Posts by Bill Smith

App Development Costs

5 Ways to Crush the Cost of App Development

Have you got an idea for a mobile app, but you think it’s just too expensive? Your next mobile app might be cheaper to do than you think. It might just even be free. Read on dear friend, for I will reveal 5 of E7 Systems’ most closely held secrets of affordable app development.

Reusable Software

After a decade of app development, we have automated all the core functions found in most apps. For your project, we can piece these functions together and add your unique ideas to our base.  Our reusable codebase includes: admin dashboard, user management, notifications, blogging, user messaging, bar codes, RFID, geo-fencing & more.

App Content Manager

Does your app idea contain a lot of content, articles, video?  Check out E7’s  content management system for mobile apps.  Our customers can now define their own content without programming. Adding and updating content in your app is as easy as filling in a web form.  There’s no need to pay a programmer to do what you can do for yourself, unless you want to.

Shared Hosting

Configuring and maintaining a separate host for each and every application takes time.  For a simple app with no special hosting requirements, we add the app content to our shared app server and in no time the new app is ready to go.

Client Partnerships

Have you got an idea for an app that’s worth investing in?  Then contact us.  We have recently worked on 2 great apps where we partnered with the app owner to share revenues.  In my next post, I will introduce the perfect partner app, a 30 Day Weather forecast.

App Leasing

Your app will give you many years of value. Why pay for app development all up front?  E7 Systems can work out an app lease, where you pay for your app over time.  We can work out a plan where the monthly payments are in balance with the income or savings that the app brings to your business.

Mobile App Cost Calculator

If you want to see what your app might cost, come visit the App Cost Calculator at E7Systems.com.

 

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Mobile App Dev Cost Calulator

Mobile App Cost Calculator

E7 Systems has developed dozens of mobile apps and with each one we have simplified the development process and added to our collection of reusable code. We can now estimate the cost of many apps with simple formulas.  Try our cost calculator with your app idea. Just select the parameters that describe your mobile app and see the effects on cost in real time.  The parameter explanations are below.

Calculator
Total
Content Delivery FREE $0.00
User Management FREE $0.00
Admin Dashboard FREE $0.00
Broadcast Notifications FREE $0.00
Blogging FREE $0.00
Notifications User Alerts NoneMany/Complex $0.00
Geofence $0.00
Community Messaging NoneComplex $0.00
External Data Gateway NoneComplex $0.00
Custom Functions NoneComplex $0.00
Post to Your Existing App Store Account $0.00
Set up Your New App Store Account $0.00
Host on Your Server SimpleComplex $0.00
Ads NoneComplex $0.00
In App-Purchases NoneComplex $0.00
Free & Pro Versions $0.00
Native Coding $0.00
High Design Template NoneComplex $0.00
Simple Content Pages NoneAround 20 $0.00
Complex Content Pages None4 or so $0.00
Likely totals $0.00
Contact Information How much is my app worth? How do I make money on my app? How do I promote my new app? For the answers to all your app questions, complete the contact info and get a free consultation call with an app business & development expert.
Name
Phone
App Description

Here is how E7 estimates the cost of a mobile app, repeatedly and accurately.  If you want to skip the explanations, you will find our app cost calculator at the bottom of this article.

Bidding a Mobile App

In creating a bid for an app we nail down 10 variables which determine your cost of building the complete app.

  1. Functions
  2. Content
  3. App Hosting
  4. App Store Posting
  5. Paid or Free
  6. Native App or Cross Platform
  7. Client Factors
  8. Interfaces
  9. Fixed Price or Time and Materials
  10. Discovered Requirements

App Functions

What is the app supposed to do? The most basic app functions are now standardized and fairly cheap, e.g. streaming audio/video, GPS and notifications.  

Many other app functions are already encoded in the E7 Systems code base. They merely need to be turned on for your app.

  • User registration
  • Location
  • Content pages
  • Business directories
  • RFID

Completely custom functions, like calculating the grams of carbs, fats and proteins in any meal, those are more expensive, possibly as much as $20k.

App Content

Sometimes clients ask us to build beautiful apps, filled with detailed content. Collecting this content and bringing it to production quality can be enormously time consuming.  Fortunately, many customers already have most of the photos and articles they need. In the case where  you can supply their own content, you only pay a small price to format it for mobile.  

To further reduce costs, we created The E7  Mobile Content Management System, which enables your business to enter your own content via your web browser and to update it as frequently as you’d like in the years to come without the cost of programming or releasing new versions.

System Interfaces

Does the app need to share data or functions with another system or piece of hardware?  Some interfaces, such as encrypted credit card readers or managed care providers can be very difficult to work with.  Other platforms, like web point of sale systems, can be fast to Integrate.  In this we let experience be our guide to best suit your requirements.  

App Hosting

Nobody thinks of hosting costs, but most every app needs interaction with the outside world. For example, our weather app needs a new forecast every day.  Does your app require users to log in, send messages,etc? If it does then it will need a host.  Hosts can be rented for $20-$200 monthly, depending on the workload and size of your user base.  Setting up a cloud based host in the customer’s name will cost between $500 and $1000.

App Store Posting

Mobile Apps are distributed via the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.  In the simplest case, we can publish the app in the E7 developer accounts for App Store and Play.  If  the app is designed to generate revenue, then you will want your own App Store & Play accounts. With simple apps, the store posting and launch can be 30% of the work.

Paid or Free

Choosing the right revenue model is key to the success of any app.

  • Free – if you want a large audience.  
  • Paid – for exclusive experiences & specialized functions
  • In-App purchases – Offers revenue & large audience
  • Paid by advertising – Monetize your free app.

These models can be mixed in many creative combinations. Here’s how they affect cost:

  • Free – no additional cost
  • Paid – small additional cost in posting
  • In-App purchases – more costly, must design packages and add logic for “fulfillment”
  • Paid by advertising – small additional cost – mostly design

Having launched dozens of apps, E7 can assist you choosing a revenue model best suited to your app..

Web app, Cross Platform Mobile or Native App.

Web Apps

Do you really need a mobile app?  E7 can save you 75% by creating a responsive web application that looks just like a mobile app.  Mobile apps are only necessary when you need a store presence or need direct access to deeper functions within the phone.

Cross-Platform Apps

If you want to reach everyone with an Android or an iPhone you need to create 2 different apps.  When possible E7 uses Ionic, cross-platform development tool, to write the app once and publish it to each store and even the web. There is a small cost in performance and user experience, but a cross platform tool, like Ionic, can save 30% on app development.  

Native Apps

Native programing (Swift or Java) is used to get the best app performance, slick user interfaces (think games) or deep sensor interaction.  Native programming is the most expensive as we need to write the software twice.

As a part of our service we help you to determine the best platform formatting for your app.

Fixed Price vs Time and Materials

Do you  insist on fixed price?  If so, most contractors build in a safety margin. We prefer time & materials so that we can accomodate discovered requirements and provide whatever level of service the client desires.  E7 time & materials contracts always state an estimate which we will not exceed without your permission.

Discovered Requirements

At the start of a project there is no way to foresee all of the features that you require.  Inevitably, good ideas come to light when we hold our new app for the first time.. At E7 we try to account for discovered requirements in our bidding process.  

Our discovered requirements budget is based on 2 factors, feature set and agility in purchasing.  

Some apps have features that are open to discovered requirements, like games. Apps like engineering calculators have fewer discovered requirements.

Larger companies who have only one chance to budget may need more funds set aside for discovered requirements.

Client Factors

A realistic estimate must account for the following questions:

Are you  in a rush?   Rushing is great for amusement apps. For financial transactional apps rushing can increase costs by 200%.

Are you  good at communication? You’ll want to be available  to discuss, review or approve your work.  Are you  a large organization or a smaller business entity? Will there be multiple parties involved in app approvals?

E7 Systems’ App Pricing Process

E7 Systems has built apps that forecast the weather, apps that stream audio and video, apps that track your adventures, apps that track your diet and calculate your nutrients, apps that configure solar systems and water blast tools.  Much of the non-proprietary software we have created in 15 years is available for reuse.  Reusing core features saves every client thousands of dollars on their new app.  E7 makes every effort to save your app project budget.

Here is a menu of costs in creating an app based on the criteria above.  Each item has a low to high range.  Of course, there are exceptions, but these ranges represent 90% of the projects we encounter.

 

Criteria

Low Price

High Price

App Functions

1000

100k*

App Content

1000

20k*

App Hosting

200

5k

App Posting

2000

6000

Paid or Free – In app Purchases

0

4000

Native App or Cross Platform

+30%

Project overhead

500

Discovered Requirements

300

50000

Fixed Price Safety Margin

30%

Likely totals

$5,000

$175,000

An example mobile app for the low range price of $5,000 might be a content app where you have time to communicate. You have well organized content.  Maybe your app requires a simple data feed and the ability to communicate with users.  A marketing or training app might be a good example here.

An example of a mobile app that costs $175,000 would be a product like a point of sale app for restaurants that has extensive features and is entering into a market with several competitors.

Right-sizing your mobile app budget

Over the years, we have developed products for many startups.  Although the technology is the core of their business, our clients regularly spend 20% on technology and 80% on business development.  There is little to gain by trying to cut the 20% to 10%.  

Many new clients come to us after another developer has failed to deliver. Inexperienced developers frequently underbid apps and lose interest when the budget is gone. In many instances we can take the knowledge learned from an incomplete app plan and expedite its proper final development phase.

No matter who you choose, please budget a reasonable amount for technology.  It will help ensure you pay for your mobile app development just once.

E7 Systems has developed dozens of apps getting more efficient with each effort.  Every app we build incorporates new innovations

UI

Content

Server

Store Posting

After developing our first few mobile apps we discovered that there was too much duplicated effort.  So we set to work making the process more efficient.  After developing a few dozen apps, we now only have to develop the modules that are absolutely unique to your app.  We handle all web services from an existing cloud server

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Content Manager

Content Management System App

Content Management Systems have made web site creation fast & easy. Now mobile apps are just as easy to create. To lower the costs of mobile app development, E7 created the mobile content management system (MCMS). Our clients can now complete development of their mobile app in a week by repurposing content or creating new. Their app gives the content new life and exposes their work to the app store audience. MCMS apps can be free or paid, and include any unique functions that you desire.

Business Goal:

We created a content management system app so that the client could quickly add content and change content, at will, without needing to call their  programming team.  The client can now add virtually unlimited content into one low cost mobile app.

Simplicity of use has been an overriding goal, as owners and managers do not have the time to become computing experts.

Cost: $

Technologies:

Ionic, Ruby, Javascript, Angular, MYSQL, Youtube API, notifications via Golang

 

Innovations:

Full featured Content Management System for Apps. Displays Q&A, events log & sequential information pages.  Simple to use editors make new content fast & easy.  Each page of the app contains similar elements arranged to the purpose of the page:

  • Short Introductory Text

  • Multiple Photo Slideshow

  • Embedded Video

  • Full Page Text

  • More Information Link to Web URL

Clients can send app notification to all app owners, alerting them to vital events in the community & app domain.

Deliverables:

  • iOS and Android content & community building app

  • Admin dashboard & content management system

Outcome:

This app is soon to be in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The app content management system is available to build new apps at lightning speed.

Content Management App Builder

The user friendly Content Management App Builder allows anyone with basic web skills to create their own app. Making new pages, uploading photos and embedding you tube videos are as easy as ordering on Amazon.

You can easily send app notifications to all your users.

Each Page in this app can have any or all of these elements:

The CMS admin dashboard gives a clear overview of all app pages.

Adding a new page is as simple as sending an email.

Images, video, & web links are automatically formatted, and the app ensures consistent presentation of all content managed by the app.

This paid app also helps the client build their on-line community.

Interactive Questions and Answers allows app customers to ask any question of the app owner.  The owner can choose the best questions to answer, automatically curating the Q&A section of the app.  Automated messages are sent to the asker upon answering.

Connecting this app to a Youtube live video feed was a big requirement.  With some query and formatting tricks we made the Youtube live stream looks like just another part of the app.

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Drone RFP Estimator

Business Goal:

Drone technologies have dramatically decreased the costs of inspecting utilities assets such as towers and power lines. Our client asked us to create a tool that would enable commercial drone operators to create sound estimates for complicated projects.  These estimates are then converted to standardized contracts which are submitted to utility customers.

 

Cost: $$

Calendar Time: 3 Months 

Technologies:

Ionic, Ruby, Javascript, Angular, MYSQL

Innovations:

Import facility for ARCGIS “shape” files to describe the assets to be inspected. Business rules and formula engine to convert project parameters to an estimable scope of work. Supports multiple site uploads and multi-point support through a mapping application. 

Deliverables:

  • Responsive web app
  • Dashboard
  • PDF Contracts

Outcome:

Interactive and user friendly map application used to add custom site location points.

Import Utility Asset Lists from Arc GIS to scope the project.

Simplifies the process of bidding complex jobs. The utilities get faster service, and the operators get more business with fewer bidding errors.

Create a rich description of project details.

The app accounts for travel and other project expenses. 

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Diet Coaching App

Business Goal:

Enable a busy dietitian to serve more clients by automating her routine tasks.  Open up her schedule so she can spend more time on the deeper more meaningful work of a registered dietitian.

Unlike other dieting and fitness apps, we endeavored to create an app with a focus on managing a group of clients.  Reporting and messaging features save time, keeping the coach and client in touch on matters of program success.  By automating the role of monitoring client meals, the coach can now focus on discussions of goals.  With the time freed by the coaching app, the client can serve more clients and increase her income 50%.

 

 

Cost: $

Technologies:

Ionic, Ruby, Javascript, Angular, MYSQL

 

Innovations:

Daily Planner and Meal Builder functions allow clients to diary their performance within the dietary program.

Automated and personal messages affirm accomplishments and guide clients who may be struggling.  Direct chat between coach and client free up inboxes and her personal messaging apps.

Daily assessments pages link dietary program success with energy & satisfaction

Clients can graph how their aesthetics have improved over their time in the program.

Leaderboards call out the clients who are most successful and most improved in the program.

 

Deliverables:

  • iOS Coaches and Client app
  • Admin dashboard for managing clients

Outcome:

Client is using the app with everyday clients. Clients are logging meals and tracking program success with the way they feel.   

Our intention is to partner with the client in marketing the app to other Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

Diet Coaching App Demo

Please enjoy the first of 8 videos demonstrating the Diet Coaching App. 

For access to the rest of the videos please contact us.

Built specifically for dietitians who need to manage and motivate clients and grow their practice and income.

Clients get instant affirmation as they log their meals.

Clients track program success vs having more energy and feeling better.

Graphs help clients keep track of their progress on their personal diet goals.

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Self Pour Beer & Wine

Business Goal:

Craft beer is an exploding market. Customers love the opportunity to explore craft beers, especially when they can taste and compare a dozen beers without overindulging.  Our client is a restaurant in Orange California with 55 taps, and rotating kegs to offer new deliciously tasting craft beers every few days. Our goal was to enable this small restaurant to operate in a small space with minimal staff and create a model which would be repeatable in other venues.  And of course, we wanted to deliver a remarkably awesome customer experience.

Cost: $$

Calendar Time: 6 Months

Technologies:

Ionic, Ruby, Javascript, Angular, Raspberry Pi, RFID, MYSQL

Innovations:

Many dozen small innovations went into making the experience seamless for customers and staff. We created a system based on off-the-shelf hardware as much as possible, Every piece of hardware is low cost and field replaceable.  Where no existing hardware was available, the E7 Systems hardware design team prototyped a proprietary PCB and then contracted for mass production.

Deliverables:

In lean fashion, we proved the viability of the highest risk project elements first. There were many elements of this project that we needed to know would work in our environment so we delivered prototypes of each before moving forward with the construction of the 55 taps.

  • Software spike
  • Prove accuracy of flow meters
  • Single Tap Demo
  • Two tap prototype in venue
  • Seven 8 tap units
  • 56 keg side controllers

Outcome:

The restaurant is now a full time self-pouring bar. Patrons love the choice, convenience and novelty of being  their own bartenders. Staff love the freedom from having to pour flights.

Installations are underway for the eSports Lounge at the Rio hotel and casino in Las Vegas Nevada and Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Redlands California.

Development has commenced for a rapid install and deploy version for your kegerator.

55 user friendly taps in a small space used to maximize sales and create excitement for patrons.

Accurate measurement to 1/10th ounce.

All of the hardware was created by E7 System and our local partners from the tap cabinet all the way to the custom PCB.

What customers are saying about the beer tasting

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Restaurant Point of Sale

Business Goal:

We set out to build a Point of Sale system tailored to the fast paced casual dining and bistro environments.  We built a beautiful, solid, flexible, high performance POS system, and we integrated it to all of the technology in the environment.  

 

Cost: $$$

Calendar Time: 6 Months

Technologies:

Ionic, Ruby, Javascript, Angular, Raspberry Pi, RFID, MYSQL

Innovations:

There are many small innovations that make our POS system a hit with staff. In general, our system is more fully featured and flexible to their needs over the Square POS that we replaced.

The major innovation and 60% of project effort was delivery of the self-pour beverage system.  For more information on our self-pour project click here, See the Self-Pour Beverage project summary.  The self pour system requires deep integration with the POS.  The POS must be able to inventory, sell, and properly account for beers and wines sold in bulk, with precision of a tenth of an ounce.

Deliverables:

The Restaurant POS suite includes

  • Mobile app for servers
  • Kitchen & expeditor app
  • Self pour beer & wine app
  • Venue administration web app
  • Digital signage Menu displays
 

 

 

Outcome:

Working point of sale and self-pour beverage hardware and software were delivered into a busy restaurant in 6 months. A one month cut-over period ensured continuous operation of staff into the new system which changed 100% of their IT procedures.

Agile and lean methods were employed to ensure that the highest risk items were under control before the client invested in the bulk of the project.

E7 Systems drew upon internal resources and local partners to perform all the hardware engineering, case manufacture, assembly, and PCB manufacture required to deliver a business ready, professional looking prototype to the first restaurant.  

We are presently working on plans for installs to other venues in the chain and beyond.

Tiki POS is designed to keep up with busy servers.

With our self pour system, patrons pour their own beers and their tabs are updated automatically.

Lightweight design is flexible for the unique requirements of the casual food and bistro environments.

Integrates with the E7 Systems designed pour it yourself beverage system.

App Screenshots

Wow, ordering an entry has never been easier with the app’s flexibility!

Keep up with the food orders, and easily modify seats or tabs.

The Cooks and expeditors love the power of the kitchen command screen.

Payment is extremely flexible; the app is capable of splitting the check by seat or even by item.

Don’t pull out your hair trying to split the tab; let the app do the work.

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Silverton Community News

On-Line Newspaper

Business Goal: Enable small town paper to capture audience, deliver issues and receive payments on-line. Cost $ Calendar Time: 2 months Deliverables : Operational web site, ad management system, on-line payments via PayPal, PDF issues archive, photo galleries, services and business directory. Outcome: On-line Newspaper portal up and running on E7 system for 10 years.

Silverton Standard loves E7 Systems.

They have provided awesome website hosting – and development – for our little nonprofit newspaper way up here in the mountains.

Mark Esper Editor - Silverton Standard

 

Local news on-line for Silverton, Colorado.

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EMV Point of Sale

Point Of Sale ATM Network

Business Goal:
With zero assistance from original developer, reverse engineered and re-created high volume cash advance system. Architected redundant cloud services on Amazon Web Services. Restored vital configuration data and transaction history. Brought system to life with immediate reduction in down time.

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Interactive Digital Signage & Content

Mission: Connect to patrons in venue bars, restaurants & health clubs. Create an audience for audio streaming app. Provide interactive digital channel for advertising network. 

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