How much does building an app cost? If you’re a project manager in charge of a mobile app development project for the first time, or an entrepreneur starting your company, this is probably the main question you are asking yourself right now. After all, you want to get your app development budget right.
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Both as a project manager or entrepreneur it is easy to get overwhelmed. Trying to understand the app development cost structure while ensuring that you get all the app features you need is no easy task.
With a huge number of mobile app development options available, businesses interested in having a mobile app developed tend to have plenty of questions about the mobile app development process, such as:
- How will I find a qualified development team?
- How will I know that they are indeed qualified?
- How much does it cost after it’s all said and done?
This last one is particularly important when it comes to your budget. The answer to it will vary depending on how you choose to go about developing your mobile app and the project variables which make up your particular app.
In this article, you’ll learn the basics to consider in order to understand the development costs of mobile apps. This will give you a general idea of the elements to consider in order to estimate the app development cost breakdown and the app development process workflow you need to take into consideration.
Although this article focuses mostly on mobile apps, the items discussed here also apply to other types of apps.
How Much Does Building an App Cost: Factors to Consider
When it comes to building mobile apps, there are three drivers to keep an eye on:
- Type of app
- Development team
Type of App
Are you constantly asking yourself how much does it cost to develop a specific type of app? If you are, you are probably on the right track.
The type of application you want to build plays a major role in the overall app development price, as each different type has a unique app complexity and nuances for developers to navigate. It is not the same to build a sophisticated FinTech app as it is to build a basic eCommerce app.
Do you want a mobile app? A web app? A hybrid app? API integration for an existing platform, for example, WordPress?
Complexity usually comes down to how long it takes to build the app, including how many lines of code need to be written, debugged, or maintained in the app type you have chosen. It also depends on the different app development stages, or whether you choose to add services related to different DevOps or Quality Assurance.
Also consider that, although they use the same OS, there are many different types of Android apps. Each one is, in a way, unique. The same applies if you want to build an iOS app.
If your aim is to deliver a top-of-the-line, customer-centric experience, and your app development budget is less of an issue, then a native app very well may be your answer. Native apps run locally on a user’s device, accessing exclusive features associated with the device.
Some people are very clear on the exact scope and features they would like to develop from the beginning of a project. Others take an ever-evolving approach that entails new iterations almost every week.
The number of mobile app features needed and their complexity play a role in the final app development price. As a result, some app development companies are creating calculators to help give a rough estimate of a mobile app cost based on features, but even these aren’t necessarily accurate. Each project is unique.
You might need third-party API integrations, which are relatively complex and require more time for development. You might need payments or memberships to be incorporated into your app architecture. How many functions does your app have? Two basic functions might even cost you less than one relatively complex function.
Some features that can tip your app toward the more expensive end of the spectrum include:
- Dynamic content, where the app needs to be able to be updated by an external source. Weather and news apps are good examples of this.
- Location-based features, which allow for push notifications and mobile moments.
- Extra security features. eCommerce and FinTech apps usually tick the box in this case.
- Building for more than one app platform, usually iOS and Android.
- Requiring user registration and other database management tasks.
The field is wide open when it comes to choosing an app development team. The Internet gives you access to thousands upon thousands of possible developers depending on what your app needs are. Thus, finding the right mobile app developer becomes hard.
Do you look for freelance app developers? A local consultant? A development agency, either locally or offshore? Because professional app developers usually work in teams to build complex projects, most of the time a mobile app development company is the right alternative.
Here are some of the factors affecting cost for each type of app developer:
- A freelancer hired from a site like Upwork is often cheaper. However, it is difficult to ensure that you are hiring someone who knows what they are doing instead of just passing the work to someone else.
- A local consultant can be a good option. Nonetheless, they will tend to have limited experience and resources available to them. There is only so much that one individual can do. The local consultant will usually cost more than your online freelancer.
- A custom software development company has a wider range of talent available but also has higher costs to run. This will add to the cost of your development but can help guarantee your project’s success. They make the best partners for your company.
- Agencies will manage your mobile app development project themselves, saving you time and rework. Traditional agencies sometimes fail to establish a long-term relationship with their clients. Make sure to look for the right partner.
The best alternatives are usually specialized software companies and agencies. Offshore agencies will tend to have lower costs of labor, but you may encounter communication issues if they don’t have the appropriate language skills. Onshore agencies might cost you more, however, they tend to be a lower risk option because they fall under your local consumer laws, so you can often deal with them face to face, and they have vast resources at their disposal.
If you’re concerned about hiring the best to develop your app, look for companies that have reputable credentials. This should include a vast body of work you can look at, good reviews from past clients, or even mentions such as rewards or write-ups on tech sites. Even better if you look for award-winning app development companies. This type of agency will cost you, but your app is more likely to be in safe hands.
Average App Development Cost Estimate
By now you’ve figured out there is no one right answer to how much it costs to develop an app. You’re going to get a different answer depending on all of the variables discussed above, so what we can do here is look at some averages.
These are some numbers you probably want to keep in mind:
- Average hourly rates for development in the USA are $100 to $150 per hour.
- Maximum costs at those rates were $485,000 to $727,500.
- Medians for mobile projects with low rates are somewhere around $100,000-$200,000. So keep in mind that your project can easily be above that.
Enterprise-level apps range from $50,000 to over $1 million, with the average cost being $271,000.
Put another way, here are some average costs if you were to build an app similar to these popular ones:
- Uber – $1.5 million (more for second or third versions)
- Instagram – $500,000
- Small e-commerce site (up to $1 million in revenue) – $100,000
Bear in mind that the average mobile app development cost is based on getting work done in the US. Your costs to develop in places such as Eastern Europe or Asia may be significantly lower. However, and this is something you should definitely consider, your chances of success with such rates are very low.
You want to make sure that your project is done by a professional app development company, and building a quality app costs money. When it comes to building a world-class app, cheap is expensive.
Post-Development Process Costs
If your app development budget is a significant factor in your decision-making process, remember that costs don’t usually end with an early version of your app. If you want ongoing updates, new features, or tweaks, these will cost you.
Forrester research found that the average amount spent on developing an app was often just 35% of the true two-year development cost. If you’re having an app developed, you need to be prepared to commit budget to app maintenance and any iterations wanted on the mobile app.
One of the most popular Google searches is the “cost of developing an app.” However, there is no one-size-fits-all cost. You’re going to get different quotes depending on where you look for a mobile app developer, the type of app you want to build, and the complexity of the features you need.
If there’s one thing that still remains true though, it’s the mantra “you get what you pay for.” There are too many stories of companies opting to take a cheaper route, only to find they need to hire another app development team to fix their mobile app later. Look for examples and credentials when shopping around for a mobile app development company.
Lastly, remember to factor in ongoing app maintenance costs or any other mobile app development cost. Both an Android app and an iOS app need to be updated from time to time, which can result in apps also needing to be updated in order to keep up. Remember that you may want these changes later and look for a developer who will be available to make them.