What are the costs of app development?
The financial aspect is a very important factor when it comes to developing a new mobile The costs can vary greatly depending on the complexity and range of functions. In the end, the price of an app development is measured especially by the time required for the entire development process.
Basically, this process can be divided into three phases:
1. Starting with the planning phase in which the long-term goals and intentions of the app are defined.
2. The second phase then deals with the app design. Here we work specifically on the UI (user interface design) and UX (user experience design).
3. The last step focuses on programming and testing.
Each of these three phases can vary in scope, time and complexity, which leads to large price ranges. In terms of costs, there are no upper limits.
Starting with an amount of a few thousand euros for small and less complex apps up to six-figure amounts for complex systems with many different interfaces. When it comes to estimating the costs for development in advance, the planned functions as well as the design of the app are very decisive.
It is difficult to give a general cost for programming without any information about the planned software. Nevertheless, differences in complexity and scope will result in certain price ranges.
$5,000 - $20,000 : small and less complex apps
$15,000 - $40,000 : Model View Presenter, only with the most important functions
$30,000 - $160,000 : more complex apps with a high functionality, interfaces, a front- and backend
More than $160,000 : in rare cases, very complex and extensive apps can also cost more
Costs during the planning phase
In the first phase of the app development, the focus is on detailed planning. The existing idea is elaborated and brought into a sensible concept in consideration of some important factors.
The important factors include the long-term goals and usage, the functions of the app and the market environment. This phase consists of several consultations and close cooperation between product owner and developer.
The differences between web apps, native or hybrid apps are also illustrated. A recommendation is made taking into account the concept as well as the budget. For the mature app concept, a first estimate of the development costs can be given.
In order to save costs already in the first phase, it makes sense to approach the project with a mature and well thought-out idea. The more advanced the planning is at the beginning of the cooperation, the less time has to be spent on the first phase of development.
This reduces the costs incurred. An always transparent and open cooperation between product owner and developer is the basis for successful app development. This also includes early communication regarding possible interfaces to other systems. These should be planned into the development accordingly.
Costs for app design
The app design, which consists of UI and UX, is a very decisive attribute. The visual design (user interface design) and the user-friendliness (user experience design) are decisive for the end user of the app.
Here, too, the costs can vary greatly. While you have to reckon with $2,000 to $25,000 for individually designed apps, the costs for a prefabricated app design are significantly lower. In most cases, however, these templates have to be modified and are very limited in their customisation options.
For internal apps, the design is usually not as important as for marketable apps, which should ultimately be attractive for many users. Depending on the use case, more or less money is invested in the design.
If a company has a corporate design that can be incorporated into the app design, time, effort and costs can also be saved here. Since the success of an app is strongly dependent on the design and thus also the user-friendliness, budget and time should not be kept too low.
An appealing app design (UI) with a well thought-out user experience (UX) ensures that users use the app longer and more intensively. An intuitive, clean design usually achieves the desired effect.
User experience design aims to make the use of the app as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. In particular, this involves the user interface and the interaction design. UX design development specifically tailored to the target group is recommended. The costs of the app design process should therefore by no means be underestimated.
Costs for programming the app
The programming of the app by the developers is usually the part that takes the most time and costs. Depending on how novel the app concept, how extensive and complex the functions, the longer the programming will take.
The budget for the entire development is largely taken up by the actual programming work. This can cost between $5,000 and $160,000. In the case of very interactive and complex apps with many interfaces to other programmes, dimensions of several hundred thousand euros are realistic.
On which operating systems will the app run?
Essentially, the focus here is on the operating systems iOS and Android. In the course of the last few years, these two have been able to drive several other programmes out of the market, so that it is almost exclusively occupied by Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Due to the dominance of the two operating systems, it is advisable to limit app development to the two providers. Hybrid app development makes sense here.
These are also possible between iOS app and web app. Basically, the more target platforms, the higher the development costs. For this reason, too, it makes sense to design the programming efficiently and limit it to iOS and Android. In order to save even more costs, it may also be sufficient in certain cases to concentrate on one operating system.
This is especially considered if the end devices on which the app is to run are already defined or if a large user base is not the goal. At this point, the target group is very important. Apple's iOS addresses a more upscale clientele. On average, there are significantly fewer in-app purchases in Android apps. This makes the iOS system much more suitable for apps with which revenue is to be generated.
Native apps are classic apps that are installed on mobile devices. They are programmed specifically for each operating system and are therefore more expensive than hybrid systems and web apps. The development of a native app can take between $7,000 and $80,000 per operating system.
Consequently, sums between $14,000 and $160,000 can be expected if the app is to be available for iOS and Android. Native apps offer significantly more possibilities, especially regarding the scope of app functions. A suitable design solution can also be found for the respective operating system. Native apps increase the user experience with their easy, intuitive use. Data security is very high for this type of app.
Web apps are web applications for mobile devices that can be called up and used via a web browser. The prerequisite for use is a stable internet connection. The costs for programming a web app are very variable and can range from $6,000 to $100,000.
On average, however, they are cheaper than native apps because the application is made with the help of HTML 5 on mobile and desktop operating systems. Examples of web apps include Netflix and Google Maps.
An extension of web apps are progressive web apps (PWA), which can also contain many functions of native apps. A big advantage over web apps is that progressive web apps can also be used without an internet connection. However, interfaces to database systems cannot simply be implemented with this type of app. For the development of PWAs, at least $10,000 must be budgeted.
Hybrid apps are a combination of a native app and a web app and thus combine the advantages of both types. On the one hand, they combine the good performance of native apps and, on the other hand, the independence with regard to the platform in the case of web apps. Hybrid apps are often also called cross-platform apps.
In the case of older frameworks such as Ionic or Apache Cordova, the app runs in a kind of webview container. More modern frameworks such as Flutter or React Native are significantly more performant due to the use of native UI components. Hybrid apps can be downloaded from the App Store, which also simplifies marketing.
What does an app developer cost per hour?
The hourly rate of a software developer is determined by three main factors: location, reputation and experience of the developer.
Developers abroad are usually significantly cheaper, but in many cases also deliver poor work. Inexperienced developers can easily pass themselves off as professionals and offer app development at dumping prices.
Developers in Germany are more expensive on average. While you have to reckon with a usual hourly rate of $120 - $150 here, you can also find offers in the range of a $10 hourly rate on the internet again and again.
These utopian prices are far from fair and do not deliver satisfactory quality.
When it comes to development costs, the following formula applies in principle:
Development costs = development time x hourly rate
What does the required development time depend on?
The development time of an app depends on several aspects. The general requirements of the app are decisive.
What should it be able to do and what functions should it have for the user?
These questions should be clarified in detail beforehand and not only arise in the course of the development process. Of course, the planned requirements and functions of the app must also be discussed with the software developer. A precise description of the individual functions also makes it easier to estimate the costs.
Another aspect is found in the devices, software and operating system on which the app is to be usable. The question here is whether the app should cover all devices - smartphone, laptop, tablet, web and TV. The same applies to the operating system.
Should the app be usable on iOS, Android and/or web?
The quality also plays a decisive role. This differs above all in the development effort. A prototype of the app, which is used
A prototype of the app, which serves to validate ideas and as a test version, is associated with significantly more work.
The development time depends strongly on how mature the app concept already is. Depending on how much time the client has already invested in the planning and elaboration of his project, the developer's scope of work also adapts. This includes conception, design, development, testing and support.
Good cooperation between client and developer is characterised by close communication. If the developer receives feedback or answers to open questions quickly, he can continue his work promptly. Good accessibility of the client is therefore an elementary factor with regard to the development time.
Where could you save costs in app development?
1. Functional scope
Basically, it makes sense to be aware of the price range of a high-quality app development. You should not aim to save costs at every possible end. This would result in a loss of quality and the app might not survive on the market in the long term.
It is therefore important to be realistic about the whole thing and ask yourself in advance whether the development of a good quality app fits into the budget.
Nevertheless, it is of course sensible to save costs in the appropriate place if this is possible and makes sense. The development costs result from the interaction of development time and hourly rate. Accordingly, these two points can be used as a starting point.
As already mentioned, the development time consists of several different factors. These need to be examined again with regard to cost savings.
When defining the requirements together, the focus is always on the goal of the app. It is selected which functions are absolutely necessary in order to maintain the meaning and purpose of the app and which can perhaps be dispensed with.
Focus on the goal and the benefit
Especially in the first version of the app, it can make sense to limit yourself to the essential functions. Programming costs can quickly be driven up with "useless" or very complex functions.
There are often less complicated approaches to solving supposedly complex functions. The developer, because of his experience, approaches the matter from a different angle and may be able to suggest simpler, alternative solutions.
It may be worthwhile to postpone the "nice to have" features to a second app version and also wait for user feedback. A first, slimmed-down version makes perfect sense.
Bypass complex functions
Certain functions are very complex to implement due to automation. It is important to ask yourself whether the implementation of these features is absolutely necessary. An example of this is the automatic sending of invoices when a purchase is made.
This function could possibly still be implemented manually in the first app version and only be realised when the number of users increases and a larger budget is available. This "simpler way" of sending invoices minimises costs considerably. Some functions can retain their usefulness despite simple realisation and only be made more complex later on.
Starting with a prototype makes perfect sense in terms of cost savings. The costs of development can be significantly reduced if you initially limit yourself to a first, simple app version or only one operating system.
The development of the iOS app is usually preferred to the Android or web app. A hybrid solution can also make sense. This is not only easier to plan, but also cheaper to develop.
If the app needs to be adapted again and again in the course of the first live phase or user feedback needs to be implemented, this is much easier with only one operating system.
Logos and designs
The design aspect is very crucial, especially for the UX and UI experience of the users. The creation of a logo and design concept can be professional and still be kept cheaper. People like to work with so-called logo makers.
The entire design aspect is usually a very expensive undertaking as design agencies are specially commissioned for this. First drafts or precise ideas from the client are helpful to speed up the design process and reduce costs.
2. Development time
Experience of the developer
A good developer with a lot of work experience knows his worth and charges an appropriate hourly rate. Because of the experience gained, the overall programming work is often done faster, more efficiently and professionally. For this reason, the final cost of an expensive, experienced software developer is not too different from that of a cheaper developer who is less experienced.
It is important to always aim for a reasonable price-performance ratio. You should never save on the quality of the developer, as this always means that you will have to pay more later. The quality of the developer can be determined on the one hand by experience - how many projects have already been implemented? Furthermore, a good reputation is decisive. It makes sense to find out about the potential development partner and possibly approach existing customers. An exchange of experience regarding cooperation can be very informative and give a different perspective.
The costs for the development of an app are influenced by many factors and can therefore vary greatly. In addition to the elementary factors such as the type of app, the operating systems, the design or the desired functions, many other aspects are decisive for the final price framework.
Only after these decisions have been made is a rough estimate of the costs for the development possible. Nevertheless, due to an agile way of working, possible deviations in the price estimate are to be expected here as well.