How Much Does Mobile App Development Cost?

How Much Does Mobile App Development Cost?

Building a mobile app is like building a house. If your budget makes you smile in contentment, your fantasy is the only limit. You may have a huge Victorian mansion with a large living room, an elegant balcony with a view and three bathrooms on each floor. Alternatively, if you’re short on funds, your house will contain only the basic rooms and non-designer furniture. The same rule applies to the creation of mobile apps. Multiple options define the eventual price: the app’s complexity, custom features, ecosystems the app will need to run on, etc.

Factors Affecting App Development Cost

App development process is difficult to adapt to any specific framework. Especially if you do not have a detailed idea of what the final product should be.

The maximum that a mobile developer can do is name the price range. Moreover, the resulting estimate does not always correspond to reality. A more accurate cost can be announced after agreeing on clear requirements with a detailed technical specification.

So, for this part, the main cost factors include:

  • The platform (iOS, Android, Cross-platform)
  • Number and complexity of features
  • Design
  • Team size and cost of their work
  • Location of a development team

Platform & Devices

First of all, you must decide on the platform and on which devices your application should work and be used. In some cases, the price can vary depending on this criteria. You can create an application that will only work on iOS or Android. This will save money on the development phase, but will “cut off” users of one of the platforms. An application for both platforms will cost more, but will give full coverage to a mobile audience.

With a limited budget, there are three development paths.

  • The first is to run the application on only one platform. In this case, we study the idea, potential customers habits, tasks, competition and together with the customer decide on which operating system it will be easier and more profitable to start.
    • The third is to reduce the number of functions to the required minimum. Leave only those that you really need.The second is to use cross-platform development and create one application on two platforms. This direction has disadvantages and limitations, but often it is the best way to reduce startup costs, if you need, for example, to check a niche with maximum coverage.

Amount and Complexity of Features

Mobile apps functionality and complexity may vary a lot. There are some that are being implemented quickly and cheaply. There are some that are expensive, but are being implemented quickly or that take a long time to implement and are therefore expensive. There are no general recommendations which features to add to the application or not. This question can be answered only after a detailed study of a specific idea, research, comparison with competitors.

It happens that without some functions the application is uncompetitive and it just makes no sense to run it. Or, conversely, you can make a wider functionality than others, and become unique.

For instance, let’s take data processing. The more complex the application is, the more data it processes. There is not much data in the calculator, more in the fitness application, and a huge amount in the application for the social network. The developer team needs to think through custom scenarios, choose those that will lead the user to the result faster, and then draw the application screens.

The phone components and external devices that the applications interact with also have something to share with the application and the server. Proximity switch, a light sensor, Bluetooth sensor, and printers with Beacons produce their data. They also need to be processed so that the devices work correctly.

If the application expects data from the server for a very long time, then you can forget about the positive feedback from users. Therefore, do not belittle the value of the backend development team on your project.

Often, the discovery phase helps to understand the exact list of technical requirements and make a detailed technical task. According to a study by the analytic company Clutch, more than 70% of app development agencies surveyed require a discovery stage before moving forward with a project. This step can significantly reduce development time and save time. And according to for a little over half of the firms surveyed, the discovery stage costs less than $5,000.

The level of design

Design in the development of a mobile application is not only buttons, animations, pop-up menus, unique fonts and other beautiful things. Design is a solution to user requests, from which you need to build on to get the expected business effect.

Design development accounts for a significant share of the price of a mobile application. The cost of design depends on two factors: complexity and amount of work.

The complexity of a design is determined by its functionality. For example, unnecessary elements add value to the application and complicate the interface. If it is not clear why the element is needed and what gives the user, it needs to be removed.

Users do not study the detailed instructions and guides. If at first glance it is not clear where to click, they uninstall the application and install another one.

Android and iOS users should also follow their own habits, which the mobile application must meet. No need to make the design of the Android application as on the iPhone, because it’s more beautiful there. Unusual interface guarantees low user ratings and lower positions in the search.

The amount of work depends on the number of application screens. The screen is all that the user will see: starting from the greeting and ending with the subsection “About the application”, which reads one out of 20,000.

The number of screens depends on the capabilities of the application: trimming functionality, we automatically reduce the amount of work of the designer. Small applications have 5–7 screens, medium-sized applications grow to 10–15, and large applications have more than 20 screens.

Optimize design costs allows a prototype, which displays a general view of a mobile application with the proposed functional elements and an indication of user scenarios.

Experience level
The cost of an hour of work of a senior level designer can reach up to $150 – $200 per hour. 

Also, the cost largely depends on the region and country. For example, in the USA and Canada, the cost of an hour can vary from $50 to $200 per hour, in Western Europe $35 – $170, Eastern Europe $25 – $150, in India and Asia $10 – $80.

Complexity also needs to be taken into account, and the design of a simple application can start at $5,000. Applications of medium complexity start at $10,000, and applications with complex functionality can start at $25,000.

Team Size and Cost of Work

The team composition is based on the project requirements: the more complex the project is, the more developers are required, and therefore the higher the cost of app development. The basic set of participants includes the project manager, UX / UI designer, developer and tester. If the project requires a server infrastructure for developing the API, then a backend developer is also involved. Larger projects may require from two to four developers per platform, two designers and an analyst. And if the project is a web service or a cross-platform application, the front-end developer or their team is busy on it.

The hours of work of different specialists can be evaluated by studios in different ways. Therefore, the composition of the team affects the cost of the project.

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