The Average Cost of App Development in 2022
Kris Nicolaou, July 5, 2022
Cost is the first factor to consider when creating an app for your business. Without help from the right people, the process is likely to take a considerable chunk out of your budget.
To ensure that you're spending your app development budget wisely, you want to work with the best developers who can help you achieve your app ideas. Moreover, you should learn as much as possible about the process to know how you can save money in the long run. Here's a detailed look at mobile application development and how much it could cost you.
Overview of App Development Costs in 2022
Today, developing modern apps can cost up to $300,000, depending on the complexity of the platform. Here's a simple table showing a rough estimate of app development costs:
|Simple app||Two to three months||$40,000 to $60,000|
|Basic app||Three to six months||$60,000 to $150,000|
|Complex app||Over six months||from $300,000|
Developers can create simple apps without extra features within two to three months. They will be equipped with the bare essentials and may have low-tech screens. Furthermore, it will only have the necessary user interface (UI) solutions.
Meanwhile, basic or mid-level applications have more complicated features. This type of app enables more application programming interface (API) integrations and will have more screens. They can feature custom UI and more advanced capabilities, like real-time messaging.
Complex apps are platforms that come with multifunctional and advanced features. Some of these capabilities include chatbots, real-time synchronization, and UI animation. These are applications like Uber, WhatsApp, or Amazon.
Aside from the complexity of the app, there are factors that can affect development costs. These factors can include:
- Process of creation
- The quality assurance process
- Functions, design, and features of the app
- The complexity of database
- Third-party integrations
- Security protocols
- Size and skill level of the development team
To get an overview of the costs of creating an app today, we need to look at the numbers.
According to recent data, developers introduced roughly 90 thousand mobile apps on the Google Play Store in June 2022. This figure demonstrates how busy app developers are getting now that more people spend a lot of time on their smartphones.
What's more, global revenue from mobile apps rose by $60 billion to $318 billion from 2019 to 2020. Mobile games contributed $60 billion, while social networking or social media apps added $31 billion to the total revenue. The Statista Digital Market Outlook predicts that mobile app revenue could grow to $613 billion by 2025.
The numbers prove how app development projects are becoming more popular now more than ever. People are busier and are looking for more convenient ways to complete transactions using their phones.
When you have an app for your business, you're responding to this particular consumer need. You're also keeping up with trends that enable you to rise above your industry competitors.
Now that you know how actively and rapidly the mobile app market is growing, let's look at how an app development company estimates costs.
How Is App Development Cost Estimated?
An app developer considers various crucial factors when estimating costs. One main cost driver for the process is the app's features.
Before the process begins, app development firms usually provide their clients with a rough cost estimate. They will base the price on their project description, business, and technical requirements. They will also need a preliminary list of features that may affect the quote.
The developers will present a product backlog that outlines:
- Changes or updates to existing features
- Bug fixes
- System or infrastructure updates
- Other activities that the development team may deliver to get a specific outcome
Generally, app development firms charge for their services based on the following two options: a fixed charge or a structured price.
The first option is usually used for smaller projects, specifically those with a well-defined scope of work. The benefit of paying a fixed charge is that the cost is affirmed even before the development starts, so you know exactly what you will be paying up front.
A structured price fits more flexible and complex projects that could need updates at any moment. Developers base the cost on time and materials for the project and charge an hourly rate.
Although a project with a structure price option also has an initial project estimate, it enables developers to change the scope of the work during the process. With this flexibility, clients can end up with a product they're happy with, even if the process involves challenging implementations.
There are two reasons why the cost goes over what was estimated. The first is unrealistic cost quotes from app creation firms.
Some companies don't pay enough attention during the preparation phase, which can result in inaccurate quotes. Other firms may even be dishonest and only want to secure a contract without providing a true estimation of cost.
The second reason why mobile app development costs may increase is due to changes in the scope of work along the way.
If you are partnering with an app development company and your budget is limited, you have three options:
- Set a budget and agree on the features you want. By following this step, the scope of work and the costs will remain unchanged.
- If you want a unique feature for your app, be prepared to pay additional fees. With extra functionality, your application will be more challenging to build.
- Check the scope of work and ensure it will get you the features you need while remaining within your budget constraints. If your firm has a skilled in-house development team, you can have them improve the design and functionality later.
Cost To Create an App Based on Development Stages
More often than not, when clients come to app development firms for help, they will only have a broad outline of the app functionality they want. Unfortunately, this information may not be enough to estimate a fair price.
Without a very detailed understanding of app functionality and design, it can be almost impossible to give an accurate answer to the question, “how much does app development cost?”
As discussed above, development companies either give a fixed charge or charge by the hour. Before meeting with developers, some clients probably do their own research and use a cost calculator to get an approximation of how much they will have to pay.
One way to get an app development cost estimate is by preparing a cost breakdown per phase. Each phase will get a piece of your budget, and this gives you a more accurate estimation.
The mobile app development strategy stage is also known as the strategy, planning, and discovery phase. Regardless of what it's called, this phase involves market and user research, objective definition, in-depth analysis, and minimum viable product (MVP) conception of the application.
Some development companies even offer special services for this phase. Some clients choose to work with firms with market research services, while others select companies that support MVP conception.
Before figuring out the cost of creating your desired app, you will need a detailed market analysis, business plan, and documentation. Experienced developers will ask you many questions during this phase to understand what product you want.
You may have to allocate 10 percent of the final cost to this phase. This stage can take 20 to 200 hours, depending on the complexity of the app you want.
At the end of this stage, you will get details about the app you want to create:
- Objective definition
- Market and user research
- Competitive analysis
- Product positioning
- MVP concept
UX/UI Design Stage
After the research stage, developers will design the user experience/user interface (UX/UI). This phase involves complex processes, and developers need to have a documented understanding of the app's functional specifications before getting started.
The specifications will inform the designers and developers about app functionality and will serve as the starting point for the platform's design phase.
This stage involves prototyping the application, wireframing, and creating the visual design and user experience design. Because first impressions are essential, app design is crucial to make the end product appealing to users and to get them hooked.
Flawless UI/UX is a must in modern apps. That means you must invest a huge chunk of your budget at this stage.
You also need to be on the same page as the app designer, so it's a good idea to brush up on web design tutorials so you can explain how you want your app to look professionally.
This stage can take up 10 or 15 percent of your overall budget. Additionally, it can be hard to give a precise time frame for this phase since it involves a lot of custom design elements.
By now, you probably realize that the development stage can be the most expensive phase of app creation. After the design is complete, the production stage begins, where the clients see their app for the first time.
Based on the design, the developers can give an estimate of the cost as well as an estimated time of delivery.
As we have seen, the cost will depend in part on the number and the complexity of features the application needs. These capabilities will define the complexity of the solution itself. So in your initial plans, consider the required complexity since it can be closely tied to user retention.
Here are some of the core features that modern applications use:
- Native device features
- User engagement capabilities, including SMS, push, email, and other social activities
- User registration and login
- App purchases support or payment gateways
- Location data search feature
- Syncing with other devices
The development stage also involves the creation of the infrastructure or architecture of the application. This process includes establishing basic control, third-party API integration, data storage, access to enterprise data, and data encryption.
One crucial aspect of calculating the cost of this phase is choosing the platform for your app. The decision between the iOS and Android platforms should depend on the audience you want to reach.
Keep in mind that these two platforms require different software development kits (SDK), language programming, and development tools. However, you also have the option to create something that works on both platforms.
Testing and Deployment Stage
After developing the first model of the app, developers need to test it to check its quality. The time frame for this phase can change depending on the purpose and complexity of the product. Testing can take longer and be more expensive if the app has complex features and includes several screens.
In-depth testing by the quality assurance (QA) team can help detect potential user problems, such as lags, bugs, and glitches. The goal is to deploy the app with a minimum number of issues so that they will not negatively impact the user experience.
Ongoing Support and Maintenance Stage
Although some costs of the app development process can be estimated, some expenses may be difficult to factor in from the outset, including ongoing development and maintenance costs.
Most developers estimate only the cost of building the app, not adding the maintenance costs. They may offer maintenance as a different service, which means you might have to make an additional payment. Sometimes, these hidden fees may be even higher than the original cost of app development.
So, if you want a mobile app for your business, you should also factor in a budget for app maintenance costs. This way, you're prepared to address potential problems that come up or you can add new features later.
Pro-tip - “Choose the right app development team by working with an experienced provider who has worked with other popular brands and has a substantial portfolio. These providers can help minimize development costs and deliver products faster.”
Factors That Affect App Development Costs
Let's take a closer look at the elements that can affect how much development can cost. When you set out to create an app, you cannot expect the app developers you're working with to immediately inform you about all the expenses. They will first have to analyze your needs and initial requirements. They will also make a judgment about how many hours they will need to meet your specifications.
Read on and examine how the following factors can affect your budget. After reading, you will know whether to change your specifications so you can save more or just allocate more money to your project.
Features and Functionality
The more unusual and complex you want your new app to be, the more expensive it will be to create it. So if you want to have an idea of how much your development budget should be, you must first have clear specifications and requirements for your platform.
Functionality and the complexity of the app's features are two of the most significant cost drivers. The number of buttons, screens, and fields involved can affect overall costs.
These are the most common features that influence the complexity of modern apps. The implementation of some of the capabilities can be significantly lengthy, while others can be short and simple.
- User profile completion and editing
- File uploading
- Basic messaging
- Push notifications
- Basic admin panel features, such as user and payment management
The platform on which you want to launch your app can also affect the overall outlay. Ask yourself if you want to create an app for devices with an Android mobile operating system (OS) or an iOS app for iPhone. If you opt to make an app that works on both platforms, this decision is also likely to affect overall expenses.
When deciding which platform to use, you should consider such factors as Android and iOS comparative market share, device fragmentation, and prevalence.
The processes of developing mobile applications for these platforms are significantly different from each other. Although both procedures can take about the same amount of time, the two platforms use different programming languages and SDKs. The dissimilarities in the processes mean that the prices might also be different.
Furthermore, you may need to work with a separate team for any particular platform, which can increase the total cost.
In app development, the backend refers to an OS that provides designers with APIs to enable data exchange between a database and a programme. The app will need data analytics capability to track user activity and assess overall performance.
Backend development costs vary depending on the number of parameters that will be tracked during analysis and how detailed and specific monitoring will be.
This administrative feature can be helpful in managing content, statistics, and users. Although there are options to implement existing admin panel templates that fit your needs, finding a good one can be challenging. So it's logical to have an adequate administrative panel to meet your business requirements.
In-House or Outsourced App Development
When you are thinking of creating a mobile application, the cost is not the only consideration you may be thinking of. If you don't have in-house app designers and developers, you're probably thinking of outsourcing the work. But you can always hire developers and build your own team.
One crucial advantage of in-house development is physical proximity to the team. This proximity means faster and more straightforward communication. Even if your employees work from home, they can still be just one message away.
With the development team on your payroll, you can also be more involved in the creation process. You can get faster updates and provide feedback when you want.
But, outsourcing can be a smart option if you don't want to hire more employees. That said, finding the right specialists can take considerable time. This process can take weeks or even months of effort if you want to work with the right developers.
These are the general steps to take to find the right app development firm:
- Make a list of potential firms and research them
- Check out their rates, size, and specializations
- Review their portfolio of released apps and see if you want yours to look the same
- Gather feedback from previous clients
- Schedule a meeting with project managers to find out the details of their process and methodology
Structure and Location of Development Team
The location of the development team and its structure can also be vital factors influencing the cost of creating your app. For example, the cost of creating an app in Ontario will differ from costs in other major cities.
According to the online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter, app developers in Canada get paid 126,370 CAD per year, while specialists in the US get more, at 126,960 CAD per year.
Another relevant factor that can affect the cost is the setup of the development team. Working with a more structured unit can be expensive since more people are involved in the process.
In general, app development services providers have the following individuals:
Business analyst - This person is responsible for the business analysis process, including gathering requirements from clients, identifying business problems, analyzing rival companies, defining the price, and outlining project specifications. These processes are all important to planning, which is key to avoiding costly charges at the end of the project.
UI/UX designer - This individual is responsible for analyzing apps similar to what clients want, analyzing user preferences and potential problems, creating wireframes, and developing the final design.
Mobile app engineer - Engineers are responsible for building frameworks and deploying the app on the platform it was designed for. While doing so, they have to consider all tech and business peculiarities outlined in the project specification.
QA engineer - This person monitors the app's stability performance, load, regression, and other parameters. They also check the platform's UI and other components for compliance with the specification.
Development project manager - This is the person who coordinates the whole team's work and ensures that the final product is completed on time.
One of the last but critical points to consider is how much money you will need to maintain your app after it is completed. Usually, you can allocate 15 to 20 percent of the initial creation cost on maintenance every year.
Maintenance usually involves bug fixing, adding new features, and getting ready for a new version of the OS. The cost can depend on how many features you want to add and how complex they are.
App maintenance is vitally important, even if you don't want to upgrade or add anything new to the application. Here are the essential elements involved in the process:
- Continuous bug fixing
- Code optimization
- Improving performance and stability
- Ensuring support for new OS versions
- Supporting the latest versions of third-party programmes
Tips To Enhance Your App Development Process on a Budget
By now, you probably have an idea of some estimated costs to create the app you want. Here are some pointers that can help you stick to your budget throughout the process.
Set a Goal
The first step of developing an app is determining what you want it to accomplish. You can help define this goal by answering the three questions below:
- What do you want users to accomplish by using the app?
- What functionality is needed for a good user experience?
- What items are mandatory, and what features are just “nice to have”?
The last question will help you determine which elements must be included in the app's first version. With this information, you're spending money on the most critical components of your application. Remember, higher functionality means more expensive development, especially if you want to offer users a unique experience.
Do your homework and take note of the app requirements. Do your own market research for ideas and target audience. You should also perform a true cost-benefit analysis. Doing so will enable you to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Review predicted returns over two years, as mobile products tend to improve during that time.
Pick the Best Platform for Your Business
Picking the wrong platform can be a significant and costly mistake when developing an app. Designers and developers might have to rework the product if you realize too late that you chose the wrong one.
You have three options when choosing a platform: you can create an app for Android, iOS, or a hybrid.
Android and iOS (or Apple) are native apps that are specific to a particular platform. Meanwhile, hybrids are cross-platform mobile products that work on multiple devices.
There are benefits to each option, and more than one solution can be developed. That said, high-quality cross-platform apps will need more product development stages as the technology and procedure for a successful launch on each platform is unique.
You should know the pros and cons of all your options before you make a decision.
One advantage of choosing to build for Android is a broader audience. According to 2022 data, Android devices held an 87 percent global market share in 2019, while iOS devices had 13 percent.
Another benefit is that publishing through the Google Play Store is much easier than submitting it to the Apple Store. Google's app store publishes apps faster, has a less stringent review process, and has fewer rejections compared to the latter.
These benefits mean shorter development and launch times for Android. But, the less complicated review process also implies that there is more “clutter” in the platform, which might make it more challenging for users to find your app.
Approval times for the Apple Store can range from 1 to 7 days, and rejection rates for new apps are higher. Because of this disadvantage, development and launch time could be delayed while stretching your budget.
You can opt to create hybrid programmes, which are mobile websites disguised as apps. These products look identical to native apps but are tethered to a business website.
The advantage of developing a hybrid is it enables cross-platform capability. They are supported by Android and iOS devices and are more affordable to create than building two separate ones to cater to both markets.
But, this option also comes with significant disadvantages. A hybrid app cannot take advantage of the full functionality of either the iOS or Android platform. This major downside results in a less reliable user experience, depending on the development of the programme.
Work With the Right People
To ensure you can maximize your budget, you should work with the right designers and developers. A good development team will be experienced in your niche, have worked with well-known brands, and have an impressive portfolio.
A good app development provider will:
- Do their best to minimize the application development costs
- Deliver the product on time
- Build their own open-source libraries and use them effectively in app development without breaking licensing rights
- Use effective project management processes and tools
- Have their own solutions for an intended functionality to save time
- Apply only proven and working third-party services
- Use the right technologies and tools to achieve the necessary results
Remember that there is no substitute for experience when looking for a development partner. Search carefully through the finished applications of any developer and ask for references from previous clients.
Any individual can claim that they created an app that is effective and widely available and used. So speaking to previous companies that hired the developer is extremely valuable to the selection process.
Don't get baited by flashy presentations from prospective developers. Often, the most experienced and reputable specialists can demonstrate the functionality of their finished products without needing storyboards.
Industry experience should be paramount in choosing your designers and developers. Remember that every industry is unique, and the features and functionalities of apps can change dramatically from sector to sector. For instance, what works for retail will likely not work for financial institutions and vice versa.
Look for a partner who knows your industry well and can make recommendations that your potential end users will appreciate.
Lastly, you want to work with a collaborative developer who works well with you. Communication is vital in successfully developing a final product with the exact functionalities you want.
While you will have a fixed budget in mind, you must still be open and transparent with the developer about changes, bug fixes, and redesigns. The best development partners will find a way to work within your budget without stripping out crucial functions and design.
Develop Your App With Care
Developing and launching an app can be an important step for a business. It can open new doors and keep the company relevant in today's fast-paced and device-connected society.
Remember that your app will only be as successful as you make it, so be careful when treading into the mobile development arena. Otherwise, you may spend your budget on something that will not benefit your business and that can be incredibly detrimental to startups.
After you find the right developer, you must work collaboratively with them to set a timeline, budget, and expectations.
Allow ample time for development, QA testing, revisions, redesigns, and deployment. Use a recursive procedure to ensure success, and don't be afraid to fail during the process.
Finally, once you have deployed your new app, listen to feedback from your users. Doing so can help ensure that your product remains relevant even as new ones pop up.
Need Help Developing Your App? Call Brain Box Labs Today!
App development can be a daunting process without the right partners by your side. Finding the best developer for your launch begins with knowing exactly what you want for your app. So do your research and determine what consumer needs you are addressing to make a programme that your customers can use.
The most reputable software development company can achieve the greatest value out of your budget. They can create the product you are looking for without sacrificing capabilities and functionalities.
Looking for a partner that can make the unique app your business needs? Reach out to Brain Box Labs today and discover how our team of experienced developers can help improve your business. Call us at (905) 409-6941 or email us at [email protected] to know more about our services.
Just like any service, the costs of app development are constantly evolving. Keep yourself updated with the trends when it comes to mobile application development. Check us out at Brain Box Labs for more helpful tips and up-to-date information.