mobile app development cost

How Much Does It Cost to Build an App

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When thinking of developing an app, the two core questions you’re trying to figure out are: how much does it cost to build an app and what features make a killer app.

Well-designed mobile apps further business goals by creating fresh streams of revenue and strengthen brand equity. Apps provide a deeper level of engagement with users and bring up extremely valuable insights businesses can use to build better value and easily offset cost of app development. Therefore, businesses must evaluate their needs and design apps that efficiently satisfy those needs.

That means the cost of mobile app development depends upon what you want out of an app, who your users are, what platform you will be using to host your apps on, what are the security issues you wish to address and so on.

What are you building your app for?

Before you set out to build your mobile app, you must be very clear why you’re investing your resources in an app and what end-result you’re looking forward to. If, for instance, your mobile app will have a fixed, limited number of users who need to communicate like a messaging platform, but do not do much beyond that – think of a simple email app – the app development cost will be on the lower side.

If, on the other hand, your app is going to be used by an ever increasing number of users who keep sharing important or confidential data that must be processed in real-time, or handle sensitive customer information like credit card details or social security numbers, your app needs a different level of security. In that case, the cost of developing an app can increase considerably.

Now, let’s get down to figuring out what features will impact the app development costs and find how much does it costs to create an app.

Platform and devices

This is a good place to start when you’re trying to determine how much does it cost to build an app.

A good starting point for developing time and cost estimates is to decide what platform will run your app: Android, iOS, Windows or hybrid. And how do you know what platform is best for your app? Well, there are at least two ways of finding out. Firstly, if you know most of your users, you probably already have the data.

Alternatively, you can estimate the appropriate platform based on the geographical locations and their spending patterns. According to GlobalWebIndex, Android’s biggest markets are Asia and some parts of Europe, like Spain, while iOS finds a bigger market in the US, Canada, Australia and other parts of Europe, like Sweden.

Depending upon the intended use, you may need to find which device, a smartphone or a tablet, is more likely to carry the app.

Design and UI complexity

The design of the app, its looks, buttons, icons and layout strongly impact the cost to create an app. That’s because elaborate and fully customized designs take longer and more expertise to produce.

But that’s not all.

The overall design and the User Interface (UI), apart from making a statement about your business and your brand, significantly impact the way the user interacts with your app. For instance, the way the features have been placed can simplify or complicate the user’s interaction with the app. Needlessly complex or awkward navigation can easily frustrate, and subsequently drive away, your users, and yet drive up the cost to build an app.

Top-rated mobile app development companies are rated highly because they take a great deal of care in laying out the smallest of details so that app users find the navigation intuitive and easy to adopt.

A reasonably good design with moderate sophistication costs in the range of US $ 2,500 to US $3,500.

Level of personalization

For mobile apps, personalization decides engagement. When users invest in personalizing the app, and thereby improving the overall experience, they also provide the business with deeper insights as regards what users want. While deeper personalization will dictate how long does it take to develop an app, it’s always worth the time.

Personalization can begin with something as simple as building the personal profile. Providing users with the opportunity to personalize the app provides a larger, personal reason to stay hooked on to the app.

Another popular way of personalizing the app is to provide user with the chance to rate various services. Next, users appreciate the chance to make in-app purchases, something that is often the core of mobile games. In case of games, how much does an app cost to make is almost always weighed against how will the game encourage gamers to pay for upgrades, powers or other features.

Basic features will need US $1,000 while advanced features will cost US $8,000 onwards.

Degree of Security

Firstly, does your app need users to sign up before they can use it? A fitness app doesn’t always need you to sign in, while your LinkedIn app has little value unless you sign in.  And signing in is also the first test of the security of your app.

At one end of the extreme, an app may not need the user to sign in, and on the other, there could be advanced security features along with signing up; for instance there could be 2-step authorization. 

The next question you’ll need to address is the level of security required. For instance, do you need entirely encrypted conversations? Is basic security enough? Do you need protection against, say, SQL injections (where malicious code is purposefully injected into an entry field to cripple the entire functioning)?

For every degree of security you want for your app, the on-demand mobile app development company will need to deploy people with better talent to your project – which, obviously, raises the cost to make an app.

The security costing begins at US$ 2,000 and can quickly rise as you keep adding extra security layers. Often this is weighed as a percentage of the total cost to develop an app, especially with apps that carry sensitive or personal data.

Data handling

To begin with, you may be collecting data through your mobile application. The data provides you with insights to both, the customers and the distributors. How well the app organizes the data becomes a very important aspect, since you’ll be basing a number of your decisions on this data. The data, when transferred to a central server, will lead to the next question: how much does a server cost?

Even some of the most basic apps exchange data. Users may feed in data, edit and update existing data or simply access data to view it. The most pertinent question to begin with, therefore, is how your app will handle the data.

Finally, you’ll have to decide where the data will be stored. Will the new data integrate with an existing database? Will it create a new database? Will the data be stored on cloud? Will the newly formed database need to integrate with a database with a different system of organizing data?

Your answers to these questions will contribute to how much does it cost to make an app.

Basic data management will required you to spend US$ 1,500 and reach US$ 5,000 for moderate requirements.

Other features

Will your app need and permit users to chat with other users? To some apps, this is a central feature while for others, this is optional. For instance, Massive multiplayer online role-play games (MMORPGs) need players to team up, strategize and play as a team (don’t forget mobile games are apps too). In that context, communication between players is vital.

Ecommerce mobile apps have a unique set of needs. For instance, there will be a shopping cart. Shopping carts will carry a lot of features like wish lists, abandoned carts, previous purchases, favorite products, failed payments and so on.

A good question to figure out early on is how much does it cost to maintain an app. Then there are areas like upgrades, edits and so on. 

It’s not easy to give a dollar figure to this component, because there is a very wide range of features you can pick or ignore. All the same, it might be safe to say additional features will add another US $1,500 to the overall cost.

So how much does all this add up to?

After taking the above factors into consideration, one can safely say the cost of a mobile app is between US $ 8,500 and US $ 18,500, assuming average requirements and moderate features.

However, even while reading this post and thinking about how much does an app cost, you would have realized there are a number of subjective elements (“Is design A better than design B?”) and it’s not always easy to pin a number to it.

Next, it’s difficult to compare two teams of roughly the same size. Their talents, levels of expertise, ability to communicate well with each other and the client, past projects handled and so on will make certain teams stand out.

Since no two projects are completely identical, it’s best to get specific figures for the app you have in mind, rather than rely on average values. Why not get in touch with us for a no-commitment estimate? We’ll run you through the features which will help you take a much better informed decision.

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