You should have a good idea of what it'll cost before your developer tells you.
Budgeting is a complex process, and so is app development, so budgeting for mobile app development can be particularly complicated. Every app has its own purpose and its own objective for the client – which is often revenue generation or the automation of business processes to save time and cost, but the technique to achieve that objective must be unique to that app.
As with any other business, two key factors impact the cost of mobile app development: the material costs (function and features) and the cost of labor. With apps, the cost of features is determined by the platform and objective, what the users can do with the app, and the level of UI. Other features include user-generated content, date and location tracking, billing and e-commerce, and external APIs.
Second comes the cost of labor. At this stage, the app development company will charge you based on its claims of talented developers and designers, including the number of professionals working on your project and the timeline.
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But before the company gives you an estimate, have you come up one with your own? Or are you OK with any estimate as long as it fits in your budget?
It's ideal to prepare your own estimate before getting estimates from the IT service providers. This will help you in two ways:
- Prevent shock: Risk assessment is an integral part of planning and budgeting. At the initial stage, it will prepare you for the what-ifs. When assessing risks, you need to focus on technological stability, the developers' experience and the dependencies of your app. After you have assessed all the potential risks, allocate a budget in your estimate – a minimum of 5 percent, which you can stretch up to 20 percent.
- Give you more control: Preparing your own estimate will help you stay in control of your project, as you will always be aware of the next step. As there are human elements in app development, a good estimate can help you handle the day-to-day challenges and manage the development work in a timely manner.
Top 5 elements of your mobile app budget
According to a report by App Annie, the apps market is expected to reach $110 billion this year. Though the market is growing, the average time a user spends on a mobile app is decreasing. Flurry Analytics reports that the average session activity growth rate was 11 percent in 2016 and just 6 percent in 2017.
So, before launching your mobile app, make sure you're completely aware of the users' needs, and include those features that keep them engaged for a long time. This will impact your mobile app budget as well. Here are the main elements that you need to focus on during your app's planning and budgeting process.
You don't have many choices here, as iOS and Android are the only popular mobile operating systems. Still, instead of randomly selecting one or using both, check where your largest user base is. Then design the UI and select features that work best on the platform where most of your users are.
2. Purpose of functions and features
Don't arbitrarily cherry-pick the functions and features of your app. Instead, analyze the object of the app and select the features that directly benefit that purpose. Whether you want a small or a broad app, make sure it is not messy and complex.
Integrations are costly. Just how costly depends what third-party systems you integrate your app with. To reduce your design cost, you can use pre-existing plugins, but before doing so, check the licensing and built-in features.
4. UI elements
A stand-alone app such as a calculator or clock will obviously cost less than social networking and e-commerce apps, as they don't require complex UI elements such as animations, 3D graphics and visual transitions. During planning and budgeting, keep a good part of your budget for the UI elements your app needs to fill its objective, and make sure that your mobile app development company provides you with a good UI designer.
5. Hardware features
If your mobile application is unique to certain hardware features of a smartphone, such as a camera or gyroscope, those have cost implications. Be sure to budget for any of these sensory features if that's the purpose and appeal of your app.
When preparing a budget, set your priorities right. For this, you must know the needs of your user base and how much time they spend on an app. Understand your users before making an investment, because it is they who will ultimately determine your app's usage and success.