How to lower the cost of mobile app development? 12 money-saving tips

Mobile app development is not a cheap process. Nevertheless, when you are starting an app-related campaign, you would like to spend your money wisely. Unnecessary expenses are the last thing you need. For this reason, we wanted to give you some tips on how to limit the cost of mobile app development. We must warn you though that they aren’t about choosing the cheapest option but making smart choices that will eventually help you save money. Interested? Then let’s begin!

What should you know about mobile app development beforehand?

When you look at some mobile apps, they might seem plain and simple. However, they often result from loads of work done by mobile app developers and mobile app designers. These solutions are usually the combination of mobile app testing, development, design, marketing, and numerous other domains of a product development cycle that has made them successful. Not to mention that a software project requires technical support after implementation and is often further developed with new functionalities. It means that such projects often last a long period of time and cost much. Another thing is that they often require you to participate. But what exactly can you expect?

The cost of mobile app development

The costs of developing a mobile solution depend on several factors: the app complexity, the technology applied, the user base, the involvement of mobile app designers, etc. If you are interested in details like a mobile app development cost breakdown, make sure you read our previous article about the cost of mobile app development. Here, we will only mention that the general cost of developing an app will result from your needs and choices. It’s worth noting that some needs can be met in various ways while certain choices aren’t essential for starters. When you make careful and data-based moves, you can save quite a lot.

Mobile app idea clarification in questions: 
1. What problems does your mobile app solve?
2. Does it have to solve every problem rather than solving the most crucial ones?
3. How does your mobile app stand out in the crowd?
4. What do potential users think of your mobile app?
5. What kind of features should your mobile app have?
6. How much money can you spend on mobile app development?
7. How much time can you spend on mobile app development?
8. Will you take care of the app after its release or end the project and cooperation?
9. Is your mobile app part of a bigger plan or the plan itself?
10. How are you going to make money from your app?

Looking for mobile app developers

There are many mobile app development companies or even freelancers on the market. They offer various custom mobile app development services whose extent differs from case to case. Your goal here is to find the right entity to suggest the most optimal solutions for your project. In fact, it is the only way of getting the desired results within your budget. If you need some help with looking for mobile app developers that can suit your needs, we can recommend reading our previous article on finding a good custom mobile development company. We will also discuss this matter later as well. For now, you should remember that your mobile app developer can make your project fly or drown depending on the right choice.

Your engagement in the project

As we mentioned before, mobile app development is a lengthy process. There are many elements to consider so that the final product works as you want. Therefore, your cooperation with the mobile app development company should go far beyond you stating requirements and collecting the completed app. Unless, of course, you don’t mind things going against your wishes. Your involvement with the project is a must. Don’t worry, we will tell you how you can achieve this and make the mobile app for your business successful while enabling yourself to lower the cost of mobile app development.

Payments after product release

You might think that once your mobile app designers and mobile app developers have finished their jobs with releasing your app, you are done with payments. You still should invest in application support and maintenance as well as regular app upgrades to keep the mobile app for your business running. Nevertheless, if you spend some time with your mobile app development company to make the right choices at the planning stage, you might save a fortune on those payments. You will find many good ideas on that below.

How can you decrease the cost of mobile app development?

Since you understand the basics of mobile app development, it’s time to consider the actual money-saving tips. We must warn you that not all of them might apply to your specific case. What is more, cutting costs doesn’t mean going for the cheapest option. Sometimes the best solution is to pay more to avoid greater future expenses or hassle. Lastly, to successfully navigate the situation, you should gain some technical knowledge about the online mobile app development process. Luckily, we have provided many tips you need to diminish the cost of mobile app development while creating and managing your digital solution. Let’s see how it’s done!

1. Know what you want

It might come as a surprise, but a large part of the mobile app designers’ and mobile app developers’ work is collecting clients’ requirements. Companies often have a vague vision of what they want to accomplish. In extreme situations, they can provide arguments like “We need an app like X” or “Everyone is getting an app, we want one too”. Nevertheless, these ideas don’t always translate into any intelligible mobile app design.

Try to think about the mobile app for your business in the context of your entire app strategy. What purpose does it serve? Where is it placed in your sales funnel? Is it your main sales channel or just an addition to one? You can also analyze more technical aspects of your app: the target operating systems, creating personal profiles, providing reviews, or payment methods. Even such details as graphics and company branding matter.

Your role in this part is to specify your requirements, determine the vision of the app, and perhaps provide a roadmap for the online mobile app development process. The more information you provide at the start, the less time the mobile app development agency will spend gathering them. Maybe you won’t even need any mobile app design workshops (and thus save money on them).

When examining your future app options, try to follow the actions of your competition. They may have an app strategy in place for you to notice. You can also download their solution. How does it look? What does it do? What are its key functionalities? Such an investigation may not only clarify your requirements about the app but also inspire you to implement some additional solutions. If you are thorough in your search, you can save a lot of time on top of money savings. This will also bring the benefits of better app ideas and strategies.

Mobile app development cost lowering - a quotation by Łukasz Czerwiński: "We never wanted to be the cheapest mobile app development company. "Cheap" often means "low quality", especially in software development where we need people with special skills and hundreds of working hours. Instead, our ambition is to carry out projects as fast and best as we can. We also want to take good care of our customers to ensure that they fulfill their business aims. This approach helped us form many valuable partnerships and earned us a reputation of a company that carries out the work from top to bottom."

2. Take part in the project

When launching an online mobile app development project, you must set aside some time of your own. The mobile app development company will need your guidance on various points, so you must stay in contact with them until the project completion or even longer. Sometimes the situation will even require daily calls. You should be prepared for that. It is so because there are too many variables that might influence the direction in which your project goes. What is more, the software house can have some good suggestions to improve the look or feel of the app. In such cases, be ready for valuable discussions about product quality. That’s why you should actively participate in the app creation process to reach the desired destination.

It might be difficult for you to match your schedule with the activities of your mobile app developer. For this reason, you should delegate the responsibility and appoint a specific contact person. Such an employee will deal with your mobile app development agency and present you with the results or requests in a condensed form. Your main goal here will be to make key decisions about the direction of the project. The rest will lie with the contact person who will focus on minor issues.

Deviniti’s case

One of our clients decided to follow our idea and got deeply involved in the project. Its company’s employees attended our daily meetings where our developers informed them about the stage of the project and the progress. The employees had an opportunity to express their opinions and provide suggestions on the directions for building the app. As a result, the app turned out much better than the client has ever expected. Our close cooperation allowed us to avoid expensive misunderstandings. It also paved the way for the smooth progress of work while helping with keeping the cost of mobile app development at a reasonable level.

3. Choose a cross-platform app

Choosing the right platform for your solution demands careful analysis. If you want to go for both mobile operating systems (iOS and Android), you must build two different applications. Each of them requires separate talents, extra time, money, etc. Why not “hack the system” and develop a mobile app for your business using cross-platform technology? Cross-platform applications can work equally well on all operating systems. They are also faster and cheaper in development.

Some people might complain about the performance of cross-platform apps. Perhaps certain solutions are not the most elaborate in comparison to native apps or hybrid apps. To be specific, not very popular or not developed intensively technologies carry the risk of having the cross-platform framework terminated. This has a negative impact on costs because you are forced to rewrite the app again. Therefore, it is better to choose popular and widely used solutions that guarantee easier building of a project team as well as long-term and simple maintenance while being present on the market. This might work just fine when money is an issue, and you want to expand your audience at the expense of some bells and whistles available for native app development or hybrid app development.

Cross-platform apps such as Flutter apps offer so many options that should be more than enough for you. Especially since such apps are viewed as a serious business alternative. They serve many tycoons, including Google, Alibaba Group, Groupon, and eBay Motors. If you want to benefit from them as well, start looking for a cross-platform mobile app development company. You can also read more about famous cross-platform apps as well as Deviniti’s work in our article about top Flutter app features.

Deviniti’s case

We once had a client who wanted to rebuild their mobile application from scratch. They only had an Android version of the app, but they also wanted an iOS solution as well. If they had gone for native development, they would have been forced to create two independent applications. This meant paying three times for the same result. Thanks to applying the Flutter framework, they received an app fully supporting the Android as well as the iOS operating system. Flutter is cheaper by nature, so we could say that they paid only 1,5 times more for redesigning a versatile app rather than spending 3 times more.

4. Go for an MVP

Imagine that you need to release an app as quickly as possible, but you don’t have the budget for that. In this situation, you might want to ask your mobile app developer to build a minimum viable product (MVP). This is the most basic version of your app aimed at testing your app ideas. What is more, the solution allows you to generate its first revenue (thus proving whether it can achieve this goal). When your MVP becomes successful, it will be a signal for further online mobile app development.

You might not be the happiest with the initial mobile app design quality. Nevertheless, if the product brings the desired results, you should bear with it. That is until you earn enough money to ask your mobile app developer for more elaborate features. After reading the previous point, you might conclude that the cheapest possibility is a cross-platform MVP. And you are right – such products can be created in an inexpensive and fast way, e.g., thanks to Flutter development. If you decide on looking for mobile app developers experienced with Flutter, we recommend reading our article on finding a good Flutter app development company.

5. Focus on core features

Since we are covering simplifying things, we should also discuss your product features and mobile app design. In short, the crucial elements always come first. When money is an issue, focus on the app must-haves rather than should-haves or nice-to-haves. Your users are most likely after the app’s core functionality, so you don’t want to disappoint them at the very start. Even if the first version of your application is hideous or can’t do much, it should deliver the promised value.

For instance, when designing an app for the industrial sector, you can focus on practical abilities while sacrificing the GUI. On the other hand, the mobile app design for the e-commerce sector must provide a pleasant UI and UX. In exchange, you can get rid of some planned fancy features for the time being. Any extended forms of online mobile app development can wait for fat years.

Mobile app features - must-haves vs. nice-to-haves.
The must-haves include: clear interface, easy navigation, simple registration, fast processing, flawless integrations, at least one payment option, base security.
The nice-to-haves include: fully responsive screen, integrated chat/support functions, search option, push notifications, in-app reviews and comments, various color schemes (e.g. dark mode), extended security with biometric support, other...
The chart presents examples of standard core app features (not all of them might apply in your app’s case) in comparison to the non-essential ones.

6. Establish a long-term plan

You might have an idea about developing a mobile app for your business, but can it actually work in the long run? After you have added the aforesaid core features, you might be willing to approach adding more features in a calculating way. Some of them have a higher priority than others. To makes matters more interesting, the already existing features, including the core ones, might become irrelevant over time. Such features generate unnecessary losses by wasting your mobile app development firm’s time (and your money). What can you do about it then?

The best course of action is to have a long-term plan. Instead of adding all secondary functionalities at once, introduce them one by one and test them in detail. The analysis results will tell you how practical a specific functionality is and whether it brings profit or not. Eliminate the useless ones and invest the mobile app developers’ time (and your money again) into more lucrative activities. Remember though that some unprofitable functionalities bring indirect benefits by working in conjunction with the useful ones. Make sure you don’t start a domino effect by accidentally removing the silent helpers.

Another aspect is post-release mobile app development services such as support and maintenance or upgrades. We will discuss this further on. For now, you should know that these also cost, so you better have a sensible plan for getting such services. Otherwise, you will waste your money either by spending time looking for such services or paying for them several times if your provider doesn’t deliver them correctly. Not to mention the situation when you don’t get them at all and your mobile app stops working. That’s why you need a firm plan that will guide you through all these stages.

Deviniti’s case

We get a variety of clients. Some of them want to get one thing, and they are ready to go on. Others prefer to stay with us for a while. We always support the idea of thinking ahead and establishing a partnership. Especially since some projects require much more than just developing an app. Luckily for the second group of clients, we are prepared to deal with all pre-development and post-release activities. We can continue our cooperation for months or years to come. As a result, our clients can save a lot of time and money on searching for a new provider or unproductive endeavors. We are always willing to suggest what should be done.

7. Find a suitable mobile app development company

There are several approaches to the app development process. Some companies have an in-house mobile app development team, while others prefer local mobile app development agencies. Nevertheless, both approaches force you to rely on resources that are close by. You can always try hiring independent individual developers (freelancers) to get the job done. Nevertheless, cooperating with them carries certain risks. For instance, if anything happens to them, you will end up with an unfinished app or worse. 

The most cost-efficient and safe strategy is finding a capable mobile app development agency that can successfully deliver your app. You don’t have to limit yourself to local custom mobile development companies, especially since companies operating in other world regions offer more competitive mobile app development prices and conditions. For instance, Accelerance informs that the average hourly rates of US software development specialists range from USD 49 to USD 210. And remember that this is the money paid to the developers only – you have to add the costs of hiring. In the meantime, Central European hourly rates start at USD 21 while ending at USD 118. Countries such as Poland are good destinations for getting the mobile app for your business done. They offer highly qualified specialists as well as fluent communication in English.

Mobile app development cost lowering - a quotation by Bartłomiej Słabosz: "Cooperating with larger software houses gives you the benefit of having many talents under one roof. This brings us further advantages. Firstly, they have a greater collective experience, so they will know how to handle even the most unusual parts of your project. Secondly, they can provide better and well-tested ideas. Thirdly, they offer a wider range of services for every aspect of your digital solution. Lastly, in case of any emergencies, absences, or sick leaves, they can still carry out the creation of your app, thus generating little to no risk of costly delays."

Remember that a good custom mobile development company is not always the cheapest one. The trick here is that even if you pay more for effective mobile application development, you can still save money. It is because doing things right the first time brings a lower cost of mobile app development than doing them wrong and then correcting them. Luckily for you, many foreign mobile app developers like Deviniti focus primarily on mobile app quality. As a result, you will get your desired solution without worrying about spending too much on corrective measures.

Deviniti’s case

As a large IT company, we have the capacity to provide proper analytics, UX/UI design, or post-implementation support. What is more, in case of an emergency, we can provide a replacement for absent developers. To make things even better, we deliver documentation as well as self-descriptive source codes that follow the best standards. Such services would be difficult to acquire independently, but we supply the whole package to make sure our clients receive all the things they might ever need now and in the future.

8. Get the right comprehensive services

As you already know, creating an app is not limited to writing the code itself. It can often include additional options that go beyond standard custom mobile app development services. These include business analyses, UI/UX design services, application support and maintenance, etc. Not all mobile app developers offer these services in a package. Your goal is to find a company that does.

Searching for different mobile app designers or developers to take care of different application aspects is time-consuming. Even if you manage to find the cheapest custom mobile app development services individually, you will spend more time on logistics such as signing individual contracts, communication, etc. This means you will end up investing more money in this complicated process. To make things worse, any mistakes on the way will cost you even more. Therefore, the best strategy is to have a mobile app developer that will deal with all your app needs.

The money-saving strategy behind having a single mobile app developer is based on lower risk costs, concentrated responsibility, and the absence of synchronization. It means that you won’t have to waste your time connecting with various mobile app developers or looking for the guilty party in case of any faults. The mobile app development agency of your choice will have the sole task of completing your application from top to bottom and delivering it in perfect form.

9. Get the right additional services

A similar situation to the aforesaid one applies to additional custom mobile app development services as well. These options might include creating an entirely new feature, connecting the app to CMSs or CRMs, preparing the backend system, or extra customization. These services can go outside the scope of abilities of a single custom mobile development company. Nevertheless, try to find one that has such additional custom mobile app development services in their offer. By doing so, you will save a tremendous amount on looking for more mobile app developers and making them work together.

Deviniti’s case

We often had clients who were looking for additional custom mobile app development services. That’s why we started offering them. It is better for both parties when the client doesn’t have to worry about finding someone else and the provider isn’t afraid of losing clients. Thanks to working on such additional services, we established certain partnerships. We also have a reputation for being a one-stop shop where businesses can get all their software development services as well as related services done in bulk.

10. Focus on the majority

When you consider your target audience, concentrate on the most popular operating systems and devices. Unless you work with a very specific market niche, you can easily tap into what your potential clients already have. Spending money on developing mobile apps compatible with uncommon operating systems or devices seems unwise at the start of your project. Instead, go with what most of your clients choose.

Another perk of this approach is that you won’t have trouble when looking for mobile app developers that can deal with building your solution. The mobile app design or development of uncommon products can seriously increase costs. The principle of scarcity says that unique products or services get a higher price. When focusing on the common, you not only keep the costs reasonable but also widen the selection of mobile app developers capable of building your product.

Deviniti’s case

There are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, we had a client that targeted only users from a specific age group using only one type of device with a particular operating system. Their application was a success despite very narrow targeting. Nevertheless, their case was backed by sufficient research. Even if you don’t focus on such small groups, it’s a good idea to profile your customers to know who the majority of your users are. Otherwise, you might be aiming at the wrong audience. The costs for that can be high, from developing a separate app to paying for placing your solution in a specific app store.

11. Take advantage of ready-to-use libraries

Some people say that originality is based on a new arrangement of already existing elements. Even Jim Rohn, a famous self-development coach, said, “[t]here are only 3 colors, 10 digits, and 7 notes; it’s what we do with them that’s important.” You might be making an original app, but it doesn’t mean that every single part must be unique. The good thing about programming is that you can often find app components for free. After all, your mobile app developers don’t have to hard-code every switch or button from scratch. There are also companies that have their own reusable components that can be customized to fit many apps.

Mobile app development cost lowering - a quotation by Kamil Zając: "One of the basic business rules is "don't reinvent the wheel." Software houses often have rich libraries of application components that can support the development of your own solution. These components are immediately available and carry no risk of copyright infringements. With the right combination of libraries, you can have your project done much faster and cheaper in comparison to building everything piece by piece. Applying some standard options doesn't mean your application won't be unique. This can provide additional intuitiveness to the table."

When talking to your mobile app development agency, ask if they use public libraries or if they have their own libraries available for the technology used to develop your mobile app. The company should present a list or catalog of premade elements that you can choose from. Taking into account the multitude of elements in the case of some mobile development frameworks, you should have a wide variety of options. Moreover, the mobile app developers will have less work with your project, so you can get a better price.

Deviniti’s case

Sometimes you can take advantage of the things that have already been developed. One of our clients decided to use the layout of one application in another. This choice had no effect on UX since the two apps were completely unrelated. Nevertheless, the idea allowed to cut the cost of mobile app development while greatly shortening the development time. Besides, using an already applied layout can save quite an amount in the later stages as well. The reason behind this is that a once-used layout has already been tested and proven successful, so it won’t need any redesigns due to faults.

12. Prepare a good architecture

There are several ways in which a mobile application can be written. Some of them are beneficial while others will make you spend money unnecessarily. When you are discussing your future app with mobile app developers, make sure you mention the architecture. You may not be an expert on the matter, so we’ll provide you with the essentials that you need to hear from your software house.

Firstly, let’s go through the criteria relevant to the present. The mobile app architecture should be designed in such a way that guarantees reliability, security, and scalability. In simple words, the app should be safe and secure, working fine, and capable of handling multiple users at a time. Another crucial factor is testability. The rule of thumb here is that a perfectly testable architecture is also good architecture. Any testability limitations might stand for useless system complications or potential bug sources.

Secondly, most good architecture features relate to the future. After all, you can’t expect your app to work or remain popular in an unchanged form. These features include understandability and expandability. Understandability means that the mobile app architecture is clear to any developer that must deal with it. This element is critical for bug fixing or introducing any alterations. Expandability is the option of easily adding new features or major modifications to your application. If these two criteria are met, you can be sure that future application support and maintenance costs and app upgrade costs will be relatively low.

Deviniti’s case

We have a very interesting client that announced upgrades to its mobile app barely after it had been released. That is because their solution is meant for retail customers, and the trends among those change rapidly. We created an application architecture that would immediately support adding new features. As a result, our client can count on massive savings when it comes to upgrading their app in the future. What is more, the app architecture is very stable, so the company is free from costly bug fixes or any other misfortunes that might impair its revenue.

Mobile app development cost lowering tips summary:
1. Know what you want
2. Take part in the project
3. Choose a cross-platform app
4. Go for an MVP
5. Focus on core features
6. Establish a long-term plan
7. Find a suitable mobile app development company
8. Get the right comprehensive services
9. Get the right additional services
10. Focus on the majority
11. Take advantage of ready-to-use libraries
12. Prepare a good architecture

Save wisely!

As some final remarks, we would like to remind you that saving on mobile app development doesn’t mean building it in the cheapest way possible. Like with most services, playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the initial parts of the project can have catastrophic consequences in the future. Our goal was to give you the tools to develop an efficient mobile application without ruining your budget. Sometimes it’s better to pay more upfront than pay even more later on. Your task is to find a company that is focused on delivering good value for money. If you manage to find one, make sure you hold onto it!

In need of cost-efficient mobile development services

We know our ways to deliver good value for money. You can get a perfectly working app along with all accompanying services for a reasonable price. Don’t let a small budget discourage you, view our offer and discover what we can do to make your app fly!

Dominik Letner

Content Specialist experienced in many business and technical fields. I am a fan of digital marketing in general, with a soft spot for content marketing. You can find my articles, translations, and even short stories in many different places. My hobbies include playing video games, reading fantasy/sci-fi books, and mountain hiking.

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