How much does it cost to build an app?
If you’re interested in mobile app development solutions, you’ve probably asked yourself this question.
The average cost of developing an app is between $50,000 and 75,000 dollars. An app with a complex set of features can cost up to $300,000 or more to develop.
But how is the cost of app development determined?
This article provides an in-depth examination of the current state of the global software development market. To avoid future surprises, you will learn how to calculate app development costs, which factors influence the price, and effectively manage app development costs.
Let’s get started on the costing right away.
In 2022, How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App?
Various factors determine the final cost of an application, but if we try to summarize it in a few sentences, we get the following picture based on GoodFirm’s extensive survey.
- A simple app with the bare minimum of features, developed in 4 – 11 weeks, will cost $25,000 and $59,000.
- A complex app with popular consumer features that takes 7 to 16 weeks to develop will cost $36,000 to $85,000.
- An advanced app with cutting-edge features that takes 11 to 16 weeks to develop will cost $59,000 to $137,000.
How Much Does it Cost to Make an App by Yourself?
You can create an app if you have sufficient technical knowledge and expertise. However, in most cases, app development is not the responsibility of a single person. It is a process that necessitates the participation of the entire development team, including developers, designers, project managers, and quality assurance engineers. Their collaborative efforts can transform your concept into a full-fledged app in 3-6 months, depending on the number and complexity of features.
Now, let’s delve deeper into determining “how much does it cost to build an app?”
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Factors Influencing the Cost to Develop an App
The question “how much does it cost to build an app?” is a complex one. The final cost of developing an app depends on seven key factors:
- Outsourcing vs. an in-house App Development
- Location and Structure of a Development Team
- Features and Functionality
- Android vs. iOS
- Native vs. Hybrid
- Visual Design Complexity
- Backend Infrastructure
Let’s take a closer look at each of the influencing factors.
The first decision you must make is whether to develop an app in-house or outsource it to a third-party development agency.
Working with an in-house development team has one major benefit: direct communication and total control over the team.
- Face-to-face meetings
- Direct communication
- Deep involvement
- High level of control
However, there is another side of the coin:
- Lack of talent in the local market
- Need for huge initial investments
- Dealing with hiring and bureaucratic problems
Working with an outsourcing company also has several disadvantages:
- Time zone differences
- Lack of personal control
The advantages of outsourcing app development are:
- Unlimited talent pool
- High level of expertise
- Lower rates
- No need for high initial investments
To make the right decision, you first need to analyze the two sides of the development process.
Whether you outsource app development or hire an in-house team, the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” still stands.
Location and Structure of a Development Team
If you decide to outsource app development, you will need to choose the country for it. A few options are available:
- Nearshore Outsourcing – working with a company from your country or nearby. The time difference is no more than 2-4 hours.
- Offshore Outsourcing – working with a company from anywhere in the world. The time difference surpasses four time zones.
The latter option presents several challenges, such as the time difference, which prevents you from communicating with your remote development team. Nonetheless, many businesses choose this type of collaboration for financial reasons. Furthermore, you can still choose a country to outsource development to with a few hours’ overlap, allowing you to stay in touch with your team and complete everything on time.
Native v. Hybrid App Development
You can’t answer the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” unless you know what kind of app you’re making. Depending on your needs, you can create a native or hybrid app.
Native App Development – It is creating an application for a specific platform, such as iOS or Android. If you decide to target both groups, you will need to create two separate apps, automatically raising the overall phone app development cost.
Hybrid App Development – Developing a hybrid app entails creating an app that can run on multiple operating systems. The main advantage of such apps is that they are less expensive to develop. At the same time, such apps have some drawbacks, which motivates many businesses to develop native apps. One is unstable performance, a perplexing user experience based on the device used to access an app, and technical limitations.
Android v. iOS App Development
Android and iOS are two of the world’s most popular mobile operating systems. You should probably make an app for one of the platforms. It is possible to go all the way and develop an app for every platform. If you want to test your app idea but don’t want to risk a lot of money, you can start with a single platform app, such as iOS or Android.
How much does it cost to build an app for iOS or Android?
Prices do not differ significantly because the timelines for both types of development are nearly identical. If you have a larger budget, you can work on two applications simultaneously and release them to the market.
Customization of Visual Design
The design of your app is the first thing users notice when they open it. You either make a good first impression or miss out on the opportunity to attract them.
A UX and UI design for your app will cost you $5,000 and up for 10-20 app screens. The cost of developing an app is determined by the number of screens, the complexity of the visuals, the need for custom elements, complex illustrations, and branding.
App Maintenance Costs
Answering the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” is insufficient because expenses do not end with app deployment and market launch. You must know “how much does it cost to maintain an app” and be willing to spend money on app support.
The app’s upkeep could cost around $21,000 per year (GoodFirms).
According to another study, 50 percent of the cost of app development will be spent on maintenance during the first year. The second-year will require you to spend approximately 25%, and each subsequent year will require you to spend 15% – 25%. (Outsystems, 2018-2019).
The following types of work are included in app maintenance:
- Bug Fixing and Quality Assurance
- Stability and Performance Improvements
- Code Optimization
- Upgrade to the Latest iOS Versions
- Implementation of New Features
- Support of the Latest Version of 3rd Party Services
Therefore, when you plan your budget, it is important to divide it between two major spending patterns: the cost to develop an app and app maintenance cost.
Features & Functionality
Knowing the answer “How much does it cost to build an app:” is impossible unless you know which features you will provide to your users. Because some can take months to implement. These are the most significant cost drivers.
The average cost of developing an app can vary depending on the number and complexity of features you want to include. Push notifications, for example, can consume half of your app budget and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement.
Based on the features you intend to include, let’s answer the question ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’.
These features are also known as native device features because they use device hardware. The most recent smartphones include numerous built-in features such as internet connectivity, NFC, Bluetooth, etc. Such features can take a long time to develop, ranging from 30 hours to 100 hours of app development.
This is most likely the most important feature for the vast majority of modern applications. It may take 10 to 70 hours to implement them, depending on their logic and complexity, such as the ability to remember a password.
This type’s features include SMS, social media sharing, push notifications, email, and anything that allows you to interact with users. Some features can be implemented using APIs, while others must be created from scratch.
Depending on your needs, such functionality could take anywhere from 25 to 145 hours to implement.
This type of feature is common in apps such as food delivery apps, maps, etc. They can be implemented using GPS and iBeacons, which will require between 10 and 150 hours of development time.
You can use a variety of payment gateways in your app for in-app payments, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, PayPal, credit cards, Payoneer, and others. Depending on its complexity and customization, you may need to spend 20 to 200 hours on such functionality.
If you develop an app for the iPhone and iPad, it might be good to include a feature that allows users to sync data between devices. The development time will range between 20 and 200 hours.
Data encryption is now required in many countries. Consider adding such functionality to your application if you don’t want to face issues with GDPR and other regulations. The development time can range from 10 to 80 hours, depending on the protocols used, the level of protection, and your personal needs.
How Much Does it Cost to Build an App: Calculation Techniques!
You can estimate the cost of developing an app on your own. The formula for app development cost breakdown is straightforward: multiply the number of hours by the hourly rate. Before the development stage begins, most companies provide a rough mobile app development cost estimate so that you know how much money you will need.
Typically, app development companies use one of two charging methods:
- Fixed Fee – This method is most commonly used for small projects with a tight deadline and a well-defined scope of work. The main advantage of this calculation method is that it provides clarity in app development costs. You won’t have to wonder how much it costs to build an app because you’ll know the final cost before development begins.
- Time and Materials – This pricing strategy differs from the first in adaptability. It is primarily used for complex projects that may take unexpected turns in development. The price is usually determined by the hourly rate and the time spent on development.
Even if you are concerned about the time and material approach, it has many advantages.
Nothing can be changed during development due to the fixed price structure. Working within the time and material constraints allow you to change the scope of work, add features, or remove some even in the middle of the development process. As a result, you can create a highly customized app that your users will adore.
Before signing an agreement, make sure to find out which pricing structure the company uses, as this can have a significant impact on the final cost of developing an app and the overall development approach.
App Development Cost Breakdown: Stages of Development
The answer to the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” would be incomplete without defining development stages and their costs.
The five major stages of software development are typically divided as follows:
- Discovery Stage
- UX and UI Design
- Mobile App Development
- App Testing and Quality Assurance
- Ongoing Maintenance and Updates
Let’s see how each stage influences the final cost to develop an app.
The analysis and planning stages are also referred to as the Discovery stage. For many businesses, it is the first step in app development. According to Clutch research, 70% of businesses begin with analysis and project planning. Typically, business analysts, UX/UI designers, software architects, and product owners work on the following tasks during this phase:
- Thorough market research and competitor analysis
- Identification of potential users’ pain points and how the app can solve them
- Creation of the prototypes for app visualization
- Setting up all the steps during app development and determining a timeline
The cost of the discovery stage may be from $5,000 to $25,000 and even go beyond. For most projects, planning and analysis take 2-5 weeks.
UX and UI Design
This stage of mobile app development is entirely focused on creating user flows, defining how users will interact with your application, and designing the interface. This step is critical in developing a user-friendly, simple product to use and meets their expectations.
The cost to design an app starts at $5,000 and can go beyond $50,000. The price you will need to pay depends on the number of screens that should be designed and the overall complexity of your application.
Mobile App Development
What is the cost of developing an app? As you can see, numerous influencing factors can shift the cost of developing a mobile app in either direction.
The average cost of developing an app ranges between $5,000 and $10,000. This cost includes creating the first and most basic version of an application without a backend. Companies spend between $20,000 and $30,000 on development in most cases.
App Testing and Deployment
The cost of developing an app also includes the testing and deployment stages.
App development requires extensive testing and quality assurance. This phase ensures that your app is ready for customers, free of bugs, and provides an excellent user experience.
In most cases, app testing and QA services will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
As you can see, answering the question ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’ is difficult because various influential factors are at play. In general, it is determined by the complexity of the features, the country to which you decide to outsource, and the company with which you are working. A small to medium app development company in Europe, for example, can charge between $25,000 and $115,000 for app development. If you work with a company in the United States, the cost will be much higher – $485,000 to $730,000.
Key Hidden Cost-Driving Factors
Even though you can know the answer to the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” before development begins, companies frequently fail to meet their budgets. Many hidden mobile app development cost drivers go unnoticed.
Companies that decide to begin native app development frequently overlook the importance of incorporating support for other operating systems after the first version of an app is released.
- Conduct thorough market research to determine which platform your target audience prefers.
- Plan for the first version of the app to be released on the most popular platform.
- Launch the first version of your digital product to test the market and gather feedback from customers.
- Plan the app development for another operating system based on the data received, including all improvements from the beginning, saving money on future re-development.
Integration of 3rd Party Services
Your development team may conclude that your app requires integration with a third-party API, CRM, or service during development. It can significantly lengthen the app development timeline and, as a result, increase the cost of developing an app.
Solution: When looking for a progressive web app development company, look for one that includes a mobile app architect. Such experts will build the infrastructure for your application and plan all integrations, including those with third-party services. As a result, you won’t have any unexpected spending or shifts in development timeframes once you’ve begun.
What expenses do you include when answering the question, “How much does it cost to build an app?”
Marketing is an important spending pattern that many businesses overlook. Before you release your app to the public, you must work on its promotion. You can begin warming up your audience by releasing sneak peeks of your app, enlisting influencers as beta testers, and sharing their experiences with their audiences. The marketing battle does not begin until after the launch.
Here are a few channels to consider for your marketing efforts:
- Paid Ads
- Content Marketing and Guest Publications
- SMM and Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
The maintenance cost is not included in the price of app development by software development companies, and this section is frequently overlooked and may cause confusion. As a result, you should be prepared to spend even more money after your application is launched.
App development costs typically account for only 35% of the total budget spent by a company on app support in the two years following its launch (Computerworld, 2012)
Want to Know How Much Will It Cost to Build an App in 2022?
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