So, you’ve come up with a brilliant app idea.
Perhaps it’s new, innovative and genius. Or perhaps it can help increase your customer engagement or maybe even skyrocket your revenue.
So, you find yourself wondering –
“What will developing a new mobile app from scratch actually cost me?”
First thing’s first. The actual mobile app development cost will vary depending on different factors like app type, design, and a lot of other details.
If you’re still in the planning phase of building a mobile app, you can’t really calculate the exact costs.
No (good) app developer or development agency can guarantee exactly how much an app will cost.
But what you can do is calculate the estimated app cost – which will help you get an idea of what you’ll be required to allocate for your app development.
There are numerous agency websites you’ll come across that’ll share the app development cost – but those are just the initial costs – which is a brilliant marketing strategy from their side.
But, at Appetiser, we believe in building long-lasting and healthy relationships with our audience. And we don’t really want to build the foundation of our relationship based on guestimates.
So, we’ll be upfront about it.
Depending on the type of mobile app and several other features, your mobile app development cost can be anywhere between $40,000 to $300,000+.
To give you a rough idea, we’ve put together this blog post. Throughout this article, we’ll be discussing the following points:
- How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Mobile App?
- 3 Major Factors That Influence How Much a Mobile App Costs to Develop
- How to Start Lean to Make Sure You Don’t End Up Spending Too Much on Your Mobile App Development
- How to Choose the Right App Development Partner
- How to Avoid Any Hidden Costs
So, let’s just get straight into it.
Custom mobile app development costs start anywhere around $40,000 to $60,000 for simple app development. But if you need a complex app with gazillions of features, you can expect the initial costs to stand at $300,000.
At the end of the day, the actual app cost will depend on the size, type, and complexity. But to give you an idea, we’ve categorized the types of mobile apps and calculated the estimated costs to give you a rough idea.
Here’s an app development cost breakdown:
|Type of Mobile app||Features||Estimated Costs||Timeline|
|Simple App Development||Basic User Interface, 1 Platform, MVP Functionality||$40,000 – $60,000||2-3 Months|
|Basic App Development||Custom UI Details, Advanced Features, 1 Platform||$60,000 – $150,000||3-6 Months|
|Complex App Development||High-Level Advanced Features, 2+ Platforms & Top-Grade UI||$300,000+||9+ Months|
If you’re looking forward to developing a simple mobile application, then you may expect the average cost to stand anywhere around $40,000 – $60,000 with the development timeline standing at 2-3 months.
Whereas basic app development would cost you somewhere between $60,000 and $150,000 with the development timeline standing at 3-6 months.
Lastly, a complex mobile app (packed with several features) starts from $300,000 and will cost you – depending on the number of features you’d like to implement and several other factors. You can expect the development period to be more than nine months.
Now I know what you may be thinking…
And you’re right, good mobile app development isn’t cheap.
But when you’re in competing in a billion-dollar market, it’s not surprising to see that great apps require investment.
For example, the cost of an application like Airbnb starts anywhere around $75,000 and may take nearly 1,000 hours.
Whereas an application like Uber may cost you upwards of $120,000 taking 700+ hours to develop.
Even a dating app like Tinder can cost you about $70,000 with the development timeline standing at more than 1,000 hours.
However, there are many things you can do to keep the cost of your initial prototype design down (more on that later).
And if anything else – you’re not only investing in your app, you’re investing in your vision.
We believe that no app developer can provide you with an exact estimate of how much the entire process will cost before the design has started.
This is why we advocate for ‘visual scoping via design’ as a better first step than ‘costing via requirements lists’. Because from our experience – your needs can change dramatically once a more complete picture is formed of your app, its design, functionality, and how it works in the hand.
That being said, if you are wondering what factors influence the costs of mobile app development, allow us to shine some light on them.
3 Major Factors That Influence How Much a Mobile App Costs to Develop
Following are the three major factors that influence the costs of mobile app development:
- App Complexity
- App Design
- App Platform
Let’s touch down on each of these factors one by one.
1. App Complexity
The complexity of the application can heavily influence the costs of app development.
For instance, if you want to add chatbots or audio/video calls to your app, then obviously that’d cost you a lot – as these are some complex features.
Whereas, on the other hand, if you want to implement certain basic features, like login, profile editing, basic messaging, or any other simpler features, then it may not cost you as much comparatively. And the type of your app depends on what features you’d like to implement and how complex they are.
Based on this, we’ve categorized the different types of mobile apps as follows:
- Simple apps
- Basic apps
- Complex apps
Let’s break each of these apps down.
Simple apps can be mobile applications with limited features and these are not hard to implement.
Simple apps can be calculators, static content applications, scanners, educational resources, note-taking apps, and others that are cheaper to develop. And these aren’t just the only type of applications that we can call simple ones.
These types of apps are created without any added benefits and usually comprise three ot four screens with simple functions as well as no data storage. For example, some features may include:
- Basic messaging
- Profile creation and editing
Whereas a basic app may comprise a bit more complex features and use of data storage.
So, what exactly are basic apps?
As you add more complex features like in-app purchases, location tracking, and more and start using data, then you can obviously expect the costs and development time to go up. Some extra features may be:
- Payment portals
- Social media integration
- Better security
- And more!
Implementation of these features will obviously require the use and storage of data – so you need to pay for that as well. At the same time, you need to ensure ease of accessibility – and with so many features packed in, it gets even more complicated to implement.
Food delivery or photo-sharing mobile apps are good examples of basic apps.
These apps are usually requested by big businesses or well-funded businesses.
The reason why such applications have been termed “complex” is because of their complex feature implementation like online streaming, in-app audio or video calls, complex messaging, and more.
For example, the app development costs of WhatsApp start from $150,000 and a minimum of 767 hours to develop.
The costs associated don’t just include the development part. Instead, the developers need to build a fool-proof development plan and take several points into consideration to ensure a smooth development flow.
From the creation of visual dashboards to figuring out the number of servers required to determining the right tools and platform required to allocate the right talent, these apps require serious planning and strategic implementation. And you’ll only be able to determine the app development cost after thorough planning.
Examples of such apps include gaming applications, CRM apps, and more.
That being said, let’s talk about the next feature that severely impacts the costs.
One big mistake most businesses make is while they are so laser-focused on building highly-functional mobile apps, they often forget to focus on the design part.
But in today’s competitive world, if you want your audience to consistently use your app, you need to make sure that they’re liking what they see.
And it’s not just about the visual part. You need to make sure that everything flows well – like using the app should be smooth for the end-user. While you can go ahead and use basic templates, if you think those are restrictive and require you to make customizations to help you achieve your end goal, then it may impact your app development cost.
In terms of design, the following are the four factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- UI & Graphics
- UX Writing
Nike isn’t just a sports shoe company.
And Starbucks isn’t just a coffee seller.
They’re so much more than that.
They’re popular brands because they have invested in their branding efforts. While building a mobile app, it’s important to make sure that everything – from your brand’s visual elements to experience – makes your users feel that they are actually interacting with an app made by your brand.
UX refers to User Experience. And in today’s world, if you want to make a good impression, you need to ensure that you’re delivering a great user experience.
Your app end-users shouldn’t feel frustrated while they are using your app at any point.
Prior to development, a dedicated UX team should create screens on paper or a design platform – which will help you and developers understand the flow of the app.
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For example, these screens will help map out the user journey – which the development team can follow for a smoother experience.
Also, some other tasks may include colour psychology and button placement.
UI & Graphics
Once you’ve mapped out the user journey, the next step is to have a better design that your users can’t resist but fall in love with.
And depending on your goals, you can ask your developers to create a visually appealing design by adding more or fewer elements and at the same time, adding graphics for a great user experience.
In this step, what your app dev team will be focusing on is:
- And more!
Lastly, never underestimate the power of a great copy.
Emotions sell – and you need to use the right set of words to provoke these emotions. You can do this by targeting your audience’s pain points and problems.
UX writing isn’t just about stuffing words. But it’s about strategically writing a good copy that also goes well with the design.
And trust me on this one – good copywriting isn’t cheap. So, either you can hire a freelance copywriter or discuss your requirements with our in-house copywriter – who will not only help you build a highly-converting and impactful copy but also make your audience take the desired action.
Alongside this, another important factor that the costs of app development depend on is the number of platforms you’d like to roll out your application across.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into it.
3. App Platform
iOS and Android apps are written in different languages. If you are building an app for iOS devices, the mobile app developers will be using either Objective-C or Swift. On the other hand, if you’re building an Android app, the preferred programming language is Kotlin or Java.
And while there are different cross-platform development options available, including Titanium, React – it’s just too much work. So, the app development cost would heavily depend on the number of platforms you want to roll out your mobile app on.
Do you want to target Android users?
Maybe, Windows Phone users?
Or all three?
The reality is, we don’t really want you to blow millions of dollars on an app – especially if you’re a startup.
You’d want to keep apps as lean as possible.
That’s our philosophy at Appetiser and we work closely with all our clients and partners to keep things as low as it makes sense. We give you full control, put together a list of features, and then develop as much as you want.
This way, you can actually control that budget to keep it as low as you want.
So, how do we do this?
Let’s find out.
How to Start Lean to Make Sure You Don’t End Up Spending Too Much on Your Mobile App Development
Following are the three points you should consider:
- Reducing Features or Coming up with a Smaller MVP
- Going from iOS or Android to Just One of the Platforms
- Converting from Mobile to Web
Reducing Features or Coming Up with a Smaller MVP
You don’t necessarily need to add all the features that you have planned for your mobile app.
Maybe some of them are not necessary to add in the first place. So, what you can do is cut down the number of unnecessary features. At the same time, we’d advise you to define your MVP first.
“When developing or designing, start by defining your MVP first. Avoid adding unnecessary features until you have proven that users value your initial vision. If not, then pivot and try to adjust your starting point. Only when your MVP is finding early adoption, or when you confirm your MVP is an actual stepping stone towards achieving your vision, should you look at further expanding the product.”
–Michael Mcrae, Appetiser CEO
By defining an MVP, you can avoid adding any unnecessary features – and save a lot of money in the initial stages.
During the initial stage, it’s important to make sure that the features you’re adding solve your target audience’s and the market’s core problems. And as you see the results, you can look at further expanding your mobile app.
Going from iOS or Android to Just One of the Platforms
As we mentioned earlier, one of the big factors that you should consider while figuring out the costs of app development is the number of platforms. The more the number of platforms, the higher will be the costs.
So, in the initial stages, it’s advisable to understand what device your target audience uses the most.
Do they love using Android? Or iOS devices?
And based on that, you can launch your app on one platform. After seeing the response, if you think there’s demand, you can launch it on the second platform – at a later stage.
Converting from Mobile to Web
The beautiful thing about responsive web apps is they can be used across all devices – from desktop to mobile to tablet.
And while you’d be restricted in terms of the phone functionality that you’d be able to use with responsive web apps, if you don’t really want your app to tap into your user’s phone’s full functionality, responsive mobile apps are a perfect choice.
They are installable by adding to the home screen from browsers. Also, you can package these apps and upload them to the Play Store.
However, iOS doesn’t allow it. There may be web conversion fees associated, depending on the circumstance. If you decide to partner with Appetiser -we can credit this towards development.
If required, some apps can be developed as progressive web apps, but we would need to invest in the Baseplate to make this work.
Now, if you are looking forward to outsourcing your mobile app development, it’s really important to ensure that you’re working with a reliable and trustworthy team – with years of experience.
To help you make the right decision, we’ll be talking about how to choose the right app development partner in the next section.
To choose the right app development partner fit, we’d advise you to follow these tips:
- Look for a Company with Extensive Experience
- Ask About Their Development Process & Methodology
- Review Their Portfolio
- Make Sure that the Company has a Good Understanding of Both Front-End & Back-End Development
Look for a Company with Extensive Experience
If you are spending your top dollars on app development, you’d want to make sure that you are working with professionals who have been in the game for years and actually know what they’re doing.
This is where it’s essential to do your research and make an informed decision as possible. Talk to the devs that you are considering and look at their past projects.
It’s vital to work with a partner that matches your style and philosophies to maximize your chances of success and create a smooth experience.
Ask About their Mobile Development Process & Methodology
Every good mobile app development team has a streamlined and well-established development process and methodology in place. At Appetiser, our seven-step framework includes:
- Identify Your Apps’ Audience
- Develop a Business Strategy
- Appoint a Dedicated Team of Experts
- Design a Prototype
- Develop a Go-to-Market Strategy
- Proceed Forward with Mobile App Development
At the same time, we have a smooth onboarding process for our clients – helping make the end-to-end experience a whole lot easier. And if the company that you’re screening doesn’t really have an app development process in place – then that’s a red flag. We’d advise staying away from them.
While interviewing their devs, don’t be hesitant to ask them about their development process and methodology. You’ll also want to ask them these 5 valuable questions. This will help you make sure that nobody is fooling you – and using technical jargon to sound smart and quote a higher price.
Review Their Portfolio
You’ll only know what to expect from a mobile app development company when you see their past work.
While interviewing them, don’t be hesitant to ask them about their previous work. If they have a portfolio section on their website, you can feel free to review it. If they don’t, you can connect with someone from their team and request their portfolio.
You can check out our portfolio right HERE.
Thoroughly review the apps they have designed and developed from scratch and try to understand whether you want your app to look and feel like the ones they have developed.
As we mentioned already, there’s no point in having a highly functional, feature-packed app with a poor design. At the same time, there’s no point in working with an app development partner with tremendous design experience yet poor back-end development experience.
So, it’s important to make sure that your app development partner has tremendous front-end and back-end development experience. This will help you ensure that the partner you’ll be hiring – will handle the end-to-end process rather than outsourcing a certain part of the development process to another company in their network.
Lastly, let’s understand how to avoid any hidden costs – which will help you stay under budget and make sure that you’re getting the most out of it.
At Appetiser, we don’t give accurate app costs upfront. Only once we’re done with the design stage completely, we can share a more accurate version of the costs that you may expect.
The reason? Design stages generally give us 50% more accurate development cost estimates over regular requirements documents.
During design, every single app idea evolves. Even those with extremely clear visions have some form of evolution or refinement of their concept during those design phases.
Once something comes to life in front of you, you start to have more ideas or ways to improve. And with changes to the design, there’ll obviously be a change in the app development costs – which is why we quote a better version of the actual costs once we’re done designing the apps.
At the same time, some other hidden costs that you should know about are:
- Functional costs – fees for third-party integrations.
- Support and maintenance costs
- Infrastructural costs – CDN, payment for server, and more.
- Management and admin costs.
- App marketing costs
Getting to Market with Appetiser
If you’re looking to build an app, you’re not looking for an app that is subpar, doesn’t align with your vision, or is just plain bad.
You want something tangible and world-class.
And the first step to bringing your app development to life is really your MVP app design. That way, you can see your vision come to life, and get a much more accurate cost of your actual development.
Here, quality is critical. Quality determines whether someone downloads your app and has a brilliant experience, or downloads and deletes it.
That’s why we at Appetiser believe in “doing it once and doing it right”. And we have the credentials to prove it.
We invest in the best design talent in the country. In order to benchmark ourselves within the industry, our team consistently competes in competitions on app design sites like Uplabs and we’re ranked #7 in the world with no other Australian company in the top 100.
At the same time, we don’t want you to invest all the money at once. Instead, it’s advisable to pay monthly – and you can expect to spend between 10K to 35K per month – depending on how big of a team you want.
Keep in mind you are in full control of how much you would like developed on a month-by-month basis. In fact, we’re going to challenge you to keep things as lean as possible and launch your MVP in 4.5 months to keep your investment low.
We want to see you succeed – and that starts with a good app design. So let’s focus on that first because you’re not locked into development with us anyway.
We’d love to help you out.
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