With the exponential rise in mobile phones usage, it is not surprising that mobile apps have gone beyond the realm of providing information and entertainment to being an extension of a company’s brand. An app becomes an integral part of the personal space through a mobile device and is a surefire way to engage customers as it is always omnipresent on their mobile phones. It is probably the simplest way of carving out a niche for any business and adding to its value.
However, like anything in life, good things do not come cheap. Even mid-size companies often find it difficult to pool in funds for creating their mobile app. Developing a mobile app costs substantial sums of money. On the flip side, there are specific strategies you can adapt to reduce the costs of mobile app development significantly without compromising on the quality of the app.
Here are some of them to help you along.
Carry out extensive preliminary research
The overall expenses for app development do not end on launch date; instead they extend well beyond that when you find bugs that need to be corrected in later versions. But more the initial research that you carry out on various aspects, especially your target market, the lesser will be the need to fine-tune your app later, thereby reducing costs. Prepare a document that has all the specifications of the mobile app that you have in mind and follow the steps in it meticulously during the development stage.
Some of the essential points to keep in mind are –
- The background of your company – Make sure that the developers have a fair idea of your company, the niche, locations and the USPs as well as the business values.
- Make a rough overview of the app – Have a rough idea of the functions of the app, the target audience and why others will need your app. Decide the platform/s that you want to deploy for the app and all the features to be included. A critical point is whether you want the app to be native or hybrid as the cost difference between the two can be significant.
- Classify the sequence – Identify the sequence that the app will follow as it will enable the developer to have an idea of the journey and get the overall picture that the user is likely to take through the app.
- Budget and time limitations – Give the developers specific deadlines and the budgets to be followed.
Emphasizing this stage and documenting the development sequence will help you save on costs of repeated modifications and course corrections during the process. It will also minimize development time as you do not have to go into repeated meetings with the developers.
Cross-platform app development
The present dominant market share for mobile operating systems is 74.69% for Android and 22.34% for IOS. The drift so far has been to decide which platform meets the requirement of the target audience and work accordingly. The notion was that developing apps for both systems will cost twice as much as creating for one.
But the current trend is cross-platform app development where you code once and deploy across all platforms, thus reducing time and development costs and reaching out to a broader customer base. It also increases ROI on app development. Further, by deploying a single script development, app marketing times are reduced too.
Outsource app development
You might think that developing an app in-house is preferable as it means greater control over the design and development process, but it also entails more expenditure. When you outsource app development, you will be paying the third-party by the hour whereas you will be paying your in-house developers a fixed salary, regardless of the hours they have taken to build the app. On an average, the cost of building a standard app is between $150,000 and $450,000 while outsourcing reduces it to $10,000 and $80,000 respectively.
There are some important takeaways of outsourcing. First, you do not have to be involved every day in the development process, thereby having more time to focus on your core activities. You also get access to a pool of specialized talent with fewer cost overheads, making it a very cost-effective strategy.
Choose the right outsourcing agency
There are a few points to take into account before allotting the contract. App developers differ greatly, both in the quotes offered and the experience they bring to the table. Balancing these two factors is critical. Do not sacrifice the experience and expertise of an outsourced agency for low-priced options. It will lead to complications down the road and higher app maintenance costs in the long run.
There is another side to choosing the right agency that can impact costs. Always select an app development firm that takes up every stage in-house. Many agencies take-up a part of the project like designing and developing the app only and you have to go to another for marketing and subsequent maintenance. This adds heavily to the overall costs. The outsourcing agency selected should be capable of handling every aspect by itself.
Leave out push notifications
Surprisingly, leaving out the push notification feature from your app can prune overall expenses by more than 20%. The more features your app has the more expensive it is building it, but there are critical ones that you cannot do without. Push notifications are indeed not one of them unless your business model requires specifically that it be included in the app too. For example, if you have a pharmacy and you have to inform customers when their prescriptions are ready, you will need the push notification feature. Leaving it out will adversely impact operational efficiencies of your pharmacy.
However, start-ups and small businesses can save substantially by ditching this one feature. Apart from the increased costs of building the app, push notifications require on-going maintenance which can considerably jack up recurring costs.
Implement MVP strategy
MVP or Minimum Viable Product is a two-pronged strategy that app owners use – one to reduce costs and the second to estimate market acceptability of the app. The app so devised is not the finished product but a working prototype only with all the core and basic features embedded in it to validate the idea and test the app. The objective is to provide the users with the maximum possible exposure to the app with the core functions, gain more users, gather feedback and data and then invest in a more polished product.
This strategy leads to a considerable reduction in development time and effort, lower costs and drives up ROI, every time a new version of the app is released. MVP is critical in app development for its cost-effective properties.
Integrate existing plug-ins
You can reduce the costs of mobile app development to a reasonable extent if you use an existing design template of plug-ins. You can also personalize the settings and the app according to the already structured and decided template. This helps to develop the app faster even after incorporating the main features that you need. The developer need not spend time on any extra plug-ins as it is already in the template to be used.
Select open-source frameworks
Developing a mobile app is far removed from building an operating system or a testing framework. Your focus will only be on the content, features and specifications of the app. But developing an app from the ground up is very time-consuming, not to speak of the high costs involved in it. To cut costs, choose a specific framework from the almost unlimited options available keeping in mind the exclusive and unique requirements of your app. Apart from the savings, you also get access to tried and tested templates along with high-end app tools.
Responsive app design
You will want your app to run across all types of Internet-enabled devices, regardless of the screen size. It should be equally user-friendly for laptops, tablets and smartphones. To achieve this, you need an app that works well with different screen sizes and resolutions. However, creating an app exclusively for these devices is an extremely costly affair.
The antidote to this issue is to create an app with a design that runs well on all devices. This is what a responsive design in mobile app development is all about. Creating one design is crucial to make the app cost-effective, and more importantly, your customers will not notice the difference whatever device they might be using.
The approach of regular testing ensures that every feature and function at all stages of development is working along expected lines. An app has functions that are dependent and linked to one another and correcting one of them after project closure breaks up the total flow and hikes the costs of development. Quality assurance and bug fixing at the end lead to a lot of overheads along with additional expenditure. Continual testing, on the other hand, helps to tackle factors that were not anticipated at each phase of the app delivery pipeline and also keeps the budget for testing under control.
These are some of the strategies that you can follow for cost-effective mobile app development.