How Much Does an App Cost?
Mobile apps turned over almost $60 billion in 2017, establishing the industry as a prominent service in technology. Many of the early benefactories of app development were ‘appreneurs’, but more recently, existing businesses have switched over to mobile app technologies to benefit from a lucrative and growing app market.
You might have an app idea or you’re looking into how to transition parts of your business into mobile applications. Of course mobile apps cost money to create. But, how much does it actually cost to create an app?
In this article, we cover the average cost of app development, and the feature and design factors that affect the cost of an app.
We also have the answer to this question in the infographic below, which based off of our in-depth white paper that breaks down all of the different types of apps, the costs, and the entire process of building out an app.
What’s the Average Cost of An App?
On average, the cost to develop an app ranges between $80,000 – $250,000+ depending on the type of app that you want to create.
Different apps cost varying amounts depending on features.
- Single-function apps cost anywhere from $1,000 – $30,000
- Database/API apps cost between $10,000 – $50,000+
- Enterprise apps cost $75,000+
- Gaming apps cost upwards of $5,000 – $250,000+ depending on the scope.
What Factors Affect an App’s Cost?
There are currently 2 million and 3.8 million mobile apps in the Apple App Store and Android’s Play Store respectively. Almost all of these apps have different functions and features, so it’s no surprise that each app will cost varying amounts to develop.
Here are a few of the main factors which determine an apps cost:
If your app idea is complex and requires cutting edge technology you’re going to pay a premium for it. Features like augmented reality, artificial technology, database and information gathering technology and secure payment applications require more expertise and security to safely implement. Conversely, if your app requires less features, you can expect the price to reduce.
Key factors to think about are as follows:
- Database/API apps – If your app idea asks users to register and sign in, syncs data across various devices, or involves a significant amount of content, it’s an API app. It will need to store data on either a remote server or the user’s device, and the development costs associated with this are higher than average.
- Games – As mentioned in the introduction to this article, games tend to cost more. This is because they usually have a higher number of features and require a flawless user experience to hook players.
- Multi-featured apps – Bespoke user interfaces that offer multiple key features can cost more to develop, but the price will vary massively depending on the scope of your project.
In addition to these key factors, there are other specific features that will add to the cost of your app. The fairly common decision to add an email login can cost an additional $7,500 in some cases, and developing social integration will take at least $2,000 of your budget.
It’s worth noting here that you should never pay a developer an hourly rate as it’s virtually impossible to verify the hours worked and it’ll likely end up being much more expensive working that way.
The platform/s you choose to target with your app will affect your final bill. Native and hybrid apps always vary in cost.
Native Apps –
Native apps are written according to which platform they are being created for. For example, the language iOS uses is Swift and Android uses Java. When you’re creating your business plan, you’ll need to think carefully on which app stores you want to target, as choosing to go native and target multiple platforms will greatly affect your final costs.
The key benefit of choosing a native approach is that they tend to have the best performance and therefore the best user experience. Your app is likely to be faster and smoother, and this should lead to an enhanced user experience and positive reviews.
Furthermore, native apps allow easier access to a user’s mobile device features such as the camera and microphone. This enhances your apps functionality and results in fewer bugs during deployment and a robust secure data protection system. The bottom line is that native apps are the superior choice, but they’ll also cost you more to develop if you choose to target more than one platform.
Hybrid Apps –
Hybrid apps are cross-platform, which means that they are built for several different platforms. Most typically these platforms will be Android and iOS.
A hybrid app is basically a website packaged in a ‘container’ to suit the platform it’s being used through. Although the app may look unique your user is actually accessing your website via a mini-browser known commonly as WebView.
Costs are much lower to develop hybrid apps and they generally take less time to complete and take your idea to market in a quicker time frame. Plugins also make it possible to add APIs and access functions on the user’s phone, so it’s still possible to make an app seem native.
The main downside of a hybrid app is that it lacks all the functionality found in native apps. If your idea is content-based then hybrid will definitely do the job, but for more technically advanced apps you might want to consider going native.
The functionality of your app is what’s going to entice potential customers to download your app, but it’s the design that’s going to hook them. According to Adobe, design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over ten years, and companies that harness creativity enjoy a 1.5x greater market share. With that in mind, it’s definitely worth the investment to get your design right.
Great design isn’t only visually pleasing, it also makes it easy for your customers to understand the product and to use it as you intended. Creating a strong brand identity is also important for customer loyalty, and a clean and professional UI coupled with a smooth and enjoyable UX will help take your business to the next level.
Consider the following things when working with your designer:
Visual Design –
This is what makes the app stand out from competitors and is what gives it its look and feel. It’s the difference between your app leaving a positive lasting impression or a forgettable experience.
If a customer feels satisfied with the way your app is presented they’ll continue to use it. If your app niche is competitive, great design can be the deciding factor between a user becoming your customer or another’s. You should be working on the visuals long before you start coding, and mockups should be created during the prototyping phase.
Branding Elements –
Considering that a consistent brand presentation can increase revenue by up to 23%, it’s clearly important that you get this right. Consider Apple, for example. Their logo is one of the most recognizable designs on the planet, and love it or loathe it, it works!
Research by Design Rush shows that color alone improves brand recognition by up to 80%, so it should be clear how important proper branding is to your app’s success.
How does your design work? It might look pretty but is it easy for your users to understand how to get from A to B? Can your users intuitively open the app and fulfil tasks, find settings or find features without an extensive tutorial?
This part of your design will be data-driven in order to achieve specific results. For example, if you want your customers to follow your app’s monetization funnel because you know it creates the most revenue, your UI will need to optimized to take them through each stage.
Just as your visuals need to be on brand, so does your copy. Discovering your tone of voice early on is extremely important, and finding a way to speak to your customers in a unique way that catches their attention is a great way to build customer relationships. Vimeo, for example, has a really fun way of communicating with their users that makes the UX fun, meaning that customers will come back time and time again.
So, how much does it cost to get the design of your app right? Well, a logo and the copy could be anywhere between $500 and $2,000, and a pro-UX firm could charge you up to $20,000 for your project. If you’re working with a third-party development company they’ll often provide you with their own design team which can help to keep costs down. Keep in mind though that design tasks will be ongoing: branding might only need to be looked at once every couple of years but the UX design is an ongoing task.
It’s fairly obvious that an app which turns your camera’s flash into a torch is going to cost less than an app which can do things like track your location or augment reality, but there are many more layers to this.
If your idea relies on your users competing with a database of thousands of other users, your development bill will be even bigger. And, if you’re dealing with things that could be a security risk, such as in-app purchases, social media linking, and user profiles, you’re going to want to pay more for the guardians of your users.
If your budget is small, look at ways to streamline your app rather than choosing to work with a cheaper developer. It’s a better idea to develop a good quality first version of your app and then add additional features later down the line.
For example, when Uber first launched in 2010 it was a simple app which provided users the unique ability to track available cars and their journeys. From this core value, Uber slowly added more and more features and in 2016 it ranked 7th in a list of the most popular apps around the world and is valued at roughly $66 billion. Uber is the perfect example of doing a great job at one thing, then rolling out more features when income increases.
Typical App Cost:
As we’ve already covered, there are many factors involved in the pricing of your app development process, but on average how much does it cost to create an app? Well, you’re looking at a cost of between $80,000 and $250,000 per project.
If you have a simple app idea that doesn’t require huge databases or complex processes you should expect to pay up to $80,000. A calculator app would be an example of a basic app with minimal screens.
Basic apps that have database functionality will run up a bill of $100,000 to $250,000. These apps do things like store data on remote servers, require email or social sign in, or contain a lot of content.
If you want to take your app one step further and completely tailor your user experience or add multiple complex features, the price will jump to $150,000 and can run to $250,000. And, if you’re developing a game, your costs will likely be similar depending on its scope. For example, if you put a lot of emphasis on the design, and the actual gameplay requires complex mechanics, you’ll pay more than you would for a game that is simple and single-level.
Apps Cost Vary From Vendor to Vendor :
The costs that we’re outlining in this article will vary depending on the vendor that you choose to work with. And that cost can vary wildly, ranging from $15 per hour for a freelance coder in India, to $1,000 per day for a highly experienced developer based in the US. It may seem tempting to go for a cheaper option, especially if you’re working with a small budget, but remember that you’ll most likely get a much lower quality app.
To ensure you’re committing to working with skilled developers, do your research before signing a contract. Check out other apps that they’ve developed and check out online reviews from past clients rather than assuming that just because a developer is expensive they’re going to be exactly what you’re looking for.
Here at Appster we’ve made a lot of apps. We’ve developed ideas and have nurtured projects until they’ve become high-end quality products worth over 12 million dollars. We’ve also rescued a fair few half-done projects when freelance developers haven’t delivered what they promised they would.
If you want to avoid the mistake of choosing the wrong developer and wasting thousands of dollars, read our article on how to make sure you’ve found the right developer.
With so many variables to consider, the easiest way to know exactly how much your app is going to cost is to get in touch with us. We pre-sign an NDA so you can be comfortable that we won’t steal your million dollar idea, and it won’t cost you a penny to talk to us.
Click here to arrange a free no-obligation 30 minute consultation about your idea.