So, you’ve come up with a ground-breaking app that is set to take the world by storm. The next step? Developing it.

This is the point at which you’ll turn your attention to the cost of app development. How much can you feasibly expect to pay? What factors will contribute to the total cost? And to what extent?

At this stage, getting the balance between finding a cost-effective developer and creating a stunning app that makes the app of your mind’s eye a reality is everything.

Just how many hard-earned bucks is this going to set you back?

A Quick and Dirty Guide to The Cost of App Development

We have identified a range of different factors contributes to the overall cost of developing an app. For a budget of around $15,000, you will get your app up and running with the barebones of functionality. Stretch to $25,000, and you’ll get much more for your money. But it depends, feel free to contact us to get a free quote for your idea.

Let’s get down to basics and look at the various elements that work together to form the final cost of app development.

The Factors That Contribute to the Cost of App Development

You may encounter some companies that claim they can deliver a fully functional app for as little as $5,000. The adage that you get what you pay for runs true here.

Increase your investment, and you’ll get something invaluable: Experience. The amount you are prepared to pay will directly influence how much technical and commercial expertise you’ll get access to.

From the start, it’s important you understand that hard-coding the product represents just one small task in the process. If you do not have access to a qualified team of expert strategists and developers, your costs will spiral out of control post-launch… that’s if you ever make it to launch.

Essentially, you should be actively searching for an experienced app development team that can offer you the following:

  • A talented designer who can develop eye-catching visual content.
  • An effective account manager who can act as a point of liaison between yourself and the developers, project managers, and producers to ensure that you get exactly what you want out of the process.
  • A product manager who oversees the app development process via a transparent project management approach.
  • Experienced developers who can apply their technical expertise and know-how to transform your ideas into fully functional iOS and Android apps.

How Long Does App Development Take?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a great app.

Sure, you can give it a good go if you’re looking to develop something exceptionally basic. For example, adding E-commerce functionality to an Etsy store can be relatively quick and simple because you can use some of the existing technologies that are out there.

However, if you have much grander plans, you’re certainly not going to get very far in a single day.

So, how does the development time impact the cost of app development?

Here’s where it gets interesting. You may find that both a large agency and a medium-sized outfit both quote you the same price to develop your app; let’s say $300,000. It makes sense to go with the bigger player, right?

Wrong. The price may be the same, but there’s an important distinction you should be aware of.

It is likely that the larger company will be following some form of waterfall development process. That means they will essentially deliver on the original specifications and then roll the rest of the work out to a team of sub-contractors.

The mid-sized shop will follow an Agile development process by which the deliverables are gradually refined. The time it currently takes Mental Stack to progress through the design and development stages of a project is around 13 weeks.

Here’s the process we follow:

  • Hold an official kick-off meeting.
  • Execute product design sprints (three weeks).
  • Execute design and development sprints (six-ten weeks).
  • Launch app.

The Core Features of an App

E-commerce apps are relatively simple in this day and age. However, that isn’t to say they are always easy to develop. Apps typically consist of a myriad of software elements that work together to make the app function. The more features you require, the costlier it’s going to get.

This is where you need the help of a skilled product strategist.

By now, you’ll be too close to the app to see the wood for the trees. You need someone who can point out what features are truly worth the investment and what will just add unnecessary cost.

The Scope of The App and the Amount of Seed Funding

In our experience, the average cost of launching a fully functional app is in the region of $50,000 to $100,000. Sounds high; but, in reality, it’s a fraction of the money you could be pouring down the drain if you get it wrong.

If the app is a fundamental element of your venture, you can’t afford to cut corners.

A typical start-up will manage to scrape together around $250,000 to $500,000 through a seed round or from friends and family. This will get their venture off the ground and keep them in business for around six months. After that, they’re going to be looking to go through a bridge round. If they’re lucky, at this stage, they’ll get a further $500,000 to a million in investment. This is the point at which they can really take the proof of concept up a notch.

So, in reality, you’re looking at spending somewhere between a million and a half a million dollars in the first 12-18 months of business. Anyway, our team understands how hard it is to launch a successful business and we offer product management and testing (QA services) 100% for free, we’re interested in the successful launch of your business.

You can’t afford to get the app wrong.

Who’s Involved in the Development of a Mobile App?

The cost of app development will also vary according to how many people are involved. Every team takes a different approach, but you’re typically looking at the following:

  • A designer, who is responsible for the UI/UX and visual content.
  • An account manager, who is responsible for communications between the client and the team.
  • A product manager, who is responsible for the overall product developnment strategy.
  • Developers who are responsible for creating the end product.

Four Mistakes That Can Lead to App Failure

1) A team that hasn’t been matched to the requirements

You need to choose an agency that has the skills to deliver what you’re looking for. For example, if you incorporate a lot of advanced functionality, it would be suicide to choose an agency that has predominantly focused on smaller, more simple apps in the past… even if they are cheaper.

2) Taking shortcuts

We’re frequently approached by clients who have a half-finished product that was started elsewhere but didn’t come to fruition. They recognize they made a mistake trusting an inexperienced team or the company with the lowest price tag, and they’re now seeking someone they can trust to put it all right. Go to that source in the first place, and you’ll save yourself some serious headaches.

3) Meeting the spec but failing to solve the problem

If you focus too heavily on ticking off a long list of deliverables, you may fail to monitor the extent to which your app is actually achieving what you hoped it would. Worse still, rush an app by simply developing all the components you think it requires and you won’t have your eye on what it can actually do.

4) An ineffective launch plan

Developing a great app that does everything you hoped it would AND solves the problem you set out to solve is only half the battle. You then need to refine the product, improve it, and push it through several rounds of funding. Perhaps then you will be able to call yourself a visionary tech leader.

So, what’s next?

Here, we’ve just scratched the surface of the complex, multifaceted process by which an app is developed and all the factors that influence the cost of app development. But it should give you a good insight into what factors influence the cost of an app.

The upshot: If someone quotes you a price that seems too good to be true… it is!

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