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WeLoveNoCode Blog

How to Develop an App Without Spending a Fortune

How to Build It
Developing an app has become incredibly popular with at least 150,000 per month being released onto the Google App or Apple store. Coming into 2022 the Apple store had nearly 2 million apps to download and there was 3+ million apps on the Google App Store.

Nearly 50% of all phone users open apps at least 11+ times a day, whilst in the last year, there were 218 billion app downloads, up 7% from the previous years. The mobile app industry is estimated to now be worth $935 billion.

Looking at these numbers, it is no surprise that so many businesses are trying to learn how to develop an app. Many of these businesses are new and created around an app, so it’s important to learn about app development for a start-up.

The cost of app development could range from $10,000 to $250,000. That is a massive range but this is down to the different factors that go into making an app.

  • The type of project (CRM, productivity, eCommerce etc…)
  • The functionality requirements and how custom they become
  • The use of an agency vs an in-house team
  • Location of the business
  • The platform(s) you are putting it on (Android vs iOS)
  • Use of no-code vs traditional development

Traditional Development vs No-Code

Potentially the best way of producing cost-effective development is to look at going down the route of no-code development. The figures above are based on people using a more traditional approach but choosing no-code development can lower your costs of development by up to 75%, as well as drastically reduce the time it takes to produce an app.

With the traditional approach, you face two problems that will massively increase the cost of app development, just as they do for any web development project.

  1. High cost of developers (due to scarcity of talent)
  2. Long development timelines (paying for developers for longer)

Due to its platforms, no-code can speed up development as platform experts are to select templates that will fast track your app and have routine operations, like logins, already built in the platform. You also have a larger eco-system of developers around no-code now, meaning it is easier to find the skills you need and costs are not as high

If you are looking to build an app quickly and cost-effectively with a no-code platform then we can help. We can build any app or website you need quickly and for under $10k. Book a free call to talk about your project!

Ways To Keep Costs Down

App development for start-ups or any small business includes many important steps and for each one, you need to think carefully so you are getting the most value for money and producing cost-effective app development.

Step 1 - Keep it simple

Most are familiar with the KISS principle (Keep it super simple or keep it simple stupid!) and this certainly applies to your mobile app development. If you want a cost-effective app, then you need to focus on the things that matter - you’ll have plenty of time (and money) in the future to add new features.

Focus on the one or two features that will give you the most value. Think about what really matters to the customer (not you or the developer) and build your app with them in mind. 

Keep the UI very simple and make sure it is streamlined. The fewer complications you include, the quicker and cheaper it will be to develop.

Step 2 - Make it responsive

This should be a given but it is always best to ensure a responsive design is part of the app requirements, you do not need to be producing different versions for mobile, tablet, laptops and desktops!

Step 3 - Think about extras or configurability very carefully

Best practice dictates that you need global configurability with things like text and color. Configurability is one of the most important element but a big drain on your budget. 

It cannot be avoided (well it can but it is dangerous and only to be done if choosing a high-end developer that knows what they are doing) but if you can find certain elements that can avoid this, it will help your budget.

Talking of extras that will blow up your budget, only select push notifications if you need them. They increase the price of your app development by 20-30%, will add a lot of ongoing costs and most users hate them!

Think carefully if they are genuine user requirement or a nice to have and only include them in your project if it's the former. For example, if you are a click and collect facility, then you need to notify people when the product arrives.

Step 4 - Consider a hybrid approach

Another option that will depend on the purpose of your app. It is possible to develop a hybrid app and then use a wrapper to make it work in iOS and Android, thus you avoid creating and maintaining two versions of your app.

But tread carefully, it is a cost-saver (maybe up to 30%) but it will slow down overall performance and is difficult to customise over time. If you are looking at an MVP development, then the hybrid route might work for you.

Step 5 - Don’t forget the backend

Most new businesses won’t have much infrastructure in place, so app development for start-ups should look at utilising a cloud solution, preferably within the platform they use to build it, which many of the leading no-code platforms now offer.

The initial cost of set-up and the ongoing maintenance of infrastructure is one of the budget killers that small businesses should look to avoid, self hosting on expensive hardware should be the preserve of much larger businesses.

Another advantage is that these platforms usually come equipped with a strong API platform, allowing you to plug into external systems and data seamlessly and without expensive costs.

Step 6 - Build yourself or outsource?

We are assuming that if cost is a big factor then you’ve chosen the no-code route but you still have the decision of who will be building your app. It is such an important part of the decision process we decided to dedicate an entire section to it.

Who Is Building It?

As we see, there are a number of factors going into the cost of app development but none are more significant than the cost of developers.

Do It Yourself

With the quality of no-code platforms, it is certainly possible for a founder to build a tool themselves and many have done so. But before you choose this route, you need to be very clear on the problems with this route.

  • It needs to be simple unless you have technical skills
  • You’ll get distracted with running a business - do you have the time?
  • The peer-review process is compromised - are you checking your own work?
  • You get best-practice templates but without experience you might not have best practice everywhere else in the project

But if you are ok with those concerns, then choosing a good no-code platform means you could build out the application yourself. It’s important to remember the work needed before you start building your app.

Document the stories/customer journeys that need completing; draw out what you want the interface to look like; research your audience so you understand who you are building the app for - all of these things are critical before you jump on a no-code platform and start building.

You’ll also want to decide what the MVP is. How much is needed in the first release. You don’t need to create everything in one go. What are the minimum functions you need to put it in front of investors/prospects?

Independent Contractor

Whichever route you have decided to go (traditional or no-code development), finding and utilising a contractor can be a very cost-effective route. 

If you pick a no-code platform then search marketplaces to find contractors who are experts in that platform because they will complete the job faster. They will know the tricks and tips within the platform that will help make the app fit your exact requirements.

The danger with this route is a contractor normally works across multiple projects, so could get distracted. They might take holidays. They could get ill. The problem with all of these scenarios is they don’t have any support. These could delay your project and will cost you time and money.

Small App Development Agency

They might cost a little more, but should be more reliable than an individual contractor who has no backup and might end up delivering late, which could cost you in other ways, like lost revenues.

If you do look at a small agency, you should see if they have experience in your niche. For example, if you are looking for an eCommerce site, then find someone that can prove experience in that area - they will be able to deliver much faster for you and you won’t be paying someone to spend time learning your field.

Avoid general agencies that offer lots of different services, for example SEO, website design, PPC, PR etc…as this would indicate they are not specialists in app development, which will mean a longer development cycle (increasing costs) and will not deliver as good a product (decreased revenues).

Developer Marketplace

There is a fourth option that carries the advantages of the above options and allows you to control the costs and experience of the people involved. With platforms like WeLoveNoCode you can select a group of experts and build a team perfect for your project.

Rather than relying on the agency to have all the skills that you need or a freelancer to be able to manage the volume of work required, you can select from the large selection of no-code experts and build your own development team to fit the project but without having to hire them permanently.

On-Going Maintenance

Whilst we have focused on building your app in this article, do not lose sight of the ongoing costs of your app. You need to make smart decisions during the development that will keep costs down in the medium to long term

  • Keep maintainability in mind throughout the design phase and don’t include ‘nice to have’ features that will be a pain to maintain longer-term
  • Any custom coding you employ, ensure its kept simple and well documented
  • Choose a software architecture pattern that is good for maintenance and follow development best practices so others can pick up the code

There is a lot that can quickly drive up the cost of your app, so as a reminder, keep these key points in mind.

  • Preparation - plan properly before you even begin your app development
  • Don’t over engineer the initial idea, keep it simple and evolve over time
  • Think about using a no-code platform
  • Find experts in both the platform and your industry
  • Remember that the costs don’t stop with the initial development so consider ongoing costs

If you are looking to build an app quickly and cost-effectively with a no-code platform then we can help. We can build any app or website you need quickly and for under $10k. Book a free call to talk about your project!