agile framework, the app development team moves through a process of planning, development, and testing in iterative cycles called ‘sprints.’ This way, projects are managed better, and each stage is executed and tested efficiently. This significantly reduces app development cost and time.
Managing the cost of a mobile app development project can be a tough task, as it involves extensive collaboration and repetitive testing.
Get a thorough understanding of the project and the purpose of your mobile app before you begin the development process. The above tips and strategies will ensure project deliverables and help you successfully manage the app development costs.