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Ways to reduce the cost of app development: 7 proven tactics

Ways to reduce the cost of app development: 7 proven tactics

Tuesday July 25, 2017,

6 min Read

It all starts with “do the research”, a tip so obvious that I wouldn’t allow myself to include it in the list. Everything essential and of value demands research beforehand. What am I talking about? Mobile app development and ways to reduce the cost of app development, in particular.

Creating a mobile app may turn to be quite expensive. See the price for your mobile app on a side bar.

Any business process requires optimization, and we are always in search of best optimization opportunities. Luckily, there are a few simple strategies to reduce app making costs.

Cited research is a must to plan ahead, know what steps to follow and have a project roadmap. In other words, if you know what you are doing you won’t overpay or do irrelevant tasks. So, in practice these are the most effective ways to cut down app development cost:

- Strict requirements

- Single platform

- Developer rates/skills balance

- Open source frameworks

- Outsourcing, but properly

- Minimum viable product app

- Iterative process


Let’s see what each of them suggests.

#1 Strict requirements

Your app concept, your communication with development team, feedback have to be as strict and clear-cut as possible. Otherwise you’ll end up with numerous amendments, distractions and delays as result. Clear requirements (a.k.a. technical documentation) direct everyone involved towards business goals, thus leaving less gaps. Less detours and fixes equal to cost reduction.

You should also supervise technical requirements for developers that have been contrived out of your business requirements. Leave no room for misinterpretation. Also, stick to essentials, because if you want your app to perform every imaginable task for customers right away, you’ll exceed your budget, guaranteed. Besides, too many features may confuse app users.

#2 Choose a prefered platform

Especially when it is your first app/project in practice. Of course, it may be hard to decide or ot collect data on what devices your target audience uses. But you want to reduce costs, right? Choosing a single platform from the star can decrease development costs by 30-40%. For example, a mobile app for iOS and Android would cost you $50,000, while just Android version would probably cost $30,000.

This is pure efficiency. You can then measure the cost of building an app either in time or resources. Saving time means saving costs in app development.


#3 Rates & skills balance

You’re going to hire a certain software agency or a freelancer(s), well, by the exception if you know and can do it all by yourself. And as usual, when trying to save money we turn for a cheaper option. But this is a perilous path and could end in tears. Low-rate agencies or freelance developers may bring more issues and delays, nothing personal.

To save costs and not lose quality at the same time hire an offshore/outsource software engineering agency. You can find many of those, with good reputation, experience, a right team and work examples. And everything is official and due process.

Ask what they can offer

A skilled company should be able to offer tips, tools and practices to cut down costs upon receiving details of your project. Don’t be shy to ask them that, you are paying them so you have the full right to do so.

Check their experience and portfolio, see how their skills and rates correlate. Companies, of course, differ in rates, teams, services and expertise. Ask for a quote for your project, i.e. the price estimation and timeline. An expert company can deliver an app faster, thus reducing costs.

#4 Open-source frameworks

Certain features and interface elements of an app could be made with templates and existing frameworks. Google terms like SaaS, BaaS, PaaS or whatever with an ‘as a service’ suffix. There plenty of ready-made tools that ease the work of developers, even totally free. For example, compare time to devise your own mapping and using ready mapping services like WikiMapia.

Everything from push notifications to cloud platforms is available as third-party tools and plugins.

Instead of creating own custom solutions you can use any of these at initial stages, which would allow reducing costs significantly. Naturally, you want apps to be different, though many elements are almost the same (buttons, images, navigation, etc.). Users also expect an app to behave in familiar way, so why reinvent the wheel?

#5 Outsourcing the proper way

Choose your development partner carefully and communicate regularly. Most of such agencies still work on hourly rate basis, but if you’d be able to agree on a fixed project price, that would be marvelous. As the reason for no fixed price they state a not well prepared vision/strategy by their clients. So try to make a clear plan and stick to it.

When working in hourly rate mode, pay more attention. This is when development schedule should be tight. Make sure a company establishes the workflow, has all qualifications and certifications. Main areas of focus are:

- Responsibilities

- Experience

- Tech stack

- Location

First three are obvious, and location not at least matters. Think of it like real-estate prices. The biggest difference in fees is about location. Find the optimum option in accordance with your budget and you’ll be able to save some money.

#6 MVP app

There’s a great thing in mobile app development, called minimum viable product (MVP). This is basically a prototype of your app, that has main functionality and design. This is how you can test your idea on real users, see whether it has some traction, while making it only for a fraction of the whole app cost. Even if you’ll have to make changes it will cost you less in the end than rebuilding an app from scratch.

#7 Iterative process

Unlike conventional app development methods (building features one by one, testing and release), making it in short stages/iterations may also save money. How so? If any changes are necessary you can do them and move forward without consequences, thus saving on time and resources. A long-term strategy split into short segments of work allows reaching your end-goal nicely. Everything is manageable better, each step is tested, fixes are smooth.


Feedback and supervision

If you have a project manager assigned, that’s great. You can then communicate regularly and check how the work is going. Check the results of every iteration for yourself, mistakes can happen, we’re all human. Its cheaper to correct them right away then later or worse, after the launch.

Assign tasks smartly and transparently, as some of them can be done by junior developers working at lower rates. Provide your feedback to the team, and make it in time. Generally, pay attention to how the outsourced process is going and you’ll be fine.


Now you see that ways to reduce the cost of app development are not that hard, though demand focus and clear vision. With plain things like technical requirements, MVP, ready-made solutions and supervision you should be able to save time and money when building your mobile app.