How to get a cost-effective iPhone / iPad / Android app built

Dec 2019

So, how do you get started commissioning an iPhone app?

We get enquiries ranging from the very speculative ‘How much does it cost to build an app?‘ to very detailed and thought-out specs being put out to tender. It’s easy to see that there isn’t a simple answer to the first ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’ question, but it’s clear that that is on a lot of people’s minds. Usually the answer is to probe a little deeper into the plans the client might have for the app.

What should this iPhone app do?

Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to ask the client if there are particular features of published iPhone apps that they admire or would want in their apps. Even if they are not planning to build something exactly the same, asking ‘how much would you charge to build me a version of this hotel booking app.

That allows us to give a quick run through of how the example app works, how much design and programming work might be required, and therefore what the outline time and cost of building that iPhone app might be.

Visualising the iPhone app

Some clients prefer a spec to be biased towards an exhaustive list of the features and the way the app will work. Others want most of all to see mocked-up screenshots. Relying too much on the screenshots can be dangerous as there is a tendency for the brain to fill in the gaps or make assumptions about how the interface will move or behave under various circumstances.

Is it a standalone project, or more complex?

While there are many very worthwhile apps that are self-contained, there are more that require some kind of server to provide them with content or some of their functionality.

There are different levels of integration required, each with different costs and benefits.

The first level of integration we often see is where the thought that goes into the design of the iPhone app leads to a desire to revamp the company’s website to match the focus of the app. At Rare Earth Digital we can handle the redevelopment of the website together with the building of the iPhone app, but sometimes there is a risk that the project becomes bigger and bigger, then runs out of momentum.

The next level of integration is often the need for data from the company to be included in the app. This can be in the form of a server-side form for updating content on the iPhone app. It could be the ability for the app to read information on product availability from a stock control server, for example.

In these cases it is vital that the client either has a well-documented set of IT systems, or they can provide a credible in-house expert who is able to answer the technical questions about how the iPhone app will be able to connect to these diverse systems.

A good integration between the marketing and technical teams in a company is an indicator of a high likelihood of project success. If this can’t be achieved, then perhaps a simpler iPhone app might be the place to start.

The final level of integration is where the iPhone app is reading and writing data from and to the server, which is also changing what and how information is appearing in a webserver. An example of this would be a note-syncing app that has a web interface as well as a mobile interface.

In these projects it’s vital that there is very good communication between the team building the app and the team building the website and other server technologies.

At Rare Earth Digital we are happy to help you get your head round the options for using iPhone, iPad (or Android) apps together with re-focused web systems. There is a huge amount of value to be unlocked for many businesses, and we welcome the opportunity to help you do this.

If you have any questions, or would like a free, no-obligation quote, then use our contact form to get in touch.