So, you’re thinking about creating an app — smart move! Having that great app idea shaped and framed in your head is an inspiring moment. However, after some time you might have to come back down to Earth and start the planning process. There are a lot of questions to be answered before you choose your app development agency. Among them, there is one crucial matter: how much does it cost to make an app?
We’re here to help you estimate the possible costs of app development. Ready? Let’s dive in!
What is there to know about the cost of app development?
To understand a bit more about the specifics of app development cost estimation, let’s grab a nice metaphor first. Imagine that you’re planning to go on a two-day mountain hike with your family. As an added feature, you decide that you want to reconnect with mother nature and camp in the wilderness. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? The kids are going to be thrilled! There is just one thing left before you embark on your adventure. You need to buy a nice tent. This should be a piece of cake!
The second you walk into the store, the sheer number of options to choose from overwhelms you. Here comes the shop clerk, nice and ready to help. Would you like a tent that’s waterproof? How many people is it supposed to house? Do you maybe need one that can be attached to your backpack? You start getting impatient and decide to get the most expensive one, just to get it over with.
Unlike hiking gear, there are no price tags when it comes to the app development process. Especially when we’re talking about custom-made apps. Also, in both cases, identifying your needs and expectations should be your first step. Why? Because it helps you avoid additional costs, delays, and other types of hiccups in the process.
In-house or outsourcing app development: Which one to choose
Choosing the right solution depends on the project’s size, duration, and your needs. Having your own development team gives you more insight into the team’s work, which can make communication easier. You also have much more control over the various stages of the project. However, this solution is significantly more costly, as the budget for producing the app is based on monthly payments to employees rather than a fixed price or time and materials model. In addition, you take on the entire responsibility for creating the application and developing the employees’ skills. It is also worth noting that creating digital products is much more challenging if you have never done it before. Therefore, if you have little experience in application development and want to avoid taking responsibility for the subsequent phases of the project, it is much better to choose a custom software development company.
Popular models of app development pricing
To help you get a grasp on what it costs to develop an app, let’s take a look at some background info first. Most software houses use one of the following two software pricing models.
Fixed Price Model
In this payment model, the budget of the project is fixed at the beginning. It doesn’t depend on the time or resources spent by the vendor on developing your app. In this price model, your budget dictates the timeline and the process of app development, and not the other way around.
Advantages of the Fixed Price Model
One of the advantages of this model is predictability in the design. You know precisely how much the various stages will cost and what budget you need to have prepared for your software development project. In addition, everything is highly transparent, which means that nothing will surprise you. With the Fixed Price Model, it is easier to manage the entire project, as all requirements are discussed at the start of the service.
When to choose the Fixed Price Model
This model will work perfectly if you have a predetermined budget and prefer to stay within it. It is also worth using the Fixed Price Model if you know your requirements and they will not change during the project. This type of project pricing is also ideal for small or medium-sized companies. The Fixed Price Model will also be a good choice if your goal is to build an MVP in your app development process.
Time and Materials
In the time and materials model, the rules are opposite – the budget and development timeline are tailored to your project. In even simpler words, you’re paying your vendor based upon the time they spend working for you. That gives you the ability to adjust the app development budget as the project unfolds.
Advantages of the Time and materials Model
This model allows you to remain completely flexible as you develop your product and modify your requirements. With the Time and Materials model, you can maintain better dynamism and control in your design work. In addition, you do not have to wait months to approve requirements and budgets, as you do with the Fixed Price Model. This means that the project team can get straight down to work. The Time and Materials Model significantly reduces working time and you don’t have to stand still with your product.
When to choose the Time and Materials Model
This model will work if the solution you want to create is time-consuming and complex or if your scope is not entirely set. The Time and Materials Model is also a good choice if you want to remain flexible and all the product requirements are unknown. Choose this type of pricing if you want to have flexibility, complete control over expenses, and only pay for the actual project work time. It will work particularly well for larger projects or enterprise software development.
Still not sure which pricing model will work perfectly for your software project?
Check our detailed Time and Material vs Fixed Price comparison and make the right decision!
What is an MVP and why is it crucial in app development?
Let’s come back to the hiking story once more. As soon as you know what you’re expecting from your product, you might end up buying a smaller tent for starters. Then, you can decide to expand on your hiking gear as you get more advanced.
The same goes for app development. If you decide to develop a large, complex application all at once, you are going to face a lengthy development process, and end up with a broad set of features your users never needed (remember that big, expensive tent?). On the other hand, you can decide to take a step-by-step approach and start by identifying the core features — that is, ones that your app absolutely needs to be functional. After that, you can release it, and start expanding from there on, as your audience and needs grow.
And that’s how we arrive at the concept of creating an MVP. A Minimum Viable Product is a fully-functioning app, ready for a market release. An MVP can be implemented fast and has just enough features to serve its purpose to users. That way, you can save the initial effort and budget for further improvements once you’re sure that your customers need them. It’s a win-win situation.
Why is it smart to develop an MVP first?
When it comes to business, time-to-market is one of the most crucial factors, often weighing in on the success of the project. The sooner you release your digital product to the market, the sooner you’ll be able to test it and give your users the features and upgrades they actually want. On the other hand, addressing your needs and expectations at the very beginning helps you avoid unnecessary costs and delays.
Building the full-vision product from the very beginning will most likely take months, if not years. While you keep on perfecting your application, your competition is probably working on their own solution. In the meantime, they may end up releasing it before you and gaining most of the users’ attention. Instead of building the full-vision product from the start, you can choose the iterative approach, adjusting the budget and scope of the project as you go.
How much does it cost to develop an app?
A large number of software houses, including Miquido, estimate their work in man-days (using the time and materials model). One man-day equals one day’s worth of app developers, project managers, product owners, or designers work.
If the budget is flexible and we’re billing the work by the day, is it really possible to estimate the costs beforehand? In fact, it is. As soon as your vendor identifies the scope of your app and points out its core features, they are able to predict the number of man-days required to build it.
What is the average man-day rate for app development?
If you’re searching for an acclaimed software agency in Central Europe, it’s safe to assume an average rate for one man-day of development will be about 360 GBP – 450 GBP.
At the same time, note that a fully functional MVP takes approximately three months (around 100 man-days) to develop for one platform (Android or iOS).
For example, producing an MVP by the typical team needed for a medium-sized project on a time & materials basis for one month involves the work of:
- iOS/Android/Frontend: 40 MD (2 developers)
- Backend: 40 MD (2 developers)
- Project manager: 10 MD (part-time)
- QA: 10 MD (part-time)
It’s important to note that that price does not include additional costs. Design, project management, setting up a backend environment, or app maintenance is usually billed separately. The scope of these additional services is often decided before the project starts and depends on your needs and resources.
What does app development cost depend on?
The scope of your project
The rule is generally simple here: the more complex your product, the more it’s going to cost. Developing additional features usually takes more time, and the more developers time it takes, the more expensive your application is going to be (as you remember, the cost of the product is estimated in man-days). Once again, delivering the MVP first helps you cut your initial costs and decide on the next steps after you release the product.
Your own resources
The final price of developing the product may differ depending on your own materials and resources. As we mentioned before, it’s important to remember that the development price itself does not include costs such as maintenance or design. If you have your own design team or a team of backend developers, the overall cost might be smaller.
At the same time, the more resources – such as documents, briefs, or designs – you provide us with at the beginning, the easier (and quicker) the project is to estimate. However, note that while managing separate teams, such as in-house engineers and outsourced development and design, might save you some of the additional costs, it can also cause some communication trouble in the long run.
Your product strategy
Having a great app idea is one thing, and a successful market release is another. Although it might sound like a cliche, we can’t stress this enough: when it comes to app development, planning and research done beforehand is essential. Developing a Product Strategy at the beginning will save you the risk of releasing the product that no one actually needs, or one that has no chance of outrunning the competition.
Your app’s tech stack
In principle, the chosen technology solutions of your product doesn’t affect the costs of app development. However, if you’re looking to build a mobile app that is both for Android and iOS, it might be smart to go for cross-platform development. One of the benefits of cross-platform development is that we use just one codebase to create both applications, which makes the development process generally shorter than it is when you go for separate native development.
Changes made late in the project
Planning ahead is essential when it comes to software development. One of the more important parts of the project is creating a full backlog of tasks and estimating the time needed to complete them. That way, our team can create an app development timeline and estimate your costs accordingly. Implementing late changes, especially significant ones, may require some extra work, prolong the development time, and, therefore, increase the overall cost.
iOS vs Android app development costs
Although it might seem otherwise, the costs of developing an app on iOS and Android are similar. Of course, these can vary depending on the features and complexity of the app. In addition, several other factors, such as the hourly rate or the time the developer spends to create the digital product, can affect the final cost of building the app. What’s more, the country of residence largely determines the developer’s hourly rate. It is also worth considering that the App Store has slightly stricter rules for adding apps to the store, which can make the whole process a bit longer.
iOS vs Android mobile app development: Which one to choose?
Choosing the right operating system to develop a mobile app largely depends on the target market. In the US, iOS-based devices are used by almost 60% of users, while in Europe, Android is a much more popular system. However, regardless of the target country chosen, developing a mobile app for one operating system will always mean excluding some potential customers. In such a situation, it is best to use cross-platform mobile development and provide potential users with an app for both iOS and Android.
Read our iOS vs Android comparison and discover pros and cons of both operating systems.
What do we need to estimate your app development cost?
Once you decided you’d like to find out more about the costs of your mobile app development, it’s smart to come prepared. What do you need to bring to the table in order to get a quote from us?
The absolute minimum that we need to estimate the cost of mobile app development is a scope of your app: in other words, a list of features your app needs to have. It doesn’t need to be a complete list, though — to prepare a quotation for the MVP development we just need to identify the core functionalities of your app.
What if I’m not sure what features my mobile app should have? No worries. It is not necessary to have your app all figured out at the very start. Once you come to us with your general idea, we can take it from there – from doing the market research to defining the scope of your app and estimating the costs. However, note that it might take some extra time to prepare.
What does the app development price include?
As there aren’t really any price tags in application development, each project is estimated separately, according to its own requirements and specifications. However, bear in mind that your estimated costs might either expand or shrink down. Designs, maintenance, and support, or backend infrastructure installation might cost you extra, depending on your exact needs and expectations.
What’s next? App maintenance costs
It is worth remembering that creating an application is only the beginning of the path. To avoid losing users, you need to keep in mind the application maintenance. It is therefore worth including it in the planned budget. App maintenance is related to hosting, regular bug fixing or updates, analytics, or customer support. This is an essential aspect of application development because if the user is no longer satisfied with the product’s performance at a certain point, he will stop using it without hesitation.
We hope this article was helpful in answering the question of how much it costs to create an app! Have your own app idea in mind? Shoot us a message and get an estimate. Not sure what you need yet? We’re here to help you clear that out!
Time-and-materials vs fixed price: what’s the difference?
These are two completely different cooperation models between clients and software development companies.
The fixed-price model is an agreement for a predetermined sum of money for which the service provider is obliged to complete the project. Simply put, the client and software house establish the final price for the project before the project begins. The fixed-price contract is a good solution, especially for MVPs and small projects with clearly defined scope and requirements.
On the other hand, in a time-and-materials (T&M) contract, the client is charged for working hours spent on the software project. It means that the final price for the project is not predetermined. The time-and-materials model is ideal for large and complex software projects, as it gives much greater flexibility and the possibility for introducing adjustments and changes on the go.
What is the average cost of making an app?
The average cost of an app depends on several different factors that directly affect the final price. That’s why when estimating the budget for your app, you should consider questions such as
- How complex will my application be?
- What specific features should be included?
- Which technology will I choose for my project?
- How many developers and designers will be involved in building the app?
- Do I want to release an MVP first?
What’s important, the average price of building an app also depends on the region. The highest median cost of mobile application development is in North America, Australia and Singapore. At the same time, you will pay much less if you outsource your project to Eastern Europe or South America.
Considering outsourcing your software project? Check out 5 reasons to choose Poland for nearshore software outsourcing!
How much does it cost to maintain an app?
Typically, application maintenance costs 15-20% of the overall app development price. However, you should keep in mind that the price of maintaining an app depends on many factors, such as:
- technology used
- project complexity
- new designs implementation
- number of bugs to be fixed
- server upgrades
- new feature development
When setting a budget for your app, you should always consider the approximate cost of maintaining it. This way, you will be able to always keep your application fresh and up to date.