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How to Build an Educational App? [In-Depth Guide]

11 min

Are you a founder struggling to develop that cutting-edge idea for your startup?  Have you come up with a plan to create an EdTech app, but you don’t know how to go about it?

Are you stuck with the question: Is this the right time to develop an educational app?

If you have any of these questions in mind, then you should read this article on educational mobile application development.

This article will help you learn how to create an e-learning app that will give your startup the breakthrough it needs.

If you prefer visual to text, then go straight to the bonus infographic “How to build EdTech startup”.

Let’s get started.

Why Is It a Good Idea to Create an EdTech Startup Right Right Now?

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequential restrictive laws changed the way people interact, work, and learn.

It’s about efficiency and proper time management. You can easily find someone who can “write my dissertation for me online” and focus on higher-priority tasks. Education is moving toward flexibility and applicability

A prime example is the concept of learn-unlearn-relearn, which is widely adopted. You could even say that it is a highly concise framework for the entire learning process in the 2020s.

The outcome of this opens opportunities for educational app development to develop new EdTech products and bring new business models and innovation.

Therefore, future founders should create innovative apps that appeal to students, tutors, and educational institutions.

Some online educational solutions that entrepreneurs should consider due to the surge in demand include:

  • Learning applications for easing the learning process of toddlers.
  • Students, applicants, and pupils that need help to prepare for exams (For example, book summary apps). Apart from that, AI writing tools are being used to create effective CTAs and email subject lines.
  • Specialists willing to get a new qualification,
  • Individuals with the desire to try something different, upgrade their educational qualifications and master a skill.

To help you make an educated decision on the type of app you’d like to opt for, we’ll discuss the cost involved in subsequent sections but first, let us discuss the market landscape.

E-Learning Market Statistics

  • Research by Statista suggests that the eLearning market will be worth $243 billion by the end of 2022.
  • Another report indicates that the market will increase by $289 billion in 2024.
  • Prediction by Research and Markets data provider suggests that the global EdTech market will be worth a staggering $398 billion by the end of 2026.

The online learning market is well on course to bring this prediction to reality as investments in this sector peaked in 2020.

Most of that money, 42.9%, which are going into EdTech are based in the US.

Of all those investments, a significant part of that money went to AI-based learning tools, e.g., virtual reality, while mobile learning tools account for 15.9% of the investment.

This illustration shows how the eLearning market will change in the future.

Best Time for Mobile App Development

During the first half of 2019 and up to now, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in traffic going to online educational platforms and learning materials.

Both Android and Apple app stores experienced a near 100% increase in educational application download within this period.

Educational apps currently rank the third most popular application category on Apple Store and the second most downloaded category on the Google Play Store.

The primary reason for the increase is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that has shifted from the traditional teaching method. It shows that people are gradually beginning to embrace the idea of learning with apps. From teaching how to make custom oil paintings from photos, to different programming languages, professionals are also interested in this type of education including those pursuing an Associate degree in business.

More and more tech companies recognize this demand surge and are filling the gap by venturing into application development for the education industry.

For example, TikTok launched #LearnOnTikTok in 2020, a platform that helps TikTok users self educate in a fun but highly educative way.

As they say, use gamification correctly, and it will become a viral trend.

Illustration shows the changes in the e-learning market before and after the pandemic and what influenced such changes

What’s the Cost of an Educational App Development?

The cost of the development of an educational app varies from $25,500 to $50,000. It is the price of creating an MVP.

The price depends on various factors: from the complexity of an idea to the level and location of an app development company. Let’s take a closer look at a few factors.

1. The Complexity of the Concept

The complexity of the application’s concept directly impacts the development costs. How?

The difficulty of business logic like the number of roles, number of features, number of integrations, the kind of monetization or in-app purchases defines the complexity of the product.

The complex concept also means more advanced design, more research, and more planning.

And finally, complex business applications usually require more infrastructure work. For example, integration of additional security protocols or creating autoscaling via Kubernetes.

Here are a couple of examples, so you know what kind of numbers we’re talking about.

Complexity Cost
Simple education app $25,500
Middle education app $50,000
Complex education app $75,000

2. The Type of Development Team

As you can deduce from the table below, the cost of an educational application varies significantly with your developmental team.

If you’re giving the contract to US-based educational mobile app developers, then you’ll be spending way more than providing the same contract to a team based in Ukraine.

Team location Rate per hour MVP (3 months) Scaled MVP (6 months)
The USA $150 $200,000 $400,000
Ukraine $40 $40,000 $80,000
India $20 $25,000 $50,000

3. The Type of Educational Application

In estimating the cost of developing an educational app, you should consider the type of product you’re building.

For example, developing an educational app for a single platform will be cheaper than those designed for multiple platforms.

Similarly, EdTech products for wearables ( e.g., augmented reality) and connected TVs will significantly raise your mobile app’s cost.

Type Cost Example
Language learning app $45,000 Duolingo
Math learning app $55,000 Rocket Math
Mobile learning management system $70,000 TalentLMS
App for organizing the learning process $65,000 Formative

4. The Type of Platform for your educational application

Another sub-factor to consider is an operating system. There are native apps developed especially for one type of OS.

And hybrid apps that fit both iOS and Android. Also, hybrid apps are a priori cheaper, as you pay once for double effort.

Platform Cost
Native app on iOS $60,000
Native app on Androind $55,000
Hybrid app for iOs and Android $40,000

Hidden Cost of Developing an EdTech app

The hidden costs of app development include maintenance and marketing. Without neither of these, you cannot create an e-learning startup that people will like.

Maintaining your app includes upgrading its features and functionalities, fixing important bugs, scale servers, and many more.

Based on MVP cost, the maintenance of an EdTech product will cost $4,000 – $8,000 annually. It is 15-20% of the initial development budget.

Apart from maintaining your application, you should also market it to ensure that it reaches your target market.

Marketing a new educational app for online learning will cost you 2-3 times as much as developing it. Let’s take the MVP price as a basis. Marketing will cost $75,000 – $150,000 per year.

We have considered the main factors that form the budget for product development including, hidden costs. Now let’s take a closer look at the development process.

Illustration shows that there are main and hidden costs that affect the budget of development a new EdTech application

How to Build an Educational App?

Before building an online educational learning solution, you must plan your actions.

Do this by having adequate knowledge of the business development and technical development phase of the solution.

And here is what we have to say on this matter.

The Business Development

The initial stage of the development process is the discovery stage. What is that?

It is a stage designed to apply the founder’s vision to market conditions. It will allow initial testing of business hypotheses and selection of the most viable ones.

The project development team analyzes and collects information needed to build an EdTech app in a discovery phase. The team then uses gathered information to check whether a project is usable, feasible, and viable.

A breakdown of the steps involved in the discovery phase includes:

1. Customer Research

Customer research is essential to identify customers’ needs, behaviors and segments. You can either carry it out as part of your EdTech design research or a market research.

Every startup should aim to research potential users and those users who utilize other products you own and are likely to try out your EdTech platform.

The type of app you want to build determines the direction and extent of your customer research.

So, it’s best to understand how your app works to give your customers a great user experience.

2. Competitor Research

Competitor research entails identifying startups with the same product and evaluating the weaknesses and strengths of both the product and the startup.

It’s best to look at the biggest competitor for comparison as they pose the most significant threat to the success of your business.

Competitor research also helps to identify industry trends you may be missing.

3. Create Your Scope and Specifications

Scope and specifications are a part of business development that involves determining and documenting a list of deliverables, functions, deadlines, tasks, and costs.

In other words, it’s the summary of what needs to achieve and a timeline to deliver the project.

4. UX/UI Design

The UI/UX design of the platform plays a crucial role in improving user experience and customer satisfaction.

A good app design should help win your target market’s confidence and make customers constantly drawn to using your solution.

5. Project Milestones and Iterations and Decomposition

As a startup that works with the fastest time-to-market, you and the EdTech app development team must agree on a swift delivery time.

However, this timeline shouldn’t be too short that it’ll affect the software development process. An excellent way to achieve this is to agree on achievable milestones. Milestones also help to monitor the performance of your project.

For example, a suitable milestone in an EdTech app development process is user creation and onboarding flow.

Another one is the development of the following feature’s workflow, proceeding after signing in. Let’s say scrolling the catalog of learning materials or choosing a mentor.

Thus, the discovery phase is essentially a guide to actions for a development team, ensuring that you understand each other correctly and follow the same goals.

Illustration shows that there are 5 steps included in the discovery phase as a part of the whole creation process for educational app

The Technical Development Phase

The technical development phase involves little effort from you as a startup. The success of this critical and delicate phase depends on the hired app development team.

This team is responsible for building the app as you’ve envisioned and tailoring the features to the needs of your target audience.

The technical development phase involves creating an MVP and a scaled MVP.

Features of an MVP

The MVP is a startup development approach that focuses on the education app’s core functionalities.

The goal of an MVP is to test the riskiest product hypothesis on the real market quickly and budget-wise.

Such a flexible approach allows rapidly pivoting a startup to find that model that works and leads to boom-like growth.

Let’s look at a real case. We created an MVP for GetCangelo, which helps users get instant help with their learning tasks. Here are the initial features we focused on:

Feature Description
Role system GetCangelo features a role management system that helps to manage and administer user access.

Role Management System groups and classifies users based on their roles and reasons for accessing the platform.

Management of profile This helps teachers describe their expertise. It also allows students to know their teachers before allowing them to solve a problem.
Custom Chat Chat provides users with quick answers to their queries. We designed a highly intuitive custom chat that facilitates interactive responses to user queries.
Matching mechanism We created a matching tool that pairs homework assignments with the best teacher available.
Payment integration This feature allows users to make payments for services received.
Notifications integration The EdTech platform uses push notifications that boost user engagement. It also retains and reengages users, enhances brand consistency, and increases conversion rates.

On this image you can see 6 basic functions to include in the development iterations for the MVP in educational industry

Features for a Scaled MVP

Sometimes a minimum viable product involves additional features that are not critical to the application but which will increase user engagement.

There are several cases where you should consider this option, of course, if the budget for the project allows:

  • During the discovery phase, we found that user expectations are much higher than the core MVP can offer;
  • These are strict requirements from the founder. But for example, our team tries to dissuade clients from increasing their budgets without a critical need;

There is a list of such sort of features:

Feature Description
Resources Catalog The resource catalog is where the content for the e-learning platform is stored and arranged.

It helps people visiting your online education platform to navigate through online courses easily, this works even if your app features an offline mode.

Search and Categorization This helps users to browse or navigate through your solution.

By creating grouped and understandable categories, users can separate interesting information from irrelevant.

Video Feedback This is important if you want to give users the best user experience possible.

Top-performing platforms like Google Classroom, Coursera provide a video feedback feature to guarantee a top-notch learning experience.

Learning Statistics This will provide some basic metrics for an overview of students’ learning patterns.

On this image you can see 4 functions for a scaled MVP, which founder should include in future launches and releases

Team Composition

The composition and level of the team are the main factors that will determine the success of the development and the cost.

The composition depends on the requirements for the application. For GetCangelo, we assembled a team of 7 people:

  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • UX/UI designer
  • CTO
  • Backend developer
  • Mobile developer
  • QA tester

Also, the composition of the team is affected by the technical stack.

For example, for native applications, you will need a separate developer for iOS and Android. While for a hybrid app, one React Native programmer will be enough.

Let’s talk about the tech stack more.

Tech Stack

The technical stack is the set of technologies used in development. The stack depends on the tasks and goals of the application.

Going back to our GetCangelo’s case study, we used the following technologies:

  • Backend – Laravel
  • Frontend – React Native
  • 3rd party integrations – Twilio, Firebase
  • Server – AWS, Redis

It’s also worth saying that the technology stack may vary depending on the team you decide to work with.

For example, our team used this stack because it is most suitable for startups that build MVPs.

And while we’re at it, let’s discuss how to choose a team.

On this image you can see how the tech stack and the team composition affects each other

What to Consider Before Choosing an EdTech Development Team [Checklist]

Choosing the right team of educational app developers is very important in building your EdTech solution.

The right team can benefit your company in more ways than just developing an educational app.

Let’s get started on the things to watch out for. Here are some:

Factor to consider Description
Expertise Before choosing a learning app development team, it’s crucial that you first consider their knowledge about EdTech and the types of educational apps they have built.

Having a successful product goes beyond just creating a product; you need professionals that understand your market demands. They should also know how to create a product that fits.

Both are essential.

EdTech apps built Beyond expertise, the number of EdTech apps your development team has built also matters.

An experienced team can help you create your product faster and more efficiently.

Projects’ portfolio Before you hire your team, you should check their portfolio to consider the success of their past projects. It presents evidence of your team’s abilities and skills.
Social media These include checking out their Clutch, LinkedIn profile, and any other social network to verify information that supports their expertise.

Have an EdTech Idea? Let’s Make It a Reality

Do you have a vision and understanding of a problem that others do not see? Let’s create a solution for it together.

The SpdLoad team focuses on creating fast but scalable products for startups.

We have the experience and expertise in educational app development. We would be happy to apply them to your project as well.

Bonus Infographic

Here you’ll find a summary of our in-depth guide. Learn the highlights that will help you create a personalized education app in 2023.

This infographic explains how to create a custom educational app in a few steps and why now is the right time to do it

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