The global mobile application market is expected to reach $407.31 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 18.40%. No wonder every brand is jumping on the mobile app bandwagon!
But developing a mobile app costs quite a bit more than buying a 6-pack from your corner bodega. A basic mobile app costs $25,000 to $50,000, while a complex one can set you back $100,000 or more. What can you do to manage your budget and decrease development costs without cutting corners?
Before we dig into our 7 top cost-saving tips, let’s start at step 0.
Knowing what you want your mobile app to do for your business can help you identify cost-saving opportunities strategically without cutting spending in ways that could compromise your app’s value. Design a product strategy, develop a roadmap, and list out the specifications to gain a holistic view of your cost implications.
Define your target audience, do your research, and learn about your users’ preferences to focus your resources on developing features that’ll help you gain traction. You may even create a rapid prototype to validate your concept and see what you can trim off your product idea without impacting the quality of the user experience.
Once you know where you’re heading, you can analyze and optimize the various factors that will affect your budget.
The simple part is that you’d be building your app for either iOS, Android, or both. The hard part is that each platform has its own complexity and requires different development skill sets, meaning you may need to hire two development teams. While iOS apps are cheaper and faster to build and market, Android apps allow you to reach a broader user base. Building two apps, one for each platform, may not double the cost, but it will increase your budget significantly.
How to reduce costs: Kill two birds with one stone by using a cross-platform app development framework (e.g., React Native, Flutter) that allows you to create a mobile app compatible with multiple platforms with a single codebase.
The more features an app has, the more complex it gets, and the higher the development cost will be — especially if you incorporate advanced functionalities such as voice recognition, camera integration, AI-powered chatbot, geolocation features, and multi-payment integration. But how do you know which features to invest in without first testing the waters, validating your app idea, and building a user base to gather feedback?
How to reduce costs: Start by launching a product with basic functionalities or building a minimum viable product (MVP) to evaluate your idea and analyze user feedback to determine which features to develop when you scale up.
The number of screens in the user flow and the complexity of the interactions will determine the number of development hours and hence, the development cost. The good news is that most people prefer apps that are simple to use and easy to navigate. Therefore, keeping your UI and UX simple is a win-win situation that can help lower your costs while increasing adoption.
How to reduce costs: Keep it simple, sunshine! Create intuitive UI, simplify navigation, and provide users with the shortest path to achieving their objectives. You can lower development costs plus deliver a better experience to reduce the abandonment rate!
A successful mobile app isn’t just pretty pictures. You must support the UI (i.e., frontend) with an appropriate backend infrastructure for the app to work seamlessly without a glitch. The right solution also gives you a solid foundation to avoid costly rework and migration in the future. It should be able to handle data storage, data sharing, data analytics, and content updates to support features on your product roadmap.
How to reduce costs: Building a backend from scratch can cost a significant amount. The good news is that you can leverage ready-made backend solutions to save on budget and development time. FireBase by Google and Mobile Hub by AWS are popular Backend-as-a-Services (BaaS) solutions for app development.
Testing and quality assurance (QA) can be a time-consuming part of the app development process. Yet, it’s critical for ensuring that your app works flawlessly on every platform and device. You also have to account for the cost of ongoing testing as you update the app and add features. The cost of app testing often correlates with the complexity of the app structure.
How to reduce costs: This is another area where you can benefit from simpler UI and UX to reduce the time required to write test plans and conduct testing. You can also use an app development framework with a hot reloading feature to support real-time testing as changes are made to the codebase to streamline the process.
Most of your budget will go into hiring app developers, the cost of which will be the hourly rate multiplied by the hours worked by the development team. But wait, there’s more! Let’s say, you hire someone with a low hourly rate, but they take more time to complete the project. More developer hours often translate into a longer development timeline, which could delay time to market and may increase your opportunity costs.
How to reduce costs: Hiring an expert app development team to lower the overall cost may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll often come out ahead. An experienced digital product development agency can help you effectively navigate the entire app development process — from helping you to develop a product strategy to creating an audience and revenue model to set you up for long-term success. You’ll develop the right features and shorten the time to market to capture more market share and gain traction more quickly.
Your app development cost is just the beginning. You’ll have to maintain and update the app for as long as it’s on the market. Besides releasing new features, you also need to fix bugs, optimize performance, and respond to support requests. A more complex application often requires more maintenance. A more ambitious product roadmap also translates into higher ongoing costs.
How to reduce costs: Work with an experienced app development team from the get-go to set up your backend to minimize rework as you add features and scale-up. You can also ensure that the codebase is as bug-free as possible so you won’t run into costly surprises down the road.
Mobile app development costs more than the amount you spend on the initial build. Consider whether the app will gain traction with your audience, the time to market, the strategic value it will bring to your business, and ongoing maintenance and update costs to maximize your ROI.
We help you cover all the bases. Camber is a full-service digital product agency, and we focus on delivering value at every stage of the product lifecycle. Get in touch to see how we can ensure that your app will become a strategic part of your business’s grand plan.