Survey: Key Factors affecting Mobile App Development Time

One of the most common questions that we often come across while growing in the mobile space is “How much does it cost to develop a mobile application?” The next thought doing rounds in the mind of the entrepreneurs is what is the average time to develop an app. Would the process be complicated or would the app be ready to be published in the app store on time are some the concerns related to the development of a mobile application.

To give an in-depth view of the factors that affect the development of a mobile application, GoodFirms conducted a research study to identify the key factors determining the time frame for developing a mobile application.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Mobile development organizations focus on certain parameters to determine the final time taken to develop an app. Participants participated from multiple locations across the globe. The demographics of the respondents are shown below.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT APP DEVELOPMENT TIME

Every enterprise mobile application focuses on some core functionality and security is one of the core focus area for such apps while, for a consumer oriented mobile app the concentration could be on offering great user experience. Whatever is the motive of developing a mobile app, apart from having a great development partner, and it also demands time and patience. This survey highlights the fundamental elements that determine the total man hours for developing a successful mobile app and making it available for use in real time.

1. USER INTERFACE & USER EXPERIENCE

User Interface + User Experience = App Success. This is the mantra for a successful mobile application. But offering a great platform for hassle free user experience does not come easy. It involves lot of planning, designing and testing to come out with an app which is seamlessly user friendly. All the efforts going into developing impeccably stunning mobile application does not come in a blink of an eye. Aiming at increasing loyalty and achieving customer satisfaction with each user interaction reflect the market placement and presence of the brand the app is built for. It takes a tremendous amount of concept understanding and time to come up with apps offering great user interface.

"Today UI and UX parameters are critical to the success of a mobile app. If you want to grab the immediate attention of the app user alluring UI is mandatory. If you want to engage your app users and hit your goals of the application, user experiences (UX) is vital to determine it. For mobile applications, responsive UI layout is an essentiality and screen real estate constraints are inevitable for the UI designers to overcome. Moreover, touch gestures on the mobile screens increase the intricacies for the UI designers, UX developers, and QA team to come up with the best and smart user interface with the excellent UX."
Director, International Business, Addon Solutions

2. CUSTOM APPLICATION

Working on custom requirements is not every developer’s cup of tea. Designing an enterprise business strategy on mobiles has its own fair share of highs and lows. Integration of apps, challenge of non-uniform mobile policies and unavailability of analytical tools to check out on the areas of improvement are few of the key challenges faced when developing a custom app. Uncertainty about the time to work on these features, testing them, finding bugs and fixing them again is a concern for few of the respondents.

3. RESOURCE AVAILABILITY

When producing a mobile app, having team members dedicated to the project, ensuring they work closely with the client to offer them best service is a pre-requisite. But this is not the case at all times. Time taken to hire the right talent in case of specific or custom requirements, or the waiting time to finish an existing work to start a new requirement are some of the reasons that generally could cause delay in the project deadlines. Team member availability varies based on active and planned projects. Therefore, there may be a delay in starting a mobile app project until team members are available and can give their complete attention to the task at hand, adding to the time it takes to build a mobile app.

4. APP SECURTIY & PUBLISHING THE APP

App developers have to be vigilant about security to protect user data. As an app developer, you need to know how to avoid security issues most widely affecting users today. Working continuously to offer users mobile experience that do not compromise the data security is a time consuming activity. Foregoing thorough security testing and not rushing to release an app is a mandate to offer vulnerabilities free mobile app of the business to the users. No app is safe from the attacks of viruses and malware. Testing every inlet for security issues, including the camera, GPS, and even the platform itself takes time and delays the overall development process.

Once the app has been tested, the time comes to publish it in the app store. The waiting time may vary from a few weeks to some months thus contributing to the delay to let the app be available to the end users.

5. APP DESIGNING

For creating powerful applications, the need to have an effective design of app has started to become increasingly more important. Each app is used for a certain purpose at a specific time. For example, while creating a restaurant guide, you’ll want to create something that show the most relevant results to the user quickly, since the user will on the move or somewhere nearby, and is looking for a quick option. To offer him quick access to such information, designer needs to be informed of the latest technologies that make his work easier without taking up a lot of time.

6. NUMBER OF SCREENS / DEVICES/ PLATFORMS / OPERATING SYSTEMS

To reach the widest possible audience, developing apps that run on multiple platforms and devices is a common practice now-a-days. While it is effective to build multiple apps at the same time, designing, developing and testing the app for different platforms requires extra effort. Though some of the activities may occur simultaneously, extra time is required to build apps catering to multiple devices. Alongside, the more the number of screens in the app, the more time it takes to develop it.

7. THIRD PARTY INTEGRATIONS

In case the app needs to interconnect to other services, the need to integrate with third party APIs comes into picture. This requires extra time to learn the intricacies of the third party APIs and implement them correctly. At times, it takes longer than expected to evaluate the amount of work included in interfacing with third party APIs.

8. FEATURES

One of the primary elements that determine how much time it takes to develop a mobile application is the number of features involved in the app. The more features an app has, the more effort and time it takes to design, develop and test it. A feature in an app that accepts payments definitely takes more time to develop then working on a regular app that deals with content or is a knowledge app requiring minimum user interaction.

It is always better to develop a MVP for the mobile app they want to develop. It helps in having a clear idea of what you expect from your mobile application from the very beginning. Being aware of your user’s needs from initial stage and making amendments or adding more features on the go always saves a lot of time.

"One of the primary determinants of how long it takes to build a mobile app is the number of features involved. A feature is functionality in the app, such as the ability to buy an item, real time data synchronization with server, push notification to user based on events and many more."
VP, Operations, OnGraph Technologies Limited

Offering work breakdown structure and estimating the human effort and time taken to develop each feature makes it easy to arrive at the time taken to develop a mobile application.

"We apply a top-down approach to aggregate all these figures to basically arrive at a figure for the entire application development. Since the estimate is done feature-wise, at a very granular level, the figures come out to be much accurate as compared to a ball-park estimate just looking at the entire bunch. This is done for both the processes: the back-end work involved in an application in the form of an admin panel or the APIs as well as for the actual front end of the application development."
Director, International Business, Addon Solutions

9. UNDERSTANDING THE BUSINESS LOGIC

One of the key and basic criteria to determine the time frame of a mobile application is the crisp understanding of the app idea. Assessing the right concept that drives the app is imperative. There are times when it becomes challenging for the developers to contemplate and achieve similar success of a web service over a mobile device. Asking the what, when, why and how of developing a mobile app reduces the possibilities of falling prey to assumptions and keeps the work on track.

"When estimating the timeframe of a project, it is important to firstly reach an understanding of the business objectives of the app. By knowing the what, why, and how of an app’s functionality and target user, we can identify which core features should be developed first in order to have a market-ready MVP as soon as possible. This initial stage of creating a defined plan of action is vital, as our development process takes part in sprints which allow for testing and validation along the way."
Global Marketing Manager, Redmadrobot

10. COMPLEXITY OF THE APP

Apart from deciding what features goes in an app, the complexity of each factor also plays a critical part in deciding the delivery time of an application. For example, developing an e-commerce app with product images would involve less effort then what goes in developing a gaming mobile application. Though both involve user interaction but the latter will take more time to develop because of intricate details and user experience.

"The critical parameters that we consider when determining the development time of an app depends completely on the complexity of the features, the number and type of devices it will need to run on (e.g., mobile, tablet and watch) and the operating systems on which the app will be launched (i.e., iOS or Android). The more features, the more devices and the more operating systems, the longer the timeline."
Head, Business Development, Blue Label Labs

Conclusion

Each of the above mentioned parameters are imperative to understand how long it takes for a mobile app to hit the market and be user ready. Mix of right focussed criterion would enable you to achieve the business objective at the right time with least hiccups. When developing a mobile app, along with an evaluation of requirements in terms of the platforms, features, and potential of the app one of the many things to consider is the budget and time to develop it. Learn more about the factors affecting the cost of developing a mobile application in GoodFirms’ survey.

GoodFirms