I’ve been building software and mobile apps for myself and my customers since 2007 and I have some useful tips to share with you.
So you want to built an app! A lot of people come up with great ideas for an app but don’t know how to get it built. In this post, I will talk about the level of involvement and the costs of developing your app. I’ll start by listing the ingredients needed to build an app…
Idea/vision: If the person with the vision or the idea of the app isn’t willing to be the project manager, then one will need to be appointed.
Project Management: This is the person who works directly with the development team to make sure the vision is realized.
Coding: This is pretty self explanatory, the person who does the coding. A senior level programmer should be able to handle the whole project but cost accordingly. Alternatively, a junior level programmer might need help with different aspects.
Graphics: Programmers are usually not great graphics designers. The images, logos and user interface will need to have a fresh, appealing and user friendly look so this will require another person to work on the team.
Now that you have an idea of what’s involved, lets talk about how to get it done. Depending on how hands-on you want to be in the process, will determine the costs of development.
The Easy Way
The easiest way is also the Most Expensive Way. The easiest way to build an app is to just hire a software company to do it for you. Some companies will charge thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars depending on the complexity and functions. That being said, you’ll get what you paid for. You’ll simply need to explain in great detail what you want and they will make it happen without having to be so hands-on. The more features you add and the more changes you make along the way will dramatically increase the costs because it creates more work.
The Cheaper Way
If you want to be more involved and save money, you can hire an outsourcing company to hire and house the programmer(s) and you act as their project manager throughout the development process. You don’t have to be a programmer to do this but you will become familiar with the terminology and processes. You will want to report to your team daily or at least a few times a week so you can give instructions and view and test their progress. As for the cost of developing apps this way, it depends on what country your team is in. American programmers make around $6000 or more a month. In Romania you can hire coders for about half that, maybe around $3000 per month and in India or the Philippines you can hire programmers for half that again, at around $1500. Graphics designers usually earn about half what the coders do in all these countries too.
I don’t really recommend this option. It can be done but its pretty risky. I’ve met people who have used freelancers for years and they always have mixed results. Freelancers tend to work on several projects at once so you will not get their dedicated effort unless you want to pay more for them to work exclusively for you and no other clients. There’s no guarantee of security of your idea or the success of the project and you’ll still need to be very hands-on throughout completion.
To get started, you should go ahead and write down a description of all the functions and features that the app will perform. This way you can engage with a software or outsourcing company and get estimates of the time frame and costs. Its always a good idea to work with reputable companies and get a NDA agreement (Non-Disclosure Agreement) signed before you share your ideas. You can find standard agreements online and customize it yourself. If you’re not comfortable drafting your own agreement, an attorney can do one for you pretty cheap. Usually less than $200 in the US.