How much does it cost to make an app? How to calculate app development costs?
This is often the first question that pops up when thinking about bringing an idea to reality. Why apps? Because they are the most convenient way of reaching more people in lesser time. According to a 2023 Statistia report, the number of app downloads in 2022 crossed 255 billion. However, there’s a catch – the app needs to be good!
And well, contrary to popular belief, the costs of building an app, that is both feature-rich and user-friendly, need not be sky-high. To make sure you do not make the hasty decision of overpaying for an app, it is important that you understand app development costs and the factors that drive these costs.
In this blog, we address app development costs while providing a comprehensive overview of the factors affecting app development costs. We also discuss various strategies for optimizing your budget.
Factors Affecting App Development Cost
When it comes to app development, the average cost varies depending on several factors. Let us discuss each of these factors in detail.
Complexity and Scope of the App
The complexity and scope of an app directly affects its development cost. An app that is feature-rich would require more time, expertise, and resources, ultimately resulting in higher app building cost.
Mobile App Development Timeframe
|App Complexity||Basic (1-3 months)||Medium (3-6 months)||Complex (6-12+ months)|
|Features||Simple UI/UX||Advanced UI/UX||Highly customized UI/UX|
|Platforms||Single||Single or Multiple||Multiple|
- Features and Functionality
An app may require more or fewer features depending on the purpose it is intended to serve. Basic elements, such as UI optimization for various devices, modes of operation, support for multiple devices and iOS models, push notifications, social logins, chat, multilanguage support, and the like, alone can take app development costs towards a higher end.
More extensive features, including transactions, intelligent product feedback, animations, and more, may even burn a hole in your pocket if you are not careful when selecting a reliable app development company.
Implementing advanced security features and adhering to industry standards are more factors that add to the development cost.
To put things into perspective, you may categorize apps into three categories – simple apps, mid-level apps, and complex apps – with complex apps costing the most.
- Integrations with third-party services
You might need to integrate third-party services, such as location trackers and payment engines. So, when you step out to analyze how much does it cost to make an app, emphasize integrating only the necessary services. A good way to go about this is by focusing on the core features of the app in the MVP, and incorporating more features with further updates.
- Custom vs. template-based design
Choosing how to develop an app can significantly impact the overall development cost. When it comes to custom app design, the approach requires more time and effort from designers, as they need to develop the app's visual elements, layout, and navigation from scratch. This results in higher app development cost. Template-based design, on the other hand, utilizes pre-built design templates or themes that can be customized to match your brand and desired functionality. This approach is usually more cost-effective than a custom design, as it requires less time and effort from designers.
How much it cost to build an app depends significantly on the choice of development platform too. Let us look at how costs may vary for iOS, Android, and cross-platform development:
Developing an app for iOS often involves using Apple's development tools and languages, such as Swift or Objective-C. Typically, iOS app development costs can be lower than Android development, as there are fewer devices and screen sizes to consider, making testing and optimization easier. However, keep in mind that the costs may increase if you need to develop features specific to Apple devices or comply with strict App Store guidelines.
Android app development generally requires working with Java or Kotlin and Android-specific tools. App creation cost for Android can be higher than the cost of building iOS apps, as there is a wider range of devices and screen sizes to accommodate, leading to increased testing and optimization efforts. Additionally, Android app development may require more customization due to the varying hardware and software specifications of different devices.
- Cross-platform development
Cross-platform development involves creating an app that can run on both iOS and Android devices, usually using frameworks like React Native, Flutter, or Xamarin. This approach can potentially reduce app making cost, as a single codebase can be shared across both platforms. However, cross-platform app development may also require additional effort to ensure the app's performance, appearance, and functionality are consistent across different devices and operating systems. Cross-platform app development costs may vary depending on your expectations from the app.
App Development Cost by Platform
|Platform||Average Development Cost|
|iOS||$30,000 - $150,000|
|Android||$20,000 - $100,000|
|Cross-Platform||$40,000 - $200,000|
When developing a mobile app, the approach determines the overall app creation cost and that is precisely why this could be a tough call to make. In-house teams, freelancers, and development agencies come with their own set of benefits and concerns.
App Development Cost by Type of Developer
|Developer Type||Average Hourly Rate|
|Freelancer||$20 - $100|
|Offshore Agency||$40 - $150|
|In-house team||$100 - $250|
Here is an overview of each of these development approaches.
- In-house team
Building an in-house development team involves hiring app developers who work on the app within your organization. While this approach offers greater control over the development process and allows for better communication and collaboration, it can be the most expensive option. Costs include employee salaries, benefits, office space, and equipment, as well as the time and resources required for recruitment, onboarding, and training.
Hiring freelancers for app development typically involves contracting independent professionals on a per-project or hourly basis. This approach can be more cost-effective than employing an in-house team, as you only pay for the work completed and don't have to cover ongoing expenses like salaries and benefits. However, managing freelancers may require more time and effort in terms of coordination, communication, and quality control. Also, the expertise and reliability of freelancers can vary significantly, which could impact the overall quality of the app.
- Outsourcing to a development agency
Outsourcing your app development to a specialized agency involves partnering with a third-party company that manages the development process for you. This approach can provide access to a wide range of expertise, skills, and resources, as well as a dedicated project manager to handle communication and coordination. While outsourcing can be more expensive than hiring freelancers, it often offers a more reliable and streamlined development process. Additionally, app development companies typically have established processes and quality assurance measures in place, which can contribute to a higher-quality final product.
Why hire an offshore team in India for app development?
When you outsource app development to a country like India, you can be assured of much lower app development costs.
|App Type||US-Based Agency||Offshore Team|
|Offline Standalone App||~$50,000||~$5,000|
|Moderate Online Connectivity App||~$80,000||~$12,000|
|Mobile Social Networking App||~$350,000||~$50,000|
|Enterprise Mobile App||~$500,000||~$60,000|
Maintenance and Updates
Once you are done with the initial development phase, the next aspect that affects the cost of apps is ongoing maintenance. It includes bug fixes, new features and improvements, and ongoing support.
- Bug fixes
After an app is launched, it's common for bugs and issues to arise that require fixing. Addressing these bugs typically incurs additional app development costs, as developers need to spend time identifying, diagnosing, and resolving these issues. The cost of bug fixes can vary depending on the severity and complexity of the problems encountered, as well as the time and resources required to address them.
- New features and improvements
As your app evolves and user needs change, you may want to introduce new features or improvements to enhance the app's functionality and user experience. Developing and implementing these updates can increase app development costs, as they require additional design, development, and testing efforts. The extent of the cost increase depends on the complexity of the new features and the resources required to implement them effectively.
- Ongoing support
Providing ongoing support for your app, such as answering user queries, addressing technical issues, or offering guidance on app usage, can also impact app making costs. This support may require dedicated personnel, such as customer service representatives or technical support specialists, which can add to the overall expenses of maintaining the app. The cost of ongoing support can vary depending on the level of assistance required and the resources needed to provide it.
So, the next time you think about how much does it cost to develop an app, don’t forget to factor in all these aspects.
|Maintenance Task||Annual Cost (% of Development Cost)|
|Updates & Upgrades||15% - 20%|
|Bug Fixes||5% - 10%|
|Performance Monitoring||10% - 15%|
|App Store Optimization||5% - 10%|
Estimating App Development Costs - Overview
Estimating the cost of app development involves considering various factors and components that contribute to the overall expenses. The process typically includes:
- Identifying project scope and requirements: Clearly defining the app's features, functionality, and target audience helps in determining the resources and efforts required for the development.
- Deciding on the platform and technology: Choose between iOS, Android, or cross-platform development, and select the appropriate technology stack based on your app's requirements.
- Selecting the development approach: Decide whether to use an in-house team, freelancers or outsource to a development agency, each with its cost implications.
- Estimating design, development, and testing efforts: Estimate the time and resources required for designing, coding, and testing the app, taking into account the complexity and scope of the project.
- Considering maintenance and updates: Factor in the costs of bug fixes, new features and improvements, and ongoing support.
Breakdown of Common Cost Components
Other common cost components include:
- Design and development: This includes costs for UI/UX design, coding, and platform-specific adjustments.
- Project management: These comprise costs associated with coordinating, planning, and overseeing the development process.
- Testing and quality assurance: These phases include the costs for testing the app's functionality, performance, and compatibility across devices.
- Deployment and launch: All the expenses related to submitting the app-to-app stores and launching marketing campaigns are covered during this phase.
- Maintenance and support: Ongoing costs for bug fixes, new feature development, and user support.
Common Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid When Estimating Costs
Estimating app development cost is a crucial aspect of the entire process. Even a tiny mistake could impact the overall development budget significantly. Some of the common pitfalls and mistakes that must be avoided when estimating costs are as follows:
- Inadequate planning: Failing to clearly define the project scope and requirements can lead to inaccurate cost estimates and unexpected expenses.
- Overlooking hidden costs: Not accounting for costs like third-party integrations, app store fees, or marketing efforts can result in budget overruns.
- Focusing solely on upfront costs: Ignoring long-term maintenance and update costs can lead to unrealistic estimates and financial challenges down the line.
- Underestimating complexity: Misjudging the complexity of certain features or integrations can result in inaccurate cost estimations and delays in project completion.
- Choosing the cheapest option: Opting for the lowest-cost development approach without considering the quality and reliability of the development team can lead to a subpar app and additional expenses for fixing issues or making improvements.
By carefully considering all relevant factors and cost components, as well as avoiding common pitfalls, you should be able to find a more accurate and realistic answer to ‘how much does it cost to make an app’.
Strategies to Optimize Your App Development Budget
Here are a few strategies you can adopt to make sure your app development budget suits your expectations.
Prioritize features based on value and complexity
You can get started by creating a list of all the desired features for your app. Then, prioritize these features based on their value to users and the complexity of implementation. Focus on developing the high-value, low-complexity features first, as they provide the most return on investment. By implementing a phased approach, you can optimize your budget and allocate resources more effectively.
Choose the right development approach
Carefully consider whether to use an in-house team, or freelancers, or outsource to a development agency. Each approach has its pros and cons in terms of cost, quality, and control. Weigh the options based on your specific project requirements, available resources, and long-term maintenance plans to optimize your budget.
Leverage existing tools and frameworks
Instead of building everything from scratch, take advantage of existing tools, libraries, and frameworks that can speed up the development process and reduce costs. Open-source resources and third-party services can help you save time and money, but ensure they meet your quality and security standards.
Plan for scalability and maintenance
Design your app with scalability and future maintenance in mind from the beginning. A modular and flexible architecture allows for easier updates, feature additions, and scaling, reducing long-term costs. By investing in a robust and maintainable architecture upfront, you can avoid costly rework and optimization efforts down the line.
Test early and often
Implement a robust testing and quality assurance process throughout the development cycle. Early detection and resolution of bugs and issues can save time and resources, reducing overall development costs. By adopting a proactive testing approach, you can ensure a higher quality final product and minimize the expenses associated with post-launch bug fixes and updates.
The Role of Agile Methodology in App Development Cost Management
Several app developers believe that Agile methodology proves to be rather useful when it comes to app development cost management.
For the unversed, Agile methodology is an iterative and incremental approach to software development that prioritizes collaboration, flexibility, and customer feedback. It breaks down the development process into smaller, manageable tasks called sprints, which usually last between one to four weeks. Teams work together to complete these sprints, continuously reassessing and adjusting their plans based on the outcomes of each iteration.
Benefits of Agile in Controlling Costs
Here are some of the notable benefits of utilizing Agile in controlling costs.
- Improved visibility and adaptability: Agile methodology allows for better project visibility and adaptability due to its iterative nature. As the development process is divided into sprints, teams can easily assess their progress, identify issues, and make adjustments as needed. This flexibility helps minimize the risk of costly surprises or major overhauls at later stages of development.
- Early delivery of high-value features: By prioritizing high-value features and delivering them early, Agile methodology enables businesses to generate returns on investment sooner. This can help offset the costs of development and provide valuable user feedback to inform subsequent iterations.
- Reduced waste and enhanced efficiency: Agile's focus on collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement helps identify and eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies in the development process. This streamlining can lead to more effective resource allocation and cost savings.
- Better risk management: Agile's iterative nature allows for early identification and mitigation of risks, which can help prevent costly issues from spiraling out of control. By addressing potential problems early on, teams can avoid expensive fixes and project delays.
Best Practices for Implementing Agile in App Development
Now that you are familiar with the benefits of using Agile methodology in app development, an overview of best practices for implementing the methodology will help you take your efficiency and management to the next level.
- Embrace a culture of collaboration: Encourage open communication and collaboration among team members, as well as with stakeholders and customers. Regularly hold meetings and discussions to review progress, identify issues, and adjust plans as needed.
- Prioritize tasks and features: Work with stakeholders to create a prioritized list of tasks and features based on their value and complexity. Focus on delivering the highest value items first to maximize returns and gather feedback for future iterations.
- Establish a sustainable pace: Set realistic expectations for your team's workload and maintain a sustainable pace throughout the project. This helps prevent burnout, improves morale, and ensures a consistent level of quality and productivity.
- Measure progress and adapt: Continuously track progress and outcomes to inform future planning and decision-making. Use metrics and feedback to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed to keep the project on track and within budget.
Choosing the Best App Development Company – The Ultimate Checklist
Selecting the right app development company can be a daunting task, but it's essential for the success of your app project. To help you make an informed decision, we've created an ultimate checklist that covers the critical aspects you should consider when choosing an app development partner:
- Portfolio and Experience
- Check their previous work and the variety of projects they have completed.
- Look for experience in developing apps similar to yours or within your industry.
- Check the quality of their apps and read user reviews in app stores.
- Technical Expertise
- Ensure they have a strong technical team with the necessary skills to develop your app.
- Check if they have experience in your preferred development platform (iOS, Android, or cross-platform).
- Ask about their technology stack and how they stay up-to-date with industry trends.
- Communication and Collaboration
- Make sure the company has strong communication skills and is willing to collaborate closely with you throughout the project.
- Assess their responsiveness and availability for meetings, updates, and discussions.
- Inquire about their project management tools and reporting methods.
- Development Process and Methodologies
- Understand the company's development process, including its approach to Agile or other methodologies.
- Ask about their quality assurance practices and how they handle testing and bug fixing.
- Discuss their approach to project documentation and source code management.
- Timeline and Budget
- Get an estimate of the project timeline and ensure the company can meet your deadlines.
- Discuss the project budget and payment terms.
- Understand any potential hidden costs or extra charges that may arise during development.
- Security and Compliance
- Ensure the company follows industry-standard security practices and data protection protocols.
- Check if they have experience working with apps that require compliance with specific regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA).
- Post-Development Support and Maintenance
- Ask about their support and maintenance plans after the app's launch.
- Discuss the availability of regular updates, bug fixes, and performance optimization.
- Inquire about any additional costs for ongoing support and maintenance.
- Client Testimonials and References
- Look for client testimonials and case studies on the company's website or other platforms.
- Ask for client references to get insights into the company's performance and work culture.
- Company Culture and Values
- Assess the company's culture and values to ensure they align with your own.
- Ensure the company is open to feedback and committed to delivering a high-quality product.
- Legal Aspects and Contracts
- Review the company's contracts, including non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), intellectual property (IP) ownership, and service level agreements (SLAs).
- Ensure the contracts are clear and protect your interests.
By considering these factors and using this ultimate checklist as a guide, you can confidently choose the best app development company for your project and pave the way for a successful app launch.
Our Case Studies: Successful App Development Projects on a Budget
The question ‘how much does it cost to make an app’ will stop bothering you when you choose an experienced and reputed company like Seasia for your next app development project.
Over the years, we have worked with several companies to help bring their visions to life in the form of feature-rich and user-friendly apps. These include:
BSA – Drone Application
We developed an app for the Boy Scouts of America to facilitate capturing images and videos and controlling their drone systems.
The app had intuitive features, such as
- Simulator with different learning modules
- Lucrative reward system
- Easy event publishing
- Real-time messaging
- Flight logging
The app was developed within a very reasonable budget.
Artha – Salon Booking App
Our experienced developers created a comprehensive app for Artha. The app provides cross-device booking convenience for clients anytime, anywhere, empowering staff, and connecting them with clients.
Some key features are:
- Seamless bookings and rebooking
- Auto check-in and self-check-out
- Direct messaging with the therapists
Here’s what the client had to say about working with us on a minimal app development cost.
“We intended to have a mobile app strategy before we started working with Seasia. Seasia was with us from the very beginning, developing our mobile app development strategy from the ground zero.”
Harley Davidson – Bike Riding App
Harley-Davidson, one of the most iconic American brands, wanted a close-knit network of owner groups, and they chose the skilled app developers at Seasia to execute this vision for them.
The dedicated app allows HOGs to create rides, share itineraries, connect with more riders, and do more. More key features include:
- Ride Planning
- Record your ride with the GPS navigator
- Upcoming events and trip stories
- Rider ratings
E-locations – Real Estate App
We created a real estate app for E-locations to help them solve the number one question in marketing – location!
Some of the key features of the app are:
- Easy to use global search
- Important data at a glance
- Quick live mapping
- Data management
Through this app, one can access over 3000 cities in 130 countries seamlessly.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of the blog, we hope you have some clarity on how much does it cost to develop an app.
As mentioned above, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when determining the app development cost for your next project. From narrowing down on one development approach to choosing the most appropriate relevant platform, you will need plenty of research to ensure you make the best decision.
Choosing an experienced and trusted app development company, however, will take a huge burden off your shoulders. When you pick Seasia as your app development partner, we’ll offer you the best results at the most reasonable app development cost!
The cost to create a mobile app varies depending on its complexity, features, and platform. Basic apps may cost between $10,000 to $50,000, while more complex apps can range from $50,000 to $200,000.
The development time for a mobile app depends on its complexity, design, and the team's expertise. Highly complex apps can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or even more than a year.
Yes, you can make changes to a mobile app after its launch. Regular updates and maintenance are essential to address user feedback, fix bugs, and add new features.
Yes, you can receive payments through a mobile app by integrating payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, or other third-party payment services.
The cost to make an app depends on multiple factors, including the app's complexity, features, development approach, and platform. Expenses can range from $10,000 for a basic app to $200,000 or more for complex, feature-rich apps.
The ease of making an app depends on the individual's technical expertise and resources. While creating simple apps can be relatively easy with the right tools, more complex apps require professional development skills.
The cost to publish an app on the app stores varies. Apple's App Store has an annual developer fee of $99, while Google Play Store charges a one-time fee of $25. These fees do not include additional app development, marketing, or maintenance costs.
You can make money creating an app through various methods, including in-app purchases, subscription models, in-app advertising, and paid downloads. The monetization strategy depends on the app's purpose and target audience.
The popular app categories include social media, communication, gaming, productivity, health and fitness, and e-commerce. Popularity varies based on market trends and user preferences.
You may need an app if it can provide a better user experience, improve customer engagement, or offer a unique service that sets your business apart. Consider the potential return on investment, the target audience, and your business objectives before deciding to develop an app.
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