When a business decides to develop an app, one of the first questions they’ll consider is, “How much will it cost me?”
A basic Google search will pull up plenty of app cost calculators that give out estimates based on platform, design, security, etc. of what you want your future app to have.
Here at Dom and Tom, we approximate the average starting mobile app development cost to be around $80K-$120K+, and that it can take about 3 – 6 months of design and development, factoring in various components that are geared towards building a quality, custom solution that is tailored to your particular demands.
But don’t let that number frighten you — the best way to understand the ‘real’ cost will come down to what you’re looking for in a mobile app and how it best fits your needs.
In 2017, our friends at Clutch, a B2B research firm based in Washington, DC, looked to survey data to find answers to the app cost question. They surveyed 102 app development companies from around the world and asked them to estimate the cost of different stages of the app development process for one project completed in the past year.
Clutch then sought out our very own Co-founder and CEO, Dom Tancredi, for expert analysis on the data results and an explanation of the beginning stages of our app development process that we here at Dom and Tom undertake.
This pre-research process, which we’ve dubbed as the Discovery stage, is the secret sauce that plays a major role in figuring out the final costs and helping you and your business explore and formalize a well-crafted strategy for your app.
Before you can spend your days dreaming about your app becoming the next big Uber, Fortnite, or Snapchat, it’s crucial that you’ve outlined your target audience and what you want your app to do.
App development is an intricate process, and estimating the cost without fully understanding desires and needs is a recipe for disappointment, which is why the Discovery stage seeks to clarify details, research market competition, conduct user analysis, build prototypes, among other activities.
You should also consider the following 3 questions:
- What Operating System Will You Choose To Create Your App In? Do you plan to utilize iOS, Android, or Windows? Choosing a specific operating system will essentially affect different parts of the process, including your budget, the developer’s time, the rollout plan, etc.
- Who’s Your Target User & What’s Your Industry? Who do you envision using your product? Take the time to research the types of users who you want to reach out to, as well as the industry that you plan to lay your ground in. Do you need subject matter experts, do you need the app to be in a specific type of compliance?
- What Are The Features & Functionalities of the App? APIs? Push notifications? Analytics integration? CRM integration? What data powers my app? Depending on the objectives of your app, it’s important to consider what features you want to include. These various additional items will affect the cost of making the app.
Taking all of these into consideration will give your business and your app development company a defined idea of the skills and labor needed to make the app.
Sprinting To The Finish
At Dom and Tom, we employ the Agile Methodology, a deliberate project management approach that breaks up tasks in small time segments with a little something called Sprints.
Our Co-founder & CEO, Dom, explains how we approach this starting step:
“We usually do a one-sprint discovery to gather project requirements, determine who the users are, share the project constraints and then ultimately come out with a project plan and product backlog,” he said. “The project plan includes a project schedule, risk assumptions, and product timeline which we break out into feature sprints.”
By planning out the app thoroughly before any production, Dom & Tom minimizes differing expectations, streamlines the project’s work, and sets the product up for long-term success.
Dom continued detailing the strength of the sprint methodology and how it’s imperative in finding any product mistakes.
“Sprints are two weeks,” he explained. “This is enough time to determine enough work product that is of value, and catch any underlying issues, dependencies, feedback, and high-order solution implementation.”
For Dom & Tom, sprint methodology is the ideal timeline for app development.
“A sprint framework is the core mental model that provides a consistent, quality product flow for team members and stakeholders,” said Dom.
This is only the beginning of how to determine what the ultimate cost of your app will be laying out the elements of your app (operating system, type of industry, additional features, etc.) and relying on strategic processes like sprints that are structured out at digital product agencies like Dom & Tom will help you in this journey.
Do Your Homework
Ultimately, if your business wants an honest and accurate price estimate for any app development project, you will need to engage a firm and likely participate in the Discovery stage.
And when it comes to seeking out an agency to help with this process, Dom recommends finding one that will suit your needs the best, not just the cheapest option.
“My recommendation is to spend money on good agencies because you want to keep good agencies alive.”
Find an agency that resonates and aligns with your product objectives and will take the time to see through the development process through the long term. In short, don’t strike up a relationship with the first agency you come across.
“Do your homework for their reputations,” asserted Dom. “The business is personal no matter who you’re working with. Tom and I believe in the values of “Do Good. Be Good.” If the app is important to you, then figure out what you want to build and who you will have that lifelong relationship with.”