You know your app’s going to be wildly successful. 100 percent. The next thing you’ll need to do is figure out how to build it and how to support it. If you’re tech savvy, then you’ve got a massive head start, understanding the effort behind building your app. The first, if not second, question that will come to mind is, “how much does it cost to build an app?”

Sounds like a simple question. However, there’s a lot to unpack. You’ll need answers to the following before you can get a quote: How far along are you with your app? How does your app work? Which devices(s) is your app available on? How soon do you need it launched?

So, How Far Along Are You?

App development, from start to finish, involves completing hundreds, if not thousands, of tasks. Therefore, the first thing we need is the complete picture of what’s been done. The last thing we want is to hook everything up only to realize that your app doesn’t work. Or even worse, we have to redo a bunch of code for it to work!

The good thing is, all you really need to start building an app is just an idea. With an idea, you’ll definitely need creative and technical development. Creative development consists of designing the user interface and user experience designs, while technical development brings your designs to life through frontend and backend development. Based on how you are along, you may need the whole shebang or just part of it, which impacts the final price.

And, How Does It Work?

The next thing that we’ll need to know is the complexity of your app. Is it as simple as an educational app where end users view and read your content? This can be easily built in a very short amount of time, resulting in a cost-minimal app. We typically build these simpler apps for $5,000+ per device.

On the other hand is something more cost-heavy, such as a buyer-seller marketplace. Think of Amazon. This type of marketplace requires a matching algorithm, a buyer and seller interface, payment integration, profile, chat, reviews, among many other requirements. Therefore, a lot of built-in functionality for app requires a lot of resources for us to build. Typically, the starting price for apps of this complexity is $30,000+ per device.

If you’re thinking, that’s a big price tag and I need to tone down on the cost, then focus only on what your end users need. In other words, ignore the the noise or nice to haves. For example, core needs in a buyer-seller marketplace like Amazon. A recommender system is a nice to have but isn’t crucial to business initially and can be saved for a later version. The challenge though, is it’s not easy knowing what users need. The only way you’ll know is by talking with and listening to your end users.

Eventually, you’ll learn all the needs of your customers and end up with something called a minimal viable product (MVP). By building an MVP, you’ll get to market faster and shorten the amount of work required for development. As a result, less time and less work equals a cheaper app.

Which Devices Is Your App Available On?

A good rule of thumb for answering this question is to determine whether your app is meant for business or leisure. If your app is for business, then you’ll likely want to start with a web app. The reason being is that we typically see business users interacting with these types of apps during business hours on their laptop or desktop.

If your app is meant for leisure, consider starting with a mobile app. We are obsessed with our phones and interact with our phone around three hours a day. That’s a lot of face time for a leisure app.

These are just guidelines and your best guess is to actually put yourself in the shoes of your end users. It’s really simple. If most of your end users engage with your app on a certain device, then make sure to start out with that device. Keep in mind, it’s not always one or the other. Sometimes, you’ll need both web and mobile apps to meet the needs of your customers. Generally speaking, our quotes increase in the following order: Android apps, iOS apps, and followed by web apps.

How Soon Do You Need Your App Launched?

To some, we needed to build the app yesterday. To others, we’ve got some time to build the app. To the remaining few, we may not even have a target date. Wherever you fall will impact your final estimate; a faster delivery will always cost more than a longer delivery.

With the above in mind, remember that the success of your app decreases the longer you wait: you’ll lose momentum from stakeholders; and you’ll face the risk that another competitor will launch a similar app, making it more difficult for you to win customers. We advise our founders to always pick the fastest delivery time possible without putting your idea at risk for failure.

The Bottom Line

There are a number of factors influencing the final cost of your app. The biggest rules of thumb are that the more functionality in your app and the faster the delivery window, the more your app will cost. Again, we charge between $5,000 and $30,000+ to build apps. Connect with our team today and prepare to answer the four questions above. Only then can you get your answer to, “how much does it cost to build an app?”  

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I've made plenty of mistakes throughout my career while working with companies of one to companies of 100,000+. I've often learned the hard way and have recognized teachings that could help others from making my same mistakes. That's why I'm sharing my learnings with you through 5-minute digital common sense articles, so that you can avoid wasting hours upon hours of learning the hard way like I did. Follow me on LinkedIn.

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