When a business orders a mobile application, there is a risk of overpaying or not paying enough. If you overpay, the application may not pay off and damage the company’s budget. If you save too much, there is a risk of getting a useless and non-functional piece of code at the output.
In our company, we are developing mobile applications and we want to tell you how to maintain a balance between economy and functionality: spend a minimum of money and get everything you need.
What makes up the cost of developing a mobile application
The cost of developing mobile applications is influenced by 5 criteria:
The more screens, menu items and sections an application has, the more expensive the design is.
It’s the same here: the more features, the more expensive the app is. Calculator, payments, working with files, chat, connecting cards — each function increases the cost of the application.
Working on different platforms
If the application is needed only for one platform, its cost will be lower. If you need it to work on both iOS and Android, there are two ways:
To develop a cross-platform application is to write one code for two platforms at once. It’s cheaper, but the applications are simpler, without complex functions like working with pdf files inside the application. For example, connecting a map, GPS tracking, alarm clock, online lessons and tests are simple functions. In our practice, 90% of applications are written cross-platform – most customers lack such functionality.
Develop two applications for iOS and for Android
In this case, the application is written in two different programming languages. This allows you to implement more unusual and complex functions, as well as make the application more stable and safer. This is the way companies that produce applications for hundreds of thousands of users go. Or those who make complex applications for engineers or system analysts. Such applications must work stably under high loads and support complex solutions that are inaccessible to cross-platform applications.
Development of the server part
If it exists or you need to connect to a ready-made system, for example, 1C, it’s easier and cheaper. If you need to develop server mechanisms, this will make development more expensive.
For example, you need an application for retail network employees that shows information about products by price tag. This application must connect to servers where product data is stored and photos of price tags are recognized using machine learning. If the server part is ready, it will be easier and cheaper to develop an application. If it is not there, you will have to write such functionality and development will be more expensive.
Testing. Its cost depends on the number of screens and the functionality of the application.
To better explain the difference between an inexpensive and an expensive application, let’s take two examples from our practice.
Making it more cost-efficient
We are going to talk about saving money not at the expense of quality. Even if you save money, you will still get a high-quality, working and functional application that is user-friendly. It’s just that the application will not be perfect — but often the ideal is not needed.
Do not add unnecessary functions. Applications often add features that seem cool, but are not really needed. To minimize the budget, at the start there should be only critical functionality that serves the main purpose of the application. There are no universal tips here, it all depends on the situation.
For example, in an application for the delivery of food from supermarkets, you definitely need a card, a shopping cart, payment tools, and integration with an online supermarket store.
But you can definitely do without reviews or displaying the courier icon on the map at the start.
Customers also often ask to add an offline mode to the application: so that everything works without communication with the server. In practice, this is very rarely needed, for example, if this is an application for engineers who work in the basement. In other cases, nothing terrible will happen if the application does not work offline: mobile Internet is everywhere.
Replace complex solutions with simple ones. Some functions in the application do not have to be developed — you can use simple and ready-made solutions.
For example, many customers want the app to have a chat. It seems that it’s simple, but in fact, developing a really convenient chat is quite long, difficult and expensive. It is much better to leave a link to a messenger and transfer a person there. Hundreds of programmers have been working on popular messengers for years, they support chatbots and easily integrate with CRM, and all this is almost free.
Another example is payment directly in the app. It can be seriously simplified: make a payment via a website so that the confirmation window opens inside the application. It’s fast, user-friendly and much cheaper to integrate with payment systems.
Collect more materials for the designer. Your company probably has brandbooks, logos and other graphic materials. Many of them can be used in the development of the design of the application, so that you do not have to think everything over and draw from scratch. If you collect such materials in advance and provide them to the studio, the development of the application will cost less.
What should not be saved on
There are critical things in development that you absolutely cannot save on. From the obvious: basic functions, without which the application will not work. You can’t make a food delivery app and not add a shopping cart there.
But there are four things that it seems you can save money on, but we do not recommend doing this:
Preliminary market research and user needs. It is important to understand who the target audience of the application is, what functionality is critically important, how competitors’ applications work and what processes need to be automated using the application. It costs money: you may need to conduct a questionnaire or survey or pay a marketing consultant. But without this, there is a risk of creating an application in which there will be a dozen extra functions and none of the necessary ones.
It is important that not only the boss or manager communicates with the studio, but also a marketer who is immersed in the tasks of the project and understands its target audience well.
Design. Even the perfect functionality will not work if the application is ugly and inconvenient. Design is the face of the application, its basis. The design should not ignore the principles of interface development — the application will look cheap and users will not like it.
Testing. To save money, there is a temptation to skip this stage: everything seems to be working, everything is fine, the application can be released. But it is absolutely impossible to do this: in the process of work, some critical errors and security holes may be revealed, which will bring large losses to the company. And no one will use an application that constantly breaks down. Therefore, we never remove testing from the estimate and do not recommend saving on it.
Short checklist: what to consider when planning the development of a mobile application so as not to overpay:
- Determine which features are definitely needed, who your audience is and what people will use the app for.
- Decide whether the application needs to be developed separately for different platforms. Most often it is not needed — cross-platform applications perfectly solve most business problems.
- Prepare design materials: brandbooks, logos and everything that you already use in marketing.
- Apply to a good, but not necessarily a capital studio – a studio from the region will help you save quite a lot.
- Do not skimp on design, testing and critical functions — it must be flawless.