The True Cost of Building an App!

If you set a budget of $100 to buy yourself a car then most probably you will end up with a shitty car. The same is true for when hiring a mobile developer to create your next app. For the past few weeks I have been researching on several different websites about the iOS contracting jobs. The result has been disappointing! Almost 95% of all the postings start with "I need a simple project..". Apparently, it is not that simple that is the reason you posted the job right! In this post I will discuss some of the work that goes into creating a mobile app.


Every technical solution does require some level of creativity but building an app just requires more. The app development process is different from creating a website since an app can be presented in many different ways while a website is usually flow or column based. When creating an app you also have to pay special attention of how it will be used by the user. This process is different when creating a website since the user has the advantage of using the pointing device to perform the navigation. During the development of "Vegetable Tree - Gardening Guide" I paid special attention to where the user was focused and displayed events at that location on the screen. Just like a physical mobile device, a great app become an intimate part of a user.         


Identifying theme is an important part of the application. Theme includes primary and second colors as well as the their relationship with natural objects in the world. The primary color in Vegetable Tree app is green which represents vegetables, organic, health and the secondary color is white which represents calmness, serenity and peace. You can avoid identifying themes but then you will end up with a rainbow colored pony,   


Although an iOS app developed for an iPhone will work on an iPad just fine but it does not only have to be just fine. Creating a universal app takes time and effort. Although your services layer remains the same but you have to rethink your interface design. I have worked with clients who insisted that why we have to redesign the interface for an iPad when iPhone is already completed. The simplest way for me was to press the 2X button.  


After working on tons of iOS applications I have realized that writing code is not the main thing. Don't get me wrong writing clean code is an extremely important task which must be dealt seriously. But I believe that simplicity of the app is far more important then any other aspect of development. When looking at different gardening apps I was quite amazed that every single app listed harvesting days as a single integer value.  

Days to harvest = 128  

The above would be fine if the apps were designed for computers but unfortunately, they were designed for humans and humans don't process mathematical information quickly. A much better way of writing the same information would be in plain English. 

Harvest in more than 4 months

The above information is simple, concise and beautiful.  


If I have a budget of $200 for an app then I would spend all of it on the icon. An app icon is the life and blood of an app. Icon is the first thing users come across and it is the path to your app. If that path looks like trash then no one will walk on it. 

An app Icon is a pathway to your creativity and imagination, keep it clean and beautiful.

I am not a designer and that is why I spent my budget of $150 - $200 hiring someone else to create the Vegetable Tree icon. 

 Realist vs Hobbyist:

It is always a good idea to separate out the realist from a herd of hobbyist. The website howmuchtomakeanapp is a good starting place. The website allows the user to go through a series of steps and then come up with an estimate of creating an app. The emphasis is on the word estimate. This tool will allow you to separate out the serious customers among people with $100 in their pocket and an idea! 


Most people tend to outsource their projects and hire developers for $10/hr. They are really proud that they have finally found the alternative and saved a ton of money. Unfortunately, the reality is on the other end of the spectrum. When you hire a cheap $10/hr developer you get an app which reflects those $10/hr. Most of the projects I have worked on were initially awarded to offshore companies. The client spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in making those application and it turned out every single app ended like crap! I am not saying that offshore developers are stupid and illiterate but I am saying that a great developer will charge reasonable amount no matter which part of the world he/she resides in. 

If you read this point and was wondering where I am going to list all the prices of type of apps then you will be disappointed because I won't. The purpose of the post was to enlighten you as what goes on when developing an app. This post touches only the tip of complexity in developing mobile applications. In the future I will cover other aspects of true cost of developing a mobile application.