The cost of mobile app development can range from a couple hundred to well over a million dollars. And while the cost of most mobile apps is more often in the lower end of that range, many people are still surprised that the cost of developing even a simple app is typically in the thousands. That said, you may be wondering how much you need to budget for your software project.
Without discussing your mobile app idea with a mobile app developer, it’s difficult to put a price tag on your project. However, you can get a general idea of what your app may cost by taking certain aspects of your mobile app into consideration.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself in order to get a better idea of what mobile app development cost you can expect.
1. What type of app are you building?
The first thing you’ll need to consider is what type of app you’re looking to build. The app type you choose will most greatly affect the overall cost of your project. Generally, there are three types of apps to choose from:
Native apps are apps designed for the specific operating system (OS) of the phone type you intend to target (iOS vs. Android devices). They are fast and can support graphically-intensive apps, but they only function on the OS they are designed for.
Cost: $40,000 to $1,000,000+
Hybrid apps are the middle-ground between native and progressive web apps. They aren’t quite as powerful as native apps, but they offer greater speed and cross-platform functionality (iOS and Android).
Cost: $15,000 to $250,000+
Progressive web apps (PWA) aren’t actually apps but they function much like native apps, features and all (e.g. push notifications). Rather, they are websites that can function outside of a browser. While these “apps” allow you to add a button to your screen, they cannot be found in the app store.
Cost: $250 to $4,000+
2. Will you need single or cross-platform functionality?
Another important question to consider is where your app will live: Will it need to be on iPhones, Android phones, or both? If you’d like to build an app that works for both operating systems, building one hybrid or progressive web app will do the trick; however, it’s a bit of a different story for native apps.
Because each native app is designed for a specific operating system (OS), a native app will only function on one platform. That being said, if you decide that native is the app type for you, but you need cross-platform functionality, you’ll need two build two separate native apps, one for iOS and another for Android. Unfortunately, building two apps means you’ll be doubling the cost of your mobile app development.
While native apps are sometimes necessary to provide the power and support needed for a given app idea, more and more businesses are moving to progressive web apps (PWAs). PWAs look and feel much like native apps but cost a lot less—learn more about the benefits of progressive web apps here.
3. What features and design needs do you have?
Half of the battle is over when you’ve determined what app type you need. Now you’ll need to go one step further and determine what your app is actually going to look and function like, which significantly influences the UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) you’ll provide your users with.
Perhaps your app is complementary to your online store, for instance. As an ecommerce app, there are several features necessary for providing a standard online shopping UX: You’ll likely need user registration for customers to create accounts, along with payment gateway integration for users to place orders. Features that encourage sales may also be needed, such as push notifications.
In addition to such features, you’ll need to consider what design elements are needed to create the appropriate UI. The UI of your app can affect how user-friendly your app is. Whether you need to place a significant emphasis on UX, UI, or both, the more time you spend on each aspect, the more your app will cost.
4. What about maintenance?
Once your app has been developed and is made available to the general public, the story isn’t over: Like your car, which requires gas, regular oil changes, tire rotations, and more, your app will require maintenance. In order for your app to continue performing its best, it will need regular updates and bug fixes.
Maintenance often comes in the form of yearly licenses. Sometimes, these licenses include app hosting fees as well; if not, you’ll need to calculate those costs separately. Not all developers provide app maintenance, so consider discussing whether your potential team can provide this for you during their interview.
5. What type of development team will you hire?
While there are a wide variety of mobile app development companies out there, there are generally three tiers of teams to choose from: 1) onshore teams, 2) offshore teams, and 3) blended (onshore and offshore) teams.
Onshore (entirely U.S.-based) teams generally price themselves around $200 per hour. While onshore teams will likely provide the highest quality app in the shortest amount of time, this is likely your most costly option.
On the flipside, you can work with an entirely offshore team, which will likely cost you a mere fraction of what onshore teams charge. The downsides of these teams are that they often produce lower quality final products and at a slower pace.
The happy medium is a team that runs on a blended model with both onshore and offshore team members. Generally, your app will cost you less than it would with an entirely onshore team, but you won’t have to compromise on quality, which often occurs with an offshore team. If working with a blended team sounds like the right fit for you, contact us.
Cost = Time Needed for Development
Without talking to a developer, the easiest way to gain a general idea of how much your mobile app will cost is to outline your answers to these questions and guesstimate how much development time your app will require. Simply stated, the more complex the app, the more development time you’ll need, and the higher the cost of your app will be.
We wish you the best of luck on making your mobile app idea come to life. If you are ready to get started, we can help. For more information on our previous work and rates, visit our UpWork profile today.