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Investing in Your Mobile Application: How Much Does an App Cost to Create?

“How much does an app cost?” is a Google search that definitely shows no sign of disappearing. Since 60% of Google searches happen via mobile, most of those searches are done using an app.

Mobile devices have experienced atomic growth, and apps are following in popularity. It’s not that desktop computers are becoming less popular; the mobile market is simply more accessible. It is easier and often cheaper to buy and use a smartphone than a computer.

Apps help you capture more attention and sales from your customers. An app is a dedicated space for your business alone. It’s one tap away.

If you’re thinking of investing in app development, you’ve probably already done a few searches yourself. And you’re probably still confused. You’ll see quotations from $1,000 to $250,000 (or just a ‘contact us’ button). 

So what is the value of an app?

How Much Does an App Cost?

There’s a reason why most founders of social networking apps or other popular apps are coders. Simple app development projects may cost you around $50,000. But a complex, multifunctional app like Instagram could cost more than a quarter of a million.

While there is no fixed amount that you should spend, high quality will cost more. The other main factor is complexity. Including more features will steadily raise the cost of your app. 

This article could cover a lot of content, but we’ll focus on the app development process. App development costs are a sum of different factors, features, platforms, and more.

You’ll need first to consider these main factors.

What Type of App are You Looking to Develop?

This is, hopefully, relatively straightforward. It ultimately depends on your business. Your app may be a mobile game, a social networking app, or a booking app.

Deciding on the type of app you want to develop should be a key element in your business strategy. It will also dictate the budget.

If your app is only for marketing purposes, it should receive less capital than a sales platform would.

Choosing Platforms

The next step is selecting platforms for development. Most apps will either be developed for iOS or Android.

UX, UI, and More

Design is a vital component of app development. It would be best if you thought of design as more than colors and font. UI design (user-interface) includes aesthetic features like colors, font, style, and visuals.

Still, UX design is equally important. UX design dictates the experience of the user with the app. This is everything that makes the app easy, logical, and useful.

There are beautiful apps with fantastic designs that are frustrating to use. Meanwhile, some apps look terrible but function well.

Great UI attracts users because the app looks professional and official. Great UX helps make sales, collect info, and provide value to your customers. Both are equally vital to successful app development.

Complexity & Page Count

The complexity of your app is a significant cost factor. Complexity is more than features and design, though; it is also how many pages will be built.

More pages mean more money. If your app has detailed settings, feeds, and sections, it will hurt the bank more. This is an excellent impetus to simplify your idea.

Think about what you really need in your app and what’s not strictly necessary. Also, consider what features drive revenue and marketing value.

Features and Infrastructure

Lastly, but certainly not least, your app infrastructure and its features are a significant cost point. The more features you build into your app, the more it will cost.

This seems obvious, but many features are often overlooked. Many people with ideas for apps don’t realize how complex it actually is. And some don’t realize how many individual features require thought and development.

App Features

The average cost to develop an app will fluctuate depending on its features. App features can include hundreds of different elements. Here are some standard features to consider.

Login Features

Login features can be relatively cheap if you use social networks to sign in. This also brings the advantage of gathering more data about your customers.

Building a login feature takes around 20 hours and shouldn’t cost more than $1,000. You can also configure your app to use an email or phone number login.

Notifications

If your app features updates, messages, news, products, or any interactions – notifications are a must. 99% of apps use push notifications. This can take between 20 and 200 hours, depending on the function and complexity. 

Push notifications should fall within the range of $1,000 to $10,000.

Geo-Location Features

For certain apps, geolocation is critical. This is different than building in a Google maps integration. Google’s official services make integration more accessible and bring the cost down to around $1,000.

Alternatively, some apps for taxis, travel, or business may use real-time GPS tracking. The cost of these services will vary depending on the accuracy, location, and service.

Real-time tracking should take more than 50 hours of development and cost upwards of $1,500.

Payment Integrations

Integrating payment methods is also a common desire. This allows customers to make purchases without leaving the app. A feature like this may be beneficial for online marketplaces or booking services.

It also brings many options like Stripe, Apple Pay, PayPal, and more. Integrating each payment system can take more than 50 hours. Combining two or more payment methods can cost around $3,000.

App Cost Estimation Brief

Depending on the complexity and features, your app will take a different shape. That means that cost will differ, and the expertise required to create the app is different too.

Very generally speaking, simple apps will cost around $10,000 and up. Simple apps have no API integration or back-end. Design is simple and uses standard components.

Features in simple apps may include a social login feature, calendars, and an email subscription. If you want to include a custom UI design, API integration, and more – you’ll need at least $40,000. Moderately priced apps can take up to 800 hours to develop in total.

Finally, complex apps have it all. Different languages, animations, professional design features are apparent. But behind the scenes exists third-party integrations, real-time changes, and a complex back-end.

The major downside of complex apps is the approximate $75,000 minimum stake.

If you want to dive deeper within these categories, you’ll need to distinguish what kind of app you’re developing. That depends on the considerations above.

Mobile games, data-driven apps, hybrid apps, native apps, and apps based on phone functionality are all different. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to find out more about app development, and the process.   

Freelance Developers or Development Agencies?

App development comes with a choice between a development agency and freelancers. Hiring an agency is obviously more expensive.

But how do you decide?

App development agencies can do it all. You won’t have any elements that require you to hire someone else. Programmers, testers, and designers are all part of the package.

Experienced development agencies will be able to tell you precisely what you’re getting for your money: portfolios, hourly rates, and estimates of project length and cost. You should also get high-quality work.

Freelance app developers are cheaper. This doesn’t necessarily mean the app will be worse in quality, though.

With lower cost can come communication and skill issues. You will also need to coordinate different freelancers and manage the process yourself. This can be difficult if you don’t understand the process well or don’t have the time.

The most significant disadvantage of hiring freelancers is the time investment to hire them. In comparison, app development agencies state exactly how they will carry out your project.

Alternatives

There are also templates for app sections or starter kits that will cost between $20 and $250 per license.

Automated app development tools can also be of use. Like online website development tools, technology is gradually closing the gap for apps, too. However, as it stands, automatically created apps will likely contain bugs and lack features.

Automated solutions can be subscriptions or cost a lower sum of $5,000.

More on Apps

90% of mobile use is dedicated to apps. While we only spend 10% of our time in web browsers. If mobile use trends continue to increase, trends for website use on mobiles will decline.

Your app will not be the next big thing on the app store without talented developers and more than $60 million in investments. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful or famous.

To get started with an estimate for how much your app idea could cost contact us for a consultation

Let’s Make Your Idea Reality

We deliver value to partners through mobile strategy expertise, user-centered design, and lean methodology. Take a look around our work portfolio and drop us a line, we’d love to chat.