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how to make an app in Brisbane

Back to basics - everything should know BEFORE calling an app developer

We are going to go through the most common questions raised when someone wants to make an app.

This is like an FAQ for Snappy Apps.


Each one of these points above could be an article itself. I will summarise each one here though. If you have any more questions that aren't covered in this section, please reach out!

How much can I expect to pay for an app?

The costs of developing an app increase with complexity. There are some features that are hard to do, others easy.

In general internal business apps and prototype apps cost about half as much as public apps. This is because we need to support a wider range of apps. Public facing apps also need a smoother experience and prettier design which needs lots of effort.

Support Apple or Android? Snappy Apps has never had a customer that did not want to support both platforms - or the potential to support both. As such we only develop cross platform apps, and this doesn't increase the cost much - if at all.

Listed below are typical costs for Snappy Apps to develop certain kinds of apps. Your app might be different but you can use this as a guide.

We don't do games, but in general, they tend to be more complex and can be very expensive.

What is the app development process?

A lot of the work we do is unfortunately invisible. We work on linking things together and getting servers to work, structuring the app etc.

Yet you will have a lot of involvement along the way.

The First Phone Call

In our first contact we will get a rough idea of your app. Once we have it we will give you a ballpark figure. If that is within your budget, we will plan to meet face to face to ensure we have all the details.

First Meeting

In the first meeting, we will get a more detailed concept of your idea. Depending on complexity we will develop a scope of works with you there, or develop one for you in the next few days.


Scope of Works

The scope of works will be a spreadsheet that lists out each of the features, the expected behaviour, and puts a duration next to it. This scope determines what Snappy Apps will deliver, and for what price. Its important customers read through this before accepting the job.

Agreement and work start

If you agree to the scope of work and the price, let us know and we get started!


Billing

Snappy Apps bills you every two weeks for the work completed and to give you an idea of progress. This way you can put the brakes on, speed things up or pull the plug without any initial outlay. Not all app developers work this way, so you should check how the developer you go with works.

Completion & App stores

As the app nears completion, we will request you to create app store accounts.

Once available we will upload the app and push up to Apple for approval. Android doesn't have an approval process.

See the app store section for more info.

How do I get listed on the app stores?

Snappy Apps takes care of the listing process, but we do need your help with the sign up.

This is because the owner of the app store account should be you. So if you ever want to transfer your app away to another developer, or do the development yourself - you can. Plus it lists your business name as the owner, not Snappy Apps.

Signing up for the app stores isn't hard, though Android is much easier than Apple.

Apple App Store Sign Up

Being an Apple developer costs $149AUD a year at the time of writing. You need to sign up at the following link:

https://developer.apple.com/programs/enroll/

It is best to have a registered company name in Australia, otherwise your personal name is listed as the developer of the app. 

You will also need to track down your DUNS number if you are registering as a private company. You should be able to get that here:

http://www.dnb.com.au/express/

If you plan on selling your app via the app stores, there are extra steps once signed up - but we will walk you through them.

Once signed up please invite sales@snappyapps.com.au to be an administrator. Once everything is setup we can look setting the permissions appropriately.

Android Sign Up

Android only costs $25USD a year to sign up, and the process is much simpler:

https://developer.android.com/distribute/console

Once signed up add ryan.knell@gmail.com with full permissions, and we will take it from there.

How long does it take to make an app?

The time to make an app will depend on the complexity, number of revisions and scale.

Apps are rarely produced in under a month from start to finish, with the average time between about 2 and 3 months. Polished customer facing apps usually take about 6 months. This is becuase of the extra revisions once the bulk of the work is complete.

What technologies should I use?

Generally the answer is - whatever your app developer recommends.

But more broadly there are a few things to look out for:

Native vs. Cross Platform

Native apps are what the device manufacturers want you to make apps in. They have access to new features, tend to not break upon every update and give you the best performance. 

But you need to make your app twice. Thats right, there is absolutely no "but can't you just take that?". No. Twice.

Native technologies are Java and Kotlin for Android, and Objective-C and Swift for iOS.

Which means twice the cost.

Crossplatform apps on the other hand are a compromise. They allow you to write the app once. But they will have a performance hit, some technology restrictions, and generally be not as good.

But since they cost half as much, are they half as good? No.

I would suggest its about 90-95% as good as a full native app. That 5-10% may matter. But to give you an idea, Facebook and Google are both investing heavily in cross platform. At Snappy Apps we favour cross platform apps as they give the best value for money and best speed to market.

Cross Platform Options

There are many new players entering this space, but I am going to cover the ones I see at the most important to know:

Cordova / PhoneGap

The first popular cross platform system, Cordova embeds a webpage in your app. Since web pages work everywhere, so does your app. It also has the added benefit, that if your app is sufficiently non complex, you could use it as a webpage as well.

We have moved away from Cordova because of many performance issues, and difficulty getting the UX our customers expect.

React Native

React native launced on to the scene a few years ago, and has since taken the mobile development world by storm. Facebook makes React Native and uses it in many of their products. These include the official Facebook app and Instagram.

React native is great but it still feels like a bit of a hacky work around. But for the moment its the best we have.

Flutter

Google makes Flutter and it looks like it will replace Java as the native Android language. Snappy Apps is betting on Flutter being the next big thing. If you can make your app in flutter today seriously consider it.

Xamarin

Xamarin, now owned by Microsoft, has been around nearly as long as Cordova. While Xamarin promises a cross platform experience, we have not had great experiences with it. I'm not going to go into great deal here, but its not something we recommend.

What's hard and what's easy to do?

There are some easy things to do, and a few hard ones.

Things that are "easy"

- Maps and geolocation

- Interacting with the server

- Push notifications

- Taking photos

- QR Codes

Things that are "hard"

- Handling gestures

- Lots of things that involve PDFs

- Video

- Offline

- Deep linking

- Complex animations

There are various reasons why each falls into what category. As a general rule "Easy" things will add surprisingly little to your bill, "hard" things will add a lot.

Graphic Design and UX

We aren't graphic designers, and the best looking apps have a graphic designer involved.

That said, it often works well to get the graphic designer to develop a few screens as an "inspiration". Once done, we build the app, get the features right, and then take it back to the graphic designer for final touches.

We highly recommend The Graphic Design Co on the Gold Coast. Their prices are reasonable, work of high quality and turn around times great. Say hi to Candice for us. We have no affiliation with them, they just do a great job. If you want to use your own designer that is no problem.

What about outsourcing?

We don't outsource. Not because we have some aversion to using overseas talent. It's not because it gives us a competitive edge or makes us look good. We don't outsource because in our experience it costs the same and takes longer.

How can someone charging $20/hr cost more? We ask the same question. But somehow it seems to take 6x longer to get the same work done. There is also the language barrier and general expectations.

We aren't saying you can't outsource and have a success, but that your mileage may vary. And we don't see people getting much mileage.

Ongoing costs

Depending on the type of app you make, there should be few ongoing costs that you need to incur.

Server hosting costs between $7-$25/month.

Apple app store fees are $149/AUD a year

Android app store fees are $25/USD a year

They should be the only costs you need to incur.

However its worth noting that from time to time Apple and Google will change the rules or update iOS or Android. This may mean that you will need to fix your app to be compatible with the latest versions. The cost to rectify an issue isn't usually high, it needs to be considered and shouldn't be a surprise when it happens.