August 20, 2022   App Development /

How Much Does it Cost to Make an App for your Business in 2022

If you’ve never developed an app before, the idea of building an app can be scary and daunting, full of unknowns. The cost of making an app can vary dramatically based on many factors. This article provides a guide of what drives the cost of an app. Here are 5  considerations:

  • Features and Requirements of the App
  • The Approach of Building the App ( Build vs Buy)
  • Where and Who develops the App
  • Special Skills Required
  • Other costs not directly related to making the app

Features and Requirements of Your App

Software Requirements for Building a Mobile App

One of the biggest drivers of cost are the requirements. That is natural since, the more requirements there are, the more work goes into making the app. One of the most important things that will contain the cost of any project is to fully flesh out the scope of the work and lock down the requirements. If you don’t have a clear idea of what the app will do in great detail, that can lead to a lot of confusion, ambiguity and result in back and forth between you and the agency or team you are hiring. 

Good agencies can help flesh out the requirements if that’s not something you have nailed down. Oftentimes, that’s a must have, especially if you are serious about building an app and have a general idea of the cost.

Another cost driver is the different types of users this app is for. For example Airbnb actually serves two types of users: the guest and the host and although there is only one app, the app must be able to serve two distinctly different users with different needs, thus needing two sets of features. Another example is Uber, the ride sharing app. It serves the consumer, but the driver also needs an app to be able to take rides and pick up passengers. They’ve actually even gone as far as creating an app just for the driver. Thus there are at least two apps to be made in a business like Uber.

Finally, the last type of user that many businesses don’t even consider is the business itself. For example, Uber needs to onboard drivers, review their performance, and be able to pay them. Similarly, Airbnb needs to onboard hosts, respond to guest concerns, pay hosts, refund guests etc. An “app” for the business operations and the back office is usually required.

When most people say they want an app, they usually mean a platform. Youtube is not just an app. It exists in web, mobile, tablet, and even smart tv formats. This means that there are servers somewhere storing all the videos uploaded as well as all the user information, thumbnails, comments that users of the site post and all that is available on different platforms. 

Compare that to a simple calculator app. The calculator app is a standalone app that doesn’t communicate with the internet, has no notion of a user profile and doesn’t save any information to a database. You can see that building a platform like Facebook, Uber or Airbnb can be much more expensive than a calculator app.

How Much to Build vs Buy

Creating an app today isn’t like it was 20 or 30 years ago. There are so many software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that perform various features of apps that building them from scratch doesn’t make much sense today. For example, building an ecommerce website today could be as simple as starting a Shopify site for $29/month. Unless your app needs are so custom that existing platforms cannot address, we highly recommend you seriously consider searching and seeing if there’s something already out there that does what you need. Building an app from scratch will cost orders of magnitude more than licensing an existing SaaS solution. For example, if your customer data is stored in Salesforce, perhaps building a Salesforce app will make more sense than building an app from scratch that integrates with Salesforce.

Another advantage of building an app in 2022 is that so many features of modern day apps are already made available by many software companies. For example if you needed to build a chat app, or send SMS as part of one-time-password (OTP) verification, you can use a communication-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) such as Twilio, MessageBird, or Nexmo. Features such as push notifications, video, authentication, payments, analytics are all available as software to be licensed. That doesn’t mean the cost of using them is zero. There is a cost associated with integrating or installing those services and instead of paying a huge upfront cost to build those features from scratch, typically you are paying a usage or monthly license fee.

Where is the Software Being Developed

Geographic Considerations of Mobile App Development Costs

One of the biggest cost drivers is WHO does the work? An agency with engineers based in San Francisco, California is going to cost much more than a consultancy in Bangalore, India simply because the cost of living is much more and the developers are paid more. 

The size of the organization can also have an impact on the cost. A larger organization will have more operational costs (in-house counsel, finance, marketing, etc) than a solo freelancer. A big consulting firm like Accenture is going to cost more than a small 5 person agency. 

Finally the reputation and maturity of an agency can affect cost. A more reputable firm that’s been around longer (and has more experience) will typically cost more than a new firm with no reputation or history.

Special Skills Required

Specialized Skills such as crypto or blockchain can increase the cost of app development

If a certain skill is more in demand then it will cost more for that skill. Thus the cost of the app can also depend on what skills are required to build that app. Niche technical skills like Salesforce, Google Cloud, or Twilio can cost more because they require specialized knowledge of those platforms. Niche domain skills like cryptocurrency, blockchain, Artificial-Intelligence (AI), or Machine Learning (ML) can also command higher rates because a general app developer may not have those skills. It is important that any agency you hire has the requisite skills for the kind of app that you are trying to build.

Other Costs

Aside from the raw building costs (we include the planning, project management, design and development), there are a few other costs to keep in mind when budgeting for making an app.

Quality Assurance and Testing

Just like cars and machinery need to be tested before they leave the factory floor, software needs to be tested thoroughly before going live. Software needs to be tested in order to ensure that it is as free of bugs and defects as possible. Sometimes this is factored into the costs of development, but it’s good to make sure that it is included or budgeted for.

Software Costs

Think of software costs as the costs of raw materials in a construction project. The development can be thought of as the labor costs, but modern software is often built on top of other software. Data is often stored on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. Depending on what you are storing, storage costs may also vary. For example, video takes a lot more storage space compared to text and the more videos users upload to your platform, the more it can cost. Services such as SMS messages (typically used for password verification, password reset, and delivery services), and push notifications also have associated costs based on usage. Other software such as analytics tools may have a monthly fee. Businesses often try to drive down software costs. However, it's just about trying to find a good balance between quality and quantity.

Ongoing Maintenance

Just like a building or a car cannot run indefinitely without problems, a mobile application will need ongoing maintenance or support. Software vendors might update their software development kit (SDK), necessitating your app to be updated. Platforms like Apple and Google might update how their operating system (OS) works requiring companies to update their apps accordingly. This happens all the time which is why you see popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp update their apps every so often. It’s best to allocate a budget of app development spend to ongoing maintenance. 

New Insights and New Features

When you are building a new app or software product, it’s important to realize that you will not know ahead of time all the features that a customer may want. It is only once they start using the product that they realize that this might be a good feature or that might be a good idea. Even the business owner might have a few of their own ideas once they start seeing the product take shape. Popular apps constantly release new features to keep their users sticky but also to keep up with the competition.


The app development cost can be a factor of many variables. Generally speaking, the more defined it is, the more planning that goes into the app, and the more you can document before engaging with a firm, the better it is in terms of getting an idea of cost. Figure out what software services you will need for your app. Factors like quality, reputation, geography, specialization will also highly impact the cost of your app. It’s also not a bad idea to get quotes from multiple firms.

If you need help finding the right team for your mobile app development needs, we can help you by matching and recommending partners from our network based on your needs.

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April 18, 2022   App Development /

Mobile App Development Process in 2022: All You Need to Know

With the world reaching new heights every day in digital media, mobile apps have become one of the most important tools in our lives. 

According to research conducted by Statista Research Department, global mobile app revenues reached more than 365 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and are projected to cross 935.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. 

All types of mobile apps go through the same development processes, and most of these mobile apps are available on the Apple App and Google Play Stores. The mobile app development process involves reaching an idea, strategy, design, development, deployment, and post-launch phases. 


The success of any mobile application depends on its idea. If you want to develop an app but do not have a clear idea of why you are building this app, you can focus on finding problems around you that most people face. 

For instance, if you want to create an app to help victims of harassment, talk to the gender affected by it the most. It will help you understand the issue and deliberate on healthier solutions. You might want to create an app that solves an expensive problem within your department or organization.


The initial phase of an app's development is setting a plan that can make your idea successful. A business plan needs to be devised by carrying out market research and different business analyses to understand the position and demand of your idea in the market. 

Try to keep your plan precise and to-the-point, so that your stakeholders/investors aren't confused. A business plan includes effective marketing strategies that will help the developer ensure its profitability. It also brings you closer to your goal, as developers with a business model are likely to be more successful. 

A good business plan includes competitive analysis, market research, SWOT analysis, and business model canvas. We will discuss these more in detail in the later sections. 

Competitive Analysis 


Understanding the level of competition your app will face after its launch is vital for its profitability. 

You have to carry out a competitive analysis, which can be conducted in four easy steps. 

  1. First, check the number of downloads the app has. If more people have it on their phones and use it, it is likely to be more popular. 
  2. Second, check their ratings and reviews left by the users on the app stores. Search for tech reviews on different blogs and see what they think about the app. 
  3. Third, search for the developer's history. See how that app has changed over time, its updates, and the issues faced throughout its life. 
  4. Lastly, use the app yourself and ask your friends to use it. This will help you analyze what it does best and what it lacks. 

By conducting a competitive analysis, you will learn as much as you can for free and plan accordingly. It will help you avoid the mistakes other developers make and save time and money. Moreover, it also gives you an idea of how hard your battle is going to be. 

Market Research 

Carrying out effective market research is an essential step in the app development process. Market research is all about gathering data about target markets and customers. 

The market research types for mobile app development can include competitive analysis and customer segmentation research. 

Competitive analysis helps you understand your competitors' strengths and weaknesses while customer segmentation research aims to divide the market into smaller groups or personas to enable more targeted marketing messages.

Market research helps define the target audience by their demographics, psychographics, lifestyles, and habits. Through market research, a business can consider possible customers, usability aspects, customer objectives, and industry trends in mobile app development – the knowledge of which increases the likelihood of success. 


SWOT Analysis 


SWOT analysis can be defined as a technique for assessing your app's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to give basis to current and future acts and help develop strategic goals. 

A SWOT analysis determines your app idea's strengths by helping you list its advantages, highlight its unique selling point (USP), and define the aim of the app. 

It assesses your idea's weaknesses, identifies possible hurdles in revenue generation, helps you recognize the useless aspects of your thoughts, and lists development factors.

A SWOT Analysis also assists the developers in understanding opportunities and identifying the weaknesses of the competitors. It enables you to comprehend and predict user behavior patterns and discover the latest technology trends.  

Moreover, this analysis also flags the threats your app could face and helps you check if your app is in sync with the latest industry standards.  

Business Model Canvas

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A business model canvas helps you visualize the basic building blocks when starting a business, including customers, value proposition, route to market, and finance. It enables you to reinvent your app and idea. This tool helps develop a clear and sound comprehension of value proposition, customers, operations, and finances for an app startup. 

It has nine different areas of focus:

  • Key Partners

It helps you identify potential buyers and suppliers you need to develop relationships with and alliances that will aid you in accomplishing core business activities and fulfill your values proposition. 

  • Key Activities

A business model canvas helps you analyze activities you must engage in to fulfill your value propositions, secure distribution channels, and to develop meaningful customer relationships. 

  • Key Resources

It aids in recognizing key resources needed to create value for customers and sustain your app. 

  • Value Propositions

A business model canvas gives you ideas about services you may offer to meet the needs of your app users and create a unique selling point for your app. 

  • Customer Relationships

It identifies the type of relationships you will forge with your target market by enabling you to understand the opportunities of each customer segment and how they are tangled with the rest of your models. 

  • Customer Segments 

A business canvas grants you information about the set of customers you will serve through your app and highlights the most vital one. 

  • Channels 

It gives you a clear understanding of the cost-effective means through which you will reach your targeted customers (Apple App Store and Google Play Store). 

  • Cost Structure

A business canvas helps you predict all the costs that you might incur while developing your app. 

  • Revenue Streams 

This tool informs you of how much your customers are willing to pay and what you should charge for your products and services. It also helps you establish a path for receiving payments from your customers and aids you in deciding how many revenue streams you need to contribute to your overall revenue. 

Product Roadmap

Right after identifying the necessities for your app, formulate a roadmap. For this, prioritize the mobile app requirements and group them into delivery milestones. If time, resources, or costs are a concern, define your minimum viable product (MVP).

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The MVP can be defined as a version of a service, in this case, your app, with just enough features to be usable by initial customers who can then provide the developers with criticism for future progress. 

It is the last stage of the strategy process. Setting a roadmap for your app is significant because it can help you understand the sort of level your app could reach one day and predict its success. 

During this process, it can be helpful to write on a diary, whiteboard, or document all the features you want your app to have and the services you want it to provide. After that, rank those in urgency. Determine your app's core functionality, what steps you might need to increase its users, and the set of updates you will provide to it in the future. 

Build a Team

A person who has the idea for an application may not always be tech-savvy or a developer. In this case, they need an expert. Choosing the right app development partner can be tough and time-consuming but finding the right partner can mean the difference between a working product and a lemon. 

You can easily find suitable app development specialists and agencies for your team by just googling for mobile app development agencies or specialists. Check their websites or LinkedIn profiles, the sort of services they offer, and their price packages to understand their work better. Read the reviews and feedback on their pages. Look out for their contact details and write them an email or call them to discuss your idea.

A successful team must have a visionary. A visionary is an individual with deep and diverse knowledge of the problem you are trying to solve and can see the potential of this new solution and can convince others to join her cause. With a solid vision, sound hypothesis and a high sense of responsibility, a visionary is responsible for the app's consistency and ensures that it fulfills all its promises. 

Designers give your app the look and feel that matches the theme of the app's idea. They deliver UI/UX layouts, test them, get feedback, discuss the recommendations, and make necessary changes. Developers process the complete UI/UX layouts and implement them in the final application. 

Quality assurance specialists test the end product and decide if the app is ready to be launched. Before releasing it into the market, they indicate all options for improvement and prove to the heads the significance of these improvements. 

Sales and marketing specialists are also a vital part of the team. An app, no matter how great it is, is likely to fail if not marketed properly. Communicating effectively with users, working on a product brand, and creating advertising materials, sales and marketing professionals turn the product into profit and combine triumph of collaboration. 

UI/UX Design

An app's design aims to deliver unified and unproblematic user experiences with a refined look. The success of a mobile app depends on the level of utility the app design is providing to its users. UI/UX design aims to generate excellent user experiences, making your app intuitive and user-friendly. 

Information Architecture

Information architecture organizes content to enhance findability and serviceability. The main objective of applying information architecture to mobile apps and sites is to enable the designers to infuse content with the much-needed structure and help users accomplish their goals with ease. From a mobile website to an application, the information architecture describes how your content or screens will be organized and how the users will interact with it. 


Wireframes are created by designers and are digital, simplified visual concepts of the final application. They define the structure, hierarchy, and relationship between the essentials elements that make up the product. Wireframes can be called an app's backbone. 

Wireframing is the process of creating screens and assigning each function to its place. This is often first done on paper or whiteboards to develop proper ideas as it is easier to draw and erase ideas on a board or piece of paper than rewriting code. The main focus, at this stage, is on the app's layout and user experience. 

User Flow

A user flow is the sequence of actions that users perform to certain task in your app. A well thought out sequence helps create an intuitive user experience, enabling the app's users to accomplish tasks within the app with ease. It is essential to think of all the user flows within your app.


Mockups are the final outputs of your app's visual design. They are created by applying a style guide or visual design to the wireframes. As the design becomes more real, modifications are often expected to be made to its as new problems arise or new ideas originate. 


With the use of tools like Invision and Figma, you can create click-through prototypes. They are suitable for simulating the user experience and the app's workflows anticipated from the final product. Developing a prototype is a bit more work than just the mockup, but the efforts are always fruitful as they offer early-stage testing of your app's design and functionality. 

Prototypes assist in identifying modifications to the app's projected functionality. You can also conduct prototypes during the wireframing stage, especially when an application's functional requirements are not planned accordingly. 

App Development 

An integral part of this phase in the mobile app development procedure is planning. Before developing the application, the team must define technical architecture, pick a technology stack, and define the development milestones. 

Technical Architecture/Design 

Several approaches, programming languages, and technologies are used to build a mobile application—all with their strengths and weaknesses. Some are older, but tried and true, some are trendy, but too new to have a strong community.  

Sprint Planning 

Sprint planning is a timeboxed working session lasting about an hour every week of a sprint. The team completes a set of product backlog items. This arrangement defines the sprint backlog and is grounded on the team's capacity, work speed, and the duration of the spirit. 

Breaking down a large backlog of to-do items into smaller ones and dividing them evenly allows team members to focus on individual objectives and deliver working code in chunks, rather than waiting for the end of a project. Sprint planning is always done with the whole team. 

Front End Development

For front-end development, three basic methods are used. They are cross-platform native, platform-specific native, and hybrid. 

Platform-specific native apps are built with different written approaches for each mobile platform. For example, the same code cannot be used between Android and iOS as they use different programming languages. So, you have to write different code bases for your app if you're launching it on both these operating systems. This is the most expensive approach, but it has been tried and tested by numerous developers worldwide. 

Apps built with a cross-platform native approach have a single codebase but run natively. ReactNative, and Flutter are the most used technologies for this platform. This approach is cost-effective and can be styled according to each platform. 

Hybrid apps are developed through web technologies (CSS, HTML, JavaScript) and are installed via native packaging.

Back End Development

The server is accountable for much of an app's performance and scalability. The technologies used here are similar to those used to power web-based applications. Before penning down the code, you need to figure out its language, database, and hosting environment. 

Among the dozens of languages available to build your API, Java, Golang, JavaScript, C#, PHP, and Python are the most common. These languages also have numerous frameworks that can be utilized for other uses. 

SQL and NoSQL are the two main types of modern databases. SQL is more traditional and is considered to be the best option in most cases. Common SQL implementations include MYSQL, MSSQL, and PostgreSQL. The team also has to design a particular database scheme, as having dependable and well-organized data is critical to creating a scalable, maintainable backend. 

To set a hosting environment, you need to decide where and how the API and database will be accommodated. The decisions need to be made with care because they will help determine your application's hosting costs, performance, scalability, and reliability. Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure are some of the most common hosting providers.


An Application Programming Interface (API) is a communication technique between the mobile app and a back-end server/database. It is a set of tools, protocols, and practices for developing software applications. It lays down how software layers communicate. Additionally, this programming interface is used when programming GUI components. 

The APIs allow the capabilities of one computer program to be used by another. They are a means by which two different programs can connect. An API delivers a user reply to a system and sends the system's response back to the user or other users. 


The necessity for integration stems from the need to move data between applications. This comprises moving data from one system to another. Modern businesses no longer run on monolithic systems but rather use best of breed tools. For example, a company may run on a Salesforce CRM, a Shopify ecommerce platform, and an ActiveCampaign marketing system and this app may have to integrate with all 3 systems and more.

Application integration has four standard levels:

  • Presentation-level Integration
  • Business Process Integration 
  • Data Integration 
  • Communications-level Integration 

The most commonly used enterprise application integration platforms include Dell, Boomi, Jitterbit, Talend, and Mulesoft. 


Testing is necessary to make sure there are no defects left at the end that can break the application. Performing thorough quality assurance testing during the mobile app growth process makes applications practical, secure, and constant. 

Functional Testing 

The accuracy of your mobile app's functionality is critical to its success. It is hard to forecast every end user's behavior and practice scenario. Make sure that the functional testing is carried out by a number of users to cover as many potential testing conditions as possible. 

The basic purpose of functional testing is to ensure that the app's features are working without any issue. The whole system can be tested, or the functions of the app can be tested individually. 

User Experience Testing

User experience testing or usability testing is one of the most important steps as it ensures that the final application matches the user experience shaped by the app design team. Visual aesthetics, workflows, and interactivity of your app are the factors that will give the first impression of the app to its users. The team has to ensure that the app employs reliable fonts, style treatments, padding between data, color scheme, and navigation. If the app ties with the original design guidelines, it will directly impact its user adoption. 

Performance Testing 

Performance testing can be carried out through a quantitative criterion depending on several well-thought-out questions. 

For example: 

  • Is the size (megabytes, kilobytes, or gigabytes) of the app larger than it should be?
  • Are the app's screen loading time tolerable?
  • Is the app responding well to the user requests?
  • Is the app draining your phone's battery?
  • Does the app leverage network bandwidth competently? 

Regression Testing

Regression testing can be defined as re-running functional and non-functional tests to ensure that formerly established and tested software still performs similarly after a change. Due to the swift pace of technological advancement, regression testing has become a necessity in mobile app development. 

Mobile regression testing comes with some challenges that you should be aware of. Some of the examples are below. 

  • Regression of a bug: Retesting if a bug has been fixed.
  • Regression testing of past fixes:  Retesting various previously fixed bugs to see if they have reappeared. 
  • General functional regression: Retesting the entire product, including previously working portions, to check if the latest improvements have compromised the working code.
  • Conversion or port testing: A portion of the regression testing process is run to check whether the software was successfully transferred to a new platform.

Device-Specific Testing 

It would be difficult to assure the existence of mobile apps without checking their compatibility with hardware and operating systems. Hence, apps are tested on several devices to ensure software and hardware quality. They are tested through interruptions, location-based services (LBS), biometrics, NFC payments, etc. 

User Acceptance Testing 

User acceptance testing can be defined as a sort of testing performed by the end-user or client to confirm the capability of the software system before moving the app to the production environment.

The main objective of user acceptance testing is to validate end-to-end business flow. You must know that it does not concentrate on cosmetic errors or system testing. It is performed in separate testing settings with a production-like data setup.  

Beta Testing 

Beta testing can be recognized as one of the final steps in the app development lifecycle before it is launched for installation. Its purpose is to make sure that users are content with a software product. It catches any software bugs and errors that have crept through the testing course. 


To finally make your app available for the public's use, you will need a developer account on Apple App Store for iOS apps and Google Play for Android apps. An app's publication in the app store entails preparing metadata, including:

  1. The app's name
  2. Description 
  3. Genre 
  4. Keywords 
  5. Launch icon 
  6. App Store screenshots 

Once all the details are submitted, Apple App Store reviews them, which may take a few days to several weeks depending on the quality of your app and how closely you followed the rules of application. 

At the Google Play store, there is no review process. The app goes live after a few hours of application. 

After the app goes live, you are supposed to monitor its usage through mobile analytics platforms and track its key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the app's success. 


As an app developer, it is vital that you recognize the changing marketing trends and preferences of your target market and plan your marketing strategy accordingly. 

Start mobile app promotion before its official launch. Try to build hype on your social media—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. This can help increase brand awareness. To ensure the success of your marketing campaign, prepare launch kits for the press and send them to different promotion groups. Collaborating with influencers is one of the most famous strategies to promote your app, as most people today use social media and follow them. 


App store optimization (ASO) enhances mobile apps to rank higher in an app store's search results. It also focuses on user click-through rates. 

It is different from search engine optimization (SEO), as SEO is used to rank websites. ASO is essential for app growth as it maximizes downloads and makes sure the target market discovers your app. 

Maintenance and Support 

Even after you're finished with developing and launching your app, there is still work left to be done. If you want an app that stands the test of time, it needs to be monitored and updated regularly.

1. Adding  New Features

Adding new feature upgrades to your app based on user feedback and consumption habits keeping users engaged and interested.

It's also a good idea to keep an eye on your app reviews. The majority of users give suggestions for enhancements and additional features. Use these suggestions to improve your app's upgrades.

Regular, small feature upgrades are also a more cost-effective approach than starting from scratch or updating after a long period.

2. Ensure that New Hardware and Software are Compatible with Existing Apps

You'll lose clients if you don't update your app regularly and make sure it's functional with all of the latest devices and platforms.

As technology advances, your users will upgrade, and your app will be abandoned. 

It's also a smart option to adopt the latest hardware capabilities, like fingerprint authentications and push alerts into the functioning of your app.

3. Fixing Bugs

You'll lose users if you don't monitor your app frequently and fix bugs as soon as possible.

In fact, flaws can cause your app to crash and fail permanently. 

Always be on the lookout for bugs and technical problems and repair them as soon as possible. Keep track of user comments and reviews so that any concerns may be addressed quickly.


App development is a long process, and there is no single factor that can determine its success. To ensure its success, all the steps need to be followed carefully. The team must ensure premium quality before launching the app. This will ensure that the app is successful and that it will continue to improve after its launch. 

If you are looking for help to build your app, get matched with an app development agency here.

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April 18, 2022   App Development /

How to Reduce Your Mobile App Development Costs in 2022

In this article we discuss tips on how to reduce the cost of developing mobile apps. This could be applied to building any software in general. The cost of developing mobile apps can vary greatly depending on many factors, but generally speaking, they can average between $38,000 to $171,000 according to Clutch[1]. Thus investing in a mobile app for your business can be a risky and potentially expensive endeavor if you are not careful. 

To be able to control costs, it’s important to understand the mobile app development process and what goes into making a mobile app from start to finish. 


“Measure once, cut twice”

Having a plan can drastically reduce the app development cost. App developers are the biggest cost in most app development projects. If you don’t have a plan they can understand and follow, a lot of (billable) time can be spent on planning for you before they can even get started. Planning can involve many things including strategizing about the business model, researching what competitors are doing and how they are pricing, to thinking about the features and functionality of the app itself. 

Detailed Requirements

App development cost can balloon or be a huge unknown for app development agencies when the requirements are loose or unknown. That’s because when things are not clearly defined, it can be interpreted very differently. Put differently, if you don’t know what you want, you might change your mind. Just like a contractor will have to charge you for the labor and materials of a kitchen remodel if you keep changing your mind about how it’s laid out and the materials, so will an app development agency have to charge you for the cost of going back and forth. To reduce cost, it’s best to be very clear and precise on what you want and make up your mind before starting the project. 

MVP - Minimum viable product

“The lesson of the MVP is that any additional work beyond what was required to start learning is waste, no matter how important it might have seemed at the time.” - Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses


Another reason the app development cost can be expensive is that you are trying to do too much with the first version of the product. What you often see when you look at a competitor’s product is years of development to get to that state. In the startup world, it is recommended that you build the MVP or minimum viable product before investing too much money into the full vision of the mobile app. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. The reason to do this is that you have an idea of all the features that a customer wants, but without validating the idea with some early customers, it’s really impossible to know if all the features you are cramming into the app are actually useful to the customer. 

Design First, Code Later

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

It can be hard to articulate your vision of your mobile app to a person or a team. Words have a certain level of fidelity, but words can be left to interpretation. Having a design to show the app development agency will give them a much better idea of what you are trying to build instead of just describing the app or even having the requirements. They don’t have to imagine what it will be like. Imagine hiring a construction company to build a home or building. What would be more successful: showing the construction company the design of the building and having the complete architectural diagrams or having a word document and talking them through it? 


Doing the design work before starting the app development process can significantly reduce the cost. You can break up the app development process into two phases. The design phase is where you can hire a UI/UX design agency to design everything from the wireframes, the user flows, the pixel-perfect mockups, and the clickable prototype. Once you have all of that ready, a mobile app development firm can take those designs as directions they can follow with little or no ambiguity on what it will look like. 

Get matched with app design agencies that can help you realize your vision.

Buy vs Build Software

As you know, the app development labor cost is one of the most expensive line items in the app development process. A Mobile Engineer salary in the US is estimated to be about $94,776[2] so reducing the time an app development agency has to spend on engineering can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Fortunately, building a mobile app in 2022 is more cost-effective than ever before. There are many SaaS (software as a service) platforms that can perform specific features of your app that rather than having expensive engineers build those features from scratch, you can just rent/lease those pieces of software to reduce not only upfront costs but time to build.

SDKs and APIs

A great example of this is chat. Chat or messaging is such a common feature of most modern mobile apps that it’s sometimes taken for granted. You can hire an agency to build the chat feature in your app from scratch or you can leverage existing chat software development kits (SDKs) such as SendBird, Twilio Programmable Chat, or CometChat. The price can vary from a tiered monthly fee or even a per-usage fee, but the cost of plugging this software into your app will most certainly be less than having the agency build it from scratch. These companies that build chat SDKs and APIs build their whole business on building the best chat tools. A general-purpose software development agency is not going to build a better chat than them.  

Design Templates

Just like building something from scratch is going to be more expensive than leasing a software library, designing a mobile app from scratch is going to be more expensive than working off an existing design. Fortunately, there are so many design kits and libraries for any idea you might have that you probably don’t have to start from scratch here either. Design template sites such as UI8 , ThemeForest,  Creative Market have huge collections of UI Kits and design templates for all sorts of app ideas that you can have a design agency modify instead of having them design from zero. 


Cross-Platform App Development

Building an app for both the Apple ecosystem and the Google Android ecosystem is expensive because you are essentially building the same app twice for two different platforms. Although some backend infrastructure can be shared, the mobile apps themselves have to be written for each specific programming language: iOS Development for Apple, and Android Development for Google, respectively. 

However, there are technology platforms that allow mobile programming code to be written once while being able to work in multiple operating systems and platforms. React Native is one such development platform that allows developers to write code once and create both native iOS and Android apps. React Native development is a great way to reduce app development costs if you HAVE to launch with both iOS and Android versions and because React Native is a very widely adopted technology, there are many React Native app development agencies to choose from. 

Get matched with an agency that will build your ReactNative app.

Technical Advisor

If you do not have a technical background or have someone in your company that can help vet freelancers, developers, and agencies, picking the right one can be difficult and potentially an expensive mistake. Find someone in your network who can act as a sounding board to help vet the agency but also to see if how they plan to approach your project is not only sound but aligned with your needs.

Outsource or Build a Team

The cost of labor is going to be by far the most expensive line item in any app development project and one of the biggest decisions is going to be: do you outsource the development or do you build a team?

Building an in-house team is a long-term decision and requires a commitment to budget for all the roles that are required to build a software product. Typical roles that are required to build software include front-end developers, back-end developers, solution architects, designers, project managers, and QA testers. 

If the project is still exploratory or perhaps you don’t have the budget to build a team, hiring an external team to build the initial version of the app can be a viable option. If you have some internal resources, you might not have to outsource everything, but only the parts where you lack experience and expertise. 

Once you’ve decided to outsource, there are more considerations as well? What type of firm would you want to use? A large IT shop that can do everything or a small boutique firm with niche specialization? Are you thinking of outsourcing to offshore firms due to cost or budget constraints? Are you prepared to work around huge timezone differences? Perhaps nearshore agencies might work better for you. If you are concerned with potential communication issues with non-native English speakers and cultural differences, then maybe US-based development agencies might work best for you. Or perhaps you prefer being able to meet and work in person and a local agency works best for you.

Get matched with an app development agency that's right for you.


When you have an idea, it’s very easy to think that your idea is so unique that there couldn’t possibly be anything out there like it. And perhaps that is true for the complete solution, but parts of it might already exist as software you can buy. (See the Build vs Buy section). Another way to drastically reduce the cost of building your software is to see if there is an open-source alternative you can build off or customize rather than building from scratch. 

Examples of these include:

  • Content management system: WordPress If you are trying to build a blog or your own site, you might want to consider WordPress, an open-source content management system used by over 40% of the web.
  • Team collaboration platform: It will no doubt be expensive to recreate something like Slack from scratch, but MatterMost is an open-source alternative that you can customize.
  • Video platform: Zoom Conferencing has become hugely popular since the pandemic and it would be no small feat to recreate your own version of it, but fortunately there are open-source alternatives like Jitsi to help you get started.

So before embarking on the build route, explore the open-source-and-customize route to see if that’s possible. That will not only save money but time as well. 

No Code

There has been a growing trend in the software industry around no-code development platforms that enable programmers and non-programmers alike to create software applications through GUI (graphical user interfaces) and configuration instead of traditional computer programming. Oftentimes, using a no-code platform to build your software application can be substantially cheaper. You are making some tradeoffs as your application will be running on the no-code platform and you might be stuck with its limitations. and Webflow are some examples of popular no-code platforms. If your software application can be built using a no-code development platform, finding no-code agencies can be another way to reduce development costs.

Get matched with a no-code agency that can help you build your app.


We’ve presented many ways to reduce the cost of your mobile app development. By implementing some of these tips, you can not only shave down the cost dramatically but also shorten the time to market which can be crucial in many projects. 

If you are looking to learn more:




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April 18, 2022   App Development /

Build vs Buying Software in 2022, The Pros and Cons

Businesses are investing in technology more than ever. With employees and clients now either working from home completely or in some capacity, software and technology expenditure is increasing to accommodate the new needs of businesses that have to adapt in this new environment.

In 2022, IT spending on enterprise software is expected to amount to around 672 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, a growth of 11 percent from the previous year according to Statista.

The business decision to build or buy software is a critical one. If it goes well, a successful implementation or project can either provide savings, efficiencies, or even new profits for a business. Picking the wrong software or a failed implementation can mean the software is abandoned and a loss on the investment. In this article, we will help you understand some of the pros and cons of building vs buying software for your business needs.


Cost Pros of Buying Software

The cost of buying or licensing cloud-based software is almost always going to be lower than building your own software. Typically you will have small monthly recurring costs or perhaps an annual agreement. You can project exactly what the cost for that expenditure will be especially if the pricing is a fixed price based on seats, and or processors assuming your needs don’t change.


Cost Cons of Buying Software

The downside is that instead of having a one-time fee, you are now stuck making monthly or annual payments and you don’t actually own the software with most cloud-based software licensing agreements. The moment you stop paying, the service gets turned off for you. Also, as your needs and business grow, expect that your licensing costs will increase along with you. 

Take, for example, Zoom. At $14.99 a month, or $179.88 a year per user is going to be much cheaper to use if you only have a few users in your organization. If you have a 5,000 person organization and go with the $19.99 per user enterprise plan, you are looking at an annual cost of $1,199,400. 

There may be other costs associated with buying software as well. Software rarely works in a silo and will need to be set up and integrated into your organization’s systems and tools. If you lack the expertise, you may have to hire an agency to help with integration. 

Cost Pros of Building Software

Although the cost of building your software can be big upfront, if you don’t expect to change or improve the software very much, this could be a one-time expenditure vs multiple recurring expenditures. There are ways to reduce the upfront costs of building software via a minimum viable product approach. Here are some great tips on how to reduce your mobile app development costs. Note that there are always going to be on-going maintenance costs of having your own software such as cloud-hosting provider and other SaaS tools you used to build your own software. 

Cost Cons of Building Software

The cost of building software that’s close to feature parity of a commercial well-funded SaaS product is going to be much more than licensing the same software. It doesn’t make sense to build something for only a few internal users if a ready-made piece of software can be licensed for a cheap monthly fee. Most people only consider the labor costs of building the software, but there are also the infrastructure costs as well as maintenance costs that are now yours to bear. Whether you are using your own internal software team or an external development agency to help build your software, maintenance and upkeep costs will have to be factored into the total costs of building your software. According to McKinsey, on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted. 


Time Pros of Buying Software

The best part of buying software is that it’s already made. You can have it a lot faster than having to build it yourself. In cases where the software doesn’t really have to talk to your other systems, you may be able to have it up and running the moment you sign up and pay with your credit card. Nothing beats time to value if you can use it right away.


Time Cons of Buying Software

The more deeply the cloud software needs to integrate with your systems and data, the more work it usually takes to set up and install that system even if it’s a SaaS. For example, migrating from an on-premise data center to a cloud based Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services is not something you can do instantly with a credit card sign up. There can still be a huge amount of work that needs to be done to migrate to a new piece of software. 

Time Cons of Building Software

The downside of building your own software is it takes time, to define the requirements, plan and architect the product, design the user experience, wireframes, look and feel, and finally, to build it and test it. You can find ways to reduce the time and cost of building software, but it will be hard to compete in terms of time compared to buying ready-made software. 


Risk Pros of Buying Software

Trying or buying ready-made SaaS is relatively low risk. This is especially true if there’s a free trial and no annual contracts. You can try it for free or pay a month and if it doesn’t work for you or fit your needs, you don’t have to continue and simply cancel your subscription. You will not have invested a lot of time and money into it and simply try another. You also know what you are getting because you can see it and use it before making any long-term commitments.

Risk Cons of Buying Software

Although many SaaS agreements have monthly subscriptions, bigger enterprise SaaS may require long-term contracts such as annual or multi-annual contracts. Then there’s the cost of implementing the SaaS into your organization which can also be a huge upfront investment. The risk of picking the wrong SaaS is, therefore, greater because you could be stuck in a multi-year agreement with something that doesn’t quite work for your business. 

Risk Pros of Building Software

If you have a very clear vision of what you need and you’ve done the appropriate calculation of building vs buying ROI, building your own software might be less risky than buying software that doesn’t quite meet your needs. Only you know the needs of your organization and if you can build it at a fairly lower cost than what it would take to license the software for your entire organization, it might make a lot of sense to consider building your own software.

Risk Cons of Building Software

If you don’t have the team or the technical expertise to build software, building your own software is a very risky endeavor with a high probability of failure. Statistics on the success and failure rate of software projects are pretty grim. According to the Standish Group Chaos Report a few years ago, the average is only 16.2% for software projects that are completed on- time and on budget. This is why it’s very important to hire a proven, vetted team with great credentials. 


Responsibility Pros of Buying Software

The pro of renting vs owning is that problems are not your responsibility. If there’s a problem, outage, bug or feature you need, you can file a support ticket. Support costs are usually extra in enterprise software but generally speaking, issues and concerns are not yours to deal with.


Responsibility Cons of Building Software

Responsibility is very high when it comes to building your own software. You’re in charge of getting it delivered successfully whether you use internal resources or an outsourced agency. The planning, resourcing, budgeting, delivery, and long-term maintenance of the software you build are all your responsibility. 


Control Cons of Buying Software

The one major downside to buying software, especially if this is going to be something that is critical to your business is that you ultimately do not control it. In most cases of cloud software, you can never really “buy” it to own, unless you can afford to buy the software company itself. The subscription fee is only the right to use it. If there’s a feature you want, but it’s not on the software company’s product roadmap, that feature may never see the light of day, especially if you aren’t a big enough customer to make it worth their trouble. Also if you plan to sell the software rather than just using it internally, it will be difficult. Some SaaS companies allow you to white label their product as your own, but most do not. Ultimately it’s not yours to control.

Control Pros of Building Software

When companies decide to build their own software, a big part of that decision is because they wish to control its destiny. If you want to create a software business and sell your software to customers, owning and controlling it will be key to your success. If customers want certain features, you can add them. Investors may not even consider you if you do not own a key critical piece of your technology, but were simply licensing it. You can change it and evolve it as your customers’ needs change. Bought software may not be exactly what you want, but you have to manage with it. If you embark on building your own software, you can design it to be exactly what you want. 

Competitive Advantage

If you want to have a competitive advantage, it’s not going to be using the same software that the rest of the industry and all your competitors use. You have to create a competitive advantage and by definition, that isn’t available to everyone, otherwise, it wouldn’t be an advantage. To have a tool nobody else has, you have to create it. That’s the most important reason to build your own software.

If owning your software because licensing fees have grown too large as you've scaled or controlling your destiny is important to you, then building your software might make the most sense. Click here to find the right partner to help build your software application.

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