How much does it cost to make an app?

“How much does it cost to make an app?” As a developer, this is the most common question I am asked. This is like asking “How much does it cost to build a house?” Following the house analogy, are you looking for a mansion or a shack? Do you want a house made of straw, sticks, or brick? Do you want a custom home or a tract home? Just like a house, the variables in developing an app are endless.

Develop a Storyboard

The first place to start is defining what you want your app to do. I normally recommend our clients storyboard their app (the technical term is wireframe). The wireframe is like the blue print in the house analogy. The goal for developing a wireframe (or storyboard) is to capture functionality and flow. This is not the time to worry about the actual aesthetics yet. It’s important to start from the beginning though, when a user first launches your app. Think about what’s the first thing they will see? On the home screen, if they tap the first menu selection, what happens next? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Sketch.  When I wireframe, I personally use PowerPoint.  My wireframes are ugly but effective.  I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.  My general recommendation is to use a graphics program that your’e comfortable with.

Other Factors

Beyond the storyboard, other factors that will impact the development and cost are:

  • Integration to an existing backend / Development of backend: Most of the apps we develop now either need to talk to an existing backend or we have to create a backend to support the app.
  • Integration to third party vendors: A lot of features that typically used to be expensive to develop can now affordably be added by leveraging third party vendors. Examples are push notifications and mobile commerce.

In addition to the wireframe, if you’re app requires extensive integrations to third party vendors, you may need to put together an architectural diagram.

Getting a Quote

For the most part, a developer should be able to provide you a quote to develop your app based on your wireframe (and architectural diagram). You can find reputable U.S. based developers at thumbtack.com and theymakeapps.com.

You can also find freelancers and offshore teams at upwork.com and guru.com.  Just beware. I’ve talked to clients that have used developers from these sites and it’s a mixed bag. I’ve talked to a few people that have had good experiences and I’ve heard of some horror stories.

If you feel like your app concept is the next Uber, it’s okay to ask the developer for an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or to ask them to sign your NDA. When you go through this process, you’ll find a vast range for the quotes. My recommendation is to look at other when selecting a developer.

(Shameless plug – we also would, of course, be happy to provide a quote for your project. Just visit us at Apptology.com)

Alternatives

App development, like most technology has become commoditized to some extent. If you have little budget for app development, you may consider DIY (Do It Yourself) App services like ibuildapp.com or seattlecloud.com. There is also a middle ground where a developer can create a robust but cost effective solution based on templates. Apptology offers a cost effective app development solution using templates (called ReadyBuilt). Mobile Roadie is another developer that uses template. Apps based on templates are primarily used to promote a business or to provide content and are typically a fraction of the cost of developing apps from scratch.

Final Thoughts

My answer to the question, “How much does it cost to develop an app?” is “It depends.” If you are thinking about developing an app, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a storyboard or wireframe. This step will help you flush out your concept and greatly assist a developer in providing a solid quote for your app.

Tips for Apple App Store Marketing

appstoremarketingapptology

The app marketplace is highly profitable, highly competitive, and highly cluttered. Because of this, app developers absolutely need an app store marketing strategy to realize success in the app marketplace. Optimizing your application for success in the app marketplace should be a vital part of your overall app development strategy.

App Store Marketing Tips

According to a Statista worldwide mobile app revenue forecast, 41.1 Billion dollars in revenue was generated from mobile apps worldwide in 2015. This year, app revenue is on track to reach 50.9 Billion dollars. Even more astounding, 2020 is projected to see over 101.1 Billion dollars in mobile app revenue worldwide. With this continued rise in profitability, the app market will continue becoming cluttered with an influx of mobile applications. Here are some tips on developing a rock solid Apple App Store marketing strategy to ensure your app stands out:

Identify Your Advantage

Lay out your competitive advantage clearly and concisely. No one is going to read a long-winded statement about your app. They want to know exactly how the app is unique, what problem it solves, and how it improves on what’s already on the market.

Is the Price Right?

When pricing your app, find the sweet spot. You can decide between different pricing models depending on what kind of app you are looking to build. For example, some popular pricing models include flat price to download, in-app purchases, and in-app advertising. Charging to download is going to limit the amount of people who download your app since a free download is almost always more alluring to the user. In-app purchases allow the user to download the app for free and pay for upgrades within the application. The feasibility of this will vary depending on the nature of the application. In-app advertising is another popular pricing model. This model keeps the application free to the user in exchange for them viewing advertisements. Finding the right pricing model will depend on how you want users to interact with the application.

App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is very similar to its web-based counterpart strategy, SEO. ASO involves making sure that your app is showing up first for relevant keywords within the app store. Most users download an app after using the Apple App Store’s search feature. Therefore, your app will get lost in the marketplace if it isn’t showing up for related keyword phrases. A successful ASO strategy requires:

A common-sense title: According to app development company Enola Labs:

People sometimes forget just how important choosing the right title really is. For one, your app title will give you the heaviest search traffic. Second, you don’t want to have to change your title; It’s extra work, updates take time for Apple to process and most importantly it hurts any progress you’ve made in any initial marketing efforts.”

So, don’t get too creative with your app title. The title should be searchable and include the targeted keyword.

Bullet point features: Quick, important details about your application that will help the user decide if they want to download it or not.

Relevant keywords:  Because relevant keywords are so important, be sure to include specific keywords that relate to your application and its functionality.

High-Quality Screenshots: These help the user “experience” the application before deciding to download.

Your Marketing Strategy Will Evolve

Most of all, it is important to note that the app store is still very young and will continue to evolve. Therefore, your app store marketing strategy needs to continue to evolve right alongside it.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.