A lot goes into successful mobile app development; research, planning, communication, the actual coding of the app, marketing the product, and continued maintenance amongst other things. Considering all of the moving parts, different skill sets, teams, and talents required, it’s no surprise that mobile app development is a costly investment.
Often before investing in mobile app development, many businesses want to know how much it will cost? As many of our other blogs on the topic have stated, there is no hard and fast answer. Considering everything involved, the cost of a mobile app is different for every project. However, planning helps depict a more accurate price range, helping you to minimize fluctuations between initial product requirements and what’s built in the development stages.
In a previous post, Managing Mobile App Development Costs: 3 Essential Considerations, we focused on three specific areas of a development project that can have a huge impact on the cost; however, there are many other considerations to keep in mind during mobile app planning.
This post will take a deeper dive into the other cost considerations that many companies often don’t account for. How will you attract users to the app? Who will be involved in managing the app within your organization? How will the app be maintained and updated? There is a wide range of things you should be thinking about when you are budgeting that is instrumental for sustainable, long-term success.
Any discussion about the cost of developing an app needs to include marketing. Driving downloads, user acquisition, and user retention require a marketing budget. The app market is highly competitive; the chances of your app organically meeting your usage and/or revenue goals are slim.
Marketing a mobile app effectively involves defining a target audience, learning how to reach them, how to communicate with them, and analyzing their in-app behavior to make continuous improvements as users move through the acquisition funnel. Ultimately, the goal of a mobile app marketing strategy should be to acquire users that will not only drive repeat engagement but will also become loyal advocates for your product. Once you establish these goals, you need to ensure that you have a marketing budget that will help you achieve them.
To get a more in-depth idea of what is involved in planning a marketing strategy, and where exactly your funds will be placed at each stage of your marketing strategy we recommend you take a look at this article: A Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Mobile App.
App development doesn’t end after the initial launch of an app. It’s not uncommon for a mobile app to be considered “outdated” in 6-8 months if left unattended. Without recurring maintenance, rework, updates, and additions, the gap between customer needs and product value grows too wide to achieve business objectives, and with a market that’s so densely saturated, it’s very easy for customers to switch to higher-quality alternatives.
At a minimum, you need to plan for the cost of maintaining your app to fix bugs and meet system upgrade requirements. If you want sustained success, you need to have a longer-term product vision that accounts for user demands; roll out product improvements or new features, and remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market. While it’s rare for companies to nail this down in their initial budgeting plans, it’s prudent to forecast the 6 months, 1 year, and even 2-year costs associated with maintaining and improving your product.
For this reason, Clearbridge Mobile offers customized design thinking sessions that result in numerous deliverables including a product roadmap. A product roadmap addresses the now, next, and later of your mobile product, and creates a collective consensus for the direction of the product at each future stage of development. This will help businesses understand how much budget is required for maintenance as the product evolves.
Furthermore, if you choose to work with a vendor on your mobile app development project, you must ensure they have the means to provide the appropriate level of support necessary to continue capitalizing on opportunities for long-term growth, post-launch.
For the majority of mobile apps there are two options for building out the back-end:
Typically, building the back-end infrastructure from scratch is the most costly upfront and works to provide the best user experience. Using existing services will cost less but can hinder the overall mobile experience if they were not built specifically for mobile. The cost to develop an app that requires heavy back-end development is always going to be more than developing an app that doesn’t.
Below we break down backend components in more detail:
The backend infrastructure and services integrations make up the majority of mobile app development costs. Backend infrastructure handles actions that cannot be done on-device. This includes things like user authentication, business integrations such as booking appointments, any notifications, messages, and much more. Many app features and functionalities require communication with a backend server.
Numerous third-party services already exist for specific functions like push notifications, mobile app analytics, user authentication, and more. Depending on what kind of services you choose, there may be available APIs that can be leveraged for your app. While these add to development costs, they are cheaper than having to build from scratch.
Content Management Systems (CMS) provide configuration and content services – everything from app settings to menu details, images to text content, and more. A mobile CMS is important for mobile apps to ensure that your users are provided the optimal experience based on the unique needs and constraints of mobile content delivery.
While the cost of mobile app development is unique to each project, accounting for all factors that impact cost, and how they apply to your specific project can help you not only budget plan better, but get an idea of how much your project will cost. To get a complete view of the factors influencing project costs we recommend you download the Definitive Guide to Mobile App Development Costs Infographic.