How much does it cost to make an App? Good question? If you ask this of an App developer, they will answer with the less than helpful response – “that depends”. Some websites offer to ‘guestimate’ the cost of developing your App, but they are usually marketing tools, used to ‘hook you’.
The price of an App varies enormously – anything from $2k – $250k. As with any product, an App needs resources. But unlike material things, that resource is time and experience based. ‘Time is money’ as the old saying goes and this is certainly true with App development.
A basic App starts at $15K, increasing to $20k – $50k for one of average size. For a more complex App, you are looking at north of $50k. Having established that the main cost of an App is based upon the time it takes to develop it, we need to consider the volume and complexity of an App.
Features and functionality, such as screens, buttons, fields, plus amount of logic required will dictate development time. Complex solutions may require bespoke coding and/or third party API’s. Standard features on the other hand, can be cut and pasted in, or adapted from common templates.
Let’s look at some examples: Features connected with user and social involvement can add 30+ hours. In-App purchases and payment support generates another 40+ hours of work. Synchronization across devices – 60+ hours. Location-based services – another 30+ hours. If you what a customized visual design, that could set you back 170+ hours.
The wireframing of screens, plus UI and UX design all adds time, (and therefore cost). The cheapest option is to use OS-supplied items and standard screen elements. An average App consisting of 7 screens requires approximately 56 hours for wireframing, 88 hours of visual design and a further 28 hours for the user experience design.
Backend infrastructure and App admin will add upwards of 170 hours to your time bill. Operating systems provide developers with API’s to provide data exchange between the App and a database. Tracking user activity and App performance requires analytics. The number of parameters and amount of detail will determine the volume of work required.
Third party API’s demand on average an extra 50 hours, whilst basic controls need around 20 hours. An administration panel is one of the most effective tools for managing App content, users and stats. Adapting an existing panel template is possible – but finding a good one can be problematic.
Creating one that matches your business needs may add an additional 100 hours. Adding platforms adds cost – it’s that simple. It means twice the work, usually undertaken by separate teams working in parallel. This adds complexity and incurs further project management costs.
A cross-platform, or hybrid App development programme may be your best option – at least it is held within one team. Finally, you will need to consider post-release services such as; App promotion On-going maintenance Upgrades and future proofing. The ‘Cost’ of that time may vary with the geographic location of the company. Using a US or Canadian company can cost up to $250/hour – whilst at the other end of the scale, Indonesia seems to be happy with $20/hour.
A good example of a ‘median’ price band is Eastern Europe, at about $50/hour. For this you get a highly educated and motivated workforce, with all of the skills and experience you would expect from a US or UK-based company – but without the overheads.
Other factors include, reputation, experience, on-time-delivery and the ability to provide an holistic service that is right for you the customer. To sum up – does the saying ‘You get what you pay for’ apply to App development? Yes, of course it does! But finding a realistic price band for your App is also of critical importance.
Remember that an App is an investment, from which you want a return. In order to get the best ROI from your App, it should be well thought-out, well designed and professionally maintained – but at a price you can afford.