Many businesses want to have a mobile app created for their customers. The question then becomes whether business owners should learn how to make the app themselves or hire a developer. For the business owners who want to take on the challenge of creating it themselves, read on to learn some of the requirements, costs, and benefits.
To make your own mobile app, the general requirements involved aren’t that many, but they do consist of money, time, and intellectual costs. At the highest level, you will have to make some key decisions, all of which have opportunity costs.
You must decide which platform to build the app for first: Android or iPhone. It is a mistake to attempt to develop for both platforms at once if you are on your own, especially if you are a beginner. For Android, you need a Windows-based computer. Then, you must download the development environment, which is called Android Studio. Once it is downloaded, you’re ready to begin learning the programming language that Android uses: Java. Lastly, you need a few different Android devices on which to test the app.
For iPhone, you need a Mac computer and an iPhone for testing. The development environment for Apple is called Xcode, and the programming language that you need to learn is called Swift.
Even if you are starting with absolutely no equipment, the costs involved are only a couple thousand dollars, which is a very low barrier to entry.
As for intellectual and time commitments, if you use all of your spare time learning to code, you can likely learn the language and build a minimum viable product within four to six months. This comes at the opportunity cost of working on other business-related projects. But the end result is likely worth it.
There are three main benefits to building your own app: savings in development costs, faster iteration, and gaining a lifetime skill.
- Development costs: In many cases, people may be forced to build their own app because of cost constraints. A very simple app can easily cost $25,000, while a highly complex app can cost more than $1 million. Even for an averagely complex app, costs are between $100,000 and $200,000. Adding more layers of complexity always increases the cost. This money can be saved if you are doing it yourself. But it is very hard work.
- Faster iteration: When building an app yourself, you understand the inner workings completely. If it is handed to you from a developer, you simply won’t know it as well. Iterations with a developer can take much more time because of meetings, lack of understanding, and mismatched calendars. When you learn it yourself, you are able to change it much faster as it evolves.
- Lifetime skill: Once you become a programmer, you’ll always be one. This can have enormous career benefits and transform how you think and how you do business. It is a very valuable skill.