7 Steps to Estimate How Much Your App Will Cost to Build

The Ultimate Guide for Creating a Successful Mobile App

Creating and developing your own app can be an extensive project. You need an accurate cost estimate to keep your budget on track. Mobile apps can range from simple one-screen apps to complex apps that integrate with smartphone cameras. Once you have an accurate cost estimate, you can decide if you will be able to add more features (or if you should eliminate them).

The good news is there are helpful app build calculators that can assist with your estimates.

Here are seven steps that go into your app build costs. But, let's start with app development considerations.


Factors To Consider with Your App Development


Your app development costs can range from about $10,000 to $500,000 for apps developed by U.S. based agencies. Standalone apps (offline) might run $10,000 while enterprise apps can run $500,000. However, developing an app with an offshore team might cost $5,000 for a standalone offline app and run up to $60,000 for enterprise mobile apps. Calculating app development costs have several competing factors that you need to consider before getting started. These will all affect the complexity and overall cost of the project which include:

  • Researching User Behaviors and Demographics: Why will users want to use your app? What purpose does it have?
  • Wireframes or Sketches: How will the app be used? What problems will users have with it?
  • The Prototype: What does it look like on each screen?
  • Design: What type of user experience (UX) will it offer users?
  • Development: How will it function?
  • Testing Stage: Is the app compatible on iOS and Android? What security does it use?
  • Deployment: How soon can users purchase and download it?
  • Marketing and PR: How will you optimize it and promote it?
  • Security and Maintenance: How will you handle updates, bugs and app crashes?

1. What Platforms Will Your App Use?


You might want your app on iOS, Android or both. Web applications (through Chrome or Safari) are cheap while a native app (iOS, Android) is more expensive. Other options include hybrids (cross-platform) and their costs vary. Selecting application architecture that has a local cache and includes syncing features for cross-devices can run $8,000 to $12,000.


2. What are the Requirements for Your App’s Design?


Your app's design can take up 10 to 15 percent of your budget. The more complex the app, the more it will cost to develop. Your design requirements will include icons, copyrights and your brand’s messaging. You also have to consider the visual look of your app’s design and the UX. 


3. How Detailed and Complex is Your App?


A basic app might have a single or small number of pages. It may or may not store data and with simple functions, it’s easier to create and less expensive.

Complex apps, on the other hand, have numerous features. Examples include data syncing, sign-in/out options and user registrations. These will take longer to develop. If third-parties are involved, that can increase your costs. User profiles can run about $2,400 while social media integrations can add on $500 per network.

4. What Features Will Your App Include?


If you want your app to include integrations with social media or a geo-location service, this will cost more in development time. You might also want to include features like a user rating, in-app purchase or user profiles.

Factors that can affect cost include features like portrait or landscape. Adding technical support for landscape mode can increase your budget by as much as 30 percent. 


5. What Type of Security and Maintenance Will You Include?


With maintenance, how will you solve crashes, bugs and tech support problems? How will you handle your software updates? It’s one of the reasons some app creators work with development agencies who can help them with future maintenance for their apps. Set aside about 10 percent of your budget for app maintenance.

6. Will You Select a Design or Development Agency or Outsource?


When you start pitching your app idea to agencies, talk to several. The early estimates you receive might not be the final costs you pay. You’ll likely make several changes and add or remove features.

Design and development agencies will have packages they offer but don’t be afraid to ask for custom services if it will help to lower your costs. Consider the agencies that let you start with a prototype first before development (you’ll save more money). Lastly, look for agencies that help after deployment. You need to allocate money for marketing as well as updates. 


7. Who Will Handle Your Project Management?


Your project management costs will run about 10 to 15 percent of your total costs. Your project manager handles UX, account management and clients. They're responsible for concept and design, business analysis and quality assurance. Interview several project managers and select the most reputable.

Bottom Line


The type of app you’re creating and its functionality can affect your budget and app build estimate. Talk to different design and development agencies. And, don’t be afraid to outsource if it means you’ll get the features you want (but only with reputable agencies and confirm their references). Your app scope might change several times but that’s part of the development process. However, ensure you have all estimates and key performance indicators (KPIs) in writing so there are no hidden charges and everyone does their part.

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