What Does It Cost to Develop an App in 2020?

Aleksandra Skalec | 15 Sep | 13 min read

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: what does it cost to develop 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. 

What does this story have to do with estimating the cost of app development?

Unlike hiking gear, there are no price tags when it comes to app development. 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. 

How so? Before we dig into that one, let’s take a look at the two most popular pricing models in software development.  

Popular models of software development pricing 

To help you get a grasp on what does it cost 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 development, and not the other way around. 

  • 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 budget as the project unfolds.  

What 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 a programmer’s 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 320 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). That said, you can easily calculate that developing it would cost you around 32 000 GBP.

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 is an MVP in app development and why do you need it? 

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. 

Choosing an MVP development first will allow you to adjust your budget to the project and scale the product development as your needs grow.

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. 

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 engineers, 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 app’s tech stack 

In principle, the chosen technology stack 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. 

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. Setting up a well-thought 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. 

What do you 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.

Agility, transparency, and participation are our key values when it comes to software development. Thanks to that, we make sure that your product development goes smoothly and you have full control over your set budget.

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. 

Need an app development cost estimation?

We hope this article was helpful in answering the question of what does it cost to develop 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! Get in touch with our team here or drop us a line at hello@miquido.com