Creating a mobile app with low budget

Creating a mobile app with low budget

So you’ve come up with an idea and wanted to create a new product. What if, after some research, it turns out that you don’t have enough budget to do it? Different teams and companies have various methods of pricing, but overall, mobile app development costs can be hard to handle. Especially for startups and in case you need a high-quality product.

But there are some ways to avoid high costs and to get through the mobile app development process without worrying about running out of money. 

This article is a guide on how to cope with tight budgets in software development projects. Follow these tips to make your mobile app development project a success even if the budget seems too little.

Looking for funding sources

Probably the worst thing a business owner can do is to look for low-cost freelancers or software companies. They usually end up finding very bad quality services. There are other ways to go through the development process right. 

First thing that can be proposed if the budget for app development isn’t enough is to do the market research and complete analyses to create a development plan and start looking for funding. You can find people willing to invest in your mobile app if you can prove it's a good idea. A little work and preparation, and your plan can become someone else's plan at the same time. With a little cost, you can do a few things that will encourage investors. 

Here we described 7 things you should know before developing an app, you may find it helpful too. 

Mobile app brief template

Running workshops for your mobile app development plan

At FiveDotTwelve, in this case we propose our clients to have workshops with our app development team. At such workshops we help our client in doing the overall market research, competitive analysis, and creating user personas. Workshops can end with mock-ups, also called wireframes — frameworks that show the simplified appearance of the app screens (rather black and white, without specified features of the components).

Moreover, when you have these points behind you, the overall mobile app development cost is lower. So if you prefer to do it yourself or have already done it with a different team, it’s a one point (cost) in the development process less.

Thanks to such detailed analysis and ready-made materials you’ll also be able to make a good project plan, estimate the costs and manage your budget effectively, as well as to plan the activities related to raising funds from investors.

Optimizing mobile app development costs

The above mentioned competitors analysis and creating user personas are foundations. Why? Because it’s probably impossible to come up with a completely revolutionary idea for a mobile app. Your idea already exists. You need to find a way to make it better than others. That’s why market research comes in handy so you can find a niche and think of specific features that will make your mobile app stand out. 

Then, you have to show that you know the target audience and there will be people who would like to use your product. And that’s what user personas are for.

Doing these activities will make you think about your idea holistically. Perhaps your analysis will lead you to the conclusion that some of the previously planned features are unnecessary or need to be replaced. Maybe your product doesn't have to be as complex as you expected. Such optimization will reduce the time needed to build the application and also reduce the final billing costs. 

Market research and competitive analysis 

Competitors analysis is an in-depth research of competing apps that will help you find flaws in these products and lacks in features, and get to know their audience needs. Why is it important in terms of your budget? Basically, if you want to be well prepared to run your software project and have a good chance of success, you need to do the competitive analysis. This means not losing your money on something unprofitable. Before you start looking for your funding, it’s crucial to know the situation on the mobile app development market

This is what competitive analysis includes:

  • Gathering information about the target audience 
  • Competitors’ value proposition research
  • Market analysis concerning the business model
  • Rates and reviews research

The analysis can help you identify opportunities to outperform the competition by knowing their strengths and weaknesses and using this knowledge to determine your business strategy, find out what the industry standards are, determine what is valuable to your target market and get to know how you can stand out from the crowd.

Find the competitor analysis template in resources.

Creating user personas

Another thing you should do before the mobile app development starts is creating user personas. Just like competitors analysis, it can be done during workshops with the app development team, or you can do it yourself. In fact, the best idea is to create a couple of user personas to fully cover the whole target audience. User personas are your ideal types of users (the ones that gain the most revenue, spend the most time using the app etc.). The user persona template consists of:

  • Basic information about the ideal user, like occupation, age, location and gender
  • A bio — made-up story from the user’s life to help you find valuable information about them
  • Users’ goals
  • Motivations and needs 
  • Pain points and frustrations.

Find the user persona template in resources.

Creating tailor-made designs

In the whole mobile app development process, the longest part is the app development phase (implementation of features). If the app development cost is too much and your budget wouldn’t cover it, you can stop at the wireframes stage or create the whole mobile app design. That’s a good starting point to start raising funds. In case you’re going to look for investors, the designs are the best way to show them what the app will look like in detail. 

The app development team implements feature by feature based 100% on the design. So the work of the UI/UX designer is completely enough to see the result. One thing that will remain undone is the development and launch. 

One way or another, when you’re looking for some funding from the outside, it’s a good idea to use the budget you have for workshops and the creation of designs. Moreover, if you get surprised by the mobile app development cost or just decide to wait for some additional funds, it’s always possible to use readily available designs with the same team later, or completely another team.

Consider creating MVP

Whenever cost-cutting is mentioned, the topic of creating MVPs comes up. It is useful to put less funds to the project at the beginning but it also has other advantages. You can read about them here

MVP is a minimum viable product, and making such a product enables you to save money and test it before you decide to develop a complex app. It means that the most important (main) features will be in it. It's not about creating a fudged, incomplete or non-functional product. The best idea is to create an app that performs the core features and serves its users, and if everything goes well and the app starts earning money, you can develop it any time. It’s a great way to make the mobile app development cost lower at the beginning, so you also don’t scare investors in case you use their help.

Consider cross-platform development 

The time it takes to develop a mobile app, and thus the price of the project, also depends on the technologies chosen. The choice of tools, in turn, depends on the features that the app is to have. The app development team will help you with that, because thanks to their experience they’re able to determine what solution will be the best for your product. 

If your app doesn't have to rely on specific device system features and there won’t be a need to create libraries, you can save money by choosing a cross-platform app.

Cross-platform app development allows you to create mobile apps for two platforms simultaneously. This way developers save time by creating Android and iOS apps at the same time. The most popular method of creating such apps now is using Flutter

You’ll find examples of native mobile apps in this article and examples of cross-platform apps made with Flutter here

No-code and low-code tools and platforms

With the increase in demand, a kind of revolution was the arrival of tools and platforms that allow you to build no-co or low-code apps.  

No-code development tools allow you to create mobile apps without writing a single line of code. It means that non-technical users with no coding skills can build apps through visual modeling tools without any hassle. They can build and customize the look of the app without touching the code.

No-code platforms are closely related to low-code platforms. Both methods are becoming very popular – it’s an easy and cheap alternative to traditional development processes.

Low-code app development is for those who have little experience or also no coding skills. Just like no-code, it’s based on a drag-and-drop system to adjust the UI design to users’ needs. 

This is an opportunity for every business to create an app with a low budget and start making money faster and easier. But why isn’t it a good solution for everyone? Because when it comes to further app development, it’s impossible to continue the creation of a complex app with such a tool. It’s a good idea to make use of no-code and low-code platforms when creating an unexpanded MVP or just to show the concept to the audience and collect feedback. When the time for further development comes, developers will still need to write the code as these platforms have numerous limitations and restrictions.


Doing these analyses and making a plan can help you set the budget and define your financial needs for the mobile app development project as well as for any software project. Then, knowing what you are aiming for, it will be easier for you to decide whether you can save money to get enough for specific goals or whether it will be better to try to get an investor. 

To increase the chance of getting an investor, in turn, it will be useful to have an MVP or at least designs/mock-ups, which is still a smaller cost than building complex mobile apps. However, if you don't want to use the help of an investor, the MVP itself can already attract customers and the revenue can be reinvested in further app development.