You walk into a restaurant, settle into your seat, and eagerly scan the menu. Your stomach growls with hunger, but there’s one thing you’re desperately searching for – the price of that specialty dish you’ve been hearing about. Yet, much to your chagrin, there’s no number next to it. You can’t just glance at the menu and instantly know what it’ll cost. Frustrating, isn’t it? 

In the market for a custom digital product, you often encounter this situation: maybe a tailor-made website, a bespoke software application, or a unique mobile app that will set your business apart. You’re itching to know how much it’ll set you back, but alas, there’s no “Add to Cart” button with a fixed price tag. No instant gratification in sight. 
So, why does it feel like pulling teeth to get a quick and straightforward answer to the question, “How much will it cost?” Why can’t the price of a custom digital product be as simple as an email or a phone call? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the intricacies of pricing custom digital solutions and uncover why it takes more than just a casual inquiry or a glance at a menu to arrive at that all-important number. Just like it takes two to tango, it takes a thoughtful discussion, an exploration of your wants and needs, and a deep dive into the specifics before the curtain lifts on the final price tag. So, let’s unravel the mystery and understand why custom digital product pricing is an art, not a snap decision. 

Darko Kovac working on a project - CTO of BrightMarbles Group Holdng

Why Can’t You Just Snap Your Fingers for the Price of a Custom Digital Product? 

Many potential clients wonder about the app-building cost right from the start. It’s a common question in the digital world, where budgets are significant. But pricing digital projects doesn’t work like traditional models. Answering isn’t one-size-fits-all; it depends on your specific, custom-built solution. While off-the-shelf options exist, we encourage exploring a tailored path to align your product with your vision. 

When partnering with a digital agency for application development, it’s a unique journey to craft a product tailored to your business needs. You may not know the exact “something” at the start, but that’s the nature of the digital frontier. It’s a puzzle we’ll solve together. Each project is unique, akin to a fingerprint, making cost estimation more complex than reading a price tag. We’ll delve into the factors influencing your project’s cost and why a fixed price doesn’t fit. 

The Enigma of Unfinished Visions 

From idea to product - bespoken software solutions

If you bring us your brilliant idea, we’ll need to go through a process to turn that idea into an actual plan and then start building the app. We can give you a more accurate cost estimate when we have a clear idea of what we’re creating. However, even then, it’s not super precise because app development costs aren’t fixed. The cost of building an app depends on how far along your project is. The more progress we’ve made, the better our estimate will be. Also, the cost of creating an app varies depending on when you come to us.  

While every project is unique, we’ve simplified the design and development process into five stages: 

Stage 1: Your Idea 

At this initial stage, your concept may be as simple as a scribble on a napkin or solely a thought in your mind, a gem in its raw, formless state. It’s undoubtedly valuable but estimating costs accurately can be challenging. We may not be able to provide a precise answer to the question of cost. However, we can determine the cost of a discovery workshop, where both parties collaborate to chart the path forward. 

Stage 2: Product Brief 

After dedicating time to your idea, perhaps working closely with your in-house tech team, you’ve amassed a document brimming with remarkable features. Now, you’re on the lookout for the right partner to breathe life into it. At this stage, estimating costs can be a bit like aiming at a moving target. We value your project description, but it’s likely that a discovery workshop will be needed to precisely define your requirements. It’s akin to having a vision of constructing a structure but not knowing whether it will be a quaint cottage or a towering skyscraper. While the workshop cost is clear, the overall project cost remains a bit uncertain.  

Stage 3: Technical Specification 

You’ve completed the discovery stage with a different partner and now have a roadmap for your future product. However, the design is yet to take shape. Estimating costs here is moderately accurate. You won’t need a workshop at this point, but wireframing and design are essential. Based on your specifications, we can provide a fairly accurate estimate for the design part. Yet, the development cost remains a bit of a mystery. 

Stage 4: Wireframes 

You’re now at the halfway point of your journey. Your idea has a defined shape, but the design is incomplete, and you still need someone to make it real. At this stage, estimating costs is quite accurate. Armed with wireframes, we can confidently estimate both development and design expenses. 

Stage 5: Final Screens 

This is the final stretch, where you only need someone to turn your vision into reality. At this point, cost estimation accuracy is very high. You need development, and we can provide an accurate quote for the cost. 

When you embark on the journey of creating a custom product tailored to your business needs, this is the path you follow. Each phase builds upon the results of the previous one, and the next steps become clear as you progress. 

Think of it like unlocking achievements in a game; one stage leads to the next. For a high-quality product, there’s no bypassing this process. If you encounter an agency that makes grand promises early on and claims to provide an exact price for the entire project, our sincere advice is this – be cautious. The initial cost might surge due to unforeseen developments, or you could end up with an incomplete solution that doesn’t meet market demands or user requirements. The money you thought you saved could, in reality, go to waste.  

Paying for Expertise, Not Just the Product 

Software engineering experts developing the final product at BrightMarbles

When it comes to application development, or any digital product creation, it’s not a solo performance; it’s a grand symphony. This process often requires a diverse, multidisciplinary team. First, you bring in strategists to ensure your product aligns perfectly with your business goals. Perhaps you’ll need system architects to lay out the intricate technical blueprint. Then, you enlist designers, developers with specialized skills, tech experts, and quality assurance engineers to ensure the final product is both efficient and bug-free. The scope of your project might determine which of these experts you need, but the chances are you’ll require several individuals, each equipped with the precise skills for the job. 

Here’s the revelation: when you invest in a digital product, you’re not just investing in the product itself; you’re also investing in the wealth of knowledge and experience this team brings to the table. They’re not just our team; they have become your team too.  

Your Team, Your Success: Navigating Application Development 

We provide a range of collaboration options tailored to your project’s unique needs, but the one that offers the most value is the dedicated team. This dream team consists of all the experts required for your project, and they typically focus exclusively on your project for as long as their expertise is necessary. 

BrightMarbles fosters a collaborative style that provides you your own in-house team.

In essence, it’s like an extension of your in-house team. We fill in the skill gaps, and together, we work as a cohesive unit with a single goal. This collaborative style produces the best results because the entire team is fully committed to the project for the long term. They often work closely, sharing ideas and experiences. As part of our commitment to transparency, you have complete control over the team, including its size and structure. You have access to the team’s budget and expenses at all times, allowing you to make necessary adjustments. It’s a partnership built on trust and cooperation, ensuring your project reaches its full potential. 

It’s About Goals and Business Outcomes, Not Just Features 

Setting out to create a digital product involves more than simply assembling a set of features. It’s about crafting a purposeful creation that serves your business and adds value to your customers. Achieving this level of excellence requires more than a mere list of features; it demands a journey of discovery. 

To truly understand your target audience, your users’ desires and needs, the competitive landscape, and market dynamics, we often begin projects with discovery workshops. Working with our product strategists, you shape the vision of your future product long before we start actual application development. This approach ensures that you don’t end up building something nobody wants, thus avoiding the waste of valuable resources. 

The Agility Advantage 

In our domain, we follow the cadence of agile software development methodologies. This isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a set of values, principles, and practices that champion flexibility, collaboration, and iterative progress. This approach allows our teams to adapt to evolving requirements, minimize risks, and deliver top-quality products. Choosing the path of agility isn’t merely a choice; it’s a strategic decision that significantly improves your product’s chances of success.  

However, there’s a simple trade-off. When we go agile, we can’t give you a fixed product price. Why? Because, in the agile world, the product keeps evolving. The whole idea is to be flexible and adapt to user feedback, unexpected events, or competition. The cost of creating an app doesn’t fit perfectly with this agile approach. As mentioned before, if you tie the project’s scope to a set budget, it can restrict your ability to respond to changes and potentially impact the project’s success. 

Why Is Changing Your View on Costs Crucial? 

To manage project expenses efficiently, let’s shift our viewpoint. With our years of experience working with clients, we propose a new way to look at the pricing question. Instead of obsessing over its size, let’s focus on optimizing its capacity. Instead of inquiring about the necessary size of the container to hold a specific amount of content, let’s fill it to its maximum potential. 

When clients openly share their budget, it becomes much easier for us to find a solution that provides the most value within that budget. It might not result in a comprehensive product that requires months of development and goes through all the stages we discussed earlier, but it can serve as a foundation for future growth. 

Take, for example, the option of prototypes. They offer a budget-friendly choice, especially if you’re still in the process of securing full project funding and need to attract investors. After a strategy workshop, our designers create clickable prototypes, providing an interactive model of your future app. Many investors are familiar with this concept, and having a prototype can give them confidence in investing in a product that has yet to be fully developed.  

No Need to Focus on the Budget 

Choosing the right partner for your digital transformation is a significant decision. While you might not always know the total cost of a month-long project, you should be confident that you’ll get an exceptional product in the end. 

Why should you trust us? 

Established Procedures: We’ve been in the industry long enough to have worked on diverse projects for various clients. During this time, we’ve honed our processes to reduce errors and prioritize the most critical tasks. Our goal is to save you time and money, and perhaps even inspire you to optimize your own procedures. 

Streamlined Communication: Transparency is a core principle for us. We have robust communication systems in place for all our projects. Clear communication is vital as it streamlines workflows, prevents delays, and avoids conflicts. It ultimately saves you money. 

Sufficiently Equipped to Deliver: As a company with a diverse skill set, we are capable of managing projects of various sizes. Our well-structured planning and scheduling system enable us to customize a team to suit your needs and guarantee its availability throughout the project’s duration. 

Cross-Team Collaboration: Since we cover every stage of the digital product development process, we can easily facilitate collaboration across different teams. This improves efficiency and saves both time and money. For example, when quality assurance engineers work alongside developers from the project’s early stages, they can spot and address quality issues before they reach the production phase, eliminating the need for costly fixes later. 

Security and Trust: Adding an extra layer of assurance, we offer a risk-free two-week trial that demonstrates our confidence in delivering value. If you’re not satisfied, there are no charges. With us, you have full control over your spending, allowing you to move forward with confidence. 

BrightMarbles cross colaboration team at the office

At the End 

We understand that custom digital products can come with a substantial price tag. Moreover, providing an exact answer to the common question about price right from the start can be quite a challenge, like predicting the unpredictable. We hope that the reasons we’ve outlined shed light on the elusive nature of this concept and provide you with a deeper understanding of the entire development journey, from inception to completion. 

The digital realm is constantly evolving. To stay current, it’s crucial to remain adaptable and discard outdated project approaches that don’t fit the ever-changing landscape. It’s entirely conceivable that we may need to alter our direction during the journey, and that’s not only acceptable but often the most effective way to ensure that our deliverables genuinely enhance your business. 

We’ve discussed how cost estimation evolves as the project progresses. If you’re interested in sharing the stage your project is currently at, it won’t cost you a thing. Just set up a call, and let’s discuss how we can provide you with valuable solutions – Let’s Talk About Your Vision | Contact us | BrightMarbles 

About Author  

Svetlana Kosić is a marketing specialist who holds a master’s degree in media design in education. With extensive experience in the IT industry, particularly in sales and marketing, Svetlana has honed her skills over the years. She has a profound passion for the written word and expresses her creativity through various outlets, including as a columnist. Svetlana is a staunch advocate against injustice and tirelessly works towards the positive change she desires.