This year, mobile apps are expected to rake in a whopping $693 billion in revenue through the app stores and in-app advertising. By 2023, mobile apps are projected to generate more than $935 billion in earnings.
While a lot of businesses want to take full advantage of this trend, many don’t know how to design and develop a successful app. Success in the highly competitive landscape of such staggering growth projections can turn to reality for your business — but only if backed by an efficient and cost-effective mobile app development process.
In this post, we’ll discuss the entire process and answer the most common question we get asked,
“how much does it cost to develop a mobile app?”
The process flow spans six stages including the following:
1. Formulation of a Feasible Strategy
This involves sorting out everything, from determining the target audience to competitor research and choosing the best platform for your app.
2. UI / UX Design
One of the main objectives of an app is to create a mobile experience that’s intuitive and simple to employ. A key indicator of an app’s success is how well prospective users perceive and use its features and functionalities. Your app must be able to deliver a unique user experience — one that is appealing yet straightforward and easy to use.
This stage involves the creation of wireframes, mockups, and a functional prototype. Wireframes are semantic blueprints that provide a graphic display of the bare bones of the design and the functionality of your app. Mockups are the ultimate representation of the app’s illustrated design, while the prototype is a close replica of what the end result of your app will look like and how well it will function in the hands of end-users.
3. App Development
A standard mobile app project is composed of three major components:
- Back-end/server technology — this includes the database and server-side components needed for an app’s enabling features. The back-end is the part of your application that’s responsible for data processing and mathematical operations.
- Application programming interface (APIs) — these are a set of rules that you can integrate into your mobile app to communicate with a back-end server, cloud storage, or other third-party applications.
- Mobile app front-end — this includes the graphical elements that users interact with. A front-end developer, therefore, focuses on what happens with the app, instead of what transpires behind the scenes. There are generally two types of front-end development: native and hybrid. The former is usually intended either for the iOS or Android platforms, whereas the latter utilizes both and can work with all kinds of operating systems.
4. Quality Assurance and Testing
Quality Assurance (or simply QA) is a crucial element of the mobile app development process since it ensures your app’s stability, security, and performance. It is an effective means of preventing mistakes and it must be integrated into every stage of the development process. Even small flaws in the early stages can cause more complex issues in the future. The sooner you begin QA and testing, the fewer bugs and glitches you’ll encounter in the long run.
5. Launch, Deployment, and Support
Before launching your successfully built app, you need to submit it and get it approved by app stores like Apple App Store and Google Play Store for iOS and Android respectively.
When an iOS app is submitted to the Apple App Store, it is subjected to an evaluation process that can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the app’s value and how well it complies with Apple’s iOS guidelines. Note that you are required to provide a trial user profile especially if your application requires users to log in.
App review on Google Play is different, but you can expect your app to appear on the market a few hours after submission.
Once your app is approved, it is important to stay abreast with the latest trends and update the features according to users’ needs and feedback. Bear in mind that regardless of the scope and complexity of your project, following the development process outlined above will greatly improve your chances of designing and developing a successful app.
Mobile App Development Cost: The Benchmarks
Now that you have an idea on the step-by-step process of app development, let’s move to a crucial aspect that fuels the actual process: how much does it cost to develop an app? The most reliable industry studies revealed the following estimates for app development cost:
Based on recent statistical data, the cost of building an app in Australia ranges from $50,000 to $250,000. For a Proof of Concept (PoC) app, the cost can be anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. A small and simple app will cost you $50,000 to $75,000. For medium-sized apps, prepare a budget of $75,000-$125,000, while complex and more feature-packed apps can cost $150,000 to develop.
The precise amount depends on several factors including the following:
Type of Application
This is the most influential factor affecting mobile app development cost. For instance, building a QR code scanner app will cost less than building a social networking app. The server architecture, user types, number of screens, and third-party services, will all rely heavily on the app type.
Examples of apps that are cheaper to develop — are generally simple applications like weight trackers, calculators, QR scanners, meme generators, static content apps, educational resources, recipes and note-taking apps.
Examples of higher-cost apps — are more complex applications like marketplaces, social networks, ride-sharing, AI/VR apps and security-heavy apps such as banking apps.
Features and Functionalities
The features and functionalities that you want to integrate into your app will decide its cost structure. The more features and functionalities, the higher will be the cost. Hence, you should differentiate between the primary and secondary functions of your mobile app.
For instance, you don’t need a geolocation service for a gaming app, but you can’t build a food ordering app without integrating location services. Simply put, you must carefully choose the features and functionalities that are most useful and will offer the best value to the end-users.
Platforms and Devices Supported
Deciding whether to support iOS or Android or both will help in estimating the development time, and subsequently the app development cost. Note that the two platforms vary — for instance, Android fragmentation can make it difficult to ensure that your app will work seamlessly for each unique device in the market, whereas iOS only needs to support only a handful of Apple devices.
In addition, you need to decide whether you want to build a native or hybrid app. The former is fully responsive and installed on devices, while the latter is part native and part web app, with a single code base and deployed to various platforms. Note that native apps are usually more expensive to develop but they deliver better performance and more personalised or custom-designed features.
Your app can be stand-alone or integrated into an enterprise system.
Building an app for internal users, where you have full control over which platforms and devices will be supported, will cost less than doing so in an external environment. Integration points will make you spend more during the build but will let you save time and money in the long run.
Consider the following: What third-party systems do your app need to integrate with? Where will the content come from? Is it already available in other data structures (i.e. APIs, DB’s,) or will you develop new content? Who will manage the content? Do you have an established editorial workflow for the review and approval of content?
Lastly, integration of third-party frameworks, services, and libraries allows developers to get some features and functionalities up and running faster and cheaper than devising a custom solution from scratch
The factors influencing mobile app development cost are a combination of the expectations of your target users, your app’s technical requirements, as well as the short and long-term goals of your business.
Aside from the major cost-driving factors enumerated above, the subsidiary components that account for adding to app development cost are plenty. Remember that as the features.