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Natalya Brinza Project Manager
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How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Mobile App

It has already become official that mobile apps are now integral parts of people's lives. So called millennial phenomenon, the mobile app industry is considered to be the way of the future. It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of people wishing to bring their ideas in the sphere of smartphone users. But only few of them know the cost of developing an app.

The reality is that not every customer understands that the primary driver of app development price is the cost of labor (often in hours) and that's why he doesn't consider it worth paying. Because of different variables the average cost to develop an app could range from $2 000 - $5 000 to $500 000 and even $1 million, a client should be ready for a heavy investment, both in money and time. But don't fear. Today we’re giving insight into key factors that help to determine the appropriate mobile app development budget personally for you and ways to save more money. Be ready to calculate the cost of creating an app by the end of this article.

For better visibility, we’ve designed infographics for you. Follow it, while reading this article.

how much does it cost to develop a mobile app

On What The Cost of an app is Truly Based?

Down below, we will explain each point of how much does an app cost in detail, but here is a quick overview of them:

  • Your priorities
  • Development team
  • App development methods
  • App  development tools used in work
  • Workflow, hourage and variations of paymen

1 Attach your priorities in app developing triangle

There is a golden rule of software development in the image below that also touches the question of the cost of creating an app. As a dog that puts up many hares kills none, you can't find a development team that within a short period of time creates great-quality applications with a low budget. Be serious-minded and honest with yourself in picking attributes – you must understand that you will get what you are ready to pay for. Keep in mind to understand how much to create an app, if you want a high-quality app, you are to chose between larger cost but shorter development timeline or, just the other way about, low budget but longer workflow.

2 Be sure in developers' competency = you will be sure in the app cost

Sure thing that app development cost depends on qualification of specialists working on project, but don't you think that it is worth paying double for an app to be developed in a not so simplistic way? Reach out to agencies that have already won awards or have been mentioned on tech-related news sites. Also pay attention on the portfolio of agency and its experience of developing specific components that your app might need — you shouldn't go after agencies that develop elementary apps even if they use the best mobile app development platform.

3 Choose the right method of app development

There are three prominent, but really different, methods of app development.

  • Economical “Waterfall”

Development comes at having a documentarily approved layout – when the process of app creation begins, developers should closely follow a set of instructions.

  • Reasonable “Iterative”

So called hybrid approach. It means, there are wireframes and mockups for key functionalities, but details are handled by the team during the development process. It starts with producing software of only the product’s part, so there is availability to reconsider future requirements.

  • Pricey “Agile”

“Agile” development begins without any documentation - developers works on code as they go on approved with a client.

Read alsoAgile Communication Tools for Working With Remote Teams

make a Mobile App

All of the methods have their pros and, sure thing, affect the cost of app development. As to waterfall development, in spite of little flexibility, you know exactly what will get at the end of the development process. It is an ideal method for un-complex project where you know every detail from the very beginning and are able to predict possible nuances. In Iterative development the process is repeated again and again implementing the new software version till the end result is satisfying, though it is hard for you to understand at the beginning of development how much to make an app can turn out. Agile development might be more expensive and have a big influence on the cost to develop an app, but flexible workflow allows to change the product and its features any moment. Also you can make releases after each development cycle till you reach the day of launching the project to the app market.

4 Fixed fee or time and materials payment for your app development?

So, how much does it cost to make an app with those methods? Waterfall method of app development allows you to pay a fixed fee for the completed work. But if one day you would like to change something, it will be harder to amend the contract. Be attentive, fixed fee is not only about  budget savings and limited risks — there is another side to the coin. If your app includes future work orders, will you be sure that you know how much to develop an app will be? As to iterative and agile methods, they make it possible to pay for the exact amount of performed work or hourage. It sounds pricier, but simpler and fair dealing. If you are billed in that way, check if you have access to team's time tracking software.

6 Estimation - is the key for reducing risks and app development price

If you don't want to let your mobile app development cost go down into the wind, make sure that the process of creating estimate is in safe hands. Talk to the person responsible for this task to be confident in his understanding of what you are expecting from development team. Ask if they have any experience with creating similar apps, because if they don't, be ready for misestimated results and probably spending extra. If you already have a vision of how much does it cost to build an app, you should take note that your project will go 20% over your planned budget. Like if you planned to spent $10 000, be ready for $12 000 expenses. It's a pity, but this horrible news is the usual state of the industry.

6 The tools may change the end cost of developmente

There are huge list of possible tools for mobile application development, some of them can reduce the cost to create an app, but some of them can increase. Which one to choose - it is up to you and your development team, here we will list only the most popular ones:

  • For development: Java, Rx Java, Swift, Objective C, MySQL, HTML5, Responsive, Angular, Reactjs; iQuery, Webkit, Blink engine; ZURB Foundation; Ember; HTML5 Boilerplate; Nodejs and etc.

  • For design: Invision, Scetch, Affinity Designer, Affinity photo, Principal, Flinto, Origami, Form, After Affects, Apple motion.

List of advices to reduce the end cost of developing mobile app

1. Trust the development only to experts

It is an often mistake to try to save money on hiring cheap development teams. But frequently after the work on app is complete turns out, that it has a lot of mistakes and bugs. So there is a need to hire another team (more professional, of course), that will do a lot of rebuilding and bug fixing. Remember the proverb “Cheapest is the dearest”, while hiring a team and trust your money only to specialists, like Artjoker crew.

mobile app development cost

2. Make a good business plan

Business plan except all regular items should also include a List of requirements. It is vital to have a detailed description of all the functionality that you want to have in your application. Understanding and detailing the list will  make you evaluate your application as a whole. Just write down everything you want from the app: one sentence at a time. This process is called the specification of software requirements. With it you will be able to explain to Project Manager everything you want to be created much better.

3. Be involved in development process as much as you can

Not letting the development team to do all of the work will help you save the money. Because as more you are mixed with creating process, the more there won’t  be misunderstandings and occasional work. Different methodologies of development assume different levels of your implication. For example, in Waterfall the work usually goes in due course, without your presence or advices, but it may cause a lot of adaptations and re-do’s after. Agile (what Artjoker uses) and Iterative allows the client (you) to be as much catched up, as he wants. Consider this information, while deciding which team to hire.

Calculation of the cost to develop an app

Considering all of the information, we’ve given earlier, let’s count the average cost to create an app from Artjoker team:

    • nearly $7 500 for small app (an on-demand) - approximately 100-150 hours;
    • nearly $15 000 for middling app (a messaging app) - approximately 200-250 hours;
    • nearly $20 000 for complex app (a shopping app) - approximately 400 hours.

Those small numbers are not for every company. As Artjoker is small-to-middle company, the cost of development is really lower, than in big companies of US, Canada ($150 per hour and higher) or Eastern Europe ($130 per hour and higher). The prices there starts from $50 000 and goes up to $1 million, depends on size, popularity and presentability of the company. But cost of hiring Indian developers are usually $1 500 - $6 000 for an app (nearly $20 - $50 per hour), though the quality may be really poor. 

Summary of mobile development pricing

To get a better understanding of how much does it cost to create an app you should not depend only upon experts' recommendations, but also upon your own desires to build your own and successful app. This mobile app development cost breakdown in 6 factors prove that the high-quality app development will not be cheap, but keep in mind, the result is worth paying for.

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author Kate Sipkina Kate Sipkina
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Natalya Brinza project manager
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