Previously we discussed what steps you need to take to develop an application based on your goals, needs, and requirements. But the elephant remains in the room! How much does mobile app development cost?!
App development costs can vary, so there is no fixed price for app development.
But let us put things in a list first.
If you want to develop an app, you will have two types of expenses:
- The costs related to the development phase, such as design creation, coding and adding features, quality assurance, etc. Also, you will need to consider hosting, proper server capabilities, database, different supporting libraries, etc.
- After the development phase, the support and maintenance costs or the ongoing costs begin. These expenses that will keep your app alive and working include necessary app updates, new feature implementation, customer support, bug fixes, etc.
For the development phase, you will need to find people with the following capabilities:
- A UX/UI designer
- A Quality Assurance Engineer
- A Project Manager
- iOS and/or Android mobile app developers
- A back-end (server-side) developer
These individuals need to work on the following basic and advanced features to design, manage, check, and code to develop the app you want.
The table below shows a list of basic features that you most likely will need in your app and the approximate time it will take to develop them:
|Login||– Login with email|
– Login with social media
– Forgot password option
– Log out
|28 – 42 hours|
|File Uploading||– Photo Upload |
– Video Upload
– Video playback
|20 – 30 hours|
|Profile Completion||– Set region|
– Add info
– Add photo
|23 – 29 hours|
|Profile Editing||– Edit profile|
– Change password
– Change email
– Add/remove credit card
|47 – 62 hours|
|Search||– Basic search with suggestions||13 – 18 hours|
|Basic Messaging||– Conversation details|
– Online/offline status
– Typing status
– Read/sent status
– Send media files and documents
|160 – 170 hours|
|Push Notifications||– Users can receive push notifications||25 – 32 hours|
|Basic Admin Panel: User Management||– See list of users|
– Edit user
– Delete/block user
– Create user
|66 – 90 hours|
|Basic Admin Panel: Payment Management||– See payments|
– Refund payments
|23 – 44 hours|
|Basic Admin Panel: Push Notifications||– Send custom push notifications||8 – 14 hours|
But an app might have more than basic features. The table below shows some of the advanced features, and the approximate time their development will take:
|Map||– Detect user’s location|
– Search on the map
– Set pickup point on
|75 – 111 hours|
|Payment||– See balance|
– List of transactions
– Add card
– Add PayPal
|60 – 78 hours|
|Streaming||– Any media content – live or recorded – delivery|
– Real time playback
|90 – 140 hours|
|Calls||– Audio calls|
– Video calls
– List of contacts
|257 – 365 hours|
As for the second phase:
It’s common to allocate 15% to 20% of the initial app development cost on app maintenance each year. App maintenance costs usually include bug fixing, adding new features, getting ready for a new OS version, etc.
You also need to plan on how many features you want to add to your app based on your long-term goals.
You cannot escape app maintenance service and strategy even if you have no plans of scaling up or adding new features into the application. If an app gets more complicated with new features, the maintenance costs will grow.
Here is a list of some elements that affect app development cost most:
The list below shows the most expensive costs you need to consider in both app development phases and features:
- App infrastructure services (servers, hosting, domains)
- Assembling the app architecture: monolithic vs. microservices architecture (the latter uses more technical resources but is also more efficient in the long run)
- Databases used for data storage (user data, photo, and video content, etc.)
- Assembling back-end infrastructure (especially for further app scalability)
- API and third-party service integration (e.g., payments, maps, analytics, etc.)
- App administration (complex web portals or CMS for app management)
- Development tools and used libraries
- Data encryption to transfer data
- Regular app updates and bug fixes
- Video or audio streaming functionality
You might still be as confused as you were when you started reading this post.
But wait! Bear with me a bit longer. I’m going to talk about the steps you can take to solve your problems.
The formula for app development cost estimation is quite easy:
Learn the total amount of time a development stage can take and multiple it to the hourly rate.
When calculating your total development time, consider the risk factors and the unpredictable circumstances that might come up.
We talked a bit about the approximate time a feature can take, now, we need to talk about hourly rates:
Before talking about rates, you need to consider and choose your options on how you want to hire and manage your development team:
- Do you prefer to build an in-house team (insource) to develop your application?
- Or you might prefer to outsource the whole project to an outsourcing company.
- Maybe the best option for you is to hire freelancers.
As we mentioned in our In-House vs. Outsource vs. Freelance Software Development post before, there are no right or wrong answers.
The way you want to hire your team is based on your individual needs and budget and the business requirement specification you build.
Generally speaking, according to the data we gathered for the All You Need to Know About Global Software Outsourcing Rates post, and the table below, North America, Europe, and Australia have higher hourly rates than South America, Asia, and Africa.
|Region||Minimum Hourly Rate||Maximum Hourly Rate|
Another factor, besides the geographical region that can affect your hourly rates, is the skill level you will need.
The seniority of a developer/designer/analyst/engineer directly affects their hourly rates. And according to your app’s features and complexity, the skill level you need will vary.
Now I think it’s time to reveal what you can do to solve all these problems:
In app development, just like any other computer-based project, you should avoid confusion and uncertainty. It is best to decide after you have enough documented data on where you are and how your idea will work out.
Estimation services are a great place to start on app development costs.
With an estimation service, you can receive the exact calculation of your app development cost.
The estimation services give you a personal document about:
- Who builds your app
- How many hours each phase will take
- How much it will cost, considering the skill level and the geography of your development team
- Also, how much your app maintenance will cost
True, the estimation team can give you a wholesome document about the costs, time frame, and the team.
But they are only beneficial if you give them wholesome and accurate data about the app you want to develop.
So let’s go back to the basics:
- Do your research.
- Educate yourself about different subjects in app development, from different types of apps to designs and support.
- Document your app development idea
- Receive consultations about the different phases of app development
- Know why you want to develop that specific app and what your goals are for the future
These steps can help you in building a more detailed and specific estimation document. This document enables you to understand your options and make the best decision accordingly.
AND, don’t forget!