How Much Will It Cost to develop an App for Your Business?
Have you ever heard the phrase – “There’s an app for everything”?
This million-dollar statement has become more of a drift now as mobile app development trends are raging like never before. Both Play Store and App Store have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, and the number of apps does not seem to slow down anytime soon.
Although the total number has surpassed 7 million, there’s still room for more, encouraging companies to build impressive apps that revolutionize the way people connect with your venture – Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Zs alike.
With this rises another critical question that has been bugging business leaders since day 1 – What would be the app development cost?
In general, the average cost of developing a mobile app is somewhere between $50,000 – $75,000. However, it can reach up to $300,000+ for complex apps.
That is a lot of generalized estimation right there. What 7 years of mobile app development experience actually taught us is that there is no fixed answer to this; apps do not come with a price tag. However, we can tell you that the development cost and product quality are directly proportional. The rest depends on a lot of variables that you should carefully consider to ensure success.
So, unlike all those long-drawn-out articles that take a big chunk of your time but end up with off-the-shelf answers, our blog will take a closer look and give you a clear idea about the mobile app development cost ballpark.
Breaking Down the Perpetual Paradox: App Development Cost
What usually happens with clients when they come for a consultation about their app idea is that they have 0 clues regarding the development process, and hence, the expense as well. Sure, they have clearly outlined their requirements and desired functionalities, but that is not enough to create a fair estimation.
Yes, the upfront cost quoted by the agency is not everything. App development is a complex process, and the trick to knowing where your product will fall in the price range is doing in-depth research and a detailed understanding of app dynamics.
In a nutshell, the cost to build an app comes down to these five basic elements:
- Functionalities of the app – What the product will do and what needs it will fulfill for the customers.
- Complexity of app features – It can be a telemedicine app or just a to-do list. The feature complexity will shape the development complexity as well as the cost.
- Targeted devices and platforms – You can opt for native vs cross-platform development to support one specific platform or multiple platforms.
- Maintenance plan – You would need technical support after the deployment of the app to ensure that it consistently works and even to improve it.
- Third-party integration – Do you need to integrate third-party services (like location sharing or payment) with your app? If so, it will increase the cost.
Fair enough? So, on the one hand, you can consider the above-mentioned parameters and come up with a fixed budget for the entire project. Or as an alternative, you can use a simple formula to determine the app development cost:
But wait. You are done yet with this calculation.
Determine the Cost to Build an App Based on Development Stages
You have already used some calculators on some sites or googled the cost of developing an app to get a rough figure. But let us tell you that no matter how accurate the number seems, it will probably just put you off. In most cases, those numbers are pretty misleading as the development cost depends on the app’s features, technologies used, design, development team location, and so on.
So, what we are going to do is to break down the cost per different stages of mobile app development so that you can accurately know what each phase costs and what piece it will take from your budget.
1. Cost of Discovery/Strategy Stage
Pre-research, planning, discovery, or strategy, it all means one thing – market analysis, business plan, and documentation. At this phase, any competent development firm will ask you a plethora of questions about your business and application goals, and if they shy away from asking questions, that is a big red flag.
Around 10% of the total mobile app development cost goes into this stage, and it will take 20-200 hours for completion.
The final document should contain the following information:
- Competitive analysis
- Objective declaration
- MVP concept
- User and market research
- A clear project roadmap
Estimated Cost – $1,200 – $11,000 (with a timeline of 2-4 weeks)
2. Cost of Design Stage
The second phase is all about software prototyping and wireframing, user experience design, and visual (UI) design. As we know, the first impression is everything, and so it is tremendously important for you to build a beautifully-designed app that wins the hearts of your users.
That is why you should not be stingy in investing your resources in design, as it can make or break your project. It will take somewhat 10-15% of the cost of creating an app, and the man-hours might be higher due to intricate screens, custom components, visual complexity, and so on.
Estimated Cost – $2,500 – $10,000 (with a timeline of 3-4 weeks)
3. Cost of Development Stage
This is the most important and expensive stage of mobile app development, where the complexity of the functionalities defines the final cost. The more complex the features are, the more time it will take for development to create them, leading to increased costs.
Apart from the features, this stage requires you to focus on the application architecture, data encryption, and storage, userbase, third-party integration, etc.
This stage needs a lot of collaboration and the minute attention of your developers as the cost of coding and programming is way more than all other stages combined. Additionally, building your app with cross-platform mobile app development frameworks will save you a ton as opposed to creating multiple apps for multiple platforms.
Estimated Cost – $3,000 – $60,000 (with a timeline of 2-6 months)
4. Cost of Testing and Deployment Stage
Next up is testing that validates the quality of an app. This phase plays an important role in estimating the cost of making an app as you do not have to unnecessarily spend resources on post-launch bug fixing.
Comprehensive testing by the quality assurance team means that your customers will face fewer inconveniences in terms of crashes, glitches, and lags. The best way to ensure user satisfaction is to release the app with minimum issues.
And regarding the testing and deployment cost, it again depends on how complex and feature-rich your app is.
Estimated Cost – <$5,000 (with a timeline of 2-4 weeks)
Consider These Two Pivotal Factors to Estimate Your App Development Cost
Now that you know the cost of each development stage, let us walk through three basic yet crucial factors to consider while estimating your app development cost.
Even though your app idea is great, making your users love it is a different task altogether. There are different types of apps, and choosing the right one for your business goals will have a high impact on your development cost.
- Basic apps like simple games, clocks, and calculators do not need heavy front-end or back-end development. Naturally, it takes about a month to develop with a price range of $10,000-$15,000.
- Data-driven apps like calendars, weather forecasting, and maps access tons of information, evaluate it, and show it to users. The cost to build an app of this type is, therefore, a bit higher – $15,000 – $20,000.
- Social network apps, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest, manage a huge user base and hence, need a strong back-end. The cost of creating such apps can be quite high – $60,000 – $300,000.
- On-demand service apps offer a variety of solutions with immediate access. If you want to create an on-demand service like food delivery app development or can booking, it will cost you around $150,000 – $300,000.
- eCommerce apps like Alibaba, eBay, or Amazon need to have multiple critical features like payment, location, user registration, etc. All these factors lead to a considerable amount of mobile app development cost – $60,000 – $300,000.
App Development Agency vs. Freelancer
Picking the right sort of development team is vital. You can hire an app development company or recruit independent mobile app developers to execute your project. And frankly, neither of these two options is a terrible choice, but hiring an offshore agency might give you an edge over opting for freelancers.
The primary advantage of employing freelance developers is that they are pretty cheap, with as low as $20 per hour. But there are a few serious downsides as well.
Why? Because building an application isn’t simply about writing a couple of hundred lines of code. There are a ton of other important things to consider, like planning, UI, and UX.
On the contrary, an app development agency comes with an array of benefits that freelancers cannot ever offer, including:
- Smooth project management
- Ease of communication
- Quality assurance
- All-inclusive solutions
- Discipline and schedule
- Efficient involvement
In simple words, app development cost with freelance developers is less, but the process takes a long time for completion, whereas development companies might cost more, but you will get quality results in a way too short time.