The popularity of applications and the app development that goes along with them is on the rise. It’s not surprising though. According to Nielsen, consumers spend 89% of media time in mobile apps and 11% in mobile web.
This demand is putting pressure on companies of all types to comply by developing an app; either in-house or outsourcing them to an app developer.
What most businesses aren’t aware of is the complexity that arises during the development an app. They also don’t know the potential costs associated with developing one. There are several different types of apps. Several factors determine the app’s production complexity, development time and cost. Some of them are:
- What type of app you are developing – mobile, web or hybrid?
- What style of app are you looking to build – portal, productivity, social or custom?
- If you have a sitemap for your app and if you have already started production of it.
- How many screens will it have?
- What is the page complexity– simple, average or complex?
All of these factors will determine the complexity level of the app development. This will ultimately dictate the mobile app development cost breakdown.
We recently launched an on-line calculator that gives you an estimated cost of developing an app, called HowMuchToBuildThis.com. We recommend reading this post to get a sense of the parameters for the scope of your app idea and then go over to HowMuchToBuildThis.com to answer the question, “How much to build this?“.
At Venice Consulting Group, we’ve been building apps for a while, and the most common point that we hear from our clients is about the ambiguity around this industry. Everyone wants an app; however, few people know exactly what is involved and what it will cost.
So we decided to take the surprise out of app development. We did this by developing a tool that will analyze the costs to build a mobile site or an app; providing a mobile app development cost breakdown.
howmuchtobuildthis.com provides mobile app development cost breakdowns for companies that are interested in developing an app and curious about what the estimated cost to do so will be.
The tool is based on a feature function point analysis, which creates a productivity standard for each function or feature type that is built within a system. The productivity standards are the estimate hours completed by a developer, and they are standardized for simple, average and complex tasks. The mobile app development cost is estimated based on how many hours it takes to build the user interface, the logic and the data layers of the application or site, for varying levels of complexity (high, medium and low).
How does it work? Here is a play-by-play breakdown of how howmuchtobuildthis.com works; providing you with an overview of everything that goes into application development.
Step 1: What Type of App Are You Looking to Build?
The first step is to determine the type of app or site you would like to build, to better enable us to determine the productivity standards.
Why is this important? Well, for example, a hybrid app is going to take incrementally more time to build than a mobile app. This is because the app will deploy natively to web iOS and Android. Mobile app presentation layers have a slightly lower productivity standard than web sites, because of the small user interface (UI). And mobile app logic layers are typically a little higher in their productivity standard because you need to build the mobile app logic layer and a web services layer, and this takes a bit more time to do.
Step 2: What Style of Application Are You Looking to Build?
Verifying the style of app will allow the developers to determine the productivity standards, to estimate the hours required to develop the app. The four app styles to consider are:
It is a business application that the business integrates to an enterprise portal. The business also use it for business system data aggregation.
An app used to help the user stay productive or an app that helps users produce things such as documents, databases, graphs, worksheets and presentations.
An application that integrates with social media.
A custom designed application specifically tailored to your needs.
Based on past project experience, we can determine project complexity based on the style of application. For instance, a portal app is more complex than a social media app, and therefore will vary in terms of development timelines. Portal apps and social apps are more standardized in their feature set than custom applications, and therefore will take less time to develop; this will impact the estimate.
Step 3: Do You Have a Site Map?
Whether or not you have a site map determines how far along you are in the app planning process. A site map is the diagram structure that shows the pages and forms of a site or app along with its navigation between pages. If a site map exists then there is less risk in a more defined and planned project.
Hint: Help yourself, and save a lot of headaches later on, and build out a site map!
Step 4: What Is the Status of the App?
Knowing the status of the app allows the developers to understand where the project is, currently, in its development. A new build of a production level app will take more time than building in minimal viable product (MVP). A rebuild can take more time because there is potential integration with past or legacy systems, or data, and this can impact the development time.
Step 5: How Many Screens Do You Have?
The number of screens or forms in the pages of an app will determine the basic structure of the app and will impact the estimate. The number of screens will determine how big the app is, providing a good estimate of the number of hours it will take to build each form and page along with the interaction with other forms and pages within the system.
Step 6: How Complex Are Your Pages?
Complexity is the underlying structure for how function point analysis works. The goal is to categorize the complexity of each of the three layers – presentation layer, logic layer and data layer. By identifying, for each form, if it is simple, average or complex, we are better able to estimate the complexity and the number of hours it will take to develop. For example:
- Simple Presentation Layer – Login form
- Standard Presentation Layer – Account profile page
- Complex Presentation Layer – Complex eCommerce form
- Simple Logic Layer – Login button click to call a logic/authentication function
- Standard Logic Layer – Saving an update of a profile account form
- Complex Logic Layer – eCommerce credit card transaction
- Simple Data Set – Handling the username and password data
- Standard Data Set – The name and address information from an account profile form
- Complex Data Set – Shipping and billing address information or complex report
Using the classification from the customer and the estimates for productivity standards from the developer, a very accurate estimate range can be calculated. The better the classification and understanding of the app, the better the estimate accuracy will be.
After you receive your estimate on howmuchtobuildthis.com, the next step is to have a conversation with an actual development team to validate the assumptions involved. It is important that the underlying assumptions are accurate so that the estimate can be accurate as well. Estimates are an important part of any development project because they set the underlying and initial expectations. Setting and meeting expectations is key to a successful app development project.
If you would like an estimate or more information on your app development, or clarification on the mobile app development cost breakdown for your app, contact us today.
Additionally, if you want to learn how to develop a successful enterprise mobile app that’s built on-time and on-budget, download our free eBook Mobile App Development: Defined, Designed and Built for Success.