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How Much Does It Cost to Create a Small Mobile App?

04.05.2021 Christina Kovalevich
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How Much Does It Cost to Create a Small Mobile App?

Many people are very excited about developing a small app, especially if they’ve just come up with a cool idea and want to share it with the world as soon as possible. The first question that comes to mind is often “How much does it cost to make a small app?” Everyone knows that app development requires a lot of effort from a team that includes not only programmers but also UX and UI designers, QA engineers, managers, and more.

We’re here to show you that the saying “you get what you pay for” is true—and that app size doesn’t always matter if you want your app to have time-consuming features, top-notch design, and the latest technologies.

Contents

What Apps Are Considered Small and Simple?

Two variables are involved in evaluating the complexity of an application: entities and features. The entities of a given mobile app are the data that make the app interesting for users—for example, cities in a weather forecast app or subjects in a timetable app. Features, on the contrary, represent what entities do and how they do it.

Small App Specifications

To arrive at a more detailed understanding of basic small apps, let’s briefly review their specifications.

    1. A simple app may only solve one specific problem. However, in order for your app to be really useful, it needs to be able to solve that problem easily and optimally.
Small App Solves One Problem
  1. They usually have five or fewer screens, so their structure should be planned very well.
  2. A small app typically doesn’t have a sophisticated custom design. The main goal of designing a small app is to make it convenient to use.
  3. It’s likely that such an app won’t be connected to a server or database, because implementing such functionalities is the most difficult part of app development.
  4. Usually, small apps are not the place to experiment with your tech stack. With small apps, proven technologies are your best friends, as they guarantee you excellent results.
  5. As a rule, small apps are monolingual. Internationalization and localization are not one-time tasks; they require a great deal of attention, resources, and effort. As such, it’s wise to avoid these time-consuming activities.

Small App Features

Let’s take a look at some features that may be included in simple applications.

  1. Call a phone number. For every smartphone, this is the most basic feature to include. The number should be stored and displayed in the app to allow the user to call it immediately.
  2. Start an email. For users who already have an email account registered on their smartphone, it’s easy to start a new email—for example, to provide feedback on the quality of the app.
  3. Open a web page. Since every smartphone today has a browser, opening a web page is instantaneous. This functionality is typically used to provide the user with more detailed information on a topic, such as a company’s privacy policy.
  4. Preferences. These are usually displayed in a small configuration pane that allows users to decide how they want to use the app (e.g., whether to see a temperature displayed in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius).
  5. List of entities. In the majority of mobile apps, users interact with various sets of information that describe the subject. For example, a person may be represented by their name, surname, and phone number.
  6. Sort entities. If the entities are simple (and in small apps, we expect them to be), sorting them is a straightforward task. This feature can help your users find what they need much faster.
  7. Basic search. This is another feature that makes users’ lives easier. Instead of scrolling for a long time, users can simply type in text to filter the items in order to find the information they need.

Examples of Simple Apps

  • Calendar
  • Scheduling for schools/universities with third-party APIs
  • Trackers, such as habit trackers, medication trackers, and mood trackers
  • To-do list apps
  • Notes
  • Camera
  • Photo filter
  • QR code scanner
  • Document scanner
  • Audio player
  • Voice recorder
  • Book reader
  • Menu
  • Calculator

Factors That Determine App Development Cost

When you start thinking about app development, you can’t know exactly how much it will cost you. The development team you turn to should analyze the requirements first. However, there are some aspects that you should consider before even starting the development process. The most significant factors that affect app development costs are as follows.

Features and Functionality

One of the most important factors that influences the cost of developing an app is what you want the app to do. For small apps, we suggest that you choose only one main function. The more things you want your app to do, the more difficult it will be to implement.

Apps such as those listed above can be created for a few thousand dollars. They are easy to develop because they are based on simple functions and technologies. However, as the level of complexity increases, so does the app’s cost. If your app requires online payments, real-time GPS tracking, or push notifications, for example, it will be more expensive to create.

Native vs. Cross-Platform

Native VS. Hybrid App Development

The next important decision is whether to make a cross-platform or native app, as these app types are priced differently.

A native app is a mobile app designed specifically for a particular platform (Swift for iOS or Java for Android), while cross-platform apps are essentially websites in a native wrapper. Both approaches have their pros and cons, so the discussion is still open.

Cross-platform apps are very attractive because of their quick time to market, single-source code, compatibility with web technologies, easy updating process, and lower initial costs. But in the long run, you risk spending a great deal of effort on endless fixes and improvements to user experience and performance.

At the same time, native apps offer more opportunities to access the device’s OS features (camera, GPS, contacts, etc.), better security, better performance, responsive UI, and seamless UX. Although they require a large initial investment, they’re likely to save you money in the long run.

Design

For small apps, it’s redundant to apply sophisticated custom designs with complex visual elements made from scratch. You’re better off paying attention to the app’s UX so that you can provide users with a convenient product that simplifies their daily tasks and doesn’t create new problems. From a visual point of view, it’s best to create a minimalistic but intuitive interface that complies with platform guidelines.

Software Development Team Structure and Location

Software Development Rates By Country

Let’s find out who the members of a software development team are.

  • Business Analyst: Gathers technical and business requirements, identifies the problem, analyzes the existing market, estimates the time needed, and writes project specifications.
  • UX/UI Designer: Analyzes similar apps, examines the target audience’s pains and tastes, creates sketches, and produces a final version of the design.
  • Mobile App Developer: Explores all the requirements, builds the app, and helps publish it to the store.
  • QA Engineer: Tests the app’s stability by performing various types of testing and checks every component, including design, to ensure that they comply with the specifications.
  • Project Manager: Coordinates the entire development team’s work and makes sure they meet all requirements and deadlines.

We don’t recommend that you remove any of these specialists from the team because, if each of them performs their tasks well, it will have a positive impact on the total project cost.

If your budget is tight, consider app development outsourcing to a region with cheaper hourly rates, including offshore (Asia) and nearshore (Eastern Europe and Latin America) regions. In comparison to onshore countries, their rates are often over three times cheaper.

Server or Serverless

Last but not least, you should decide whether your app will use a server. Apps that don’t use a server (called “serverless” apps) store their data on remote servers. They usually depend on remote servers for storage or connecting to an API.

On the other hand, server apps don’t store their data on third-party servers. They consist of the client side, which sends requests, and the server side, which responds to those requests. Once the user downloads the app to their device, everything that’s necessary is inside and ready to work. Although serverless apps may sound easier to develop, they can require more skills and significantly increase total costs.

In any case, there is always the option to develop an MVP (minimum viable product) for your app idea. It will contain only basic features, but they will be enough to set you in the right direction.

How to Determine Realistic App Development Prices

In most articles and app cost calculators, total prices can greatly differ from reality. This is because these quotes are calculated for a wide audience without taking into account the individual characteristics of each request. If you want to get an accurate estimate, follow the steps listed below.

Where To Find Realistic App Development Prices

1. Set goals.

List your goals. Choose the main category in which your app will be included and the main functionality that you consider essential. Be detailed! It might be obvious to you that the estimation should include the cost of creating both Android and iOS apps, but no one else will know until you mark these aspects.

2. Write a brief.

Any software development company can give you an approximate estimate of the project cost. To speed up this process, however, you need to provide them with the maximum amount of information possible. Don’t try to use terminology that you don’t know; describe everything in your own words as clearly as you can. Let the professionals work with specialized terms when writing documentation.

3. Find several potential developers.

You can either simply search for developers on Google or use specialized resources such as GoodFirms and Clutch to find companies by industry and see reviews and examples of their successful projects. Moreover, you can ask around for some recommendations. Maybe someone you know has already cooperated with a good software development company.

4. Send the brief to them.

You can use multiple means of communication simultaneously: send an email to their general email address, contact their sales department, write a message to their social network accounts, or even ask for a call over Skype or Zoom. It’s up to you to decide how to reach out. Remember to ask about more than just the price tag—ask them to examine your brief carefully, outline what they would add or remove, give you some details about the work process, and explain how you’ll work together.

5. Look at how they respond.

While numbers are your primary concern, you should also pay attention to how the developers communicate with you. Do they seem to care about your business? How long does it take them to answer? Do they try to offer the best solution within your budget? If the answer to even one of these is “no,” find someone else to work with.

6. Ask them for references with prices.

If you did well in stage three, you’ve already found companies with experience working on projects similar to yours. Don’t take them at their word; ask them to show you the apps they’ve developed for previous clients. If possible, try to contact some of those clients to confirm that they would recommend that developer.

7. Choose the best company.

By this stage, you probably have decided what company you are going to hire. Congratulations! But don’t forget to respond to other companies from your list and thank them for their time. Preparing a proposal for you could take a fairly long time, so they deserve a grateful response from you. This step also enables you to retain relationships with other vendors for subsequent projects or in case something goes wrong with your selected company.

Cost of Building a Small Mobile App

As mentioned before, the feature set influences the complexity and cost of the entire project. Some features may be simple and quick to implement, but others can take months. It depends on the instruments necessary to develop the feature: simple solutions require only standard tools and technologies.

Now let’s look at an approximate time and cost estimation for basic features for one platform.

Back End Development Time

Feature Efforts (man/hours)
Local Web Server Setup 6
Database layer implementation 20
Configuring frameworks 8
Sign up 16
Sign in 16
Search + filters 20
CRUD for messages 10
Uploading files 8
Calendar integration 25
CRUD for users 18
Bugfixing 21
Total Development Efforts 168

iOS Development Time

Feature Efforts (man/hours)
Environment setup 81
Sign in/ sign out 20
Registration 17
Retrieve password 6
Profile management:
—Change password 6
—Add photo 11
—Change info 7
—Project type 10
Team entity 14
Document filling by typing 65
API data 21
Sharing the document with someone 9
Sharing the access into the team 7
Calendar integration 27
Table spreadsheet 12
Bugfixing 47
Total Development Efforts 360

Total Development Time and Cost

Feature Efforts (man/hours)
Back-end 168
iOS 360
Business Analysis 100
QA Specialist 20
Project Management 81
Predicted Total Efforts (man/hours) 628
Predicted Project Cost $18 480

Creating a small mobile app for one platform will therefore cost you approximately $19,000. To obtain a detailed project cost estimation, contact our sales managers. They are always available and ready to discuss your ideas.

Conclusion

Here, we’ve given a detailed answer to your initial question: “How much does it cost to create a small mobile app?” As you can see, creating a simple mobile app doesn’t cost $1,000—it’s a complex process with multiple steps and aspects to keep in mind.

Our 17 years of experience show that the best approach is to treat the money that you spend on app development as an investment that is sure to pay off. It’s important to choose a reliable partner who will manage the development process from start to finish. You will therefore feel that your app is in good hands and have access to top-quality skills whenever the project needs them.

At VironIT, we are always ready to help you with any type of software development services. Just contact us at info@vironit.com to get a free consultation: tell us about your business idea, and we will estimate the cost of its implementation.

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