Stages and Costs of Developing a Mobile App

Android and iOS app development

Just because many apps are free does not mean that they can be created over the course of a day for the price of a coffee. In fact, the adage “you get what you pay for” has never been more true. According to Forbes, mobile apps require a “strong conceptual foundation, good planning, excellent ecosystem, and top-notch talent in both design and engineering phases.” Pushing any of these phases to the back burner can be detrimental in time, energy, and cost. Let’s examine the phases of building an app and access the costs at the end.

1.)  Do research

The first phase of mobile app development is making sure that no identical apps exists. If there are similar apps on the market, yours will have to be the most engaging and function better than competitors in order to succeed. It’s the harsh truth. Forbes also suggests developing a few core use cases taking the target audience into account and seeing how your app will fare in both the long and short term (forbes.com).

2.)  Decide which platform(s) to build for

iOS, Android and Windows devices all use their own operating systems. This means different native SKDs (software development kits) and programming languages. Assessing what platform the target market is using will be key in deciding which platform to initially develop form.

3.)  Assemble the creative team

It may be tempting to select people who can fill multiple roles or an entirely freelance developer, but in the long run, it will be more fulfilling for both your time and your wallet to hire a team of creative at Vivim.  We have specialists who focus on user experience, interaction design and visual design that will ensure your app is aesthetically pleasing and extremely user-friendly.

4.)  Conceptual work

Now it is time to sketch out the key functional flows, detailed wireframes and visual design. This can require a substantial amount of time, often 2-3 months, to assure all bases have been covered and to work out any kinks. It is important for clients to have patience during this phase and understand that revision and rethinking the initial requirements are all integral parts of what is going on. It can cost a lot of time and money to fix less-than-ideal products later.

Another part of this stage is getting external feedback with the prototype. This can be done through focus groups, crowdsourcing and friends/family who fit your demographic. Don’t be afraid to go back and make adjustments as needed. Apps will have little value unless they meets your users’ preferences.

5.)  Design phase

Once the prototype is sound, it’s time to actually write the software to create a functional app. Having experienced software architects and engineers will make the process go smoothly and keep delays and bugs minimal. These professionals will be invaluable and save an incredible amount of time and money in the long run.

6) Find a cloud service provider

Before the app can be released, you need to find a cloud service provider who will host the app as well as power and maintain the back end systems. Quick and dependable maintenance is crucial as bad word travels fast in app stores and online reviews.

For at least 6 months of development, you should expect to work with a team of six to ten people. According to Formotus, an apps and development blog, analysis of quality apps ranged from $90,000 to $210,000 for a startup company and $150,000 to $450,000 to work with a reputable agency. There are “big boy” companies that charge up to $1M and then “small shops” starting at $50,000 (formotus.com).

Fueled broke it down to about $150,000 during the development period alone. Essentially, you are looking at 120 hours of work per week over an 8-10 week period. Two developers will be working full time (80 hours), a designer and art director will account for another 20 hours and a the project manager and account manager will spend 20 hours coordinating and communicating (fueled.com).

Investing in app development is not for the faint of heart and you have to stand strong in your time, money and vision. Patience is a virtue and financial planning is not to be taken lightly. Investing in development will save money, garner good reviews and hopefully make you profit in the long run.