Things to consider for your app development strategy
Mobile apps are in demand. In 2018, there were 27 billion app downloads, which is an 11% year-on-year growth, showing that even after a decade of apps being around, they are more popular than ever.
In every sector, customers expect companies to offer a mobile app. Even sectors that were traditionally unaffected by mobile innovation, such as healthcare, finance, and property need to offer B2C and B2B customers apps to keep pace with their competitors.
As we look forward to the year ahead, sales and marketing projects start to come into sharper focus. One of the questions worth asking is whether your company would benefit from investing in an app? Or if you already have one, could it use an improvement?
If you are considering investing in an app for your business, there are some trends worth taking into account. In this article, we will also explore the sort of budget you will need and what can influence the overall cost of app development.
Mobile app trends 2019
1. Stay native on your platforms
Although hybrid apps were popular in 2018, mobile development trends are increasingly moving back towards native apps. When you’ve developed a ‘native’ app, it uses components and the infrastructure the operating system/platform provides, making each app unique for that platform.
So if your customers are primarily Apple users, then it makes sense to invest in developing an iOS app (for the iPhone and iPad). It might also be worth investing in other Apple platforms, such as the Watch, Apple TV and macOS, depending on what the app is for and where your customers are going to use it. After you develop an app for your primary platform, it might be worth investing in apps for other operating systems, such as Android and Windows.
The alternative is to develop a hybrid app, which means it is built using a template tool, such as React Native or Flutter. However, developers and companies are moving away from these for several reasons. It is difficult to create an app to the same high standards as a native app, which is what consumers now expect. Maintaining and bug fixes are increasingly challenging when an app is created using a hybrid tool. Native apps offer a superior user-experience, are faster and are easier to maintain.
2. Invest in marketing
Developing an app doesn’t mean customers will suddenly flock to your brand.
Without a marketing budget and campaign, an app is only one piece of your customer engagement strategy. To ensure people download it, companies need to put mobile engagement at the heart of 2019 marketing plans.
Joyce Solano, SVP of Global Marketing at Leanplum notes that “engagement platforms help brands increase their share of highly engaged customers by 37 percent and the number of users who make in-app purchases in the first 30 days alone by five times.” Encouraging downloads currently cost $2.89 per user, only for 81 percent to stop using or uninstall the app within the first 90 days.
With the right marketing strategy – a combination of organic and promoted inbound channels – you can win the audience your app needs and use this to drive forward growth in 2019.
3. Create micro-moments
Personalization is one of the many advantages of companies using mobile apps to engage with customers.
In 2015, Google coined the phrase ‘micro-moments’ and right-time marketing, opening the door on the possibility that brands can use apps to engage with customers at the right time or when they’re in the right place (e.g. send them a push notification offering a discount when they’re in-store).
However, many brands still aren’t doing that, despite the fact that research shows that message open rates increase depending on the location of a customer and what someone is doing. In other words, push notifications and other highly targeted personalized messages can make a positive impact on revenue and sales.
4. OTT (over-the-top) content
It is estimated that global over-the-top (OTT) streaming subscribers are going to exceed 300 million in 2019. Services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and others are incredibly popular, with mobile networks busy investing in the infrastructure to support this demand. With more public WiFi than ever before and devices that allow consumers to move content from one device to another, OTT subscriptions are an exciting growth area for 2019.
5. Augmented reality
Another exciting growth area is augmented reality (AR).
In 2019, AR libraries (Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore) are expected to grow, with more brands looking to create content that ties in marketing messages with AR capabilities. Apple, in particular, are looking to harness the benefits of AR across its entire iOS system. One sign of this is the AR partnerships with Adobe and Pixar.
Similar to the OTT trend, brands need to know what this user data means and how to track the mobile AR user-experience. Expect new innovations in this field and more of a push in 2019 to encourage consumers to embrace this technology.
With these trends for 2019 in mind, how do you choose a mobile app development company with the right capabilities, skills, and expertise for your app strategy? Let’s take a look at what you need to consider going forward.
How to choose the best mobile development firm for your app
1. Understand your requirements
Know what you need before asking for a price.
Whenever possible, have some sort of mockup or design ready, so that you can clearly articulate the features and user-experience you want to create. Bigger, more complex apps, require more work, which naturally means a larger budget is needed to ensure the app you want is the app you get.
Apps may also require integrations with other platforms and tech products, or extensive database work is needed. Costs can also move during an apps development as projects evolve. Clients are advised to start with an upper limit on a budget, and it is always possible to roll-out features of most apps in stages to keep costs under control and secure an audience/paying customers before launching new features.
2. Review reputations
Before working with any mobile web development company, it is important that you check if they’ve got a good reputation. Read reviews and testimonials. Ask current/former clients, and if you are working with individual developers you can use YouTeam to verify and vet the team you are considering.
Always go into a new commercial relationship confident in the experience and skills of the team that is going to be delivering the work.
3. Technical skills
Do you know what technical skills the team you are outsourcing need to have?
Whenever possible, consult an expert or ask your network before getting a quote for web development services. You need to be confident that the team you’re going to work with has the skills and expertise to develop the app your company needs. It is no good a developer knowing how to create apps using React Native only for them to be weak at iOS development.
In most cases, specialist firms will have the skills you need to develop apps for iOS and Android. Other platforms and older operating systems will be supported as needed, with older specialisations requiring specific skills, which will involve higher costs.
4. Customer service
App development is not a quick and easy process. During this time, you need to be confident that as the customer, you are listened to and your needs are met.
It is sensible to work with companies and developers who are attentive with a strong customer service focus. Reviews and testimonials should give you a clear idea if those you are considering are customer focused.
Working out the potential cost an app is not straightforward. A wide range of factors and features can influence the total cost. Where you get the app developed is one of them. Developers are in short supply and can command high salaries in the U.S., whereas in Central & Eastern Europe there is an extensive network of professionals with the skills and experiences your company needs, without the high price tags.
And finally, one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to mobile app development is, of course, what does it cost?
How much does it cost to make an app?
Using North American costing estimates, how much you need to invest in app development depends on a number of factors: platform, functions/features, the user-flow, technology needed and integrations, and the size of the firm doing the work.
Let’s first look at the size of the app development company doing the work (assuming they’re based in North America). App developers in other regions, such as Eastern Europe, are always going to prove more cost-effective and can deliver work to the same high standard, usually more quickly than U.S. app developers.
1. Small firm: A handful of people, consisting of the core skills you need to develop an app. It could be the case that they work independently from one another and only collaborate on large projects, such as app development. Definitely the most cost-effective, although there may be knowledge/skills gaps, such as marketing and product strategy.
Typical U.S. cost: $25,000 – $100,000 (depending on the complexity of the app)
3. Mid-size (specialist): Companies of this size will have an extensive bench of talent they can draw upon for projects of varying sizes and levels of complexity. Expect to work with an account manager, unless they’ve got a setup which allows them to ensure you are working directly with the developers building your app.
Typical U.S. cost: $100,000 – $400,000 (depending on the complexity of the app)
3. Large software development firm: Now you are getting into the really big-ticket arena. This might mean working with a big tech or consultancy firm with extensive technology experience to deliver your project; e.g. IBM and Accenture. Expect to work with a whole team, have regular contact with a key account manager, but don’t expect anything to move quickly at this level.
Typical U.S. cost: $500,000+ (depending on the complexity of the app)
Although those price ranges are typical when working with U.S. firms, you will find that companies in Eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico, and even Western European countries are cheaper and more cost effective.
When you are getting a quote for a mobile app, the following format provides a useful baseline (although, again, there are numerous factors that can influence the overall cost).
1. Small App
- 1 Platform (e.g. iOS or Android)
- 2-3 features/functions
- 2-3 user-flows
Typical U.S. cost: $75,000 – $150,000
2. Mid-sized App
- 1 – 2 Platforms (e.g. iOS and/or Android)
- 3-5 features/functions
- 3-5 user-flows
Typical U.S. cost: $150,000 – $250,000
3. Large/complex App
- 2 Platform (e.g. iOS and Android)
- 5+ features/functions
- 5+ user-flows
Typical U.S. cost: $250,000+
Once you are ready to outsource mobile app development, start talking to a handful of vetted and verified developers to get a sense of the skills available in mobile app development companies. This will also help you gain an understanding of the work required to develop the app you have in mind and therefore a realistic budget benchmark. Every app is different. But what we are seeing is that companies in 2019 need to have apps to engage customers and increase market share, so now is the perfect time to get a quote and gain an understanding of the next steps.