This is it – you have an excellent idea for an app. The initial excitement is building through the roof. Yet, there probably is a slight concern in the back of your mind. Wait, just how much would that cost to develop? The practicalities are sometimes getting in the way of the creative process, but without them, you couldn’t possibly have a clear view of where to go next. Therefore, this article gives you an idea of what your app development cost might include and how big it could be based on the size of the project. For app developers salary is a good motivation.
Where does your money go?
There are a plethora of things that constitute a successful app and all those little details usually come with a price. More generally, one could package expenses by four biggest categories: development, QA, business analysis, and maintenance.
Development: the biggest sector
App development is rarely a solo venture the higher you look. It takes immense effort and investment to create «Facebook but better». Thus, it is common to expect to have at least some kind of team behind your project.
Adhering to Scrum guidelines and iterating takes discipline and dedication. If you are serious about your app and have a couple of contacts that might be of use on your path, you could see whether you can pull it off on your own.
Another option is to go with some freelancers. Usually good for specific tasks, it is rare to find the one that would be as connected to your project as you are. Working this way without direct contact is bound to dilute your vision somewhat. All aside, this option is cheaper than a hired team.
Now, a dedicated software development squad is where you get the best band for your buck. Expect to have some of these bucks, then. A big difference in costs comes with your choice of your team’s country and expertise. The complexity of your app also matters greatly and is covered further below.
Apart from coding, UI/UX design and managing the project also require a solid chunk of your budget. There are also plenty of articles that concern marketing, which is an undeniable part of the process.
Business development and analysis
Takes place before development, but it is quite important to get it right. To flesh out the idea and put it on the rails to success, you need to conduct a thorough and rigorous analysis. Done yourself, or with the help of professionals, it would need to produce a clear vision for when the coding starts. This is where you decide on the tech stack and make sure that you can achieve the goals you set out. This stage takes time and, therefore, money. Take into account that the more novel your project, the more work you need to do to define it well.
For a medium-sized venture, quality assurance requires the eye of a specialist. They could potentially spend up to 90 hours per month on fine-tuning your app. This requires resources but pays off in the end. Plan accordingly.
Don’t forget to factor in server costs that stem from the complexity of the data your app processes. On top of that, you would probably want to keep an eye on how your app performs after launch. That also means using some sort of premium analytics. It is also impossible to not mention post-launch marketing and ongoing user acquisition costs.
Prices increase with complexity
There is no fixed cost per app since no two are made the same. However, user expectations are growing and so are the prices. If a 2015 Clutch survey placed the cost range between 30 and 170 thousand, then a 2017 follow-up already advises expecting any «meaningful» app to start at 200 thousand dollars.
Single or cross-platform?
These days, it is well-established that picking what your «main» platform is will influence how the rest of the development goes. However useful cross-platform development frameworks are, it is generally more expensive to build for more than one.
Think of a collection of all the basic functionality with a few screens to travel between. UI is not a big player here yet, and there is but a barebones logic behind it all. This build helps you recognize your strengths and materialize your market fit.
For a simple set of features, expect to pay for the timespan of up to 700 working hours with a decent amount of QA. That usually varies in the ballpark of $20,000 – $40,000 according to different sources.
This goes beyond basics and is thus bound to be more expensive. Think of an app with a defined user journey, a multitude of screens, fleshed-out user interaction, uncommon design, and some unique features.
All this could add up to over a thousand work hours for a team and take months to complete, therefore the price tag could reach over $99,000.
A feature-rich application with advanced user interaction, custom-made design, intricate detailing, catering to multiple target audiences and focus groups, security-heavy, and with a complex backend. If this sounds like what it takes to bring your idea to life, then there will have to be some serious work done. Around 6 months of rigorous development and testing could easily rack up a budget of several hundred thousand dollars.
There are a lot of things to take into account when estimating your budget. A good idea would be to have as clear of a vision as possible so that you can effectively guess the required team size, expertise, and location. There is a question of how long it would take them to finish and how much money do you need to invest in marketing and support to get your app off the ground and keep it in the charts for years to come. There are no two identical apps out there, so your solution will inevitably require a unique approach to be successful.