Now that I have provided guidance on what apps cost, the next topic is: How much will it cost to build my mobile app?

That is the question that all people ask me within the first few minutes of initiating a conversation about building an Android or iOS app.  The most ethical answer to the question “how much will it cost to build my mobile app?” is, “I don’t know.”  

For a mobile developer, this question can be frustrating.  But after working with numerous clients to build their mobile apps, I can better understand their point-of-view of needing to have early estimates of cost.

For us to be able to estimate the cost of a custom mobile app, we need to conduct a requirements analysis project with an aim of understanding what the client wants. At this stage we will provide some simple app architecture, design and usability flow.  We charge for this effort because the outcome we produce - a “wireframe” document - is an excellent tool to better estimate the cost of a project.

But there is much more involved in understanding the cost of a mobile app.
The cost that a business pays for mobile app development must include the following calculations: time; energy; money; and lost opportunity.  

Money is the easy part for clients to understand, but it’s not the only thing that matters when developing a mobile app.  The goal is to produce a quality app and have it running in a reasonable amount of time.   Selecting an app developer based upon price alone is what usually produces problems. 

Time is spent working with a mobile app developer to achieve the outcomes of the business. When selecting a mobile app development partner, it’s not just about choosing a firm that is good at fun stuff like design.  Select a partner that is easy to work with when breakdowns arise during the development.  Find a developer with a track record of building apps efficiently.  This will ensure that your project is completed within the timeframe you have in mind.  

Energy is the amount of effort that a businessperson puts into managing their mobile app developer.  When I speak of energy, I mean the energy your body burns, and the stress your body endures working on a project.  Because all projects take energy, and expended energy is a cost, you should select a developer that will spend less of your energy. 
Here are some tips for selecting a developer: 

  • Select a developer that works when you work. 
  • The developer should be managing as much of the project as possible.  
  • Select a developer that will design, develop, test your app to the highest quality, so that you spend less of your time and energy on the project.

Lost Opportunity is what you trade anytime you engage your time, energy and money on a project to produce an outcome for your business.  The worst possible outcome of a mobile app project is a failure. Sometimes this is technological:  the app doesn’t work as expected.  Worse is when your customer base doesn’t like using the app because of poor design or poor quality.  In this case, you will have spent time, energy and money on a failed project and have gained nothing in return.

Other things to consider are your need to cooperate and coordinate with the developer. This will take some of your time and energy because a good mobile developer should be doing things like providing you prerelease builds.  The developer will need feedback on the app as it is in progress in order to improve the code and deliver a great final product.  Choose a developer that is easy to communicate with during this process.  

Ultimately the only way to understand the cost of implementing an app idea is for the developer to conduct requirements analysis and begin designing the app.  That effort will cost money, and you should accept that the developer’s time has a cost.  Then, once you have a monetary price for an app and begin the effort, remember there are the hidden costs of time, energy and lost opportunity.  Make the best of the experience of creating an app.  The end results are always gratifying if you choose to work with companies like Software Ops.