How much does it cost to make an app? This is by far one of the most common questions regarding apps. We get asked this more than all other questions put together.
But it is not surprising, with the booming popularity of smartphones, everyone has had a great idea for an app, and before people begin thinking about technical challenges, there is the simple and universal question of cost.
The good news is that app development doesn’t have to be expensive depending on what features need to be included. However, it is virtually impossible to give someone an exact price without having a roadmap, mockup and/or wireframe in place.
Ideally, every scenario should be thought out and planned for, before a developer would start coding.
Not all apps are created equal, in fact, in our experience tells us that every app is different, and so is the cost and time that app needs in order to be successful.
This means that it might be easier to roughly determine the cost of any given app, by breaking the functionality down into separate parts each with their own estimated cost.
Question #1: The size of the app
The first question you need to answer is; What is the size of your app?
The size is determined by how many unique pages, or screens, your app will have. This factor will have an effect on the price.
For very simple apps that just need to pull in some text, similar to WordPress or another CMS, the added cost is relatively small and does not go up with each dynamic page you wish to add.
That means you either pay for a few static screen views, or you purchase a content management system so you can add or remove pages in the app to your liking, even after it has gone live.
Question #2: Users & Authentication
There are a few different ways of handling user authentication. By now one of the most common ways are to allow people with social profiles to use them as their login credentials, ie. Facebook or Google accounts.
If all that’s needed is a simple login/logout function then this step is not too expensive. Adding user roles, databases with more than just usernames and passwords or content posting capabilities etc. will all add to the cost and can be segmented into modules.
Question #3: Database setup
For some applications, no databases are needed, most, however, benefit from a simple MySQL or similar setup with basic tables for user logins, saved data and so forth.
The most basic databases are virtually up and running in less than half an hour from start, but depending on the features this step can be one of the most simple, or the most complex out of all the steps mentioned here.
Take Google’s databases for instance – not only do they have huge archives of text links, but they have cross-references for each link – contexts and images associated as well, and various scores assigned.
All of this adds up to make a highly complex database system, and a very heavy and large one as well both in terms of physical and digital sizes.
Question #4: Hardware features
What hardware features are needed? If the app needs access to the smartphone or tablet’s camera, fingerprint scanner or gallery an added cost for development will often incur. Just like most other features, the price entirely depends on the complexity of the functionality, where a simple on/off button for the camera would be the cheapest.
Adding filters, or designing a new user interface for the camera would be an example of extra expense and customization possibilities.
Question #5: Enterprise integrations
Some apps are built for public consumers, while others are designed to improve the employee workflows and optimize efficiency within an internal organisational structure.
Simple API calls to internal databases or systems will vary greatly in cost depending on the target programming languages, formatting and storing of data, and the visual representation in terms of design and output.
Question #6: Custom functions
Many times, the bread and butter of an app has to do with the unique code and custom functions that are designed around it. For many developers, this custom code is what makes an app great and what makes it stand out.
For that reason, it is not possible to even come close to an average estimate of this cost, as every app is different. What is important to know, however, is that many times shortcuts have already been developed by others.
Often times it is possible to find an existing project that will help bootstrap the project by installing ready-made modules that provide a specific service.
For instance, developing a square feet calculator app for roofing tiles would be easier with first downloading and implementing a square feet calculator, and then adapting that to fit with roof tiles, rather than design the calculations themselves as well.
This way there’s a possibility of saving time and cost in the process, but it depends on the needs.
Question #7: Other Integrations
Just like with custom functions, often times an app idea involves the mobile app communicating with some other devices.
Whether they’re connected in the interconnected IoT cloud, a paid web service, or a free and open database such as Wikipedia, setting up these API calls to other systems can be a time-consuming task.
Depending on the complexity, however, many popular websites and services out there already have frameworks in place to allow for a speedy development process for obtaining data, so most of the time the majority of the expense lies in presenting the pulled data, or combining that data with other data-sets for a new perspective.
Question #8: Operating systems
Another important aspect to consider when talking price is which operating systems the app should work on. By far the two most common ones are Android and iOS, together accounting for more than 99.5% of all devices out there according to TheVerge.
These days there are a few different routes to choose from, with native app development and hybrid app development being the major options.
Native apps are designed specifically for one operating system and often works better than hybrid apps which are designed to run on multiple systems using the same code.
For most simple apps, a hybrid solution can work just as well as a native, but for more complex features and access to all hardware, native apps are more robust.
Do you need help to calculate what your app will cost then feel free to contact us.