How to decrease mobile app development cost


Share on LinkedIn

A mobile app means branding. Apps are an extension of your brand and what you hold as a company. Gradually, the app enters into the personal space of users and is always with them through the mobile device, carving its own niche and can build a value for itself. However, Good Things are Seldom Cheap. In this article, we provide some tips and tricks that can help significantly reduce your mobile app development cost without the risk of compromising on quality.

(1) Document Your Requirements

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail”. And when we talk about app development, the smallest detail will work wonders! Okay, let me explain! You want to develop an app and you have an idea in mind! So, the next step is explaining developers and designers your plan and objective. How easy do you think verbally explaining this whole concept will be? Take this from a custom software development company – Onerous and Challenging! You might not be a great writer, but you have to make sure to structure your app requirement document into a rational and presentable format that will be a reference for the app developers to provide you with a quote and time estimate and then build an app that you wanted and not what they assumed. Let me, based on the vast experience I have in this domain provide you with an overview of what a good mobile app development specification document should comprise of :

[a] Company Background

Start with letting the developers get a little acquainted with you! Include when the company was established, what its niche is, what location it operates in, uniques strengths, business values etc.

[b] An idea of the app

The rough idea of what the app is expected to do and why your target audience is actually going to buy your idea. It might be a single sentence including core functionalities, ex: An app to monitor medical devices and its health and usage. Include what platforms you wish to deploy the app on. Also, disclose whether you would like a native app or hybrid app, because the cost difference can be a significant one.

[c] Features

Include a list of the features that are absolutely essential for your mobile app. Conduct a quick RnD of what your competitors are offering and then refer to them when describing your app. Provide examples or screenshots.

For example: Suppose you want to develop an on-demand taxi app. The features are :

(i) Geo-location
(ii) Register/Login
(iii) Push notifications
(iv) Payments & Mobile wallets
(v) Booking and Scheduling
(vi) Price calculator
(vii) Ratings and review

If you think your app will require too many features and it will cost you a lot, make two columns – “Must have” and “Good to have” and segregate on that basis.

[d] Identify the sequence

Every app has a sequence and yours will have too. Figure out the sequence that app users will follow and document it. This approach will give the developer a sense of what the user journey would look like and let them see the overall picture.

[e] Budget and time constraints

Also, it’s good to give them an idea of the possible budget that you have in mind and also the deadline that they will require to meet if any.

So to sum up, this whole process of documenting will not only save cost for you, but it will also minimize development time as the developers need not be in constant meetings with you to figure out the functionalities and sequence in details.

(2) Outsourcing

Acc. to sources, the average cost of building a standard app is anywhere between $150,000 and $450,000. Outsourcing the app development process reduces the total cost of app development to anywhere around $10,000 to $80,000. In addition to cost savings, the merit of this approach is access to the global talent pool, less overhead and increase focus on core business, making it one of the most favorite cost-saving strategy for both enterprises and startups.

(3) Cross-platform development

Look at the Mobile Operating System Market Share Worldwide stats for 2018 – Android with 74.69% and iOS with 22.34%. So, when you develop an app, which market do you target? In the last few years, the trend of cross-platform app development has spread like wildfire – code once and deploy across all platforms. The biggest advantage is that it is economical as it works on multiple platforms and leverages a single codebase, thus, not requiring to spend a hefty amount of money developing apps for every individual platform separately. Also, app development and time to market becomes pretty fast when a single script is deployed. A win-win situation for all!

(4) MVP Releases

MVP or a Minimum Viable Product is a popular strategy that app owners implement to reduce cost and also get an idea of how accepting the market is towards the app. It is basically a working prototype of a mobile app with all the core features in a place built with the single most purpose of testing and validating the idea. The basic approach is to provide the users with maximum possible value with some core functionalities and then gain more users and gather more data and then invest more in making a better and more polished product. This results in a significant reduction in development time and effort, thus making MVP cost-effective and driving higher ROI on the app with every version release. Some of the biggest tech giants, namely Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb etc began their journey in the app world by launching an MVP and then refining and improving the app based on real-world feedback.

(5) Open-source frameworks

Why open source? Because your primary aim should be focussing on content and not building an operating system or a testing framework! Developing anything from the scratch isn’t a cheap affair and is really time-consuming. So, when just starting out, choose a framework out of the unlimited available options that downright fits your requirements and significantly reduce development time as well as cost due to tried and tested templates and high-end building mechanisms.

(6) Testing since Onset

The test-first approach aims at 360-degree coverage to check that all the features and functionalities are working as expected. Quality assurance and the subsequent bug fixing towards the project closure generally results in a lot of additional overhead both clients and developers and spikes up development cost. Most of the time, an app has codependent functionalities. So, testing post app development in such cases will break the existing flow. But, continuous testing since the onset of the project can help one spot anomalies or breakage at the early stage and help tackle conditions that were not anticipated, at each stage of the delivery pipeline.

-:: Parting tips::-

The success of a mobile app depends on the core idea and how it builds upon the pain points of its target customers and helps minimize or eradicate them – something that makes their life much easier. Don’t assume your customers are adept at using the smartphone. Take your rough design to the most non-technical person known to you and see if they can use the app easily. See how intuitive and user-friendly it is and takes notes on areas that seem grey to them. Work on the design afresh! Keep It Simple Silly! Summing it all up, choose a good outsourcing team, provide them with detailed requirement document, keep up with the communication, test thoroughly throughout the app development phase and finally make sure that even the most technically handicapped person can access the app with zero difficulties! And you are good to go !!!

Jyotirmay Samanta
CEO at BinaryFolks, ex-Google, ex-Amazon, ex Salesforce. Jyotirmay is an Entrepreneur and Technocrat with more than 18 years of experience working at companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce etc. in different technical leadership roles in the field of Cloud Network Infrastructure and worked in different global branches of these companies, which helped him understand the different work cultures, techniques, and values across different continents. At present, he is the CEO of BinaryFolks - A custom software development company with a specific focus on Cutting Edge SaaS-based Web App.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here