Case study: ArriveCan app – How to avoid blowing up $54 million on simple app development?

21 Oct 2022 | Mobile App Development


The buzz about the two companies that recreated the $54 million ArriveCan in just two days can be surprising. How can an app that costs that much take less than 48 hours to replicate? Everyone seems to be asking.

But while it is a norm for a government to overspend, we too can be overpaying for such services if we are not well-prepared for the app development processes. So, how can we draw some knowledge from these stories? How can you create your app faster and at a more affordable cost?

Generally, mobile app development takes time and costs a lot, but with the right strategies and clear goals, you can build yours in no time. And it is not just about the developer’s productivity: it is about getting clear about your business’s requirements and understanding your user’s needs.

Today, we will discuss how to speed up your app development while reducing costs. Also, how the two software companies made the ArriveCan over the weekend and the possible reasons that helped them deliver it faster.

So, let’s dive in!

What is ArriveCan, and how does it work?

ArriveCan is an app launched by the federal government in April 2020 to speed up the process of immigration at all of Canada’s international airports.

This app was especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic with contact restrictions. The travellers entering and leaving Canada used ArriveCan to provide their travel information securely and faster through the platform. This information includes their COVID-19 proof of vaccination and quarantine details.

The app has been kept mandatory until October 1, 2022, when the government lifted the compulsory public health screening and mask mandate for all travellers entering Canada.

Six tips for a fast & affordable app development

Our developer built the ArriveCan clone in less than two days. There are two other companies from Toronto who built the ArriveCan clone within 48 hours as well. How did we do it? What strategies did they use to create this app clone over the weekend? And more importantly, what can we learn from this clone app meant to be a classic critique of the app’s eye-watering price tag?

Thankfully, we will talk about seven ways to make a high-quality mobile app with limited time and money in this section.

Set clear goals and objectives for your new app

One of the first and the most important tip for creating a high-quality mobile application with a limited budget is to stay clear on the goals of your app. Staying within budget and timeline is much easier with proper planning and clearly defined outlines.

Our team that undertook the job to create the clone app had clear, simple, and specific goals — to replicate the ArriveCan app over the weekend. Although our goals were that simple and not much planning was required, creating an app from scratch demands lots of planning to make your goals clear.

Suppose you do your business analysis phase in haste and with minimal attention. In that case, your app development might cost a little more and takes some extra months to complete. When developers dive into an app without clear goals and objectives, problems can arise and may take more time or money to fix.

If you have a business analyst on the team, they can help you determine the essential requirements of your audience. They can compare your competitor’s products, specify the key features of your app, and identify the ideal monetization strategy for your company. That way, you can develop your app faster and within your budget.

Choose the right partner for your app development.

One of the main criticisms of the ArriveCan costs is that even at this cost, the companies procured to build the app never delivered a notably great piece of software. The federal government outsourced the app’s development to over 20 companies. Yet, the app initially received too much criticism over technical errors.

While mistakes in app development are inevitable, too many glitches may hint that the companies procured may not have been the ideal tech partners for the procurement. And the sole purpose for creating the app clones was to criticize the costs of the development and efforts behind the development.

So, while it might sound hackneyed or obvious, hiring the right app development partner is the most significant factor to consider if you need to build your app faster and within the budget.

The right partner will most definitely pave the way to the app’s quality and faster development, ultimately leading to your app’s success.

Implement a users-first approach

Another key element to building the right product first-time is to think about potential app users and focus on their needs first. That is, you need to do more research on the users before you put down the first line of your app’s code.

One way to understand users’ needs is to roll out app prototypes or MVP applications and ask potential users to try them and share their feedback. Testing the user’s experience will ensure that your app will meet your user’s needs and the standards for usability.

More so, ensure that each feature of your app will solve a specific problem that users face, providing the services meaningfully and as expected. Most of the app’s glitches will not exist if you do so each time you plan to build an app for your company.

Always remember that building an app no one wants to use will waste your time and money when you discover it later. So, it is crucial to consider your users’ needs to inform your app development requirements, which will speed up development if they’re clear.

Follow agile software development methodology.

Agile software development has become the standard for software developers because of its immense benefits. With Agile methodologies, you can reduce your project schedules to months, which speeds up the development process.

Another key benefit of agile methodologies is that it reduces the risks in app development that could waste your time and money. The iterative development cycles and user feedback throughout the development process will ultimately lead to an application tailored to users’ needs.

We developed the ArriveCan app clone using agile methodology.

For different reasons, some companies may prefer not to implement agile software development. So, it is important to find a software company that uses agile methodologies in their app development, which will ensure that you will reduce your app development costs while reducing the app development timeframe.

Try a minimum viable product (MVP)

To reduce your mobile app development costs while speeding up the development, at least initially, you should create a minimum viable product (MVP) for your company. An MVP is particularly helpful when creating brand-new products.

MVP applications can speed up your app development, helping you enter the market faster and with minimal investment. When you develop an MVP app, you create an app with the core features of your app as you build enough cash to enhance it with nice-to-have features.

The main benefits of MVPs are not just to help you reduce development costs and time, but you can enjoy countless other perks. MVPs will help you validate your ideas from what you found in your UX testing prototypes.

With an MVP application, your risk of failure is reduced to a minimum. If you built a fully-featured app from the start, your app might not succeed, and all the money and time you invested into its development will go to waste. So, if your app fails, MVPs will help you fail fast without spending more time and money on a failing project.

Keep your software architectural framework simple.

Wireframes, prototypes, and other UX testing tools or features can quickly consume your app development costs and time. For example, creating a high-fidelity wireframe can be time-consuming. Yet, it may not add more value than a rough architectural framework of your app.

While the planning phase is critical for your app’s success, it is crucial to note that it can quickly become an obsession over unimportant details. So, it is best not to ditch the planning of your app’s architecture but to consider the essentials in low-fidelity wireframes as you improve with time.

You should ensure functional simplicity for your app, so you can provide the functionality that solves their issues the way they want. Map out and plan your app’s layout in plain design and hassle-free navigation to boost users’ experience as they use your app.

It would be best if you kept clarity for your UI/UX designs in mind. Aiming to build simple strategies will help developers create an app that will provide the experience and functionality that users expect while reducing design costs and time.

Aveo Software delivers fast and affordable mobile app development.

Mobile applications have become one of the most powerful tools for business across all industries. And while its value is increasing each time, development costs keep soaring. Even so, with rising costs, a higher price tag like ArriveCan’s eye-watering $54 million has often become synonymous with the highest quality applications in our society.

However, that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the app’s quality and development speed for the development costs. There are thousands of ways to build a high-quality mobile app faster and with fair development costs.

As we have seen in this article, setting clear goals, choosing the right app development partner, and having a proper strategy and approach will help you build your app even with a tighter budget or time constraints.

Aveo Software will be happy to deliver a high-quality application for your business at a reasonable price. With years of experience in mobile app development, we can help you build an app that will meet the needs and expectations of your users.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let our team of professionals help you deliver the app you need.