Are you considering building a mobile app for your business? In today’s day and age, it may seem like a no-brainer that your business needs a mobile app to keep up with competitors, industry trends, and/or consumer demands. However, before you invest thousands of dollars into an app for your business, consider these four options to help guide your decision and guard your pocketbook.

Four Cost-Related Options to Consider Before Building a Mobile App:

1. Do you really need a phone app?

A web-based responsive app is quite a bit cheaper than a dedicated phone app that a user would download. This can be an optimal app solution that can save $$$!! Based on the functionality, capabilities, and goals for your app, your developer will be able to tell you if this is a possible alternative to a dedicated phone app.

2. If you need a dedicated phone app, is there any reason to build all of the functionality into the phone app?

One solution we’ve seen work successfully is a web-based responsive app that is integrated in a mobile app wrapper. This means the core of the app is web-based, but you still have a dedicated mobile app that you can launch in the mobile app stores that users can download.

3. If you’ve decided on a true mobile app (i.e. 1 and 2 above won’t work), can you utilize a cross-platform technology like ReactJS or Phonegap?

Using cross-platform technology like ReactJS or Phonegap allows you to build the app once and then publish it to iOS and Android, rather than two different versions of the app (separate iOS and Android apps).

4. Sometimes, you just need an app!

If the options above will not work because the features and needs of the app are fairly complex, you might need to look at a dedicated iOS (Objective C) and Android (Java) app. This is the most costly option.


Of these 4 points, option 1 is typically the cheapest, option 4 is the most expensive, and 2 is typically cheaper than 3.

We’ve done mobile wrapper apps around existing websites for $5k, or built additional functionality for about $10k. A typical true mobile app is usually at least $20K (option 3), and option 4 is where things really go up exponentially.

At Caffeine, we have built apps for as little as $5k and apps that cost $100k or more. Overall, it ultimately comes down to the features and capabilities you are looking for in your app. Being transparent about the vision of your app before development begins will help the project stay on-time, in budget, and give the app its greatest chance at success.

If you want to learn more about mobile application development, check out: 6 Hazards That Impact Your Application or Website.

Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University. During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.