Apps are ruling the world. From apps to assist in complicated tasks to apps that keep track of most mundane of our activities, man has become very dependent on apps.
We have an app for instant messaging, an app to share media from one device to another, an app for calculations, an app for every other thing.
What goes into building these apps?
How much money is required to make these apps?
In here, we explore the various factors revolving around the cost of development of an app.
What are the deciding factors for the cost of development of an app?
Before setting out on this venture to build your own app, you need to have a clear idea of what you expect out of your app, who you wish to serve via the app and what is the purpose of your app.
Questions like these affect your decisions throughout the Mobile App Development, and they have an impact on the cost, as you go ahead in the process. Once you have done your homework about the idea of the app, you are all set to prepare your budget for the app.
Now, this budget will be decided by some critical factors.
Let's have a look at these critical factors that decide the development costs:
Who is going to handle the development part?
Who is going to develop your app or the app for your business? Will you hire a freelancer? Should you give your project to a mobile app development company? Or, should you go for in-house development?
Deciding on this factor is very important. Though this will depend on the scale of your app, for a small-scale app that is being developed as a side project of your primary business, you can go for in-house development or freelancers. But for an app that your business is going to revolve around, you should consider hiring an app development firm. You can get several other assurances along with the app in this case.
Are you going for the Hybrid app or the Native app?
Native apps are those apps which are built for a particular platform. For example, the Google Play Store app on your Android device is explicitly developed for Android platforms, and it is native to Android.
Hybrid apps are most of the apps that you use in your daily life. They can be thought of as the combined power of native apps and web apps.
Now, which of these are you going to develop, will have an impact on the development cost. Native apps require more time for development but once made, are very fast. They bring good user experience with them. On the other hand, hybrid apps don’t take that long for development. But their speed will depend mainly on the speed of your user’s browser, so they are slower than their native equivalents.
The cost will be higher for the development of Native apps and lower for the Hybrid ones.
For which platform are you developing the app?
When you are out to develop the app, you must be having some platform in your mind. Do you want to develop it for iOS or Android? Or do you have some other mobile operating system in your mind?
Every platform has its own development intricacies, which demands different amount and type of work for different platforms.
iOS platforms are cheaper than Android when it comes to development comparisons. The apps developed for iOS reach out to users who are financially sound. Thus, this platform can help you generate greater revenues compared to others.
You must be aware that Android has a higher market share. Thus, your choice of platform will depend on the purpose of your app and it will be a significant deciding factor in the development cost of your app.
What will be the core features and functionalities of your app?
The features and functionalities that you are going to shape your app will also design the cost structure of the app. As you can perhaps think, the more the number and complexity of features and functionalities, the more will be the cost. Knowing this, you must distinguish between the primary and the secondary features of your app.
For instance, a photo or video editing app, or an app for reading PDFs does not require geolocation services, social media integration, or customization as essentials. But if you are out to develop a food ordering app, complexities such as payment gateways, databases, backend development will be an integral part of the process. These will, in such a case, comprise the primary features of your app.
If your app is going to be a gaming app, your primary features will be quite complex. The cost will rise higher with the graphics and the intricacies of the game.
These are the critical aspects in deciding the development cost of the app.
The litmus test: UX and UI
Once developed, the app will be used by the common people. Does not matter how good the backend of the app is, if the User Experience and the User Interface is not up to the mark, your app will simply not garner enough eyeballs.
Hence, you must ensure an impressive design. It can be anything that can make a user like your app a bit more. Maybe the icon. Perhaps the cute cartoon character that appears while another screen is loading. It could be the solid visual quality or the subtlest of animations. It could be the customization, or maybe sometimes the push notifications.
You can never guess enough what might work in your favour or what might go against you. So, the development needs to be done keeping the user in mind. Ensure high quality in all your features, because it all boils down to user experience in the end.
As you can guess, the costs can differ here even if the UX and UI are the best and it is because a complex large-scale app will have different UX/UI to offer which you cannot compare with the ones provided by the smaller, simpler ones.
You have a weather app installed on your device. It gives you a daily weather forecast of the next day. Should you be notified about the weather forecast of your city or that of your neighbouring country?
You have the Uber app. You log in it to book a cab to the cinema hall nearest to you. When you type in the destination, what should the app prompt, locations of your city or of some town you have no idea about?
This must have given you some idea about the importance of localization in certain apps. You need to use geolocation services for these integrations in your app. Also, if your app can give the local language support to the users based on their locations, it will undoubtedly develop a favourable opinion for the app. The cost will be worth it in most of the cases.
Backend and Testing
Handling the backend is no easy task. It also means that it is a costly affair. If data drive your app, then your data must be stored somewhere. Where will it be saved?
For this, you need to have something called databases. Where do you get these databases for storage? Here you will need database servers. Which ones? Well, that depends on the scale of your data. You could either use cloud database servers or have in-house database servers. Getting the latter ones is undoubtedly more expensive.
Again, you will need to integrate various third-party apps within your app. You can include specific functionalities in your app by using some particular APIs. These are nothing but an interface provided to you by the third party to use their functions. Now, different APIs will have different costs, based on usefulness and popularity of those APIs.
All this should be well blended with your app. It’s the backbone after all. The backend integration is entirely deterministic of the app development cost.
At every stage of development, the app must be tested for bugs and system errors. One testing is never enough. It has to be done continuously to keep the app running. It must also be tested based on user feedback regularly.
Compromising here will directly translate to compromising with the success of your app.
Apps are so easily available to all of us. All we need to do is to go to the Play Store and click Download. When things come this easy, there always a second cost that we are paying most of the time. Here, it is the app security.
You must ensure that your app is immune to hackers. Data is very crucial, especially if you are going for an enterprise app. Company's data, the user information, the transaction details, etc all must be locked up safely.
For this, you first need to identify the loopholes in your app, so that you can tackle them. You must use the appropriate tools to find these vulnerabilities within your app. Once found, now you would need to handle them. Again, you would require a different set of tools. Then you must have experts for this.
As you already know, none of this comes for free. Better security would demand better expenses.
Your app is going to rely on the development team heavily. This team will execute most of what you have planned above.
Whichever team you choose, be it in-house, freelancers or a mobile app development agency, your team, must have the technical prowess and versatility. Otherwise, everything will go in vain.
Now, the team sizes may vary, and different team size will incur a different cost. Different teams will be having the same base but different skills. Some might be very reputed, and some might be new start-ups. You cannot judge the team on face value.
You must do your due diligence properly here. Based on the skill set your project demands, you will look for various teams. Of course, they will show different quotations.
This part eats up the significant chunk in your budget.
Where is the development happening?
We mean the geographical location. The location, i.e., the region of development, the country, is key to the cost factor because the hourly charges of developers are different in different areas.
The developers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand tend to have the maximum charges of all, while those in India charge the least. The following graph well illustrates the variation of development cost with the location of the freelance developers. The cost of the development firms is similarly affected by geography.
Suppose you set out on the venture of developing your own app and in the middle of the process, you realize that your idea is not feasible. What then? All the money and efforts put till that point; all will be rendered wasted.
If you do not want this fate for your app, you might first want to develop a prototype for it. When you do this, you develop the app in its most basic version, with only the essential features and without much attention to the aesthetic parts. You just want to test the working, and the identify the problems of the app.
Using the app prototype, you can give your users the feel of the product before the release. This way you can have some consumers already at the time of actual release. Building a prototype can also fuel the efficiency of the development process. You can also draw useful insights into the process while prototyping. As with other processes, prototyping also needs some tools for itself, and they would inevitably incur some additional cost.
This is your last stop. Your app is finally ready to be installed and used by the users.
But where will they install it from? This is where publishing comes into the picture. You have to put your app out there on shelves so that people can have a look at it and make their own decisions.
Different app stores have separates charges. The iOS app store can charge as high as $99 for one app. For the Google Play Store, you will have to pay as much as $25 at a time. It is how these stores generate money. The more the sale of the app, the more will be the share taken by the stores.
So, do not stay in the illusion that it is only the development part that will empty your pockets. Publishing is not far behind.
How do you plan to go about the maintenance?
Do you think your task is over once you have deployed your app on the store? Think again.
The competition in the market is fierce. The platforms are competing with each other. On the platforms, various apps are racing with each other. In such a scenario you should certainly not leave your app alone out there.
What should you do then? Should you schedule regular maintenance for your app? It needs to be up to date for the competition. Schedule the maintenance at least once a year. It needs to stay relevant and must embrace new technology to remain on the users’ phones. It should be regularly tested and modified according to the users' feedback. Otherwise, the users will uninstall it, if it becomes an app that just consumes space in their phones.
Now that you have taken a look at the various factors that will affect the cost that goes into the development of the app, go and develop the next app that takes on the world.
An enterprise app is still an enterprise at the end, and like any other enterprise, it too needs funds. It requires money to develop the app at each stage.
Right from hiring the correct team of developers to the maintenance of the app post publishing, everything needs to be allocated enough space in your budget.
The decisive factors of the app include the platform on which you wish to deploy the app, the features, and functionalities you want your app to have, the tools required for its safety, the location of development, the design, backend integration, prototyping, etc. The most important one is deciding whether to do in-house development or hire freelance developers or to give your project to a Mobile App Development Company.
Lastly, you also need to decide the store to launch your app, and this too is a money matter.
Just imagine, developing an app that seems just an icon to you, revolves around so much of money.