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Today, it is essential to know about the cost of developing an app because, well, apps rule the world! There is an app for just about anything, and the market for apps only seems to grow.

Why? Because the pandemic has ushered in an era of phone-heavy users, setting the perfect environment for businesses to scale by building apps.

In 2023 the number of smartphone users is forecasted to jump from 6.6 billion people to 9 million users worldwide, which will contribute to 24 billion app downloads. It is safe to say from these numbers that businesses hAPPen over phones. Depending on what your business offers, apps seem like a legit way to make your brand shine and be where your customers are (on their phones). This leads us to the all-important question:

So, how much does it actually cost to develop an app?

Estimated Cost of Developing an App

Let’s get straight to the point. The estimated cost of developing an app can range anywhere from $40,00 to more than $300,000. However, the factors that influence these prices will differ according to different parameters, including: –

  • The type of app
  • The platform you would need for the app (iOS/ Android)
  • The app developer (is it a freelancer/ UI UX agency)

Once you get the summary of these factors, you get the total price of what it takes to create the app. 

Types of Apps

For a better understanding of costs, we can bring down the classification of apps to three by terming them as simple, average, and complex apps. As you go from simple to complex, the features increase, the user interface develops, and ultimately the cost increases. 

Simple Apps

A simple app includes a primary interface that you get to see often. It also includes the MVP functionality and can only be used for a single platform. To develop an app of this nature, you will have to spend between 2 to 3 months, which includes weeks of planning, business analysis, design, pre-development and more.

So, what’s the estimated cost? MVP functionality + single platform usage + basic interface + timeline could load costs between $40,000 – $60,000.

Average Apps

Average apps are the ones that are more complex than basic apps and will include specific features that guide higher costs. While they are still available on only a single platform, they differ from its predecessor thanks to the inclusion of customized UI.

On average, developers will spend between 3 to 6 months creating an app with medium complexity. So, the including additional features, timeline, and more will give you estimated costs ranging between $120,000 – $200,000.

Complex Apps

Creating a complex app or one with the best features can take time and effort. These apps typically have heavy graphics and functionality and can handle large data sets. They also include bespoke UI, which is tailor-made to suit clients’ requirements.

These apps are made for more than two platforms and require more than nine months of work to get it moving. Due to that, the estimated costs for developing complex apps could range between $200,00 to more than $300,000.

hand holding a mobile with notification symbol

The Platform You Need for the App

Now that we know of apps and their estimated cost of development. Let’s be more specific with costs and come down to the platform. All three types of apps mentioned above are made for a single platform or more than two.

Meaning they are either hybrid apps or cross-platform apps. Hence, the classification comes down to the costs of developing an IOS and Android App.

Estimated costs of developing an iOS App

Understanding the estimated costs of an iOS app boils down to the classifications we used above. A simple app that follows some of the best iOS design practices takes about 1 to 2 months to develop and will cost anywhere between $5,000 – $10,000. 

Apps that are more advanced than those cost anywhere between $10,000 – $50,000 and take 2 to 6 months to develop. We can also have a complex or enterprise-grade app that could take more than 6 months to build and require an estimated budget of $50,000+. 

There are several advantages to developing an iOS App, including the ease of finding developer resources. Apple also releases native APIs that are stable and perfect for use, making the process more time efficient.

In terms of tools, applications such as XCode for graphical interface and Swift for programming language are just two commonly used ones we get to see around. Moreover, developers can also use other tools such as Objective-C, Flawless iOS, and more for app development.

Estimated costs of developing an Android App

Android has up to 2.8 billion active users covering a market share of 75%. There are about 130 million active users in the US and developing an app for them could cost anywhere between $20,000 – $300,000. And yes, developing an Android App is more expensive than an iOS App because the iPhone’s operating system is cheaper due to its unique coding language.

In terms of specifics, a simple android app, which comes with MVP functionality and basic UI, could range between $20,000 – $50,000. For the next type of app, which includes more features, the estimated cost could range between $50,000 – $150,000.

And if we look into the most complex set of android apps, which includes a customized UI, the cost of developing them will need an estimated budget of $150,000 – $300,000.

By customized and complex UI, we are talking about the latest tech advancements like AR/ AI integrations, increased security measures, and the process and programming language (Android Studio, Kotlin, and Java). Developing such complex Android apps will take at least 14 months of time and resources from the agency.

hand holding a mobile with notification symbol

Phases of Development & Budget Allocation

The different stages of developing an app could vary under several circumstances but remain the same in a general sense. They include getting a detailed business analysis, UI/UX plans, and more. Each stage takes a specific part of your budget, and we will estimate the percentage to be earmarked accordingly. 

Business Analysis

Business analysis is a part of the planning stages of developing an app. It includes the initial steps such as: –

  • Gathering info and requirements
  • Understanding the market 
  • Identifying various problems and challenges &
  • Defining the project value 

These steps are time-consuming but paramount in developing the right app. Once you gather all these inputs, you will have a direction to follow, and an app better aligned with your business by the end of the project.

If we were to account for budget allocation, you could easily set up 10-15% of your total budget for the business analysis stage. But, of course, these costs also depend upon whether you will need an in-house business analyst or a freelancer.

UI/UX design plan

The next development phase includes building a user interface that is as flawless as one would imagine. That is where the importance of UI and UX design comes into being.

Since design is considered an experience, this process stage will include steps to make that experience feel and look better.

So based on how you want the application to be, designers will go about making a prototype and take up a part of your budget. The process will involve,

  • Viewing samples
  • Understanding audience preferences 
  • Establishing a wireframe and finalizing the design.

Once these steps are ticked, you can see possibly another 10-15% of your budget is used for the process. Of course, this depends upon who is designing.

Today app development can be done by freelancers, agencies, or even enterprises. The best way to choose one is by doing a quick weigh-in on the pros and cons. For instance, though freelancers charge less, UI UX design agencies have more resources.

Development phase 

Coding and other steps fall under the development phase of building an app. Therefore, this is another area of significance and takes up more of your budget when compared to the other steps.

One of the main reasons for the extra cost is the collaborative effort that goes into this phase. While the size of the app will affect that process, even a small application will require up to 2 members.

It could include back-end to front-end development; thus, nearly 50-60% of your budget could be spent on an application’s development stage.

Testing phase 

Now, this is where the fun begins! During this stage, a project manager ideally comes in to check how the app performs on an iPhone or an Android device.

The testing phase can last for weeks depending upon the size of the app and will only take up a little of your budget. In fact, project managers and designers would work with the amount left since this is the last phase of development.

Be careful though, because this is a crucial stage that could extend your budget because changes require more money. As soon as the application is made, you can move ahead and submit it for review and wait for the result.
hand holding a mobile with notification symbol

Additional Costs of App Development

Apart from the expenses that have been mentioned, you might have to deal with additional costs that relate to functional, maintenance, and more. Spending in these areas is essential to maintain your app’s quality and stay up to date with the competition.

Functional & maintenance 

Functional costs are often ignored during the development phase despite being an integral part of it. They include fees for third-party integrations and keeping in mind the type of app you are developing; functional costs could be between $5,000 to $20,000 a year.

On the other hand, maintenance fees involve the money spent on fixing bugs, server fees, launching updates, and more. Therefore, regular updates will not only help your user base, but they can also help fix bugs that occur from time to time.

The cost of fixing bugs and providing updates is dependent on several factors. For example, if the problem involved a bug that aligns with coding, you could see a bill of up to $2,000. While that is a mere estimation, the actual price could still go up depending on the size of your app.

Coming to server fees, it could be between $70 to $320 per month. Based on your app data and how it is structured, be it text-based or audio and video based, you will have to deal with these costs, which is a critical expense.

Security

For users to trust your app, you require the best security plan. And security needs to be inclusive of every component. Based on the components that you have in your app, like program execution resources and more, you need to conduct checks, hold access controls for the database, analyze network access controls, and more.

However, what’s more, important is firewall configuration and how it changes from the development stage to the final edit. While firewall access can be open for every component in the development stage, during the final edit, it needs to be restricted.

And in doing these steps, you are going to incur some expenses which count as additional costs.

Whom should you hire for app development?

 In the current scenario, there are several options that one can consider when it comes to app development. From agencies to freelancers, the list is endless, and the budget will vary accordingly. 

A local agency 

Design agencies are all around and come with a skilled workforce who can develop an app for you. Considering the size of their company, you can also expect to avail SEO services along with app development.

While they cost the most among the lot, they could also provide the best service as design agencies are known to have all the resources in one place. You can also maintain a good line of communication and be specific about your requirements.

In terms of costs, some factors include the size of the agency, quality of work, and additional costs such as maintenance, copywriting, editing, and more.

Freelancers 

You can always hire freelancers to develop your app, and their costs will be based on a contract or hourly. Professional freelancers are always available, and by contacting them, you can discuss your budget and the type of app you want to develop.

While freelancing is easy and cost-effective, the process might be time-consuming depending on the number of people working on the project. Also, you may need a better line of communication, although that depends upon who is coming to do the project.

Outsourcing 

Apps that require more stages of development or ones that are more complex are usually outsourced. While outsourcing requires more budget, you can effectively look for developers who can provide their services.
It is a viable option, especially if you want to build an MVP, and can even be considered cost-effective under certain circumstances. First, however, you need to know their line of work and understand how their services will benefit you.
Secondly, after thoroughly understanding the market, you can opt for a single agency or even hire multiple agencies to complete the project. Countries like India, China, Ukraine, Poland, and more are known to be the best in outsourcing app development.

Takeaway

Like every other process, developing an app moves through different stages of development and requires the right budget to get things done. A shortage of resources or finance will impact the output and take things in another direction.

Be it a simple MVP app or a complex application, you require the right resources to get started and move ahead to complete the project. So, consider the right moves and get your app loading.

 

Are you looking for an experience-driven digital solution for your product or service?
Author Pepper Square
Over the last 19 years, we have helped 300+ leading companies maximize their outcomes with UI UX Design, UI Dev, Software Dev, and Analytics.

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