How to build an app without breaking your wallet

How to build an app without breaking your wallet

Mobile apps are a great way to ensure a streamlined user experience across digital devices, engage with customers, and build brand loyalty. The cost of mobile app development is one of the most influential keys to the success of any mobile app. To make it more tricky, there’s no single factor that will determine the total cost; instead, it’s a wide range of factors including the choice of OS, the complexity of the project, app features and design, and more.

That’s why usually outsourcing the mobile app development process is way too economical and more efficient for many businesses. Instead of hiring a new team, outsourcing the project and having the most efficient and expert partner can significantly cut down your costs, reduce the amount of risk involved, and produce exceptional results.

As a leading provider of digital customer experience solutions Commencis has extensive experience in mobile application development across a variety of industries including financial services, insurance, e-commerce and airlines.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of five ways to save money while building a mobile app.

Hire the professionals

Many startups think they’ll save money by building their own apps. However, especially for small companies, the most critical aspect is to get your app in the hands of the customer. Outsourcing app development will save on the cost of hiring more staff, bring your product to market faster because you won’t be recruiting and hiring a new team from scratch, and allows you to focus on building the business. When you hire a professional mobile app development team, you’ll know the total cost upfront, and a good team will always suggest ways to keep prices low without sacrificing quality.

But what kind of professional team to hire? Partnering with a renowned company or agency will most likely result in an outstanding, state-of-the-art product and save lots of time and effort for your company. Otherwise, the process will take much longer and consume more resources with the slow process structure of the business.

Another option is to work with independent freelancers or less established development teams. This is often the most budget-friendly friendly. However, the costs can quickly spiral when you find yourself spending more time managing the team yourself and ensuring the project stays on track. While you’re paying less initially, costs can quickly spiral when the development timeline blows out due to lack of established processes or industry experience.

The best option is to partner with a mid-sized agile team — you’ll get the best of both worlds in terms of budget and experience. Make sure to hire a team with established project management frameworks, transparency and productive communication, and a clear timeline with key milestones.

Once you have a team, we recommend mapping out your entire app together. Although paying a team to create storyboards, animation mockups, and other planning tools may seem like a waste of money, it will pay major dividends later in the process. It allows everyone to start on the same page and also gives the team a full picture of your ideal end result. It also helps narrow your focus to those elements that really matter for your app, as well as creates opportunities for the team to suggest cost-saving changes.

Start with an MVP

Mobile app development on a tight budget will only remain on a tight budget if there are clearly defined goals. So first, you need to ask yourself — why does the customer need your app? What specific functions should your app perform? From this, you should have a list of desired app features and functionalities ranked in terms of priority.

Don’t invest in developing a complete app with every single feature and functionality until you’re sure of the market demand. Even if you think your app is the best, the reality is, you’ll never know until people actually start using it. That’s why you want to use minimum resources at first to identify market demand. You can do this by creating an app that offers only the core value of the product — this is the one feature that makes it stand out and drives people to download it. All other “nice to have” features can be added later as app updates.

This process is called releasing a Minimum Viable Product, better known to people as MVP. You can gather user feedback with your MVP, validate your app ideas with real audiences, and pivot as necessary after each app update. Use your MVP to gather as much feedback as possible in order to validate your final app (and justify the associated expense!).

Many successful apps evolve over time through constant customer feedback. Just think of your favourite apps and how often you’re updating them in the app store. Every update is driven by past user feedback and only serves to make the latest version better.

Make your decision: Hybrid or Native App

When your budget is tight, it’s best to launch an app for one platform only, either iOS or Android. Choose a platform based on where most of your customers are. For instance, for some apps, it makes sense to launch only on iPad.

We do often see developers recommending hybrid mobile apps, which work across multiple platforms. Developed in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, hybrid apps are built similarly to websites but look and feel like native mobile apps. However, it’s important to note that your hybrid app won’t be viable in the long run. There’s no room for continuous improvements and advanced functionalities are severely limited (i.e. video streaming).

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the first iteration of your app will never be the final version. No matter how perfect you think it is, your app will inevitably evolve over time as you receive customer feedback. That’s why you should target just one app store at the beginning, especially if you have limited funds. There’s no point creating an app for every platform and device if no one wants to use it. Once you get it right on the first platform, see good traction from users, and (hopefully!) start monetising your app, you can expand to other platforms.

Remember the maintenance costs

Don’t forget to add app maintenance costs to your budget. You’ve got to take into account the licensing fees, which lets you register and publish your app on the Apple or Google Play stores. In addition, depending on your app, there may be recurring fees to be paid for third-party service providers. For instance, if you have payment gateways, chatbots or text notifications enabled, start coughing up the money. There’s a reason why many apps are either paid or packed full of ads.

To reduce your ongoing app costs, you can access many free APIs and open-source integrations. A good app development team will suggest multiple options and highlight the cost vs. benefits of different technologies for you.

Key Takeaways

Developing apps for the first time can be daunting, and app design and development costs don’t make it any easier. When trying to stick to a limited budget, it’s critical not to compromise on quality or the core value of your app. Make sure you choose a mobile app development team that you like and trust. Work together to find the optimal balance between your budget and a feature-packed app. Add some compromise and creativity, and there’s no reason why your budget should prevent you from building a high-performing app.

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