In the first half of 2020, consumers spent $50.1 billion worldwide on Apps — a figure that’s up 23.4% from the first half of 2019. To create a mobile app is to create a digital business -one that can potentially make you millions. If you are an existing business then an App can transform your business processes and connect you to millions of new customers. However, to develop a successful App you need to consider the App development cost.
The cost of developing an App can vary from $5000 to $200,000. To answer the question, how much does it cost to develop an App? You will need to first answer the following 10 questions.
- How much time do you have?
- What platform do you want to release the App on?
- Will you build a Hybrid App or a Native App
- What features do you want in your App?
- What technologies will be used in your App?
- How good do you want the UI/UX design to be?
- Will you need to make changes later on?
- Should you develop the MVP first?
- Do you want to outsource or get the App build in Australia?
- What are the ongoing improvements and maintenance your App will need?
1. How much time do you have?
Is this a long term project with a flexible launch date? Or is there a specific date when you want this App launched? The timeframe you will be working with will have a significant impact on the App development cost.
The sooner you need it and the more rigid the launch date, the more expensive it will be to build. Here are some reasons why:
- Less available time equals less room for mistakes. Even a small error can end up costing a lot of resources and money to fix when you only have a month to go live.
- With limited time you will need to maximize the resources working on the App. You will need to have more developers/designers working on the project.
- Making changes can be extremely expensive when you have a set deadline.
While having a limited amount of time will increase your App development cost. Leaving the timeframe completely open-ended can end up increasing the cost of developing an App as well, due to unnecessary delays and changes. You should ideally have a reasonable time frame at hand, with a target launch date in mind.
2. What platform do you want to release the App on?
You will need to figure out whether you want an Android App, an iOS App, a web App or do you want to develop all three.
iOS or Android: The cost of developing an App for either iOS or Android is similar, but the cost will increase significantly if you want to build an App for both platforms. Whether you develop an App for Android or iOS will most likely depend on the region you are developing your App for. In most Asian and African countries android phones have a bigger market share, in countries like America and Australia, iPhones still have a small edge.
Web App: The third option you have is to develop a web App. A web App is a website that has the look and feel of a native App. It helps make quick and easy mobile purchases without the user having to download the app from Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. It also saves data in the cache and works great in poor and even zero connectivity.
In the following article, we explain in detail the difference between a web App and a native App. Building a Web App will be significantly cheaper than building a native App. Also, if you build both an App and a web App, they will both share the same backend, hence reducing the cost of building the web App on top of the App.
3. Will you build a Hybrid App or a Native App?
As mentioned above, while Android and iPhone platforms have similar costs for app development, the app cost will increase if you want to develop your App for both platforms.
Native Apps: Are built specifically for Android or Google. So if you need an App for both Android and Apple then you will need to build two separate native Apps. A Native App is also built in the programming language that Google or Android intended their Apps to be developed in. Native Apps are acclaimed for their technical and performance superiority over hybrid Apps.
Compared to a Hybrid App, it is much easier to make updates and changes to a native App. But they are more expensive to build than Hybrid Apps.
Hybrid Apps: Are built on a single code base and can work on both Android and iOS. There are multiple cross-platform frameworks that facilitate the common code base structure which can then be used to develop these hybrid Apps. Some of the popular cross-platform frameworks are Flutter, React Native and Cordova.
The biggest advantage of building a Hybrid App is that they are significantly cheaper to develop. The developed time is cut down due to a shared codebase for both platforms. Despite this certain elements would still require to be written natively for each platform, and testing would have to be carried out on both platforms.
4. What features do you want in your App?
The features you choose to include in your App will end up setting the standard for your budget. For instance, features like a calculator or a directory can be developed at a much lower cost while features like payment transactions or a social media feed are much more expensive to develop.
These costs are estimates. The actual cost will depend on the complexity of that feature and how it is implemented.
5. What technologies will be used in your App?
The other question which will impact the App development cost will be the technologies that will be used in the App.
Some of the technologies that you might need to consider are:
- AR/VR: More and more Apps these days come with some elements of AR or VR technologies used in them. If your app will have augmented reality or Virtual reality elements included in it, then that will have a significant impact on the price of the App.
- Third-party integrations: Third-party integrations are when your App needs to connect with a third party software or program. For example Google Maps, PayPal and Stripe.
- Hosting services: What hosting service will you use for your App? Some of the popular ones are AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.
6. How good do you want the UI/UX design to be?
User interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) design are two of the most important elements of the App development process. Imagine an App with the most brilliant and innovative idea, that fulfils a very important need in the market, now imagine that App having an extremely confusing layout where users can never find what they are looking for. Do you think such an App will ever be successful? No, it won’t.
App users will leave your App within seconds if they find the experience frustrating in any way. With billions of Apps on the App stores, users have very little patience for badly designed Apps. This is where UI/UX designers come into play.
When it comes to UI/UX design, you will find designers with different skill levels. Good UI/UX designers will ensure the following with the App’s design:
- Greatly simplify user interaction with the Apps interface.
- Ensure that App design optimises customer conversion or sales.
- Get users to find what they want faster and increase the rate of their involvement.
- Make the design sleek and easy to develop.
Hiring good UI/UX designers will increase the cost of developing an App, but this is one area in which you should not pick the cheapest option in the market. A good App design can be the difference between a failed App or a successful one.
7. Will you need to make changes later on?
Making changes to the App adds more work hours to the development process and can sometimes end up needing major changes to the design and coding structures. Hence the basic rule of thumb is, the more changes you make to an App the more expensive it will become to develop that App.
When it comes to making changes, you probably fall into one of the following three categories:
- You are sure no major changes will be needed later. If this is you then don’t worry about this factor. Minor changes are needed to all Apps and that will not change your App development cost by much.
- You are sure major changes will be needed later on. If this is you then it is best to discuss these potential changes with the developer before they start development and get a quote from them keeping these changes in mind. So that when it is time for the changes you are not hit by any surprises.
- You are not sure if changes will be needed later on. Most people fall under this category. And for everyone in this category, it is best to go for an App development plan which makes those later changes easy to implement at a minimal cost.
Most App developers do not offer flexibility with payments and might downlight refuse any changes later on. But a few App developers like Elegant Media do offer plans designed just for this scenario.
For example, the Flexi plan offered by Elegant Media is one of the most flexible App development plans in Australia. It allows for changes and updates as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible.
8. Should you develop the MVP first?
A minimum viable product (MVP) App, is an App that includes only the minimum amount of features required to make the App useful to its target market.
“The MVP is the right-sized product for your company and your customer. It is big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction, and sales, but not so big as to be bloated and risky. Technically, it is the product with maximum ROI divided by risk. The MVP is determined by revenue-weighting major features across your most relevant customers, not aggregating all requests for all features from all customers.”—Frank Robinson, “How it Works: Minimum Viable Product”
Such an App is devoid of any fancy features and focuses purely on the most important fundamental elements of the App. The idea is to build a useful App in the least amount of time and the least amount of money. Further upgrades and features are added once the MVP App is launched.
All of these billion-dollar Apps started off with MVP’s and slowly upgraded to Apps that millions use daily.
Some benefits of developing an MVP App are:
- Minimal investment: It is the least amount of investment needed to build a fully functioning App.
- Quickest development time: An MVP is built in the least amount of time, hence giving you an edge over any competing products about to be launched.
- Updates based on user feedback: Since an MVP App is developed with minimal functionality, you get to develop and upgrade the App based on real-world feedback from actual users.
- Easier to apply for funding and grants: Here is a fact for you: Investors want to see your product before they will give you any funds. The same goes for government grants, they want to see what it is that you want the grant for, and no, an idea or a PowerPoint is not enough. Most Apps that get funding or a grant get it based on a functioning MVP.
9. Do you want to outsource or get the App built in Australia?
A big dilemma for anyone wanting to build an App is whether they should outsource their App development to a third world country or get it built by an Australian App developer. What you choose will have a significant impact on the cost of developing an App, and both these options have their own pros and cons.
Here is a list of the Pros and cons of outsourcing your App development vs getting it developed in Australia.
As you can see, the primary benefit of outsourcing is the reduced cost of App development. Due to cheap labour, you also get access to more staff at a reduced price. But you have to compromise on the vision of your project and potentially the quality as well. And when you are working with a company in India or the Philippines, they will have zero accountability towards you and your project. If things don’t work out, well too bad.
On the other hand with an Australian App developer, you will end up paying more for the same project but are guaranteed constant communication, resulting in a better-developed App. With an Australian App developer, you are assured accountability. An Australian developed can’t disappear or leave your project unfinished without facing serious consequences.
10. What are the ongoing improvements and maintenance your App will need?
Your App development cost is not over once your App goes live on an App store. An App, whether an MVP or a fully developed one, is a work in progress. Apps need to be maintained, and they need to be upgraded regularly.
Before getting your App developed you should account for the App maintenance cost.
Other important factors to consider when calculating the App development cost
While asking the above ten questions will give you a very accurate idea of your App development cost, here are some other factors worth considering when deciding to develop an App.
Generating money from the App can take time
Whether you are an entrepreneur getting ready to build your App business or a small business developing an App to increase revenue, be mindful of the fact that generating money from an App can take time.
Even though many of our clients have started generating substantial revenue within a couple of months of launching their App, more often than not generating traction will take time.
How much time will largely depend on how well you plan your marketing campaign. But it is wise to prepare for a period of no revenue after the Apps launch.
Apply for government grants
Many of our clients have applied and received government grants to help with their projects.
There are literally hundreds of government grants available for new App projects. We recommend that every App entrepreneur at least study the grants and see if any of them are looking to fund projects like yours.
In most cases, you will need to have a working MVP to have a shot at getting the grant.
Keep in mind the marketing budget
Unless you are a movie star or an established business with thousands of customers who are desperately waiting for your Apps launch, you will need to market your App to let people know that it exists.
Setting aside a budget for marketing is crucial for the success of your App.
Final word on the App development cost in Australia
The cost of developing an App can vary a lot and depends on a number of factors. Read the above questions and write down your answers for them. Do your research and have a good understanding of the App you want to develop.
The easiest way to find out the accurate cost of developing an App is by booking a free consultation session with one of our experienced App consultants.