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What drives software development cost and how to reduce it

arateg profile image Arateg ・4 min read

Companies create tailor-made software solutions to address business-specific challenges, from automating paper-based workflows to digitizing processes to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. If you decide to make a website or application, you should know how to reduce software development cost while preserving quality.

In this article, we will consider the best ways to cut the price of building a software product. You will learn what factors affect the final budget and what things worth investment to succeed in the market. Let’s get started!

Top 6 factors that affect software development cost

1. The number and complexity of features

The number of features and their complexity is one of the main factors that affect the mobile and web application development cost. The less time and effort you need to build a digital product, the lower the price will be.

Websites and applications could be divided into 3 categories:

1) A simple software product includes 1-2 basic features, maximum of 5 screens or web pages, and no third-party integrations. Examples are a mobile task planner or messaging application. The approximate time to build a simple project is 3-5 months.

2) A medium-sized project generally contains 3-6 features, for instance, a user profile, chat, data search, payment functionality, and integration with 1-2 APIs (application programming interfaces).

Types of projects for this category are an online booking platform, event planning app, online delivery service, and a customer loyalty program.

An e-commerce website of medium complexity can contain a user profile, shopping cart, user authorization, payment gateway (e.g., Stripe or PayPal), multiple pages ("About us", "Payment and delivery", etc.), and an admin panel.

The approximate time to develop a medium-sized project varies between 6-9 months.

3) A large software product involves over 6 features, a complex backend, and integration with third-party services. Considering a video streaming service like Netflix, it will have comprehensive functionality that can include audio and video processing, real-time synchronization, multi-language support, and personalized content recommendations.

A highly-complex e-commerce website can contain an artificial intelligence-based chatbot, review, and ratings, as well as a cashback service besides basic features. Complex projects can have dozens of screens and employ cutting-edge technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, or augmented reality.

To create a complex software system with many features and integrations, an IT service vendor generally needs at least 9 months.

Find out how to create an ecommerce website that will attract customers and help you generate revenue.

2. Operating systems

The application development cost depends on the type and number of operating systems (OS): iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, etc. For example, building a native mobile solution for iOS only will be less costly than for iOS and Android.

Native means that the product codebase is written for a single OS. As a result, users won’t be able to install a native app for iPhones on Android devices. To choose the right platform, you should define the target audience.

If your potential or existing customers mainly use laptops or personal computers, make a website or web application. In case you aim to reach consumers via smartphones, create a mobile application for iOS or/and Android according to their needs.

Note: iOS app development generally requires about 10%–20% less time in comparison with Android, since there is a significantly higher number of devices that run on Android OS. Software engineers have to ensure support for many OS versions and provide consistency across all screen sizes. Therefore, testing also consumes more time.

3. UI and UX design

UI and UX design is an important software development stage you should focus on. Customers decide whether to use the product or not depending on how it looks. However, software design is not only about visual representation (UI design) but ensuring the app/website is easy and enjoyable to use (UX).

The user interface comprises everything people see on screens and interact with. User experience is about feelings and convenience: content and functionality should be organized in such a way that people can quickly find the desired information or do the required action even without thinking.

Design size and complexity directly affect the budget for building a software project. The more screens, pages, complex animations, handcrafted elements, etc. the product has, the more time this stage will take.

Note: If you are asking if there are possible ways to reduce the software design cost, the answer is yes. For instance, you can choose a design template for the future website and tailor it to your needs. However, the market is full of similar templates, which are used by thousands of companies. Thus, it is very challenging to create a unique branding theme.

4. Quality assurance

Testing is the process of checking the system for bugs, errors, and compliance with the project specification. A QA engineer verifies that the app or website performs as intended in different scenarios, for example, with or without Internet connectivity.

Another task of this stage is to make sure a software solution provides a consistent user experience on all devices and platforms.

The amount of time for QA depends on the product objective, size, and complexity. The team will need more hours if it has many pages and features while supporting different operating systems. As a consequence, the final price will increase.

However, you will save money and improve customer loyalty due to high quality: the app won’t receive multiple negative reviews because of some glitches, maintenance will take less effort.

5. Third-party API integration

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