How to calculate the cost of your app development in 2019?

5 min read time

It is often forgotten, that designing an app is not only an intellectual, but also a factual challenge. In 2019 an app can produce a million dollar (almost) passive income and add invaluable user experience to a product. However, the wider variety of apps we have around, the more cost there are to calculate with. Lets’ see some of the most important factors to take into consideration when calculating app development expenses.

The simpler – the cheaper

When discussing apps, we often think of giants such as Spotify, RB&B or Instagram on which complete brands are based. Several handy applications, such as calculators, trackers, and diaries go forgotten; even though they may be important factors in business.

Let’s suppose that we sell food supplement for dogs. It is not difficult to see that the dosage must be different for a St. Bernard and for a tiny Chihuahua. Factors such as age, lifestyle and health condition must also be taken into consideration – and owners may find it difficult to calculate the right amount for their pets. Even a very-very simple, gird looking calculator may provide them the feeling of security, and this might be a key selling point when none else can provide such an experience on the market.

Sometimes the bare minimum for an app is enough, an in 2019 we have a plenty of “boxed”, almost DIY solutions around. Outsourcing the development in these cases means to save money on hiring an in-house developer for a relative simple task and the costs for a handy app may stop at 20.000 dollars (excl. maintenance). When the bare minimum is enough; app development is relatively cheap today.

Profiles, content, GDPR – security costs

These “freebie-style” apps are cost-effective; however, if the aim is a bit more complex, there is one of the trickiest parts of app development to be faced. The need of interactivity in an app almost always requires hosting user profiles and user generated data.

In Europe the management of customer data is regulated by GDPR, which was one of the most feared buzzword of internet marketers last year. This requires the service providers to protect, depersonalize and delete the data. Apps must have a data management policy which meets all the legal requirements, not to mention a high level of cyber security, that is needed in order to prevent any leakage of customer data.

Agencies tend to use “boxed” legal solutions and may be able to use the same patterns and techniques at multiple projects, which may help cost reduction. However, these regulations are still in their kids’ shoes, which means that the legal background changes dynamically, so continuous adjustment would take its toll on the bill.

How your app will create profit?

Some apps will only be used to help the branding of the company. These kinds of software are often provided free of charge and their only reason is to provide a better user experience, raise awareness for the product and therefore help branding. However, there are apps which are designed for creating profit in the form of upfront costs or in-app purchases – again, a costly but profitable solution.

When the profit is gained via upfront cost, it usually means a lower starting cost, however, it requires continuous development to make the customer stay and upgrade on the long run. In-app purchases are more calculable, but may mean that the app will cost much more in the beginning. Fortunately, there are again stock solutions available, but these will limit the flexibility and will make it difficult to be competitive on the long run.

Marketing and design

We live in a world of stock design and images; therefore, design costs are often forgotten or under-estimated when it comes to software development. Using catalogue material is an effective way to save money, but this is often not an option, especially when the application is a key product of the brand.

In the dynamic market of apps, this is very difficult to survive without a completely unique appearance and (visual) merchandising does not end with in-app appearance. Applications must be ready for marketing: they have to align with the requirements of different social media platforms, must be able to send push notifications and must meet the requirements of online warehouses. Paid advertisement should also be calculated to the development costs: an introduction campaign is almost always unavoidable at the very beginning.

Translation costs

When a company aims to the international market, creating a translation is almost vital. Even though English is the language of the internet, there are still a wide range of users who prefer to use their mother tongues. 

Translation software and mechanisms are available, which provide a good compromise in many cases. However, they are still not 100% reliable, especially when it comes to rare and exotic languages. Moreover, software is often not enough to be translated but also needs to be localized. In many cases it needs to be adjusted to local requirements and preferences, therefore there still is a demand for human interaction.

The developer team –
where cheap is suspicious

We did not leave the estimation of core intellectual cost of app development to the end by mistake. When one asks for an offer for the development of the same app from different teams, the cost may vary on a large scale. Therefore, this is really important to see what factors may influence the price.

This is the golden age of digital nomadism, consequently there are always one-man “developer enterprises around and they often work with very appealing prices at first sight. These kind of supplies may come out handy when there is an error fix or a quick adjustment to do – but they often fall short when it comes to the development of a whole app from zero. This is simply because app development is not a one-man show in general.

The ideal developer team consists of several people in different roles. Usually, the development process involves multiple experts:

  • Developer(s) – ideally more of them
  • Designer(s) – responsible for the look and feel.
  • Copywriter(s)/content editor(s) – ensuring a good quality of content
  • Account manager – ensuring a reliable flow of communication
  • Coaches, marketing and legal experts, etc. – providing optional help

Personal costs will, of course, influence the price, but a larger team often means more reliability when it comes to the estimation of expenses: larger teams are less likely to delay with the delivery, they tend to provide more additional value and they may offer wider range of support. Agencies tend to have a good network of experts, therefore they can get a better price for certain supplies, for example legal and marketing support. They often have in-house solutions for the problems which may occur, therefore the extra costs may be much lower.

Onshore and offshore –
same quality, different price

A good way to reduce costs on software development is to outsource the task and it is worth to shop around the solutions. In some cases, the best team can be found out of the country. Offshore teams may not only be more experienced in certain fields of developments, but also tend to have lower personal costs. 

Hiring an offshore team has for long been seen as a risky step, since it often meant to work with unreliable, difficult-to-communicate teams in the past. These teams, often located in Asia and India often consisted of underpaid and poorly experienced staff and delivered cheap, but untested and cautiously written products.

Nowadays, there are several communication tools available. Cloud-based solutions enable the clients to follow the developers’ progress real-time, and companies can operate more transparently than ever before. Moreover, there are a plenty of companies operating European countries with reasonable prices and highly educated staff, aware of all the culture features and business needs of the highest levels of the market.

Transparency during the process

In most cases, the main difference between low-cost and higher-cost software development is client support. A professional development process involves several steps of client consultation. This includes copies to be approved, design mockups to be checked, sever types of staging the software, clearly documented pre-released tests and a fairly long customer testing period with continuous amendments and improvements to be made.

This, of course, requires time and effort on the agency’s side, which has its own costs, but leads to a cost-effective operation on the long run. While a poorly documented development process may result in an application with several hidden errors, poor design or limitations of functionality, a transparent workflow guarantees a good quality which is vital when the success depends on the software. 

How to find the most cost-efficient solution in 2019?

Taking the above into a consideration, there is one general rule in software development in 2019: there is always a cheap solution, however, that is not always the most cost efficient. The cheaper the app development is the more financial risk the result may face. 

The most secure way to create an app is that if it is an absolutely unique and individually designed one which is carried out through a documented and highly transparent process – in an ideal case by a cost-effective (maybe offshore) team. 

There are a few things then to consider:

  • Should the app be a complex or a simple one?
  • Is there a design and if yes, is it a unique or a stock one?
  • Will there be any profit generated by the app? 
  • Are there user profiles and content to be generated? Is it secure and does it meet the legal requirements?
  • What are the marketing channels and tools to be used?
  • Is there a need of translation and localization? If yes, then what extend?

When all these factors are calculated, it provides a good ground for reliable cost estimation. This also helps to avoid too-cheap-to-be-good solutions and helps to see the reliability of the offer. Application creation may sound costly at first sight, but when done right, this is the best investment to the future. If the money spent wise on software, it can create a great rate of return. Looking for a dedicated, professional and transparent team to help realizing your idea? Inflex Studio has all the resources to guarantee you a quality solution for a reasonable price.
 Fill in this form and we’ll let you know more about the cost of your development project.

Tóth Enikő
Author - Tóth Enikő

Passionate content manager, self-taught hobby geek and a writer with a screwdriver in hand.

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