5 Ways to develop your brilliant app idea for less money.

As you’re getting into the ideation phase of creating your app, these are the things you should be thinking about early on.
Austin Betzer
Posted on
October 27, 2020
Minute Read

“So, that’s my idea… how much do you think it would cost to build?”

This is the most common question I receive as an app developer.

We are usually working with app creators who are pretty well seasoned with business, OR they are building their second, third, or fourth apps, and they understand how to manage their budgets.

SOMETIMES we see potential clients who try to save a buck or two by negotiating on an hourly rate, arbitrarily cutting features, or skimping on the wrong details. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t respect a founder who is conscious of their budget and how much they are paying for each part of the process. 

But the way that we’re taught to negotiate and save money when it comes to business is like tripping over dollars to pick up dimes in the development world. 

Saving money in the development of your app has WAY less to do with negotiating a better hourly rate with your developer, and way more about being STRATEGIC in how you approach your build in the first place. 

Let’s compare these two options: 

Option 1: Hire an “Expensive” developer

  • You pay $180 per hour
  • Your rockstar developer builds you a solid app in 500 hours
  • The entire process takes 4 months
  • You end up spending $90k on your app. 
  • The app is SOLID — it solves a clear problem and excites your users and you’re proud of it. 

Option 2: Work with an “Affordable” developer

  • You pay $55 per hour
  • Your developer wanders around and follows your every whim. It takes him about 400 hours to get the first release out there… 
  • The entire process takes 9 months and includes you almost firing your dev team in the middle… 
  • You release an app that you’re not that excited about and it falls flat. 
  • You hire a new developer for another 375 hours to tighten up some of the features and it takes them another 5 months. 
  • You end up spending about $42k on an app that takes you forever to launch, is way over your initial budget of 400 hours, and you’re not that excited about offering to customers let alone your friends and family. 

One app was an investment of $90k and took 4 months to build. The other app cost you $42k and took over a year. 

So which one was more expensive??

If you want to build an affordable app, focus more on your build strategy, and less on trying to find a bargain developer. 

“So how can I save money with a better strategy?” I’m glad you asked… Without further ado here are my top 5 ways to save money on your app development.

ONE: Have a clear direction.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this article it is to have a clear direction, a vision of what your app sets out to solve and do for the world. If you know exactly where you want to go it’s usually pretty easy to build a cost-effective application. 

Constantly changing directions better known as “pivoting” in the app world, makes it that much more expensive. Pivoting can convolute your product’s purpose and pull you off track costing you time, sanity, and money.  

Do your research before you start building! Talk to people who will actually use your app. Talk to a LOT of people. Take notes on what they say. Work with a cheap designer who can layout some screens for you as your initial prototype. It’s a LOT easier to refine your focus and dial in your direction when you are spending a few hundred dollars here and there on designs instead of thousands on code.

TWO: Focus on the MVP 

MVP stands for “Minimum Viable Product” and it refers to the least amount of features you could deploy on your idea and still solves a specific problem for your users. 

I know, I know.. you want to develop the next Masterclass app and your vision is to have 700 features and all the bells and whistles. 

Don’t get your vision for where you want to go confused with the first step you can and should take. 

Focus on your MVP. Spend your money, time, and resources solving a few problems REALLY well and you’ll have a lot easier time getting users. 

Remember, the first iPhone didn’t have an app store. It didn’t even have the cut/paste functionality! 

Keep it simple and give your early customers a tangible solution from the get go. The focal point of your app shouldn’t be cool features and things you find interesting. This is an exchange and its needs to be helpful, offer instant value, and be unabashedly easy. 

Trying to figure out your idea’s MVP? Answer this: 

“What is the BARE MINIMUM I would have to offer to solve _____ problem for my customer? What is the EASIEST possible solution to their issues?

Once you have that answer, your MVP should be pretty close to those features you just listed.

THREE: Balance design and build.

Design and development go hand in hand… a great designer can save you a ton of time and money in development… AND… they can also cost you a ton of time and money. 

Make sure your designers and developers are communicating frequently. Designers typically approach problems by how they would like to see it solved. Developers approach problems from the angle of what they know they can build and what already works. 

I’ve seen a lot of design files that make a feature way more complicated than it needs to be. If your designers and developers are working together, you can save a ton of money by not wasting time building out things that could be more streamlined.

FOUR: Build a strong team that can help you refine your idea. 

A good core team can save you a lot of money. When people “read” team they instantly envision a headcount, get stressed, and start tallying up paychecks. I get it, but don’t let this cloud your vision like it does for most newcomers in this industry. 

Hear me out. I’m about to give you another harsh reality check that will save you from signing checks in the future. 

If you don’t have somebody technical on your team and you’re outsourcing your entire project — unless a miracle occurs — you’re screwed. 

You need a core person on your team to be a taskmaster and liaison to ensure everything is being done right, is what you expect, doesn’t put you in technical debt.

FIVE: Work with specialists and avoid “generalists.”

Let’s define generalists, these are the people you’ll find on upwork for super cheap who can amazingly do everything. I write code! I design! I even dabble in copywriting! 

When you hire a generalist you initially feel like you just found your dad’s Swiss Army Knife, and you’re pumped. On paper it sounds wonderful.  Fast forward 6 months and you’re in deep doo-doo. This is a huge misconception. It’s not smarter and it’s not cheaper. 

You would think it would cost you less to bring in a bunch of generalists to build out your product at the beginning and then bring in specialists later on. But I completely disagree with this and experience has taught me to trust specialists with my money.

It is more cost-effective in the long run to begin development with specialists in each area rather than generalists. 

Here’s why: people who specialize are typically way more efficient than those who lack experience. 

One person cannot carry the expertise of three lifetimes. Do the math! 

Find someone who specializes specifically in iOS development and on the flip side, find an android development specialist too. Hire someone who specializes in web development! Get the most of your money and the time you’re paying for. 

Even if your specialists cost more MONEY in the long run, there are things that cost a whole lot more than money… 

Remember our calculation at the first of this article? Remember that “less money” doesn’t always mean “less expensive.” 

Want to discuss your app idea with a seasoned team? 

If you read anything today that resonated with you, I’d love to help you build your app.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to level up an existing product, a strong strategy is key. 

That’s where we come in. Book a free strategy call with my team today and share your vision with us. 

~ Austin

Austin Betzer
My only passion is helping others solve meaningful real-world problems. I will continue to do just that!

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