Tips to Cut Costs on Mobile App Development Wisely

How to Reduce the Cost of Mobile Application Development Prudently?

Willingness to save is quite reasonable because cutting costs brings about revenue increase. This is fair for both goods and services including mobile application development. Everything seems easy. But does it always work that way? Let us consider it.


As a rule, a single person is rarely involved in the development process. Most often, such products are a result of teamwork, at times more than one. So, what do these teams consist of? Hereunder there is a list of parties participating in creating a mobile application:

  • UI/UX designer;
  • Backend engineer;
  • Frontend programmers;
  • Mobile developers;
  • Technical writer;
  • QA;
  • Project managers, Marketing managers, etc.

Surely, every team member has their fee. A thought might creep into your mind, “Shall I save on some links of the development chain by reducing the number of participants?” Let’s omit the last point of the given above list and work out whose input is really unnecessary.

1.1. Designer

Along with a tech writer, the following link might seem needles during the engineering stage. “I don’t require any prettyism, just make it likable, native style, just set up some color scheme…” If we follow this principle, we may pretty reasonably ask, “Why is a pixel pusher needed? Can’t UI & mobile developers cope with such an easy task?” The answer is simple – they can. But at what costs?

Selecting well-matching colors and, what is more important, icons is a bit of a task for programmers. They do it while spending way more time than a professional does. Upon that, their fees are higher than the designers’. Sometimes much higher.

Do some simple math: by saving on a designer, the total cost of app engineering has not gone down but rather up. Thus, we can make up a simple rule: you shouldn’t cut corners on such specialists.

1a. A Single Design for All Platforms

“Why do I need so many designs? Make one then apply it to all platforms!” This approach may look pretty decent; in addition, a user won’t be confused when switching from one platform to another. Alas, the truth is rather different.

The same UI elements on different platforms have absolutely different implementation complexity. Some processes that take up only 5 minutes on Android, may be a major time sink of a few hours on IOS and vice versa. Different operating systems give programmers different programming tools. You should take this into account (programmers charge more as you remember, right?)  Therefore, proper cost-cutting steps, in such a case, will look like this: developing an absolutely native design for each operating system. You will spend finances on a graphic designer but cut down a fair amount of money by decreasing developers’ working hours.

See the cost of developing a mobile app in our app development cost calculator

1b Technical Writer

If writing a specification doesn’t seem to require a technical writer, it is most likely to just seem to you. Chances are that your specification contains lots of ambiguous requirements that may be misinterpreted.

It’s great if a team clarifies those moments while working on your project. However, something stands a good chance to look/function differently from what was originally intended. Such saving normally results in extra hours for developers and/or designers, which leads to the overall cost increase.

As stated in the previous point, it isn’t worth scrimping on technical writers either.  Smart belt-tightening here is getting your desires across in the clearest manner not to have them rewrite specifications several times.

1c. Cross-Platform Application

This point is on the surface. Why pay for three or more products (Web, iOS, and Android) if we can make a cross-platform one once and save a lot on the most pricey part of a team?

Well, this point deserves separate attention. Each case is unique and the final decision depends on the specific needs of a customer. We’ll discuss it in more detail in one of our following articles because each approach has its pros and cons.

1d. QA

“Well, I can definitely test the performance myself”. Particularly every customer thinks so when first placing an order but it’s far from being true. Customers are believed to be divided into two types: those using QA services and those who aren’t using them yet.

The problem is that you cannot fully exercise your application. You will go the right way. I guess, so will the users. At best, perform one or two checks for obvious potential bugs – that’s it. It may not appear obvious to everyone that such testing is carried out by programmers at the development phase. You will just not reach really major errors whereas end users are bound to get there when they receive a raw product. Consequently, you have cut costs on testers whilst spent a great deal more on further fine-tuning. Prompt and urgent fixes will cost a pretty penny. So, unfortunately, there is no way to save here.

1 Focus on Core Things

Even if you have planned a serious business project based on the project, avoid trying to implement all the functionality in the very first version. Concentrate on main things, get rid of all doubtful ideas altogether with the ones whose absence will have no impact on your business model. This allows not only sparing money at the initial stage but also receiving feedback from users. They may as well never need the eliminated features while they require something else. Pay for the ones they are in real need of. Remember: an application with minimum functionality running perfectly will get far better accepted by users than the one abounding in unsteady features.

Moreover, shorten the list of possible devices where this app will be demonstrated most efficiently. Say, a service for seeking cafes & restaurants based on geographical positioning will be in little demand on tablets. So, such a category of devices can be easily excluded. In contrast, if you have planned service with access to video content, make sure you have also included tablets support into your app.

2Research Rules for Platforms

Before placing an order, study closely product placing regulations in the marketplaces of the relevant platforms. Be sure that all you want in your project goes in line with the rules. If such discrepancies have been found, adjust the desired functionality (or even your enterprise model itself) to eliminate them.

Here are a few examples. If you are mapping out monetizing through paid periodical subscription, keep in mind that Apple & Google are going to withhold 30% from each transaction. Provided, you aren’t willing to share with them, eliminate subscription payment from the app and leave it on the site. Or, if you want to collect personal data of signing up users (gender, date of birth, etc.) make ensure the functionality does depend on these factors. If not the case, make them optional. Thus, you are able to save funds on remaking the product after being rejected by a store.


Let us summarize the information.

What you should not do:

  • refuse from a designer;
  • exclude a technical writer;
  • run tests without  QA specialists;

Here is how you can save properly:

  • develop a design according to the standards of every platform;
  • give a thorough thought to functionality upfront and explain it in the most detailed way;
  • research the rules of allocating applications in shops like AppStore and Google Play.

You can and you need to reduce costs when necessary. However, that requires a sensible approach. Then your cost reduction will not cause extra expenditures.

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