Apps are an almost mandatory part of any business these days. No matter what your niche, these products are an essential way to promote your brand, offer your services to a wide audience, circulate innovative ideas, and earn money for you and your business.
Unfortunately, they can also be extremely expensive to develop. By some estimates, mobile development services range in cost from $100,000 - $500,000 for feature-laden apps, while more basic apps tend to cost between $10,000 and $50,000. While that price tag may be feasible for the tech giants among us, smaller businesses especially may have trouble scrounging up the cash to fund their projects, especially if they’ve never developed apps before.
If these numbers seem alarming, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to save money on development while still creating a great product, taking into account factors like the app type, the design, the development process, and more. Here are some key ways to build a stand-out product without breaking the bank.
Keep it simple
Everyone wants to create the coolest new product. But it’s important to keep in mind that the more “stuff” you include, the more involved and intricate your project is going to be. That translates to spending more money.
Rather than trying to pack as many amazing features as possible into your app, focus on providing the most value to your users. You don’t need to add hundreds of bells and whistles — you just need to accomplish your mission. So, have that mission in mind when designing your app. Think about what’s going to be practical for your audience, not what will wow them without adding any real substance. Once your app takes off, you can add these features.
For example, if you’re creating a platform for users to review certain products or services, your architecture should revolve around enabling customers to write and publish reviews, not additional add-ons like connecting with other users. Remember: if you have the budget at some point in the future, you can add these features then. For now, just worry about creating a strong, usable app that does what it’s supposed to do.
In addition to focusing on core features, you should also keep your user interface (UI) simple. Again, less is more — adding lots of features to your UI will cost more money. In fact, if you clutter your interface with too many buttons or too much animation, you’ll more likely deter than attract users — not to mention end up spending more money on the overall project.
It’s tempting to rely on someone who’s already on your staff to build your app, but outsourcing development will often save you money. You’ll be able to choose from experts from around the world, and tech services in places like Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia often come at a much lower price tag than those in the United States. These dedicated professionals can also be highly skilled, so you’ll get more for your money, too.
When using outside services, you’re also freeing up time for you and your full-time employees to focus on other matters. Because app-development is time-consuming, these critical tasks can fall by the wayside, even if they need your attention. You’ll have specialists working on the app, and they’ll be more efficient given their high level of expertise.
If you do rely on outside development, do your homework and research any services you’re considering. Read reviews on places like Clutch, ask for a portfolio of past work, and solicit testimonials from previous clients.
You should make sure the feedback is not only positive but also that the outsourcing partner you’re looking into has experience developing apps in your niche. For example, if your business focuses on recruiting, the outsourcing company’s portfolio should contain career development- and human resources-related products.
Keep in mind that the cheapest companies are not always the best ones, even if you’re looking to cut costs. You could be facing additional fees cleaning up a shoddy app if you use low-quality services and may be looking at a longer development timeline, too, since you’ll need to ask them to correct errors and even redo previous work.
On a similar note, make sure your contract contains a clause about what’s included within the time estimate they give you and whether additional fees will apply if more work than expected is required.
Choose open-source frameworks
Open-source tools offer plenty of benefits, including robust support and lower costs. When you use an open-source framework like React Native or .NET Core, you’ll also have access to predefined and prewritten code that you can apply to your own project.
If you do choose to go with an outside development company or individual, ask them about their process and what kinds of frameworks and languages they use. They may suggest certain open-source platforms, and if they don’t, ask whether they might be more cost-effective.
Think about the type of app
More specifically, consider whether you’d like to build a native or hybrid app. A native app is specific to an Android or iOS device, while a hybrid one will function on both. Hybrid app development also tends to have a cheaper price tag.
There are some drawbacks to think about, though. Native apps tend to offer a better user experience, including enhanced security and faster performance. Hybrid apps, meanwhile, usually require less time to develop.
If you’re looking to save money, a hybrid app is probably the better choice, but you should talk to your developer about the best option for you and your budget before you decide. You can work through the pros and cons of each choice and determine what will help you meet your end goals without sacrificing quality for a lower price.
Hiring quality assurance (QA) specialists to test your app prior to its release may seem like an extra expense that will only increase the total development cost of your app. However, testing will actually save you money in the long run because the testers will be able to spot and have the developers resolve issues earlier in the process before they escalate and cost you more expense and headaches.
If you have to continuously put out patches and fixes to large-scale issues, the costs will be much greater than if you had addressed them before. You’ll also be protecting your business’s reputation — a huge bug can wreak havoc on customer opinions and expectations, losing your current and prospective consumers, as well as damaging the organization as a whole.
QA specialists will be involved early in the process, pointing out issues before they escalate into something that derails the entire project. In addition to catching bugs, they’ll assess your app for usability, performance, its capacity for handling high loads of users, functionality, and much more. These are all essential qualities your app must have before it reaches the market.
App development doesn’t have to be an enormously expensive endeavor. Making sound choices, including outsourcing development, prioritizing the most important features, and more will help you keep your budget under control while still producing a quality app.