How much does it cost to make a mobile app?

Every day in our high-tech and the ever-evolving world is somehow connected with the use of a considerable variety of gadgets. And it’s not just about making phone calls and sending messages. These days, more and more people prefer to use mobile applications on a daily basis. To keep abreast of the latest news regarding the rapidly advancing industries of trade and services, it is extremely convenient to receive the current information using mobile devices. And it does not matter whether you are standing in line, sitting at your desk at work or traveling around the world all the time.

To understand the importance of mobile applications in the life of modern people, it is also worth looking at statistics. Thus, last year the number of downloads of mobile apps was more than 250 billion. More specifically, the combined number of downloads of the applications for the most popular operating systems, Android and iOS, in 2017 constituted approximately 76 billion. And now, after two quarters of 2018, this figure is still growing indefinitely. According to the forecasts of the world analysts, these data will increase, and by 2020 the sphere of mobile applications will become one of the most profitable in the business environment.

How much does it cost to make an app

Of course, such a dynamic cannot be ignored since the mobile apps market is constantly growing and expanding. To take your place in the sun, you must create not just a technically developed application, but also be client-oriented and listen to the opinions and requests of users. So, how much does it cost to make an app? What are the main items of expenditure and what it is better to start with? Let’s figure it out.

Firstly, in order to realize why making an application can be quite expensive sometimes, just look at the main components of the price:

  • user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design;
  • the actual development;
  • testing (checking for bugs and errors);
  • deployment and an in-store release of an app
  • other expenses (rent of premises/equipment and software costs);

Assuredly, you can strike out some of these components in order to save some money. Hence, it is possible to hire a freelancer who does not need to pay for the rent. Though often the quality of the work of freelancers leaves much to be desired since not all of them are skillful certified masters. For this reason, you had better order a mobile app from an experienced company with a great portfolio.

Aspects affecting the cost to build an app

Regardless of the scale and the status, individual business people and entire companies are looking for the perfect combination of price and quality in their approach to making mobile applications.

Let us analyze the most critical aspects that affect the cost of any mobile development:

  • experience and location of the outsourcing development team;
  • the complexity of your future application;
  • the operating system on which the app will run;
  • mobile application design.

The first thing to comprehend is that prices vary greatly. It rests, in the main, on your requests and wishes regarding the requested project. Therefore, the basic idea of ​​your draft can be embodied, for instance, both for $5,000 and $500,000. Naturally, this also hinges on a variety of technical factors. Nevertheless, we will try to figure out your dream app development cost (taking into account iOS- or Android-based devices).

  • Experience and location of the outsourcing development team

The development of any kind of application is the largest part of the budget of any project since it includes the work of various IT specialists and directly depends on the time spent by them. Project manager, several developers, quality control specialists – all of them will be on your outsourcing team and will become immediate participants in the application development process. According to the location of the chosen team and its experience, the cost of app designing can differ considerably.

Estimated hourly rates of developers and designers (depending on the region):

  • North America (US and Canada) – $50 - $250;
  • Western Europe / UK – $30 - $175;
  • Eastern Europe – $20 - $150;
  • Australia – $50 - $150.

It is important to mention that the range of development prices is quite high even within a single region, but it is still highly discouraged for you to choose a company based only on the low cost of its work. On a mandatory basis, pay rapt attention to the team’s experience, case studies in its portfolio, customer reviews, and whether it specializes in solutions for your business ideas. If developers have good practice in implementing projects for a particular industry, the process of cooperation will be much easier and more efficient. Thus, you will speak the general ‘business language’ regardless of the location. You will also save a lot of time for clarification of details and consultations.

Judging by the above-stated information, the prices of developers from Eastern Europe are the most acceptable. It is worth noting that, despite the fact that we are a fairly young Ukrainian company, we still hold a decent experience in creating augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mobile applications. For the sake of our clients, we manage to rationalize and reduce app development costs even for our region (Eastern Europe). We make sure that our customers do not have any unplanned expenses and that all negotiated functions are fully executed.

  • The complexity of the future application

The cost to build an app will depend directly on the amount of work the team is doing. Parameters that affect the scope of work and, accordingly, the mobile development budget, are as follows:

  • number of screens;
  • custom controls;
  • types of supported devices (a smartphone, a tablet or both, and others);
  • screen orientation modes;
  • security;
  • supported versions of operating systems;
  • number of languages ​​supported;
  • number and complexity of the available functions: messengers, photo and video upload, in-app calls, in-app purchases, cloud data storage;
  • logins with the help of third-party services (Facebook, Google, etc.);
  • geolocation and maps;
  • usage of the smartphone hardware (accelerometers and others).

It should be noted immediately that the creation of applications for Android requires approximately 30% more hours than those for iOS precisely because of a large number of devices on which it is supposed to function. The program needs to be tested on each and every device. A lot of errors are found during the process of testing, and corrections have to be made – this is an inevitable part of the implementation process. On average, a simple app for Android is developed by about 25 hours longer, and a complex one will demand more than a hundred hours additionally for identifying problems and correcting them.

Development of any mobile application or program is divided into the front-end and back-end, but mobile programmers who specialize in a specific operating system, deal with and both of them.

All programs can be divided roughly into the next four categories:

  • Common. They are created on a template and do not involve databases. Developers will probably keep within a month to create a minimally sustainable application for iOS. The creation of a better and more proven mobile app will last at least 3-6 months.
  • Database-equipped. This type of an app requires from 140 to 250 hours (for the Apple devices).
  • Business. These applications own a possibility to solve certain tasks. They demand from 800 hours (or 3-4 months approximately) of development (for the Apple gadgets).
  • Games. Such programs take 400 or more hours to design.

Remember that the more complicated your application becomes, the more functionality you want to add, the more time and money it will take to develop it. What’s crucial is that the more accurately you describe the range of capabilities of the to-be-implemented application, the more definite developers will be able to tell you how much it would cost to make an app you requested.

  • Select the OS for the application

According to the classification, application programs can be divided into:

  1. Native – that is, written in this the original way, as they were imagined by the creators of the platform;
  2. Web applications – this is kind of a site with a mobile layout that operates in any mobile browser;
  3. Cross-platform – this is something between a web-app and native technologies, running both on Android and iOS (but it’s honestly too hard to guarantee high-quality work here).

For example, there is a now-existing hybrid system called React Native, developed by Facebook, which works with native components of such operating systems as iOS and Android. That is, it is a variation of a cross-platform implementation. Due to its straight interaction with different OS’s directly, it looks as if the application was designed for each device separately. While the technology is still relatively new (Android version, for instance, was introduced in January 2015), the system has a very limited functionality of the interface elements. Plus, when it comes to the presence of any bugs and glitches, the situation is not so smooth either. However, in the foreseeable future React Native might easily solve all general issues of the cross-platform development.

As for the choice of an operating system, it’s no secret that nowadays Android and iOS are the two most popular ones. At that, if applications for Apple devices, as a rule, are more expensive on the market, the mobile apps for Android are in demand for a much larger number of users. In accordance with statistics, Android is now the most widely used operating system in the world. Moreover, in the first quarter of 2017, the share of Android programs on the market totaled over 86%.

It must be noted that if you are seeking to develop an application program for both iOS and Android, the availability of the second platform will almost always double the cost of building an app.

  • Choose the application program design

The design of a mobile application is another highly significant part of the developing process; this is basically what your users will see. Its main task is to make the app as understandable and pleasant for visual perception as possible. A well-engineered design is kind of an intuitive instruction to the users on how to solve any of their potential questions. The cost of the custom design also hinges on the number of screens and image orientations (portrait, landscape).

Designing part can be carried out by a team of such specialists as an UX-designer, an UI-designer and a graphic designer, or by one master ‘of all trades'. If one chooses the first option, the quality of the app’s appearance could be higher (and the cost for build this app too), yet the prevailing number of companies usually takes the second one. At the average, the design takes one-sixth of the time put into development.

In order to understand what affects the app development cost, it is necessary to figure out how the process of its implementation is arranged.

Normally, designers of application programs learn the operating system’s manuals. These are such guidelines for the execution of the application interface either on iOS or Android. Guidelines help not only designers but developers as well. When the developer needs to implement standard interface elements (those that are fixed in the manuals), the UI-kit (user interface kit) of the platform comes in handy.

But what if the customer wants to change a modification of some element, to make it not what it usually looks like in this operating system?

For instance, the application is expected to have the option of selecting a date. In iOS, in the standard case, the ‘drum’ is used for this, while in Android – the ‘card’. To alter this element, the developer will need to either customize it from the original UI-kit or create something drastically new from the scratch. Certainly, this process will be longer, and therefore much more expensive. There is can be a lot of such peculiarities in any application, and in total, they will affect the price of the project. All these changes consequently will require more designer’s and developer’s time.

Why follow the guidelines? First of all, it saves time for the designer and developer, and for the customer, respectively, it saves the budget. Secondly, the standard solutions are rather familiar and convenient for the user, so it is important to remember the reasonability of the elements’ customization, if there is such a need, obviously.

What about the appliance of animations, the solution here is quite similar: the more complicated and awesome they are, the more time and cost to make an app they will demand.

Final steps to consider when calculating the app development cost

  • App testing

As it was said before, it all rests on the number of platforms on which the program is supposed to run. In practical terms, testing and adding programs to the App Store and the Google Play takes about two days to a couple weeks of continuous work, that is, from 16 to 85 hours. Typically, the testing is carried out by the project manager or few special software testers.

  • Application launching

Not being aware of the intricacies of this process, you might think that it is the easiest task. Yet, the App Store and the Google Play have a lot of nuances in their rules, which can complicate the last stage of the program’s creation – the launch of the application. And every time the service rejects the app for any reason, for example, because of the inappropriate age rating, the startup process is delayed. In addition, each iteration of the testing takes quite a long time, more than a week on average. This also increases the time spent working on the program, and consequently, the direct cost of building an app.

Discuss, as far as possible in detail, all the specificities of the future project with the chosen team of developers. Address the subject of business-logic and functionality, the region in which you plan to launch the product, monetization, analytics, etc.

As you can see, the app development cost consists of many substantial aspects, and it is highly imperative to find a reliable team of developers. Our company puts clients first in every meaning of these words, and with our participation, you won’t need to worry about the successful future of your projects.


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