Take a moment and think about the mobile apps you've used today. If you're like many of us, the number may be overwhelming and you'll need to just consider the last couple of hours. That's fine — do what you need to get a reasonable idea of the apps you've used recently. Hold them in your head for a moment.
Now, try to guess the combined app development cost behind all those little buttons you used on your phone. Take another moment to make a reasonable estimate.
If your answer falls somewhere between "I have absolutely no idea" and "a whole lot of money," congratulations: You're normal. If you came up with a solid number, you’re thinking like a developer, which comes with its own set of rewards.
Truth be told, the vast majority of the population has no clue what goes into mobile app development. End users don't care — they just want an app that works well.
But if you're a business owner, part of a team, or someone with an original idea who's looking to develop an app, you'll need to know what to expect when projecting your mobile app development cost. This is especially important when the app is still just a glimmer in a developer's eye: After all, your app development budget largely determines what you can expect.
Every project and development team is different. You can spend anywhere from a few thousand to millions of dollars on an application depending on what features you want. To make your life easier, we have an extra-neat tool that gives you an estimate of just how much yours will cost — more on that later. But first, let's look at some app building basics.
How Long Is a Piece of String?
This “string” helps you connect to your customers.
Asking, "How much does app development cost?" is very much the same as asking, "How long is a piece of string?" The answer is also just the same: Well, it depends how much you want.
No worthwhile app is going to be cheap. If a business owner expects to pay 42 coconuts and a backrub for a complex, industry-disrupting app like Uber, they're in for sore disappointment. On the other hand, you don’t need to sell a kidney to finance your app’s development either. Knowing your needs, expectations, and capabilities is crucial to determining just how much string you need to buy as well as how much string you're capable of buying.
Here are some simple things to consider:
- Each feature on an app takes time to build, i.e. code.
- This time spent is work performed by a human, who must be paid since unpaid workers do notoriously poor work.
- More features on an app means more time, which means higher pay for the human, which means higher cost.
So, in a nutshell, the more complex an app is the more expensive it is because the development time required to build it is longer. App complexity in our analogy is the length of the string, and a longer piece of string costs more.
App development companies usually give an estimate to their clients based on a simple formula. An app feature is generally estimated to take a certain number of hours to create; that amount of time is then multiplied by the app developer's hourly rates. It works the same as any other industry, except coding is perceived to be more mysterious than pipe-fitting or welding since it isn't as physically noticeable.
So, now we know just how to measure that string. But how do you know how much string you need?
App Complexity: Know Thyself
Some self-reflection can help you determine what you need in an app.
Understanding the purpose of your app will help you understand just what you need it to do. Will you need to process payments? Have a messaging service? Use camera functionality? What are the most basic features you'd be satisfied with?
Knowing just what you'll need will put you ahead in the development process and can cut down on development time. Often, project bloat — in both time and money — comes from adding extra bells and whistles as the project continues.
If you don't know just what you need — for example, if you're still just at the app idea stage, but you know you need one — our in-house app cost estimator can help you whittle away unnecessary features to help you realize a workable budget.
App Development Cost Estimator
You can have fun playing with our sandbox.
We've mentioned a couple of times in this article that our app development cost estimator is a valuable tool to help you get an idea of what an app might cost. Well, here's the part where we describe it in a bit more detail as well as link to it (again) and encourage you to try it out for free. Heck, play around with it. Have fun with it. We certainly do.
You can get a great idea of the price differences between a simple app with just a few features and a medium complexity app with several integrated features. Check out the average cost of the fun add-ons and tools that give an app its flair, or consider new features you hadn't yet envisioned in your app design.
Our estimator is basically a sandbox where you use your imagination and our estimates to build a hypothetical app, and see just how much it would cost. If you're still in the discovery stage, it's the perfect tool to help you make a budget.
And, on the topic of budget — let's get to some ways to help make one that is not so painful.
Keeping App Development Cost Down
The savings really stack up when you plan well for your app.
No one in their right mind wants to spend more money than they have to on app development. However, anyone who spends money on an app deserves one that works well and suits their needs. So, how do you get quality workmanship while keeping your app development cost down?
Here are a few things to consider that can help you keep your app development cost down.
Consider Offshoring your App Development
One of the simplest ways to keep app development cost down is to look to other countries for your app development. As we are an offshore app development company, you may not be surprised to hear that we support offshore app development. But it’s true: The savings can be truly massive. At the same time, you get a beautiful, functional app you can be proud of.
By offshoring with a company like Xenia Tech you can expect to save up to 70% compared to what you would spend in a western country like the US or UK. When you consider that most apps are in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, you'll see savings add up very quickly, as any business analyst would be quick to point out.
Native vs Hybrid Apps
Anyone looking to have an app made will need to consider whether they want it to be native to one platform or hybrid, so it fits both. By "both" we mean Apple and Android, as iOs apps and Android apps are essentially the whole game.
An app is "native" to a platform if it is built specifically for that platform. If you want to have your app native on both platforms, you'll need to build one for each. That means — you guessed it — double the cost. There are some advantages to native apps, especially for highly complex apps. They integrate better with the phone's software and hardware, which can lead to a rewarding user experience. Some analysts suggest that each platform's app stores push these apps more.
However, if you're looking to save some money and you want your app to be developed and pushed to market quicker, you can choose to have your app be hybrid. Hybrid apps are built to work on both platforms and can work very well, especially if you're looking to build a simple or medium complexity app. (For more information you can refer to Pietro Saccomani's article on the differences between native and hybrid apps)
Manage Your Expectations
No one app can do everything. Think about it: You don't use your refrigerator to write emails, or your microwave to wash your socks. The same goes for apps. Most apps should have a specific goal in mind — they most certainly don't need to do everything.
So, keep in mind that you will not need every single feature available for apps in your app. If you're in doubt, we'll help steer you in the right direction.
Get Your App Done Right
We’re experts in this remote working thing.
If you're looking to have an app built, look no further. We're proud of what we've done with clients in the past and excited about what we'll do in the future. Our team of developers is chomping at the bit to get to our next project, and we'd love nothing more than that to be working with you.
Have a look at our app cost estimator, and figure out what you need. When you have an idea — or if you have no idea — reach out to us and we'll help guide you through the process. Your success is our success, after all.