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Factors affecting app development cost


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How much does it cost to develop a mobile app? How can you estimate the final cost of mobile app development? To answer your questions, you will need to consider many factors affecting mobile app development cost. There are number of factors to keep in mind while determining the app development cost.

The potential of mobile app market can’t be measured in just one line. Businesses are experiencing an evolution due to the rapid development of the mobile app market. Mobile apps are the powerful tool to generate traffic and increase sales of the business significantly. If you are also thinking about creating a mobile application for your business then you must be having one common question to ask developers – “What is the cost of developing a mobile app?”  You need to focus on various factors affecting app development cost. For example type of the application you choose also affects the cost of app development.

Let’s analyze some of the important factors that influence the cost of developing a mobile app.

Factors to consider while determining app development cost

1 Team of professionals

The most influential factor determining the cost of mobile app development is to choose the right development team for your mobile application idea. Most of the business firms hire highly experienced & expert developers or reputed mobile app development company. Usually, standard app development team is made up of following team members:

  • A Project manager (Who will be supervising the whole project and will give guidance to the developers)
  • Android or iOS developer (Having 2 or more developers depend upon your project size)
  • UI/UX designers
  • Quality Assurance Engineer (QA)
  • Backend developers to create an API if needed
  • In future, the team for admin panel might be required as per the app’s requirement

Either you can choose to hire individual team members or you can hire app development company already having expert team members for app development.

2 Features & Functionalities

At the very initial level, you will need to decide the features & functionalities of an app. What kind of functionalities does your app provide? Which are the unique features your app has? – consider these questions. The development team’s task is to implement the features as per the clients’ requirements. So you will need to have a clear idea for features requirement. Although some of the mobile app development companies suggest the latest features to their clients to build an effective application. You can select features according to the type of your mobile application. There are some basic features your app should have such as geo-fencing ability, social media sharing buttons, integration with existing camera, GPS connection, Online reservation and many more. While considering various features of the mobile app, you will also need to consider users’ requirements. Remember, the more features you want to add in the app, the more cost you have to pay. Because more features will lead to more development time and efforts of the team members.

Here is a quick tip - you might be thinking about having a basic mobile app at the initial level in order to save money. But instead of creating a basic app, you should design an app with all the latest features.

 Including the latest features might increase your budget. Though your app will help you to gain a good investment return. An interactive and feature-packed mobile application can boost your business growth rapidly. That is why it is very crucial that your mobile application provides maximum features and functionalities to give better user experience.

3 Operating systems & versions

Choosing the right operating system  plays a vital role in determining the app development cost. There are usually three types of platforms to choose from - Android, iOS or Windows. You can select the OS system based on your target market and budget. For example, if you select an Android platform, the development time will be longer due to testing time. Because various types of screen sizes are available in Android. Apart from finalizing the operating system, you will also need to choose the version of the app.  Decide whether you want to go for the latest version or old version. In Android, you will have the choice to opt from Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat. While in iOS, you will need to select versions. For example, the latest version of iOS is 11.4. Will your app work in latest version of iPhones or older versions of iPhones? Nowadays cross-platform app development concept is becoming popular among developers.  With cross-platform, your app will run smoothly both on Android as well as iOS platform. Moreover, think little further - Do you only want to support phones? What about the tablets? Yes, you can optimize your app specifically for the tablet. To run your app in the tablet, you will require different layout for the larger screen. Check out the pros & cons of all available operating system and choose the latest operating system as per your target market.

4 Database and CMS (Content Management System)

In today’s competitive world, providing database and CMS (Content Management System) in the application is becoming necessary. Because it helps to drive more traffic on your app. Will your users be able to upload photos, content, and videos? Does your app provide data that will keep on changing? - If your answer is yes for the above questions then your application will require a database. The database lets you store data photos, videos, and content. And CMS allows you to add, edit or modify the data or content. Check out detailed top Content Management Systems here. Considering database and CMS (Content Management System) will require more development time. You also have to keep in mind the hosting and storage cost for the database. It can be truly said that data based apps have a higher development cost in comparison to simple apps. Moreover, CMS integration will have the separate cost depending upon the CMS you choose. Pricing of Content Management System changes according to services they offer.

5 The number of screens

Designing an app for more number of screens will lead to expensive app development. Because the more number of screens the app has, the more design and user experience work will be needed. Due to more number of screens, the app will become very complex rather than a simple app. The more complex app will lead to more design & development time. More screens will enable users to have more ways to navigate through the app. The number of the possible path will also increase. Therefore, more programming time will be required to cater for all the possible paths that can be taken by users through the app. Due to more number of screens, more designing and integration of UI/UX will be required.

6 Technical challenges

There are various features of technical complexity which will be faced by Android or iOS developers. We have identified some of the main technical challenges that you need to consider while mobile app development:

  • Admin panel development

Admin panel is a very powerful tool for developers. With admin panel, developers can work on various operations of application such as managing content, managing user activities etc. Besides, viewing stats also become much easier with the admin panel. Though there is one major issue with admin panel is to find the suitable admin template for your app.  It is becoming difficult for the developers to find the flexible and qualitative admin panel templates.

  • Back-end development

Back-end development is an important and unavoidable part of app development. Though users do not have any concern at all with backend development part. Back-end development helps to exchange the information between a mobile application and a mobile server. Back-end developers are responsible for speed and responsiveness of the application. So your back-end team will require in-depth knowledge of programming language, server architecture, and database. Nowadays, business firms are looking for developers who are good at both front-end and back-end development in order to increase development speed. At present, it is becoming difficult to find such developers having multiple skills.

  • In-app purchasing

People have started buying online with their laptops and smartphones. Online shopping has become the trend nowadays. There are many popular apps available which offer in-app purchasing feature such as Evernote, DocuSign, LinkedIn, Adobe Acrobat, and Microsoft Office Apps. You can also follow the footsteps of the above-mentioned popular applications. But including in-app purchasing feature will require adding more tasks in the mobile app. Adding more tasks will require more development time.

So, developers will need more time to implement in-app purchasing feature. Moreover, incorporating in-app purchasing feature in the mobile app will also increase the technical complexity. Moreover, integrating in-app purchasing will lead to a significant increase in your budget. But you can consider adding this feature as a one-time investment which will be beneficial in the long-run.

  • Hardware components

Nowadays, your smartphone will have a variety of hardware components such as GPS, accelerometers, Bluetooth, Barometers, Heart rate sensors and many more. Let’s assume that your mobile app requires integration with such hardware components then analyze how much more you have to invest in the app. Because integrating these components and testing each component to identify whether it is working properly with your app or not will increase the time duration as well as the cost of app development.

  • Feature integration

It is possible that your mobile application might require some additional features to add on.  Nowadays, you don’t need to waste much time on feature integration.  There are many ready-to-go solutions available in the market. For example, if you want to create payment function in the app then there are many readymade popular platforms available for payment integration such as PayPal, Square, Braintree, and Stripe. Let’s say you are thinking about providing social media sharing then you can start with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Social media integration in the mobile app will enhance the app’s functionality. Payment integration and social media integration are some of the examples of feature integration. You can identify new features required for the mobile app and integrate it with your app. But remember, feature integration will increase development time. So you will need to consider extra time for feature integration in the specific timeline of your app development project.

7 Custom design

For a successful application, the user interface design matters a lot. What is the first thing that users see on play store? - App icon. Users identify your app with the icon right?  Company’s logo creates brand awareness. Just like that, app’s icon is also an essential part of designing your app. Therefore, create an effective icon. If your application is well-designed then users will stay engaged for a longer period of time which will result into more conversions. Moreover, your mobile app UI should be highly interactive. Use attractive design elements like - 3D design, animations, and engaging visual objects. Use nice colors, add some nice labels or images to make your app user interface more attractive. Rather than using standard components, use custom design where you can have a chance to utilize your creativity. Yes, it is true that using customized design costs more than using ready-made design templates. Hire experienced professionals to create best UI and UX design of your app. Great design will definitely increase conversion ratio. Therefore, you should focus on custom designing of the mobile application.

8 Server cost

If your mobile app requires a database, then you will require a server. If your application consists of features such as chatting & online booking then the database will be required for the app. You don’t need to purchase a server for the database. Purchasing a server can be costlier especially at the initial stage of the mobile app development. Therefore, renting option can be the best option for you. Over the past few years, there has been an evolution in cloud services. Now the server space and usage can be rented easily. You can choose from many online cloud services such as - Amazon Cloud Services, RackSpace Cloud Hosting Solutions, and SoftLayer Cloud Hosting Services. By renting server space, you don’t have to bear the cost of buying server. If you rent the space for storage on the server then you just have to pay for the time using the server and bandwidth for data transferred from and to the server. There are various cloud service options available but Amazon would be the perfect option for you as Amazon’s pricing structure focus on the following aspects:

  • Data downloaded or uploaded to the server
  • The number of requests made to the server
  • The amount of storage required

Moreover, Amazon also provides an amazing feature - a calculator which can be used to estimate approximate monthly cost. 

9 App budget

If you want to develop an effective mobile app then choosing the reputable mobile app development company is not enough at all. Your very next should be to decide an app development budget. An entrepreneur needs to consider the significant amount of investment while developing a mobile app. Analyze, how much amount are you planning to invest in the app development process? While deciding the app budget, consider the app platform option, type of your app, features & functionalities you are going to offer and the maintenance cost as well. If you are looking for long-term consistent support and maintenance of mobile app then you will need to increase the budget. Once you have discussed your requirements with app development company, let them come up with their own app development cost estimation. After knowing their cost estimation - you can decide whether you want to add some features and functionalities or you want to delete some. Make sure that your estimated budget doesn’t get ruined due to excessive features. Finalize only useful features. App development costing may vary from country to country. Moreover, cost changes according to the complexity of an app such as a simple app, average complex app, and highly complex app.  You have to make sure that throughout the whole app development process, your estimated budget should be maintained.

10 Distribution of app

app destribution

After developing a mobile app, the very next step is the distribution of the app on app stores. To release your app on Apple app store, you will need to have developer account of your name or company’s name. The membership fee of Apple developer account is 99 USD per year. If you want to release your app on Google Play Store then having an account on Google Play Store would be a basic requirement. For Google Play account, you have to pay $25 only. It is a one-time license cost that you have to bear. You don’t need to pay the fee every year for Google Play account. You have to go through all these procedures only if you are launching your app publically. But if you have developed an app for internal use of your company then all you need to do is upload the app on your server. There is no need to pay for your internal app. Your employees will be able to download the app from the server and start using it. Many companies have started developing an app to make in-house work smoother.

Another option is choosing a corporate app store. A corporate app store or enterprise app store is basically a mobile app that is accessible to your employees and stakeholders only. Corporate app store secure your business data and applications. If your app is well designed then corporate app store can provide many benefits to your organization.

11 Application maintenance

The journey doesn’t stop after distribution of the mobile app. App development is the continuous process. After releasing the app in the marketplace, you will need to implement maintenance plan immediately. Users’ feedbacks can be very useful as users mention problems faced by them and suggestions for new features & functionalities too. In case, if you get any negative feedback then respond quickly and resolve the issue immediately. You can have planned list of new features that will be updated in future. Operating systems keep on getting updated. So it is your task to update your application as well. Your mobile application should be able to support all the latest versions of a mobile operating system.

While planning the budget, also consider the maintenance cost that might occur due to sudden issues found in the mobile application. Moreover, your feedback channel should be effective. Be responsive and give answers to your users immediately. This way users will feel more connected to you.

12. Post-release activities

Once your app gets released in the market, don’t think that your work is done. After launching the mobile application, stay connected with users by providing excellent customer support. Keep providing updated features in the mobile app. Due to attractive features, users will stay engaged for a longer period of time. You also need to consider effective and efficient marketing strategies at the initial level of the app development process. You will need to figure out how to market mobile application. If you are thinking that you will start promotional activities after the completion of the app development process then you are mistaken. You should start implementing marketing strategies from the beginning of mobile app development.

Due to effective marketing and promotional activities, you will be able to gain greater visibility and end-users will be able to discover your app easily. You can check out the promotional activities idea here. Decide a separate marketing budget for your mobile application. Promotional activities are essential to generate the brand value of an app. If you will spend a reasonable amount of time on promotional activities, your app’s success is guaranteed.

Are you planning to develop a mobile app for your business? Get a quote now.

Final thoughts

Above mentioned factors help to determine mobile app development cost. Therefore, consider all these factors while finalizing your budget for mobile app development. Other than this, there are several factors to think about for mobile app development such as business requirements, target audience, marketing etc. The most important factor that affects the overall costing in app development is features and functionalities. Different mobile app development companies offer different quotes according to their expertise, experience, and reputation in the market. Some companies offer hourly rates and many other companies offer fixed quote according to your app development project requirement. Each project costing varies due to different functions and features each mobile application offers. Choose mobile app development company wisely because they will be the one bringing your idea into reality. Create you dream mobile app with our expert team. Get in touch with us at info@thirstydevs.com

Author Details


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Gaurav Patel

Gaurav Patel is Founder of thirstyDevs InfoTech
thirstyDevs InfoTech is a Web solutions company offering innovative web solutions. Our company focuses on providing the best web solution for our customers.




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