So you want to know how much does an app cost to build? This is a question we get asked a lot around here. We decided to construct a view, from our perspective, to illustrate all the factors that go into the pricing of application development.

  Want to know how much an app costs? There is no magic number for this—it depends! The bottom line is that applications are investments, and developing one should not be taken lightly. Don’t be mislead by DIY templates online, and stories of quick overnight successes such as Flappy Bird to fuel your app adventure. The truth is that the majority of applications take weeks to months to build, employing a whole team of designers and engineers, and require a business model like any other company would. Let’s not forget that many of the most successful apps took months and tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop, and didn’t neglect the importance of marketing in order to get their product out to the right customers in the right way.  

Platform and Device Coverage?


One of the first questions we ask is, “iOS, Android, or both?” We ask because programming an application for each of these operating systems is done so in a completely different language, and not only is it done separately, but we go to great lengths to make sure they look the same on an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S5, or any of the intended devices. From each front end we develop for, these need to communicate with the backend, where all the information is stored. Like how 1+1 = 2, more platforms equal to more work.   If you’re on a restricted budget, consider building on one platform first. Developing the same application for tablets requires more coding too — remember you want your app to look great no matter which device it’s viewed from — and this will incur more cost. A more expensive and extensive app would also run on Blackberry and Windows, if you so wish. It truly depends on you.  

What is the App Going to Do?


Okay, this might seem like an obvious question, but we literally need every single feature and screen broken down and explained by you so we can visualize the flow. Does the user need a login screen? What kind of data does the app hold, are they big files, like photos? Does the app require location services? Does it publish your activity on Facebook? Does it require push notifications? How many screens total will it have? Does a unicorn emerge magically from the screen when a user puts in a special code? Seriously. All these features are custom built from the ground up, and take time to develop. All of these features drive up the cost of your app. Even simple features and details added on can have a big impact on the time and cost because of the required work on the back end.

What is the User Experience?

An earlier version of the Facebook app, presented on an iPhone (left) and Android device (right). Notice how they don't look the same - the iPhone's menu is coded to the dimension of the screen but not for the Android version. This should be the biggest pet peeve of any respectable developer.

An earlier version of the Facebook app, presented on an iPhone (left) and Android device (right). Notice how they don’t look the same – the iPhone’s menu is coded to the dimension of the screen but not for the Android version. This should be the biggest pet peeve of any respectable developer.

  To what extent your app product will be polished, is really up to you and your budget. As a development agency, we strive for a unique, one-of-a-kind user experience in everything that we build and set out to do. Having a well polished, gorgeous and user-friendly app that serves a specific purpose. The question you need to ask yourself is, do you want to invest in a product that is not the best version of itself that it could be? We believe strongly that design is at the core of all good things. Like visionary Steve Jobs famously said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” As you can see, there are many factors that go into pricing the cost of an application, and there is no simple calculator or magical basic number to give. Each feature and detail has a price, and the summation of those features add up to the total cost in creating any custom application. That’s why at Powered Labs we have a consultation period that goes in depth to acquire as much information as possible before giving a price or deadline. Like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for. The devil is in the details and design is at the core of everything we do. A mobile application is an investment, not just something you produce that your customers will flock to immediately. Have a marketing plan, and a reasonable budget for what your expectations are.          

Further Reading:

How Much Does it Cost to Build the World’s Hottest Startups?    
Tags: , , , , ,