Many factors affect the complexity of a mobile app, and most of them are fairly apparent. But a few are not always clear, and they could surprise you down the road with additional costs and time if you don’t plan for them. The mobile app development world is complicated, and it’s hard to know exactly what makes an app “simple” or “complex.” If the app only does one or two things, it must be simple, right?  We wish that were true (it’d make our life easier as well as yours), but there’s more to it. Any kind of custom software is unique. At Rocket Jones, we’re committed to helping you thoroughly examine your app concept up front, so you can plan and prepare accordingly. Here are few common things we look for as we plan and bid mobile apps.

Think about it this way: apps are like houses. (I know we already used the house metaphor, but this one is different.) Apps have three similar qualities that may not be immediately obvious but could affect the complexity (and therefore cost and timeline). When we help you plan your app, we always look for the number of users, type of structure, and quality of materials.

1. Number of Users

We always consider the number of users. You might need to build a custom home and decide that you only need a kitchen, bathroom, a single bed for each person, and a living room. That sounds super simple because you said no to the formal dining room, the den, the home theater, the pool, the guest bedroom, and the three-car garage. But, what if you need the house for your family of 12? Even though you could build a home with only a few types of rooms, the square footage needed for 12 beds alone is going to necessitate extra planning. Plus, what’s going to happen when all 12 people need to use one bathroom in the morning? There’s going to be major logistic problems as people start lining up outside the bathroom door.

Even the most fundamental app functions can require extra planning if the user base will be large. Consider your current expected user base and plan for growth. When an app needs to support a large user base, we typically need to ensure that any APIs (the back-end web services) supporting the app are capable of scaling to handle the increased load. We’ll also need to ensure, depending on the type of app, that user-submitted content is refreshed more frequently so that the content is always up-to-date. Keeping that data fresh, the app working quickly, and maintaining security requires increased attention as the user base grows.

2. Type of Structure

Another thing we consider is the type of structure. Are you building a single-family dwelling or an apartment complex? A single-family home doesn’t need the same kind of maintenance and staffing as an apartment complex. While both serve the same end purpose (homes for people), they are pretty different. Apps that distribute content and/or have many user accounts need care and maintenance. You’ll probably need a back-end system to manage content and user accounts, much like apartment complexes have a manager and maintenance guy. That back-end system is an additional piece of software you’ll need to plan and budget for. Simply put, most mobile apps rely on interesting and dynamic data, and that data must come from somewhere. It usually comes from an API (APIs can be anything from integrations with social media sites, to your own website, and other web services). These data integrations often must be built, run on their own servers, and require the same maintenance and upkeep as any other web service. Data integrations are easy to overlook, so we always help you plan ahead for the additional time and cost they can incur.

3. Quality

Finally, you should always consider the quality of materials and the credentials of the builders. You could probably get your nephew who built his own tool shed to build you a small home, but when the sewer backs up and you’re putting out electrical fires, it may not be worth it. Many development vendors do excellent work, but it’s always worth your time to thoroughly vet your options. Ask questions about past work, the development team’s experience, project management, technical support, and customer care when evaluating bids.

We know it takes more than just a single developer to make a successful product. It takes expert designers, developers, project managers, testers, and technical support to get an app from concept to launch. So when you hire Rocket Jones, you aren’t just paying for an app. You’re paying for years of collective experience and expertise, a proven project process, and an expert support team. Even the most bare-bones app needs a team to make it successful. We help you plan for your app’s long-term lifecycle, and we’re committed to do everything we can to make it successful.

If you’re curious how much your app idea would cost to build, we’ve built a calculator for you. It’s a comprehensive list of all the features you could include in an app. Fill it out the checklist, and it will tell you the price range you can expect. Click below to claim your free mobile app cost calculator!