Thursday, December 11, 2014

How much does it cost to develop a mobile App? 



I am often asked how much it costs to create a mobile app solution. So I decided to write about how I approach the question. 

What features are mandatory? 
I steer the conversation to what I term the “Minimal Viable Product”. That is, what features are mandatory for the product to be a success in the near term (i.e. within 6 months). Since time to market is critically important for an app, it is important to get the Minimal Viable Product in customers’ hands and gain feedback to evolve the product. Often the discussion gets really interesting. Some of the original items talked about are immediately dropped and others that were not initially considered rise to the forefront. A common problem is “feature creep”, which is important to control throughout every phase of the development effort. Often users want to employ features found in their favorite apps even if not needed in the app under discussion.Ultimately with enough patience we arrive at a set of features that frames the core of the product.  

How will users interact with the app? 
Building upon this collection of features we progress to user interaction with the app. I found making a simple sketch on a white board for each screen and type of use, is very helpful.    The results can easily be documented via digital picture.  I also use tablet drawing tools and prototyping software. Neither is as fast or as simple as the white board.  

Does the app need external data? 
Typical custom business apps require a “cloud” based server portal. Often a portal exists but we need to understand the portal API to send andreceive data. Usually not a big deal, but it is very important to scope this out ahead of time. You may find the portal’s API is not as rich and doesn’t provide the support that the app requires. Who is going to be responsible for the necessary customization?  Sometimes we need to create a new portal. Obviously this is a bigger deal and beyond the scope of this post ... more on this in a 
future blog. 

Which platform(s) to support? 
It used to be important to determine a specific platform to support, i.e. Android, iOS, Microsoft or Blackberry, assuming there is a dominant platform.  Modern apps must be targeted to a minimum of the Android and iOS platforms.  Right away a decision must be made regarding using Cross Development Platform tools or native app development tools ... more on this in a future blog. 

The answer is not long, but it requires intensive discussions up front. Now you can answer the question,  “How much does it cost to develop 

a mobile App?

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