How Much Will My Digital Product Cost?

Repeat after me: There’s no such thing as a quick-quote-turnaround in the world of app development—and anyone who tells you otherwise is doing you a disservice. 

If we were to simply give you a price and send you on your way without truly understanding your vision and requirements, we would not be doing you any favors. A competent and honest development team must invest a significant amount of time at the beginning of a client relationship to understand the problem you’re trying to solve and analyze how your users, goals, and business requirements will impact the project. Quoting a price without the necessary information is risky and borderline negligent. A project scope with significant gaps to fill and unknowns to answer can dramatically misalign client expectations and project estimates.

When folks first approach us at Tyrannosaurus Tech, they’re often in the “idea” phase. Your big idea may be shared through a long-winded explanation or a short elevator pitch you scribbled on the back of a napkin. At this stage, our team’s job is to work with you to unpack and better define your idea, understand the problem you’re looking to solve and make recommendations on how to best solve that problem. We gather this information and kickstart this process in what we call a Discovery Workshop (more on this later).

Putting a Price on Building Your Big Idea

Understanding your project’s requirements and estimating this type of work is an intensive process that requires time and energy from both parties. To help you grasp this effort, let’s compare building a new digital product to building a house. Just like there is no simple answer to “How much does it cost to build a house?” there is no simple answer to “How much does it cost to build an app?”

Continuing with the analogy, are we talking about a small three-bedroom home or a ten-bedroom mansion? Naturally, the answer may depend on where you are in your life and career (i.e., where you are in the pursuit of your new idea).

An ideal home provides a custom living space that satisfies needs that are specific to your lifestyle. If you need a place to exercise, you might include a gym in the floor plan. If you’re working remotely, a home office would be nice. If you often find yourself entertaining out-of-town visitors, you might consider a guest room with a kitchenette. All of these personalized features solve problems to make your living experience easier and more efficient. And, of course, all of these features contribute to the overall cost of the home.

In a sense, software developers and home builders are both in the business of problem-solving. Our job is to make sure we understand your specific needs, figure out how to solve your problem, and determine what role technology will play (if any). Who knows, rather than building you a home from scratch, we may discover what you actually need is an RV, a tent, or an extended stay hotel!

Of course, there are many questions to consider. Is this a starter home or a forever home? Do we need expensive hardwood floors throughout the house, or can we find some cost savings there? 

We also need to understand any constraints on the project. Does this home need to be move-in ready by a specific date? Is there a strict budget you’ve identified for a home at this stage in your life? Constraints can be healthy, and they often allow our team to make recommendations that are in-line with your most pressing goals.

Similarly, your digital project may also begin with a problem you’ve identified and believe you can solve with technology. Ultimately, you’re trying to solve a problem or create value for your product’s users.

First, we must identify whether the problem will be solved by the app equivalent of a luxurious ten-bedroom mansion or a modest two-bedroom cottage. Both projects require thought behind the design, budgeting, and construction, but the cost for completion will vary significantly.

Keep in mind that after the build is complete, there are also ongoing maintenance costs. The mansion will be more expensive than a cottage. It’s the builder’s job to set expectations for both the home’s construction and the long-term costs associated with it in the future.

Looping back to our development comparison, the same holds true for software. To put an accurate price on your bright idea, we must understand everything from the functionality and user experience expectations to how this product fits in with your larger business objectives. We complete this part of the process in our Discovery Workshop, which involves an extensive questionnaire followed by an in-depth workshop to gather all the details we need to get started.

What to Expect from the Discovery Workshop

In a nutshell, we build the blueprint for your project in the Discovery Workshop. This process starts with a detailed questionnaire that will give us more context into the scope of work. What’s the dream, and how does it relate to your company vision? Share with us anything that you feel will help us understand your users, the broader industry, relevant or competing products, pricing model, etc. In other words, to whatever extent you can, give us a “download” on your planning, research, and discovery work up to this point.

After reviewing your answers to the questionnaire, we’ll follow up with a hands-on workshop to uncover even more information and understand everything from the big vision to the detailed features you want to include.

At a high-level, the purpose of the Discovery Workshop is to:

  • Understand your vision and the problem you are solving
  • Define and describe various stakeholders and users in the product ecosystem
  • Establish empathy for the user
  • Review the relevant industry and competitor landscape
  • Understand relevant design and user experience considerations
  • Unpack and prioritize expected features and functionality

After the Discovery Workshop, you’ll walk away with a comprehensive report that’s yours to keep. This report will include a detailed project scope, itemized estimates, timelines, early-stage designs, and our technology recommendations for the product. Back to our custom home building metaphor, think of this proposal as the architectural blueprint—your roadmap to a digital product that’s about to make a colossal impact.

Chasing Your Minimum Viable Product

You bring us the dream, tell us where you are in the discovery process, and we’ll align our team to identify your minimum viable product (MVP). This limited feature set is focused on what sets your product apart from the competition. The MVP defines your product’s most valuable components to include in the initial build and wow your stakeholders. Identifying your MVP is essential to our shared success and will guide us in all the future decisions we make to build your product.

Are you ready to advance your business to the digital age? Now that you’re familiar with the first step of our development process let’s work together and make something roarsome.