So you’ve decided that you need a mobile app. Your business has reached the point where a mobile solution can take you to the next level, and you’re looking forward to the possibilities that a fully functional mobile app can afford you. You might be coming from a start-up, small business, or massive enterprise, but your target is the same- a product which functions to develop your business.
However, you don’t have quite the right in-house capabilities for such an undertaking. Proper mobile app development is a complex process, and requires a full-fledged team of experts. In today’s day and age, it is often the better choice to find an established company to do this development rather than going through the effort of finding the right individuals for an in-house team, especially if you are looking for your first app. A company, as opposed to an assortment of freelancers, already has established processes for working together efficiently and can provide a broader range of services and support.
So then, how to start your search?
Know the requirements of your app.
This might seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people come to an app company with a vague idea of what they want. Before you go to an app company with your proposal, make sure you have a clear idea of:
- The goals of the app
- What features and functions are necessary
- How the app will fit into your business model
- How the app will interact with your other software
If you don’t have the precise answers to each of these points, don’t worry- a good mobile app team will be able to not only discuss your ideas and guide you through the steps to implementing them in an app, but suggest ideas that can make the app better suited to your goals based on their experience and market knowledge. At Redmadrobot, for example, our first step of development is discussing such information with the client, and our team of business analysts will create function lists and mind maps which outline both what the app will do and how users will interact with it. It is vital that both parties have a clear understanding of the scope of the project from the start.
Establish your budget
Once you have identified the purpose and function of your app, you need to define how much money you need to realize your goal. The best way to set a budget is to speak to mobile app development experts, as there are no definitive guidelines for how much a particular feature will cost- it all depends on the context in which it is used.
Searching through the internet will give you different estimates based on the size of the app and the quality of the developer, but here are some rough industry estimates:
- A simple quality app starts around $25,000
- A fully-functional business app costs from $90,000-$210,000
- Multi-platform apps with significant backend range from $250,000-$1,000,000
As these are average figures, they represent the cost from mid-sized, dedicated Western app agencies.
Know which kind of agency to target
Knowing which kind of mobile development agency to target is just as important as knowing your budget range, as choosing the right kind of agency will give you much greater budget flexibility.
The size of the developer is a critical factor to consider; as a general rule of thumb, the larger the firm, the larger the price. App quality follows this relationship as well, but it is more nuanced. The difference in quality between a $500,000 and a $300,000 app is proportionally much less than the difference between a $50,000 and a $150,000.
Working with small developers, while it may seem cheaper at first, may end up costing more in the long run. As they have less expertise, smaller companies are likely to make more mistakes which you will need to pay someone else to fix. Additionally, smaller companies are less likely to give you an accurate estimate initially, and it is common for an inexperienced team to run over budget. Larger companies are better equipped to ensure quality and adhere to an initial budget, but many huge firms have a lot of overhead which drives the cost up- a good balance is to go with a medium sized (50–200 people) dedicated mobile app developer. Of course, every project demands its own kind of development, so make sure you choose the most appropriate developer for the job at hand.
Location is another critical factor in comparing mobile app developers, which are located all over the world. Instant communication allows you to speak with managers and see the current status of projects no matter the location. Firms in the US, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia are the most expensive, while India and SE Asia offer the lowest prices. Again, finding a good compromise between price and quality lies in the middle, which is mostly companies from Eastern Europe.
Start to contact mobile app development companies
Once you have a better idea of what your app will look like, how much you want to spend, and which kind of company to target, it is time to make a long list of companies which fit your profile. The best place to start looking are sites which host profiles of app developers, including descriptions of their capabilities and reviews of their past work. Examples include Clutch, App Futura, and GoodFirms, and sites which host freelance profiles such as ELance and UpWork. There are several factors to consider when comparing mobile app development companies, which will be outlined later.
Once you have your list, you can begin contacting the companies with a description of your app. This initial conversation will allow you to understand which companies are a good fit for you and which are interested in your type of project. Questions you should ask include:
- How much time development will take
- How much effort a project will require, in man-hours
- The approximate cost of the project
The answers provided by these questions will allow you to make a short-list of companies to compare. Further discussions with them will allow you to pinpoint the best match for you. Happy searching!