Mobile development: from idea to cost estimation
Mobile developers are often asked how much it will cost to implement an idea. For example, make an analogue of “Uber” or “Avito”. With this formulation of the question, it is difficult to assess the upcoming labor costs, which creates a large spread in prices among different developers and distrust on the part of the customer.
Another problem is the lack of elaboration of the idea. Often, the customer sees the general concept of the application, but poorly imagines the details. This leads to unnecessary costs for discussing and rewriting requirements.
This article is addressed primarily to those who are thinking about ordering their own application. In it I will answer common questions and give some tips that will help you work through the idea and not spend too much.
You will learn:
- how much does it cost to create an application according to your idea;
- what stages development consists of;
- how to make a brief and get an assessment without technical task;
- whether to draw prototypes and how to do it better;
- is it worth using application builders or no?
- do you need to create a native application for the project, or can you it do with cross-platform;
- how to plan a release date to release an application on time.
I have an idea for an application. How much will the development cost?
No one will tell you on spot. Each more or less large project consists of several components: the application itself, site, database, control panel. How costly each component will come out depends on your needs, the uniqueness of the task and the specifics of the business.
Recently, I placed an order for the development of the Uber clone on the exchange. Some performers requested 1500$, while others asked up to 10000.
Why is there so much price variation?
Different developers – different cost per hour of work.
Different developers – different understanding of the initial requirements.
Many independent developers evaluate the project based on personal experience.
Not the fact that your application will be similar to what they already did.
Tip. You can evaluate the cost of development yourself, using special calculators.
What are the stages of development?
Application development is not limited to writing code. Here’s what happens after your idea falls into the hands of the developer:
- Planning and evaluation – familiarization with customer documentation, drawing up a work plan.
- Analytics – identifying requirements and how to implement them.
- Design – drawing screens, preparing materials for layout, icons, screenshots for stores, creating interactive prototypes.
- Development — layout, API development, connection (sometimes integration with third-party services).
- Testing – checking all possible usage scenarios in various conditions.
- Release – Publishing the app on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
- Maintenance – support and development of the project after release.
Each step takes time and effort. If you are offered to make an application for 1500$ without technical task – this is a reason to beware.
When can I find out the exact cost and timing?
As a rule, an accurate assessment can be obtained already at the stage of analytics. At this point, your idea is detailed to specific requirements, the implementation of which can be measured in man-hours.
The development of requirements may take from several days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the project. You can significantly speed up this process if you provide the developer with quality TK.
Is it possible somehow without task?
Yes you can. If you want to know the lower threshold of development costs, then the technical task can be replaced with a brief.
A brief is a kind of profile for you and the developer. It helps to better understand the feasibility of the idea and determine the functions that should be in the application.
In the brief, you need to work out 4 steps: users, problems, advantages and profits.
Different people – different needs. The choice of the target audience determines what the application should be.
Applications for the elderly use large buttons and a minimum of settings.
In applications for calling a taxi, there are often additional options for passengers with children and pets.
If the application does not help the user solve his tasks, then he will most likely delete it.
Describe specific situations in which your application will be useful to people.
“Order a taxi when I forgot the money”,
“Compare prices for vacuum cleaners”,
“Find shawarma nearby.”
To “shoot”, your application must be favorably different from analogues. How to achieve this:
- create a product with unique capabilities (example: Augmented Reality line);
- create an improved analogue of what is already on the market (example: Kate Mobile).
There are several ways an application can help you make money:
- domestic purchases
- premium features
- paid subscription
- selling the application itself.
- attraction of new clients,
- increasing loyalty of existing customers,
- business automation
It should be remembered that in some cases application stores charge an impressive commission for user purchases, which may affect the payback period of the project.
The brief forms the overall vision of the project. In the future, it can be used in the preparation of technical requirements.
Tip. Try to describe the requirements, not voice them. So you do not have to retell the same thing several times. If it’s easier for you to formulate your thoughts orally, use the voice input in Google Docs.
Do I need to draw prototypes?
At your discretion. Prototypes help to imagine how the screens of the application will look. If you draw them yourself, then the designer will not have to invent everything from scratch. He will be able to better understand your idea and help develop it to the final version.
You can create prototypes using free services or draw by hand. I gave a list of the most convenient solutions at the end of the article.
Tip. When creating prototypes, focus on user action scenarios. Set transitions between screens to not miss important steps.
What else can affect the timing of the assessment?
It may be difficult to plan integration. For example, if an application needs to exchange data with an external service on Bitrix. Such moments are difficult to evaluate, because you have to constantly interact with the team on the client side. Work can be stopped simply because the developer waited all morning for feedback from a CRM specialist.
Tip. Create a common information space in which your experts will answer questions from mobile developers. For example, using Google Sheets or Trello. The information collected in this way can then be used to finalize the TOR.
What is better: native application or cross-platform?
Cross-platform applications are less responsive and do not always work correctly on both platforms. If you need to quickly create a simple application (for example, based on a site), then this option is right for you.
Native applications can make the most of the capabilities of their platforms and work offline. At the same time, the design of the application will correspond to what Android or iOS users are used to. Given current market trends, this option is preferred.
Tip. If your budget is limited, order a native application for one platform. So you get a minimum viable product (MVP) with full functionality. With it, you will receive adequate feedback from users and understand if you need to invest in development for the second platform.
Should I use application builders?
Application builders are designed to solve basic business problems. Their main plus is the ability to assemble and configure the application yourself, experimenting with ready-made modules. If your application is typical for its niche (does the same as others), you can build it using the constructor. If you need something more specific, then this option is not suitable.
It is worth noting that most designers are franchises. In fact, you get access to the application, which must be paid. At the same time, some unscrupulous franchise owners reserve the right to change the terms of cooperation or block the client’s access to your personal account.
Tip. Before you use the services of thebuilder, read reviews about applications that were created on its basis. Information about successful cases in the portfolio does not always correspond to the actual experience of use.
What if my application needs to be ready for a specific date?
Plan a deadline with a margin. In the AppStore, applications undergo a review, which may take more than a month. And you can’t influence Apple.
Dates of events related to the presentation and promotion of the application, appoint after passing the review.
- One and the same idea can be evaluated in different ways. The exact cost and terms of development can be called only after the identification and approval of requirements.
- Never discuss requirements orally. For a correct assessment, all team members must have the same information recorded in writing.
- To better convey your idea to the developer, you can create a brief and draw screen layouts. In the brief you need to describe 4P: users, problems (scenarios), benefits and profits (monetization methods).
- In order not to have to explain the same thing several times – record the requirements in writing.
- Prototypes help you work out user scripts and not miss important steps. If you draw prototypes by hand, do not forget to show the logic of movement between screens (clicked here – went there).
- For communication between developers and your specialists, have a discussion in Google Sheets or Trello.
- Cross-platform applications are only suitable for small and unpretentious applications. In all other cases, it is better to choose a native development.
- If your budget is limited, create an MVP version of the application for one platform to get user feedback.
- Application designers are suitable for solving typical business problems. For something more specific it is better to turn to development studios.
- If your application should be ready for a specific date, plan to release it at least one month in advance. Set up presentation and promotion events after the review (especially critical for iOS).
If you have any questions, welcome to comments.