Budget Estimation: How Much Does It Cost to Build Your App?

Updated: Sep 09, 2021 / Article by: Maksym Babych

Most of the new startups are technology-focused and based on a computer program. For example, Uber does not own any car but an app. Airbnb does not own any house or hotel but software. Therefore, for this type of business, the most important asset is their application. Even entertainment software like Netflix have their production studio – the most important is their platform. 

This biggest asset has a price. Sometimes, a very high price. Development companies and freelancers are charging money higher than ever. Even if you hire someone from a cheap market like India or Bangladesh, it's going to cost you thousands of dollars to get it developed. 

Remember, the development costs are not the only costs associated with your software. There will be marketing costs, there will be salaries, and wages costs, and several others. There will be mid-project changes. There will be maintenance costs. So, you got to prepare and budget carefully. 

The cost of developing an app is very much different from the cost of hosting a website. In this guide, we will share with you about the costs of developing an app. We will inform you about the actual costs as well as the factors that determine them. We will look at it from an international perspective and tell you about the rates worldwide as well.

How Much Does an App Cost?

If you go with developing the app in-house, you will still need human resources. Developers charge a ton of money worldwide. Here is a table explaining the per-hour rates of developers in different regions.

RegioniOS ($/hour)Android ($/hour)
North America100 – 150100 – 130
Australia70 – 9070 – 90
UK60 – 7060 – 70
South America35 – 4535 – 45
Eastern Europe40 – 5040 – 50
India20 – 3520 – 35
Indonesia35 – 4535 – 45
 

As you can see, developers in the US/Canada charge the highest rates. Their per-hour rates range from $100 to $150. Whereas, in regions like India, their per-hour rates are as low as $20/hour. A simple app can take almost 500 – 800 developer hours. Whereas as the complexity increases, the time required will also increase. 

Being on the safe side, if we take the average per-hour rate of developers as $65/hour – then the cost of getting the app developed according to the complexity will be: 

Type of AppTime to DevelopCost
Simple3 – 6 months$24,830 – $59,150
Medium6 – 10 months$36,107 – $85,150
Complex10+ months$59,507 – $137,150
 

Costs are going to be higher if we assume the per hour to be $150 on average. It is an expensive scenario, but still, we can keep this in mind. Anything can happen in this age, and rates can go high. The following table describes the state of costs with this rate. 

Type of AppTime to DevelopCost
Simple3 – 6 months$38,200 – $91,000
Medium6 – 10 months$55,550 – $131,000
Complex10+ months$91,550 – $211,000
 

So, what's an app cost in total?

  • A simple app will take between 3 – 6 months to develop. The cost range from $24,830 – $59,150. 
  • A medium-complexity app will take 6 – 10 months. The cost range between $36,107 – $85,150.
  • A complex app can take more than ten months. The costs can go as high as $137,150. 

Though these costs are estimated taking the average per-hour rates of developers. If you opt to get your app developed by an agency, the costs will be similar. Most agencies are associations of developers that want to work on larger projects. 

What Factors Affect the Cost of Developing an App?

When a developer/agency sends a quote for a development project, they look at several factors. These factors determine the final price. They analyze the costs associated with the development, the salaries, and the time that will spend, etc. And, after that, they will tell you the final price. 

The factors that affect the cost are:

Platforms

iOS app development
The platform is one of the factors that affect the cost of developing the app.

The developers for iOS charge more than the developers for Android. And, the cost will be higher if you want both iOS and Android versions of the same app. The more platforms included, the higher the price will be. 

Functionality

The functionality of the app also has an impact on the cost. Do you want to include a map? A streaming service? Video editing capabilities? What APIs will be included and how complex the overall structure will be? The more complex functionalities, the higher the cost. 

Level of Customization and Design

What level of customized design do you want for your app? Do you want something generic or something designed with your branding? This level of customization will determine the cost. The higher the customization, the higher the price. 

SEO and App Store Optimization

If you have developed your app and are waiting for it to be a hit automatically, you are wrong. You have to do proper SEO and app-store optimization so that it yields maximum downloads. But, this will cost you some money. The more aggressive optimization you do, the higher the costs are going to be. 

Though there are so many other factors like the project type, backend infrastructure, and the hourly rate of developers. But, the above-mentioned are the major ones. 

What about the Hidden Costs?

Yes. There are hidden costs.

The marketing, infrastructure, cloud-based services fees, and many others. There are even mid-project changes. Sometimes, you change your plans to add, remove or modify any functionality of the app based on data. It costs money. Here is a list of hidden costs that come with developing an app: 

Infrastructure

DigitalOcean
Digital Ocean is one of the companies offering cloud services – where you can host your app (Find out).

Cloud charges are one of the costliest. AWS/Azure fees and any other API charges are part of this.  

Marketing and Content Development Costs

It includes the ad copies you create, the creatives, creating social media videos, creating multiple offline and online touchpoints to promote your app, investing in tools to drive offline traffic online including custom QR codes and custom links, and the blog you operate to attract customers. All of them are the hidden costs of developing an app. 

Support and Maintenance

There are going to be bugs and problems. You need to provide support and maintenance services to your customers as long as you operate a business. That means hiring a support staff and developers to fix and handle bugs.

Apart from the costs mentioned above, there are also few other hidden costs which bother to list. For example, as app security services and the cost of updates and modifications. You have to keep in mind all of these costs and budget for them accordingly. 

Choosing the Development Team 

It is by far the most prominent factor while getting your app developed. It affects the overall cost and performance of the app. If you choose an expensive but in-experienced vendor, you are getting in a lot of trouble. Because, while deciding a vendor for your development, you need to understand that it will determine the outcome. The app quality is directly proportional to the quality/experience of the developers behind it. 

Choosing a freelancer or an agency is also a dilemma. But going with an agency is always recommended. An agency is far more experienced and skilled than an independent freelancer, and they will provide support services too. 

Finding the right agency that is not expensive and has the required human resource to build your app is the final goal. You will have to analyze many quotes and bids to shortlist the agencies you think can do your work. They will share their portfolio with you as well. Look for social proof and quality of work in their apps. Try to hire an agency that has enough and relevant experience to develop your app. 

Always remember that you should not let go of good agencies because of their high price. On the other hand, you should also not opt for bad agencies because of their low price. There is a thin line between these scenarios. You need to identify that. 

Conclusion 

The cost of developing an app varies from region to region. Also, the complexity and functionality will determine the cost. There is no definite formula to determine the price of developing an app. You need to go to the market and look for freelancers/agencies yourself. The online market is not always the same. Rates and charges change with time. 

For example, developing websites used to require a ton of money a decade ago. But, nowadays, it’s quite inexpensive. It is because of the change that platforms like WordPress and Wix have brought. Technology is an evolving field you never know what happens next. 

Therefore, to be successful in this era, you need to be able to do proper market research. The cost of developing your app will be highly affected by your skills in research and communication. If one is good at market research, they will find extraordinary talent. And, if one is good at communication, you can negotiate a better deal for your app. 

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About Maksym Babych

Maksym Babych, founder and CEO of SpdLoad - a product development company for early-stage startups.