Mobile apps are convenient pieces of software that people can access from a mobile device.

Having one for your company, or building one to sell as a product, makes good business sense.

But, if you want to develop a mobile app, you need to know the cost of building one.

Apps are extremely popular. In 2017, the Android app store had over 3 million apps and Apple’s App store had around 2.2 million. However, given the fact that about 23% of users abandoned apps in 2016, you’ll want to consider hiring a software development team so that your app maintains value.

There are a number of factors to consider when estimating the cost of building a mobile app.

The app complexity, industry, and design features must all be taken into account.

Factors Involved in Mobile App Development

There are many reasons to develop a mobile app. Whether you want to build a mobile app as your service/product or you are looking to supplement an already existing product, mobile apps are user-friendly and allow your brand to be accessed by potential customers more often than those brands without one.

How you want to use the app and the reasons for developing one will play into the estimated costs. Other factors like the amount of creative work you intend to contribute as well as your budget will determine the app development needs.

If you want to build an app, then you’ll want to have a knowledgeable software developer team on your side. You might consider building one yourself, especially if you have some coding experience. But a software development team will be able to develop the creative flow of the project, research and write the code, and progress the project far more efficiently than if you were to do it alone.

When estimating mobile app development, consider the following items:

  • How soon you need the project completed
  • If the creative app flow is already established
  • The amount of interactivity that needs to happen
  • The level of graphic design work needed
  • The level of UI/UX that needs to happen
  • Requirements or restrictions for the industry that you are operating on (i.e., fintech requires more compliance)
  • The available marketing
  • Your budget
  • The uses of the app

Know that you don’t necessarily have to have all of this figured out before you begin a mobile app development project. Your developer will be able to support your project development so you don’t need to worry yourself over the details. However, be prepared to answer some of these things. Also, be ready to make some decisions around these factors when you get an estimate.

 

Estimating Software Developer Costs

In addition to figuring out the costs associated with your individual project, each software developer will approach a job with its own costs. This will depend on the level of experience that team has in developing an app, the amount of time and money you have, and their skill. If you’re coming to a coder with a mobile app already created, the team will need to have experience with legacy projects.

Mobile apps themselves fall under certain categories of creative development. Costs range from under $250,000 to over 1.5 million, depending on how much your budget allows. Many app developers (approximately 25.3%) can be quite costly, falling into the category of 1.5 million-plus. 25% of projects are estimated to be from $0-$250,000, and another 29.1% range from $250,000 to $500,000.

These numbers aren’t firm and are perhaps too vague to consider any budgets. So let’s break this down further. App development can be broke down into stages. For example, the discovery stage can eat up a lot of the budget, and around 70% of developers require this stage before they can begin a project. The Discovery stage can be as much as $25,000. A recent Clutch survey found that around half of projects surveyed with a discovery stage cost up to $5,000. Another 22% spent between $5,001 to $10,000. Budgets between $10,001-$15,000 and $15,001 and $25,000 encompassed 7% of budgets.

Having a thoroughly thought-out plan for your app might simplify this process, but this is not always the case. If you have a complex idea for your app, then the team you are working with might require more time to plan the app process and figure out what they can and cannot do.

 

What to Expect During the Mobile App Development Process

Understandably, the more complex an app will be, the longer and more expensive it will be to build. You can expect simple apps to take around 300 hours, but the more features you want to be included, like GPS and payment processing, the more time is needed to build and test the components.

The total amount of time it takes to build an app depends on the app type:

  • Simple apps take around 300 hours
  • Moderately complex apps are estimated at around 400 to 600 hours
  • Multifaceted apps, with more moving parts, ranging from 600 to 900 hours
  • And highly complex apps will be over 900 hours

A simple app that takes up all of the time of one software development team will take about 7.5 weeks. However, considering that this project would take all of the time of that team (estimating 40 hours a week for that team) and considering that no hiccups occur, you might find that this team asks a higher price because they are more efficient or the app takes more of their time.

According to Build fire, here are guidelines to consider for app complexity:

  • $50,000 for elementary apps like a calculator or clock
  • $50,000 to $100,000 for apps that use data consumption like a weather app
  • $300,000 for apps that require user authentication or a profile
  • $500,000 for social media (i.e., Facebook, Instagram) and dating apps
  • $200,000 to $1 million for eCommerce apps (to enable payment processing and security)
  • $1.5 million for unique, on-demand apps like Uber

If you know the complexity of the app features and the hourly rating of the developer that you are seeking, then you can estimate more accurate costs for your project.

Additional Items to Consider

In addition to the hourly costs, you should also budget for drawbacks, issues, and other fees:

  • Overhead
  • Server hosting
  • Legal fees
  • Operating platform

You will also need to consider subscriptions for third-party services, which can be integrated during app development. After the integrations are developed, you’ll have to pay for their continued use.

And you must choose an operating platform. You have the choice between the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, or both. There is an economic aspect of this to consider. For example, Android apps cost around 30% more to develop, but you also reach a bigger user base with an Android app. It also costs $5.77 to acquire a long-term Android user and $4.12 to obtain a long-time iOS user.

You must budget for these added costs, especially if you don’t want the development of your app to be in vain.

As you can see, it can be difficult to correctly estimate a mobile app due to the time, complexity, and skill involved in each app. Identify the critical aspects of your mobile app when doing your research, and then you can come to the software developer with a clear idea of what to expect. Reach out to an experienced software developer to get an accurate estimate of what your app will cost.