Mobile Apps – Ballpark Costs

When potential clients ask for a ballpark figure on development costs, these are the questions I ask to help clarify whats required and therefore affect the cost. They are in no particular order…

  • What are the target platforms, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Mobile?
  • If they want multiple platforms are they aware that native apps are developed using different languages
  • If iPhone do you want a universal version, i.e. the same app runs on iPhone and iPad (thanks @ithain)
  • Whats the target audience?
  • Do you have an idea of how you want the app to flow?
  • Are there existing apps out there that do something similar, if there are what are they and what will make this one different?
  • Are there existing apps that you like the style of or the way they work?
  • Will you apply for your own developers licences so that the app is submitted under your name?
  • Will the app be free, sold for a one off fee, have in-app purchases or have subscriptions?
  • Who will supply the artwork?
  • Does the app need to be location aware?
  • Ideas of timescale for release? (thanks @MrAntix)
  • Are there any hosting requirements? (thanks @MrAntix)
  • Third party services integration requirements? (thanks @MrAntix)
  • Any social media integration?
  • Any security requirements, OAuth, Encryption, etc? (thanks Gary)
  • What is the lowest version of the operating system for a device that needs to be supported
  • Does the app need to support Push Notifications, if yes how will they be delivered in house or third party (UrbanAirship)

And if the app contains dynamic data the following are also important questions…

  • How will the app access the data?
  • Have the web services that supply the information been designed/written?
  • Would you require a content management system to update information contained in the app?
  • If its a Corporate app, what back end data do you need to access and synchronise (thanks @ithain)

Update 2 Extra items thanks to @adrian_bigland

  • how many languages need to be supported
  • who will do the translation
  • how will translations be tested – often you need to write code to present all the error dialogs etc. for ease of checking.
  • different UI layouts, or will all the languages fit? German always stresses label lengths, and non FIGS languages might need their own screens, in extreme cases.

Offline support:

  • do you need to store data from web services, so that when you are offline, the experience is seamless?
  • can the user upload information from the app? You often need to store events for analytics while offline, for example.
  • are you going to have problems merging external and local changes? (This way, madness lies).

Custom components?

End of update

Obviously the answers to these questions are likely to lead to more specific questions, but it helps with the thought process involved with what might be required

I would be really interested to know if there are any other questions you ask that I’ve not included?

UPDATE: The first question I am going to start asking is if they have a budget in mind, some projects can be completed in 5 days, some in 5 months, but if they think that they can get the next instagram for £1K, they are wasting my time and their own.

UPDATE: Yeeply are currently sponsoring a site that gives rough calculations – its not got all the options and doesn’t allow you to select multiple platforms but it will give you some idea of  cost ranges App cost calculator – lovely interface – needs a few more options –

See what I do