Revisiting the Cost of App Development

App development costs: what’s the difference between apps that cost $10,000 and those that cost $100,000?

In the world of online development, there is always someone who’ll do the same job, but cheaper. It’s important, then, to realize why it’s vital to invest as much as you can in your app development. Here, we’re going to take a look at the difference between simply going with the lowest bid and investing in a high quality product with a higher budget.

Or, in other words, what do you get when you invest at the higher price point?

Your company should have a proven track record

It’s vital to ensure that, when you’re investing more, the company you choose to work with has a track record of high-quality work with respectable clients.

If you’re a reputable company, and you want an app developed that you’re happy to put your name behind, you want to know that the company behind it has been there and done that!

Take the time to ask your chosen company for a full portfolio, a list of companies they’ve worked with, and ask to try apps they’ve already developed.

Even better – try to find independent reviews. There are several impartial websites such as TrustPilot, Clutch and UpCity that may offer unbiased insight from previous customers.

If you choose to go down the lower budget route, you may have to sacrifice the peace of mind that comes from working with a developer who has a proven record of delivering what you need.

When I meet with a perspective client for the first time, I explain the three areas that impact the cost of app development: Timeline, Budget & Complexity/Polished factor of the app. I explain that the client picks two and I pick one. For example, if the client has a specific budget and timeline, I will advise how polished/complex the app can be.

Real talent

Development is a skill like any other, in that if you want the best talent, you must be prepared to pay for it!

It’s unfortunate, but there are plenty of less-than-reputable companies online who’re happy to offer ‘app development services’ online, when they don’t have the talent on-staff or in-house! They rely on finding freelance developers themselves – developers who have no skin in the game and won’t suffer any consequences if the work isn’t up to standard. I get at least 10 emails every single day from these types of companies claiming they can develop apps for pennies on the dollar. Buyer beware though. The old adage that you get what you pay for definitely applies here.

In 2019, native app development – that is, developing for a specific operating system and having knowledge of specific software development kits developed by Apple, Google and the like – is an essential part of achieving success in a crowded market.

When you move to a higher budget, you’re paying for specific, specialized expertise. Expertise that can be the difference between your app dominating the market and it sinking without a trace.

Anyone can build an app. But building a world-class app that makes your company money year in, year out? That requires world-class talent, and you won’t find that at the budget end of the market.

App marketing expertise

It’s important to remember that in the highly saturated online app stores, the ability to promote your app is vital.

It’s not enough to simply build your app. Even if your app is perfect, without a specialized marketing strategy it will quickly disappear beneath inferior apps that have a better marketing campaign.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if your app’s the best – if no-one knows about it, you can forget about achieving success.

A world-class app development agency should also be able to assist you in putting together a specialist app marketing strategy. Everything you do when promoting an app, from the app-store optimization process, through the promotional imagery and videos, as well as the copy you use to make your app sound irresistible – it all matters.

When you move into the higher budgets, you give yourself a much better chance of getting a real return on your investment. Companies that build your app for peanuts and then leave it to sink give you virtually no chance of recouping your spend.

What are you getting for your money, app wise?

It’s easy to think along the lines of ‘well, it’s just an app – how long can it take?’. That’s what many companies make the mistake of doing, and its why they end up with an inferior product.

The reality is that modern apps carry out a range of different tasks, every one of which takes time to plan and develop.

So, when an app team spends six months – what are they actually doing with that time? Here are some of the main features you’ll almost certainly need:

Firstly, you’ll need to develop the administrative (back-end) part of the app: the part of the app that allows your company to edit what the customers see.

This can include:

A content management system (CMS). This Will allow your team to edit pictures, copy, videos, prices and anything else you need to regularly change.

An emulator that allows you to see the app changes you’ve made in action BEFORE you put them live. This is an essential tool – you want to know everything works perfectly before the customers try to use it!

Dynamic update capabilities are another essential tool. You want to make sure that any changes to your app can go through straight away – especially if they’re a security update, for example. This ability to carry out ‘dynamic updates’ is a feature in of itself, which means it has to be budgeted for.

Analytics and data gathering. Another essential part of achieving success in the app. Only by gathering data can you learn how your customers use your app and – importantly – which features they like and which they don’t. By using this information, you can improve your app and give users what they want. Again, though, this is a feature that takes time to develop, and without it you’re far less likely to end up with a profitable app.

You’ll also have to take into account the data services that actually keep your app live, all of which take time to set up and maintain:

You’ll need to ensure you have the servers in place, of course – though the chances are that unless you’re a huge, enterprise level service you’ll probably outsourced this to Amazon AWS or a similar service.

However, you’ll need to ensure you have the facilities – and the software in place – for data storage. You can either have physical servers or make use of the cloud, but either will require time and money.

Depending on your type of app, it’s also likely you’ll require a content delivery network (CDN) which will deliver your content to the right geographic locations of the user. Unless your app is strictly used only in your own home country, this is almost certainly a necessity.

Finally, you’ll need to spend time and money implementing what you might call ‘standard’ app features, such as push notifications, social media and chat features, as well as implementation for SMS messages and email.

Every one of these features takes time to develop. However, they’re nearly all essential in their own way. Without these standard features, the chances of your app ending up profitable is almost zero.

Essentially, you’d have no ability to improve your app in order to give users what they want, and no way of communicating with the ones that do download your app.

Summing up

It is possible to build an app for cheap. And if you’re happy to have an app that sinks without trace and never actually offers you a return for your money, then you might be ok.

However, if you want an app that delivers for your customers and offers you a long-term return on your investment, we recommend you work with a reputable app development team with a history of producing outstanding work for reputable clients.

If you’d like to know more, get in touch with Iconic Solutions today, we’d love to help you.

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