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18 November 2021

Mobile App Development for your Business — How Much Does it Cost

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From this article, you will learn how much the development of a mobile app for your business might cost. We’ll tell you about the average cost of app development in the market in general and the cost of each stage. In addition, we’ll specify factors, which influence the development budget – starting with developers’ average salary and ending with the cost of implementation of the most popular features.

Average development costs in the market

The average cost of app development according to Clutch

According to Clutch’s research, companies’ median cost range of their mobile app development is between $38 thous. and $171 thous. Most of this money goes for the development of app design, features, architecture, and testing. GoodFirms’s research demonstrates similar numbers: $40–100 thous. But GoodFirms also divides all projects into three types:

Factors, which influence the development cost

The project complexity. By this criterion, they mean the design complexity, the number of features, and external integrations. Obviously, the more complex the app is, the more time its development requires and the higher the development cost is. Division of apps by the complexity of their implementation usually looks as follows:

Developer’s location. The most popular countries for mobile app creation are the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Ukraine, India, South-East Asia, and Australia. The quality of specialists from these countries is almost the same, but their salaries vary greatly.

Developers’ experience and knowledge. When it comes to hiring mobile app developers, their experience usually goes hand in hand with the cost of their work. As a rule, their salaries are as follows (for the USA):

Tech stack. It is a set of various development tools including programming languages, frameworks, database management systems, compilers, API, etc. The chosen tech stack influences requirements to the hardware, software’s reliability, performance, development time, and development cost. The tech stack is usually divided into a frontend, backend, and API.

A frontend is a user interface and other elements, which an end-user of a mobile app interacts with. Here is an example of a tech stack for the frontend:

Backend is a hardware/software part of the service responsible for the implementation of the app logic and everything that is hidden from the user’s view. I.e. it’s everything that works beyond the user’s device. Here is how a tech stack for the backend for the mobile app development may look like:

API (Application Programming Interface) is a special protocol to connect frontend to backend and integrate with external services, which expand the app’s functionalities (geotargeting, payment gateways, notifications, and the like). Here is an example of a set of APIs for app development:

Cost of mobile app development in stages

Development planning

The average cost of app development discovery stage according to Clutch

This stage may take from 8 to 200 hours depending on the complexity, niche, target audience, and business tasks of the app. According to Clutch, 51% of companies spend less than $5 thous. on planning, every fifth — from $5 to $10 thous. And only a small number of companies spend more than $10 thous.

The stage of development planning includes, but is not limited to:

App design development

Cost of app development design stage

On average, app design development needs from 40 to 80 hours for user research, creation of the app’s information architecture, and navigation system. On the basis of all that, designers create wireframes, mock-ups, and prototypes, which the developers bring into code.

According to Clutch, most companies spend from $5 to $15 thous. on this stage. It’s enough to implement design for 10–12 screens of the app. This money goes for the development of:

Development of user features

User features are those, which are aimed at fulfillment of end users’ objectives. Simple examples are sign up, log in, purchase of goods, communication in a chat, interface settings, support of several languages, and the like. As stated previously, the number and depth of development of these features largely determine the time of app development and hence its cost. In this respect, you need to understand that sometimes even a simple feature such as sign in can be quite complex; for example, if you want to create a single sign-on, integration of AD or LDAP features, or systems of authentication and authorization on the basis of OpenID. Session management on several devices (like in Spotify) and security features can significantly increase development time and development cost as well.

The following table demonstrates the estimated cost and time of sets of the most popular user features – from simple to advanced:

Admin features development

Admin panel makes mobile app development more difficult, but it’s one of the crucial elements of success for most systems. Your employees can manage the system content, orders, payments, users and their data, reports, analysis, security, and other things through this panel. Here is the estimated development time of popular features of the admin panel of a mobile app starting with simple ones and ending with advanced ones:

App infrastructure development

When calculating how much the development of a mobile app costs, you should consider the time and effort, which you have to spend on the development of business rules, the logic of app infrastructure and API interfaces for their usage. This is one of the most expensive development stages, which in terms of complexity level is exceeded only by the implementation of advanced features of users and admins.

A list of minimum essential infrastructure elements includes:

Implementation of these solutions usually requires from 100 to 240 hours of development in the context of relatively simple apps. If the service, which you need, has to be pretty complex, you’ll need more time for the development of your platform’s infrastructure: a stated maximum is 3 000 hours. Considering the development cost of $65/hour, the cost of infrastructure creation will be from $6 500 to $15 600 and can reach $195 000 per mobile app.

QA and app testing

Extensive testing guarantees the performance and reliability of all features of a mobile app. Moreover, testing is needed to find bugs in contents and optimize the user flow, which is very important for the creation of the best user experience.

The necessary amount of time to check an app depends on the types of testing procedures, service’s purpose, its complexity, required quality, and the number of screens. Thus, according to Clutch’s survey, 32% of development companies state that they spend less than $5 thous. on app testing and 31% of agencies claim that they spend $5 to $10 thous on that.

There are the following types of app testing:

Deployment and release

Release of your app in marketplaces costs $99 per month in the case of Apple App and $25 one time in the case of Google Play Store. Registration of your app in the store requires only 30-60 minutes taking into account the time of preparation of the information that is necessary for the registration.

But you should bear in mind the possibility of the marketplace detecting non-compliance with the platform rules, bugs, problems of performance or incompatibility. In this case, the marketplace gives a developer little time to eliminate the detected problems (2 days in the case of Apple App). It’s 8 to 20 working hours of QA engineers or programmers more, in rare cases — 50 hours. At an average hourly rate of $65/hour, this will cost $520 to $1300, or $3250 at most in rare instances.

Maintenance and support

Maintenance and update costs are often overlooked when calculating the cost of mobile app development, but that’s wrong because not a single software will be perfect after release. Usually, after the launch of the app, users find bugs, errors in contents, problems with the work of some features, and the like. If you don’t fix these bugs, your app is going to get low rates in the marketplace and people won’t use it. To avoid that, you have to provide:
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