The mobile app economy is growing every year. According to statistics from Global Digital, in 2021, people worldwide will spend about $170 billion on mobile apps and in-app purchases. Therefore, more and more business owners are getting their own smartphone apps. Due to the high competition in the mobile app market, not all of them are gaining popularity.
For a successful launch, it is important to create an app that is really useful and needed by the consumer. But the cost of staffing a permanent development department is not rational. Why would a small company producing printed cushions need a whole staff of IT specialists? In their case, ordering a project in a development studio will be much more profitable. In this article, let’s talk in detail about the services of hired programmers and the creation of mobile add-ons.
Why Apps Are Becoming an Integral Part of Business
According to statistics, every active smartphone user spends an average of five hours daily on their gadget. Most of this time is spent on installed apps. Therefore, custom mobile app development is a great option for attracting the target audience.
Global market research by Criteo says that the number of sales in apps is four times higher than on websites. Therefore, business owners are increasingly working with their audience on different communication channels. This helps generate revenue from multiple sources and allows them to keep their company in front of potential consumers.
Creating mobile add-ons allows you to present your brand on yet new platforms and accordingly attract new customers. Also, a convenient and easy-to-use app can increase customer loyalty.
How To Understand Whether You Need a Mobile Program
Every entrepreneur has certain goals for the development of their business. To ensure that an app will only bring them closer to realization, analyze a few questions.
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then it’s time to turn your idea into reality and look for performers.
Some entrepreneurs use ready-made platforms to not miss their chance and quickly get a program on their smartphones. Alas, not all these platforms are the right solution for this or that business. As a consequence, there is a need to start from scratch and spend time and money from the budget again. You can avoid such a scenario by using custom mobile app development services.
What Is Included in the Development Services?
Many firms practice creating and managing a turnkey project. In this case, the package of services for mobile application development contains the following items:
- The task analysis, the competitive environment, a complete project study, and the search for optimal IT solutions.
- Preparation of the concept, terms of reference, and design solutions.
- Development of future application functionality.
- Testing, bug fixes, and re-tests.
- Implementation of the application demo version.
- Maintenance and further support.
- Publication in app stores and the collection of analytics.
You can apply to development companies not only with a request to create a project from scratch but also to help implement individual functions.
Ways To Create Mobile Apps
To fully understand what kind of development you need, consider in detail the features of projects for different operating systems. We distinguish two ways:
- Native, when the program is written in a language suitable for a particular operating system.
Mobile hybrid add-ons are an option that removes the app’s language choice issue. A cross-platform project also has a low development cost, but it has its drawbacks. The app may respond to the user with delays or be slow to perform its functions.
Native development has no performance issues and is characterized by fast response times. Custom Android app development is most often done in Java. But a new language, Kotlin, has recently gained popularity.
Custom iOS app development requires knowledge of Objective C. It is also needed to support old programs. And to write new ones, more and more programmers are switching to the Swift language.
Note that if you need to maximize the derivation of your app, you can use the C++ language. It is also sometimes used to write apps for both operating systems.
How To Hire Specialists and Minimize Costs
To save money, you can turn to freelancers. But creating an effective app requires a whole staff of workers. Hiring a separate person for each step can be challenging to find and communicate with. In the course of the work, constant coordination is necessary, both between the specialists and with the customer themselves. In addition, there is the risk of encountering a freelancer who will refuse to cooperate in the middle of the project or will not perform some of their tasks. In such a case, not only money but also time is lost.
If you hire a team, a full package of services to create a simple program from scratch will cost $3,000 to $4,000. In this case, the development studio will deliver a typical project in a month. Freelancers will need about 2 months for this. In addition, the cost of their services depends not only on their skills but also on their geographical location. Thus, a specialist from Eastern Europe will take an hour of work on a mobile add-on starting at $30. An American programmer with the same knowledge will charge twice as much.
On this basis, many entrepreneurs prefer an already cohesive hired team. Although more expensive, cooperation with an outsourcing company is much more reliable.
Cooperation under contract: types, strengths, and weaknesses
The signing of the contract is intended to secure both the customer and the hired workers. Fruitful cooperation is built on transparent conditions and mutual understanding. That is why introductory meetings and briefs are held first. The main ideas, product requirements, technology stacks, deadlines, and other details are discussed during discussions. Then a contract is drawn up and signed.
Development companies practice cooperation under several types of contracts:
- Fixed-price contract. Used for standard and simple projects.
Advantages: based on your requirements, you get a fixed time frame for the completion of the project and its cost. Accepting the work in stages is recommended so you can adjust the development in time.
Disadvantages: if you make significant changes in the product concept, the set of technologies changes, which incurs additional costs.
- Pay-as-you-go contract. Cooperation under this model allows you to hire separate specialists for each stage and prescribe their services’ costs.
Advantages: the volume of work is not fixed in advance. It is also possible to make changes to the project at any stage. Payment is made only on the completion of each sprint.
Disadvantages: the final amount may exceed your expectations due to introducing new ideas.
- Subscription agreement. Most often used when hiring an individual specialist to solve simple tasks or optimize processes within the company.
Advantages: possibility to assign any task within the competence of the employee.
Disadvantages: if a hired employee’s workload is incomplete, there is an overpayment for their services.
The signed contract is a reliable support for both parties. The customer receives a full-fledged product, which will enter the market under the responsive guidance of professionals. Developers have guarantees that their work will be rewarded per the work performed.
It’s interesting: read an article about the cost of real estate app development.
5 Main Expense Items When Developing a Mobile App
Let’s talk about what the process of custom mobile application development consists of and why you can’t skimp on these steps.
Terms of Reference
Once you have found the performers and gotten to know them, you need to outline the main goals and objectives of the future project. Everything you want to see in your app should be spelled out in terms of reference (TOR). A well-crafted document will help your team understand more clearly what you expect from them.
The primary purposes of writing the TOR:
- Explain the functionality of the app.
- Systematize the information about it.
- Arrange all the requirements for the mobile app.
- To spell out the issues and problems that may arise between the customer and the executors.
The project documentation is divided into logical blocks:
- introductory – general goals, purposes, and objectives;
- main – the functional requirements and technical preferences;
- final – the deadline for completion.
The terms of reference is a direct guide to action for specialists. The clearer it is, the faster they “grab” your idea and go in the right direction. Trying to write it yourself, not having enough knowledge in this industry, means putting the whole project at risk.
You can easily and simply state your thoughts, ideas, and wishes in the language of your own business. Still, converting them into technically understandable instructions can be very difficult. That is why technical writers and analysts are brought in to write competent and readable TOR. This is the best option for those far from IT terminology who want to convey their ideas clearly.
Specialists get to work when the terms of reference have been created and agreed upon by both parties. Ordering a prototype is not always a prerequisite. But it is essential to understand that creating a program for a smartphone is not a process that can be “rewound” and started all over again without incurring any additional costs.
The prototyping stage helps to avoid huge costs in case of mistakes or miscalculations in work, as well as to finally eliminate all possible misunderstandings.
Prototyping means creating an app layout with a prescribed structure, interface, and features. Custom mobile app development company pays special attention to this stage. After all, the main task of the layout is to show you what the project will ultimately look like.
In theory, this stage looks simple enough. Specialists make a layout and make a preliminary version of the design. Then they show you their work. If the prototype is approved, it is handed over to the designers and programmers. In practice, however, everything is much more complicated. To orient ourselves in how collaboration at the prototyping stage proceeds, let’s examine each step in more detail:
- Consultations and meetings with analysts. They are needed to gather all available information about the future project. Concepts, ideas, and possibilities are discussed. At this stage, research is conducted to determine the app’s value and market prospects.
- Creating the first outline and “framework” of an app. A preliminary visual part and an interface for user interaction with the program are formed.
- UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designs. At the beginning of prototyping, visual solutions are not developed in depth. A specialist can show you a black-and-white version of the layout or standard templates. But this does not mean that your project is treated negligently. The design is worked through gradually. Sketches will acquire colors and shapes in the process of subsequent work and adjustments to the project. The finished UI layout shows all the features of the final version of the product and how the client will interact with them.
- Description of application workflows. They demonstrate the functions that will meet the needs of the user. These include communication tools, query results, business processes, etc.
- Forming a working prototype. This can be a static picture as well as an interactive sample. In the images, you will see each page of the future program with a finished visual solution. The interactive prototype has clickable elements that you can contact with. This version requires a bit more financial expenses but allows you to check how the interaction with the app will be.
- Approval and further work on the project. When you are completely satisfied with the prototype, testing begins. Tests help you understand what can be improved, added, or removed. After that, any necessary changes are made, and the project is tested again. This happens until the optimal result is achieved.
After all the prototyping stages have been passed, the project is approved and supported by a contract. Developers and designers can get to work.
Creating minimum viable product
Minimum viable product (MVP) is a test version of a mobile app released to the market to test key factors.
The interaction of beta users with the early version will allow you to test working hypotheses, as well as detect problems or bugs and send the program for improvement. This strategy is chosen by those who want to see their product on the market faster and not overpay for troubleshooting. After all, it is much easier to make changes to a “raw” project than to redo a completely finished app.
MVP is created to reduce the time and cost of implementing an IT product.
The test version is intended to test the overall “viability” of the entire project. It is released into the public domain and contains a basic set of functions. For example, MVP for food ordering will include only the catalog of dishes and the order form. Additional features – in-app payment and tech support chat – are implemented in the next stages of work.
The first feedback from users helps specialists to adjust their work and the product development plan in the future. It becomes clear which features need to be added or improved and which need to be discarded. Thus, the “first-timers” from your audience will help make those changes that will attract new customers.
An integral part of custom mobile app development is checking its performance on different devices. QA (Quality Assurance) specialists are in charge of this in the development studio. Before releasing the project, they check it on different devices and test all possible user interaction scenarios with the program. Thanks to this, you can be sure of the reliability of the resulting development.
A specialist tester is involved at every stage of the creation process, from idea to product release. This seamless test cycle prevents bugs or crashes in the app and improves the experience for your customers.
How is mobile product testing done?
- Planning. It is important to talk to the experts again about the goals for which the project was created. During the meeting, you form test case lists and discuss QA specialists’ requirements. The results of their work are documented, and the detected problems are corrected.
- Choosing the types of testing. Depending on the app’s purpose, the following tests are used: functionality, performance, compatibility, usability, security, and others. For the smooth operation of a mobile supplement on different devices, specialists combine different types of testing.
- Defining verification methods. A distinction is made between manual and automatic testing. The first option implies launching the app manually, using tests to check the mechanisms of functionality. The second allows you to run previously written scripts and “scan” the product for failures. Automated testing allows you to save the time of your QA workers and, therefore, your resources.
- Usability testing and beta tests. When the product’s key features have been tested, you should investigate its usability and ease of use. The final stage of the checks will be beta tests, which will confirm the cross-platform nature of the program on different mobile platforms. This also includes testing options, navigation, buttons, settings, history, and other interface elements.
- Performance test. Product performance is tested with different Internet connections (3G, 4G, WIFI). Response speed, battery consumption, operation stability, etc., are considered. The better the product performs, the higher the chances of success with users.
- Control testing and report. In the last step, a complete test is performed – from early tests to regression tests, which can be useful for stabilizing performance and identifying minor problems. After a detailed product study is completed, a final report is written for you. You can review all the information collected in the course of the work. You can also get a documented confirmation of the app’s suitability for usage.
Testing is an essential part of developing a successful project. Many studios devote about 10-15 working days to testing to ensure the product is reliable. It is not worth saving at this stage because it determines how popular the product will become among consumers. The absence of errors and uninterrupted operation minimize the risk of removing the app from the phone.
There are many different types of project commercialization. Each of them can bring profit to the owner of the product. It is only necessary to choose the right kind of monetization. This is done in the initial stages of development, along with a study of consumer goals and motivations.
To make the client want to download the app, it has to be relevant to them. Therefore, a marketing analyst is involved in selecting the right monetization strategy. They determine the appropriate type of commercialization by researching such characteristics:
- the purpose of your project;
- the value of the app to customers;
- user experience and motives for using the product;
- the demographics of your customers;
- the mindset of your audience;
- the platform of your mobile program.
Now let’s look at some basic strategies to help monetize your product:
- Paid installation. Charging a one-time fee for installing an app is a very simple and quite effective way of making a profit. But it doesn’t always work. If the customer does not see the long-term value of your product, they will not want to pay for it. And not everyone is ready to buy an obscure program. Therefore, a strong marketing campaign must be conducted first when using this type of monetization.
- In-app purchases. This model is typical for e-commerce apps or service programs. For example, for finding fellow travelers, booking restaurants, etc. Embedded shopping can be incorporated into both paid and free mobile add-ons. If your project is related to e-commerce, you can make it free for downloading but get a percentage of purchases. For example, charge retailers for listing items.
- Paid subscription. Used for apps that provide various services. Your client can download the app for free, gaining access to basic information. They can buy a subscription and expand the full viewing experience if it is relevant to them.
- Free app with ads. A common method of monetization, which involves making a profit from advertisers. The main thing here is not to overdo it by introducing banners or pop-ups. Too many distractions can overshadow the main purpose of the app. And the wide market flooding of alternative programs can provoke your user to leave for another company.
In addition to the types of commercialization listed above, there are many different approaches. You can apply just one to your project, or you can apply several by combining them. Specialists provide advice so that you can objectively assess the feasibility of any method. Then, during the product creation, the IT wizards “fit” the codes and create the necessary features.
When all the cycles of custom mobile application development are complete, it’s time to present it to potential users. You can place apps on the most popular platforms: Google Play and App Store. You can also turn to private platforms such as Amazon App Store, Firefox Marketplace, and others.
Mobile app development teams are well aware of the requirements and rules that these stores impose on apps. That is why they help to make an accurate description, feature list, and other accompanying notes. Usually, the moderation process takes no more than two to three weeks before publication.
Studies show that iOS users spend twice as much on apps as Android owners. In 2021, revenue from subscriptions and paid installations of non-game programs in the Apple App Store reached $13.5 billion, and in the Google Play Store – $4.8 billion.
At the same time, Android has more than 74% of the mobile market, while iOS has only 25%. When creating a new app, it is important to consider these statistics. After all, one platform gives a higher profit percentage while the other provides greater audience reach.