How to reduce the cost of development for a mobile app for Android and iOS... this is one of the most popular and widely discussed issues on the Internet today.

The mobile market is growing, and thus the need for high-quality products and services for mobile development is also growing. Applications have become a profitable business.

Despite the obvious appeal of this segment, the price of developing a mobile application is often prohibitive. Many people think that developing a mobile application is easy, something you can manage with a budget of up to $3,000. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Let's try to understand the reasons and answer the question of how the price of a mobile application is determined.


Why is mobile app development so expensive?


How to reduce costs of mobile app development?


Large project team

The process of creating a mobile application includes several stages:

  • Briefing
  • Pre-design analytics
  • Design
  • Interface design
  • Mobile development
  • Backend development
  • Technical support and promotion

At each stage, you will need 1-3 high-skilled and highly paid specialists; adding up the cost of specialists, with an average project period of 4-6 months, a high sum is required.

At the start of the project, if you do not fully understand why you need a mobile application or what effect it will have on your business, we recommend that you conduct pre-project analytics that will answer key questions: Who are your users? What tasks will it solve? What functions need to be implemented?

All of this is necessary to win over competitors, make a profit, and, most importantly, understand whether it makes sense to develop your own mobile application, as there may already be a ready-made solution for your problem. If you’ve definitely decided to develop your own application, then the question is: "Why is creating your own mobile app expensive?".


The lack of template solutions on the market

Ninety five percent of mobile apps are developed from scratch, which means that it’s not possible to use something like 1C Bitrix, WordPress, or Wix, as is the case for website creation. The number of hours spent on creating a mobile application is many times greater than the hours needed to create a website.

For example, you can create a typical online store with the ability to create a catalog of goods, an integrated payment system, analytics and feedback forms in a digital agency in 50 hours, for which a turnkey solution will be used. If you’re thinking about developing such a solution for a mobile platform, it will take about 450 hours.


What about cross-platform development?

If you need a native mobile application for iOS and Android, you should develop one app for each platform, so you should spend twice as many hours. Cross-platform technologies, such as Flutter or React Native, allow for the creation of one app for two platforms. Due to a number of restrictions, they’re not used in serious product development. With the risks that have arisen, your project may simply not reach the release or may face serious limitations in terms of functionality. In this article, you can find more information about cross-platform development.


“I'll hire freelancers for development!”

This could save your budget up to 70%. In this case, you save a lot of money on development, testing, and management, but there are also a lot of risks.

First, the quality of the project will depend on how good you are at testing.

Second, the quality of the code must also be considered, since you can't guarantee that the code will be reviewed or that the development process will be well-organized. As a result, in the future, no single agency will be able to use such a project for support and will instead have to recreate or rebuild it all over again.

Third, a team of freelancers is very difficult to scale, so the risk of a project not being completed on time or even the disappearance of the contractor in the middle of the project increases. The result of this will be lost time and money.


The rate of mobile app development

The formula that calculates the cost of mobile app development is the number of hours spent times the rate per hour. You can find cheap specialists; but in this case, you shouldn’t expect to get a high-quality app. In most cases, the quality of your app is directly proportional to the rates of specialists, i.e., the qualification and experience of developers. Thus, if you’re planning to reduce the cost of app development by choosing cheaper specialists, be ready to lose quality. You can influence the total amount of development hours, but you must do this wisely and without negatively affecting the final result.


Set of features for your app

One of the options for reducing the cost of mobile app development is the exclusion of expensive and non-priority functions. The benefit of each function is evaluated from the ratio of its cost to the results and its effect after implementation.

By forming the necessary set, you can eliminate some features that are expensive, but don’t necessarily carry significant benefits for your users.
We have collected the top popular features that significantly increase the cost of development:

  • Integration with the site, online store, third-party services
  • Data synchronization between devices
  • Chat for users' communication (but not chat with support)
  • Offline mode
  • VR/AR
  • Real-time audio/video processing
  • A large number of screens


How to save money during the development phase without losing quality?


How to save money during mobile app development?


Leaving only the necessary functions intact, you should pay close attention to the design of the application. A professional agency thinks not only about the beauty and convenience of the interface, but also about the feasibility of its implementation from a commercial point of view.

If you want to increase the development budget several times and break your deadlines, then feel free to ignore any issues related to the design creation. Of course, the app should be intuitive and pleasant to use, but this doesn’t mean that "beauty" should tie up a significant part of the budget. An experienced contractor should strive to create a high-quality product within a predictable budget and timeframe. What should you pay attention to?


Following Apple and Google guidelines

Mobile applications created in accordance with the guidelines look stylish, familiar to users, and allow them to predict the behaviour and location of certain elements, which means they can solve their tasks faster and get the best user experience from the application and operating system.

In addition, a design created in accordance with the guidelines allows developers to use components that have already been developed rather than having to reinvent them from scratch, which reduces development time.


Custom script optimisation

The same functions of a mobile app could be implemented on five screens or on one, and the implementation time would be different. A competent design stage allows you to optimise the number of application screens, which results in lower development costs.


Following navigation standards

There are 5 main types of navigation:

  • Hamburger menu
  • Bottom navigation
  • Cards
  • Tabs
  • Gesture-based navigation

For each type of navigation, platforms provide off-the-shelf components that greatly facilitate development. Violation of these principles may increase development by 40 or more hours.


Standard components

iOS and Android operating systems are interested in creating a unified ecosystem of applications; therefore, developers are provided with and recommended to use ready-made graphical components assembled into a design system.

The main idea is that the user does not understand each app, such as where the menu button is located or what the plus sign means in the upper corner, but they should be able to intuitively figure out how to operate the app.

Of course, when creating a mobile application with only basic components, the design will turn out to be dry and similar to standard products of the system. To solve this problem, the professionalism of the agency you have chosen is put to the test. Experienced developers will always help to find a middle ground based on other case studies.

The most critical places for customisation include the navigation bar, tab bar, and search bar. The development of non-standard behaviour in these components can increase the development period by 30-40 hours in each case.


Unique interface solutions

Standard components contain a fairly large set of elements, but they don’t always solve problems, so UX-specialists must come up with new solutions, such as various calendars, interactive graphs, and charts.

In the process of creating such solutions, the following question usually arises: whether to develop a component from scratch or use some ready-made solution as the basis. In the first case, this can add 100 or more hours of development, but in the second, only 10-20 hours. Clearly, the difference is significant.

Therefore, it’s important—even at the stage of interface design—to agree on whether you need such overhead at the next stage. Often, you can make some compromises and adjust to ready-made third-party solutions.


In conclusion


Despite the fact that professional app creation isn’t cheap, by following our advice, you can reduce the cost of mobile app development without losing the quality of the final product. You must find a team that not only wants to take on your project but is also able to bring you the desired result:

  • A qualitatively conducted stage of analysis and formation of the application structure allows you to correct possible errors in the logic of the product at the very beginning of the work, thereby reducing the cost of optional functions and increasing the efficiency of the entire development phase.
  • When forming a list of functions, it is necessary to understand the ratio of price and actual benefits of each individual component. It may happen that the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.
  • Compliance with guidelines and the principles of navigation laid down in the system will allow you not only to create a convenient and familiar product for users, but will also save 10-15% of the development budget.
  •  Using ready-made interface solutions allows you to save up to 20% of the development budget. You just need to know where to look for them.
  • Experienced contractors will always proceed from the final task and offer you effective solutions specifically for your project, rather than expensive and fashionable functions, the appropriateness of which is rather controversial from a long-term perspective.

It is also worth mentioning that each project is unique, and you can find out more about how to reduce the cost of mobile app development for your project by contacting the Appus Studio team.

Good luck with your Project!