Why are mobile apps so expensive?

“Why are mobile apps so expensive?”

This is a common question I hear when chatting to my wealth management and stock broking clients.

It is a very reasonable question because they ARE very expensive, relatively speaking. The are many reasons for this but by far the main two are:
1. There are many visual variables to a mobile app which must be handled to ensure a great customer experience (CX)
2. The development team needs to be experts in many different fields,

Wow, that is a mouthful of technobabble, what does that mean? Roughly summarised, the mobile app is just the tip of the iceberg when offering a solution to clients. There is far more going on behind the scenes than initially meets the eye.

For part 1,

There are literally hundreds of devices shapes and sizes with screen resolution. A properly built app should work on all of them, and if it does not e.g. tablets on landscape, then let the user know why not. Let’s consider a clients holdings table showing the individual holding items. What are the important fields: Instrument name, symbol, quantity, cost, current price/value, return, return %, timestamp?

On a landscape tablet this is easy. One row using a normal table.

And tablet portrait? Maybe we can drop 1 or 2 less important fields.

And now a phone on portrait? Typically, phones only have two columns. Should we try and squeeze everything into one table row with items stacked vertically. How easy is this to read. Could the user get confused. Maybe two fields with a link to a separate details screen. Decisions decisions!

And we haven’t touched on navigation options yet…..

For part 2,

The different fields include the most important item of customer experience (CX) – more art than science. But also, very important fundamentals are speed, battery efficiency, online/offline modes, databases and secure data storage, authentication methodologies including biometrics. And this only for the app itself. The backend systems require a different set of skills in managing APIs (how the app connects to the server), cloud hosting, speed and performance, fail-over, security and so on.

And any app developer will confirm that building the app is easy compared to all the admin required by the Google and Apple app stores. Screenshots for all devices – both portrait and landscape, privacy rules, content questionnaires. The list goes on. It takes hours and days of admin.

In summary, mobile apps are easy to build and make a mess. It is very hard to get them to look good and be easy to use in all scenarios. And remember if you are using a mobile app for your business this is important to get right because it reflects YOUR BRAND. Done right is expected, done badly and all the benefits disappear with the negative reviews on the app stores.

You want to wow your users so take time to get this right. Cost is just a side effect of quality.