How Much Does It Cost to Make an App? (A Guide to App Cost Estimation)

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How Much Does It Cost to Make an App? (A Guide to App Cost Estimation)

Learn how much it takes to build an app.

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Apps offer agility and flexibility. They connect you directly with your audience in ways impossible through websites, social media, or emails. They can also be powerful tools for employees, enabling them to do more in less time, collaborate seamlessly, and more.

However, app development comes at a cost. How much might you pay to make an app? There’s no single answer as the price tag will depend on a wide range of different factors. Depending on what you need, you might pay as little as $40,000 or $50,000. However, more complex applications might set your organization back $230,000.

That’s quite the price range. Understanding what you might be charged for custom app development will require that you know a bit more about what goes into the price in the first place. In this guide, we’ll break everything down, highlighting key price drivers and what you should know before hiring an app developer.

Understanding App Complexity and Its Effect on Price

One of the most critical factors in determining how much it costs to make an app is complexity. The simpler the app, the lower the price point. Conversely, more complex apps will have higher price tags. What do simple or complex mean, though? In a world where we use highly complex apps without giving them much thought, some clarification is necessary.

A simple app would be something like a flashlight app, or maybe a calculator. It would be designed to work on just one platform (iOS or Android), as well. You’ll likely find that a simple app will cost you between $40,000 and $60,000.

The next step up is a basic app, such as a brand loyalty app with limited functionality. These will run you between $60,000 and $120,000. Note that you’ll incur that price per platform, so if you’re interested in developing a branded loyalty app for both iOS and Android, it might run you $240,000.

Finally, we come to multifunction, complex applications. For most of us, this is what we think of when we ask how much does it cost to make an app. Here, you’ll find apps like Instagram or Apple News. They offer complex features and lots of functionality in a streamlined package. Expect the price you pay to start around $230,000 and go up from there.

Factors That Affect the Cost of App Development

How much does it cost to make an app? In addition to simplicity/complexity, there are other considerations that you’ll need to make. A very wide range of factors affects the final cost of any application, and we’ll break those down for you here.

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Vendor Location/Geographic Region

The cost of app development varies greatly from nation to nation. North American developers are among the highest-priced and average $170 per hour. Australia and the UK come in second and third, respectively, with costs averaging between $70 and $110 per hour. South America, Eastern Europe, and India fall under those, with Indonesia being the least expensive at an average of $12 per hour.

Does this automatically mean that you should hire a developer from Indonesia or that you get the best apps from the US and Canada because those companies charge the most? Not at all. Many things must be determined here – it’s not just going with the cheapest developer or assuming that you get what you pay for.

Native Apps versus Hybrid Apps

For those wondering how much does it cost to make an app, a lot hinges on whether you’ll be designing a native app or going the hybrid app route. Native apps only work on the operating system they were designed for, while hybrid apps can work across multiple platforms.

Native applications often provide a better overall user experience. Still, hybrid apps can be surprisingly good, and they tend to be cheaper to develop since you only need to develop a single app rather than a separate app per operating system.

Functionality and App Features

When attempting to answer how much it costs to make an app, functionality and features must also be considered. These speak directly to app complexity – simple apps offer very few functions and features, whereas complex apps may offer a very long list of capabilities. What can you expect for your app?

It comes down to knowing what you want the app to do. What is its purpose? What will the app enable users to do? For instance, is it a new chat app? If so, do you have a general audience in mind? Will it need to have access to a device’s camera or offer filters that change regularly? Will the app need to integrate with others, such as social networks like Facebook?

Even something as basic as logging into an app comes at a cost. For those wondering how much does it cost to make an app, some of the functions and features to think about include the following:

  • Login – Will users log in with social credentials? With their email and a password? Will logins time out after a certain length of time? Do you need a way for users to recover lost passwords?
  • Files – Will the app need to upload or download photos? Will it deal with videos? What other types of files will it need to handle?
  • Profiles – How detailed will you make the user profiles? Will those profiles tie into another platform? If so, are there industry rules or government regulations that must be met, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, or CFR 21 Part 11?
  • Messaging – Will the app support messaging? Will it need to display online/offline notifications for users or read/sent message statuses? Will it be able to send files as messages?
  • Geolocation – Will the app need to detect where the user is geographically speaking? Will that location need to be pinpointed on a map, or will the data be used for advertising purposes?

These are just some of the most commonly needed functions and features. Others include audio calling, video calling, streamlining broadcasts, and handling payments. Each of these comes with its own development time (which translates to costs, of course), as well as difficulty, testing needs, and more.

How Much Does it Cost to Make an App: A Guide to Cost Estimation

For app developers and their customers, it’s important to estimate the cost of app development as accurately as possible. The basic formula used here looks like this:

Total Development Hours x Hourly Rate Charged = App Development Costs

It’s important to get a good grasp on the number of hours required to develop the app. To do that, you’ll need to sit down with your app developer (usually done during your initial consultation) and discuss your goals for the app. Your developer should ask for the following information, as it will be used to help them determine what functions (and therefore how much time) will be needed:

  • What do you want the app to do? What is its primary purpose?
  • What are your must-have features/functions?
  • What features/functions are desirable but can be lived without?
  • What will set the app apart from others like it on the market?
  • Will the app be monetized? If so, how?
  • How will the user interface look and operate?

The Stages of App Development

You will find five stages in the app development process, although only four will affect how much you pay for the finished app. The first stage is the discovery/research phase and should include a consultation and discussion with the developer about what you want to create (and should touch on the questions listed above).

The second stage is the UX/UI design. During this stage, wireframes are created, showing the flow and key elements in the user experience, as well as the general framework for the user interface.

Next is app development itself. This is when the development team begins building the application, creating the features and functions necessary, and generally bringing your vision to life.

The fourth stage is integrated within the third in most instances. This is ongoing app testing – once, it was common to test app functionality once it was finished. Today, it’s much more common for ongoing testing to take place, which speeds up the entire process while also helping to avoid hurdles and problems. Once testing is done, the app goes live.

Finally, there’s the maintenance and support phase. This includes things like patches and upgrades, security fixes, and so much more.

Building an App on a Budget

Now that we’ve explored some of the answers to the question of how much does it cost to make an app, it becomes apparent that the costs can vary significantly. Of course, chances are good that you’re tied to a specific budget. How can you build an app while ensuring that you stick within your financial parameters?

First, make sure you know what you want in terms of functionality, features, and even operating platform. Next, do your due diligence when it comes to choosing a development team. At Softrizon, we empower our clients to keep pace with 21st-century technology trends and can deliver both native and hybrid apps that help you achieve mission-critical goals. Contact us to learn more about our mobile application development services and how we can help you build an app on a budget.

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