AppFutura publishes around 150 projects monthly, with a total budget of 500k USD. Among all these projects and budgets, we categorize the leads as Regular, Silver, Gold and Platinum depending on the budget, the overlapping, the reliability of the source and the potential of creating a long term partnership. Do you think any other parameter is missing?
Outside AppFutura, app projects can be small, medium and large, which is another valid way of categorization. In this report we want to focus on the small app projects. What are they and how much do they cost? How long does it take to develop a small app? All these questions are answered by the mobile app development companies interviewed for this report.
SMALL APPS DEFINITION
Small apps are usually the ones that take less time to develop and have just a few functionalities. They are also a good choice to develop an MVP and try the app before start the full development of the application. There are other things to keep in mind when we talk about small app projects.
For us a small app project is defined by the mínimum of time and effort invested into development. Small app is a stand alone app i.e there is no backend, admin part, integration with third parties, no data sharing, no ability to log in from the other devices, etc. Usually this kind of apps has no complicated functionality nor a complicated User Interface.
We consider a project small if it can be developed fairly quickly without too much technical complexity. Generally, these are projects purely information based, with not so much dependency on data synchronization, specialized user experience, complex algorithm/logic and other secondary frameworks.
A project that takes less than 3 months for full-time development, we normally consider it as small. We also consider a small app project when the budget is lower than 25,000 USD.
No project is small or big. The features and functionalities involved in the application make a project big or small. It was once said on our blog written by Shashank, Head of Marketing & User Experience at BrainMobi: “Walking on a defined structure is like walking on a frozen lake, whereas walking on an undefined structure is like walking on water”.
A project is considered to be small when everything is defined in the beginning like the platform to use, the technology and frameworks to be used, the architecture of the application and likewise. On the other hand, if the client is not sure with the project flow, feature sets, the functionalities, the monetization model, technology and frameworks, the project becomes big and complex.
The size of an app project depends on many factors like:
TIME NEEDED TO DEVELOP A SMALL APP
From 2 weeks to 2 months, how much time do mobile app development companies need to develop a small app project? It very much depends on the experience that development team has on that type of application, if they can use code already written for another released app, if the designs are already approved, etc. There is no closed deal for small app’s time of development as we can see by the answers of the mobile app developers we have interviewed.
Typically these projects require work for a few weeks and not more than a month.
It depends. Normally the technical documents and the design approval take most of the time of the small projects.
It is impossible to quote an actual timeline as sometimes even small projects involve complex features that need to be integrated and take time to be completed. In most of the cases, however, it usually takes 2 to 4 months. If the client's requirements are frozen at the beginning of the project, and the project manager in charge understands what the app client wants, then it can be completed within an ideal timeframe. If you have an idea and want to find out how long it takes to develop a mobile app, I suggest you to have a 30-minute chat with our analysts; they would certainly give you a better understanding.
Usually it takes less than 2 months to develop a small app. The development time is further reduced if client finalises the design and offers the feedback earlier.
Usually it takes 2 months to develop a small app with 1 developer involved.
THE PHASES OF A SMALL APP DEVELOPMENT
Someone could think that a small app is easier to develop, but they would be wrong. From the concept, to the benchmarking, wireframing, design, development or testing, all the phases are usually applied on small app projects. Wireframing and design would be the most critical phases in small app development, as there are not so many functionalities, they are the base of the app and so they need to be done perfectly.
All of them. Even if the project is small, we cannot afford to deliver a low quality app. If the client doesn't want to pay for any of the stages, we outline clearly what are the risks of skipping any of the important steps.
Wireframing, design, development, testing – all of these play a vital role in the success of an application. Every single one of these phases is important in the development of the application.
A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. It is always the UX of the application that makes it interactive. We know that UI is important, but if the UX of the product is not good you can’t make it big in the app stores, no matter how beautifully you have designed your application. We always follow a research-led engineering approach regardless of the size of the project.
Thus we always start the app project with a brainstorming session where we discuss the feasibility of the project, features, functionalities and the technologies to be used in the application. The second step is wireframing in which we create project flow, design the architecture and develop prototypes. After these prototypes are finalized from the client side, we start working on the rest of the approaches, design, development, testing and deployment. For small and large apps.
All of the phases are crucial in mobile app development. Hence, we include them all no matter if the app project is small or big.
Besides the development we have the next stages for the small apps: wireframing, design and testing.
For any projects -including smaller ones- wireframing is the critical part to form a boundary of scope and proper visualization of the idea. It helps to stay focused on the core objective without many iterations during the app development. The design development and testing are inevitable parts of any development project, and are always present.
MVP AND SMALL APPS
MVPs and small apps go hand in hand. Most of the times, before the client and mobile app development company start a large project, it is useful to develop an MVP first. But the final decision depends on the goal of the app: if the client needs some funds or wants to get new partners, and MVP is required. If the project is complex and needs a difficult UX or UI, design or too many functionalities or features, then it is better to go straight forward and hire a mobile app development company for a large app project.
A Minimum Viable Product is a small clone of your actual product that helps you collect market insights and decide whether the product that you have developed is the product that your customers want or not.
Depending on what your clients needs, you can decide whether you need to enter the market with an MVP or a fully functional application. What we believe is that developing an MVP first is the best approach. It helps you to figure out whether the product that you are developing is going to create a buzz in the market or not. Otherwise, there is no use of investing a large amount of money in an idea that is not acceptable by the market. The MVP also helps you in performing market analysis, gathering actual analytics and mitigating the risks involved in the final product. It also helps you to figure out what features are most accepted by the user and how good the UI and UX of your product is. One can enter the market by developing the application with the most essential features needed in the application to build a successful product.
Hence, we must say that developing an MVP first is the best approach that companies need to follow in the long run, otherwise the development of the product will continue for a considerably longer period of time.
Developing a small app like an MVP before starting a large app project benefits both the client and the company. The clients get an idea whether the development firm they’re hiring for the app project is worth their time and investment or not. On the other hand, the company gets a clue of what the clients want.
We know this very well. That’s why we always keep the first phase of our app projects as MVP and then proceed further by including various features.
If the client comes with a large app project, we recommend to work by phases, as the project is large and is made for a certain business. Even if the documentation is well- detailed, there will be some changes during the app development process and will be found some unspecified details. Using phases approach, we make a fast delivery of the product with the ability to test the app and to get the client’s feedback.
MVP is needed when a client plans to have marketing companies, to get investments, to check the idea, to understand the direction and to make the needed changes. We have an extensive experience in MVP development. We can help to choose the main functionality for MVP and develop it.
Certainly. MVP approach is a desired one when it comes to large projects. However, it depends on the end client’s mindset and their overall launch objectives. MVP helps to build the core of the entire concept and then build supplement functionalities and features around the main function of the app. Such a progressive approach helps build each feature carefully, and interweave the supportive features incrementally that enriche the user experience.
It always depends on the project plan, technical architecture and the client's goals. Most of the times it is best to develop an MVP version. Sometimes it is not possible by the technical design.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SMALL APPS
For all the clients with an app idea, it is essential to understand that a small app does not necessarily mean a small budget. Small apps are not cheap applications that have all the features the client wants, a small app is a simple app.
There are no disadvantages developing a small app if the developer and the client know that the project will be plain and clean, not complex and easy to use. The advantages are many, from fast delivery to getting feedback before starting the development of the larger version of the app.
Usually small apps include very interesting functionality which are connected with the native devices elements such as graphics, video, microphone or geolocation. Such kind of apps are really interesting to develop as we get a fast result, while for the large projects it takes much more time to develop. Small apps get the fast Wow effect. Recently we’ve launched a really interesting app called Life Lapse. Video Story Maker. It’s an app for making small life-lapse videos with different filters, music and other interesting functionality.
The advantages of small apps are: fast delivery of the product and feedback and the ability to have a profit from the app faster.
And the disadvantages of small apps: it’s hard to make a unique and interesting app as there are a lot of them on the market. Such apps can get a popularity fast but they can also lose this popularity fast, so the app owner should always have some new ideas to grasp the users’ interest.
It is always fun working with smaller projects. The most interesting part is you can gradually improvise on some features that may become the integral part of the app. I remember working with our own app for engaging our clients more with our culture, stay informed with our services, etc. We ended up building a unique navigation style and menu that became the core identity of our app.
The major challenges we’ve seen in managing small projects are:
The most common problem is that in order to fit into the budget and the time frame of the client, it is necessary to neglect the documentation or the test phase, as the customers do not see the point of wasting time for them. Sometimes when starting with the next version we have to correct the problems occurred in the previous one. Or it can happen also that there are use cases which have not been considered before.
But the advantages are more: the client can quickly have an MVP version to test the market response and get as much feedback as needed before continuing with the next steps.
We have developed a lot of very small apps but for extremely big brands, the apps were used for marketing campaigns. We have developed more than 20 small apps for brands like Heineken, Amstel, Jack Daniels, Finlandia, Coca-Cola, Parliament, Orbit, Telenor, Kamenitza ReFresher, Zagorka Ring Pull, Teacher’s quiz and many more. These apps take from 2 to 3 weeks to be developed and they are used only for a couple of months during the specific advertising or marketing campaign.
So far we have developed more than 100 apps for our 40+ happy clients spread across the globe.
We have never seen any roadblock that we underwent while developing any small app to be a disadvantage. Working for varied clients, we have learned a lot by developing apps for them, and have always managed to turn our disadvantages into advantages. We believe that entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people. Every client comes with a unique idea that separates it from the rest of the projects and in turn helps our team to learn something new every time they develop a different small or big application.
We have developed different small apps:
1. An addictive card game for Android in which you create a superhero card of yourself and engage in card battles with other opponents.
2. A relaxing iOS game that helps people concentrate and fight anxiety issues. The background music is a must listen.
3. A fully-fledged communication app for a corporate organisation. It features both upvoting and downvoting options. The interesting fact is that we developed the whole app with minimal resources, i.e. 1 UI/UX designer, 1 Developer and a single tool called Google Firebase that handled all the processes including crash reporting and seamless communications. Also, there was no server cost and no backend team was involved.
Looking for fast development for a simple app? Start with a small app project. All the mobile app development companies interviewed here agree on the simplicity as the base of any small app. The price and time of development varies from developer to developer, so the client needs to study what features include each of the proposals they receive to hire the best app developer for their project.
Small apps are useful for small businesses or big companies that are starting their visibility and presence on the mobile world. Small projects are a great way to study the market, get some feedback from potential users, see what functionalities work and which don’t and try the product before the great adventure begins.
You can find more information about small apps in our Forum.