Estimating How Much an App Will Cost

You might already have an idea for an app; you know fully well what it does and all of the features it should have. The only thing holding you back is the worry you might not be able to afford to actually make one.

Your concerns are valid; after all, you might not exactly have the backing of a big corporate budget. So, how do you estimate how much an app will cost? And also, how can you save on the development cost of an app?

The factors that will affect the cost of your app

Several key factors will affect how much you have to spend to get your app out into the market and stay there:

  • App functionality. What features do you want your app to have? Do you want it to be a simple locator or do you want it to have other features as well, including a calculator or converter, music and sound. Do you want it to be able link to websites or other sources of information outside? Do you want it to be able to make a list or save text?
  • App design. A lot of potential users can be attracted to an app after seeing its design and ease of use, so it’s a factor you have to consider. Do you want an elaborate and impressive design to lure them in or stick to a simple interface to make it easier on the eyes?
  • The developer to hire. Unless you plan on developing that app yourself (which can be an option for some), it’s assumed you will be getting the help of developers. There are small companies that develop apps out there, but you might be getting what you pay for. There are also big ones out there that can turn out a really good apps and support it, but be prepared to spend a small fortune.
  • App support. Once your app is out there it may not be over where the costs are concerned. Your developer or third parties may charge for the management of your app through content management system, updates, feedback and other operations.

How much do apps cost?

So, what is the price range of apps? Depending on the factors already mentioned above, they can go for as low as a few hundred dollars to as high as $200,000.

Basic apps – between $5K to $15K

low cost appsIf you know what companies to approach or how to negotiate, you can actually build an app for less, however it is estimated that an entry-level app can cost between $5,000 to $15,000 to build.

Such an app may already include a calculator or small utility apps, a store locator or brand extension apps and simple reference apps. At this price range it also might have no cloud capabilities and will have standard graphics and user interface. A lot of locator apps fall into this category.

As mentioned above, some companies may be able to offer you a much lower price for an app, but you get what you pay for.

Complex apps – between $20K to $80K

medium cost appsThose in the much higher price category usually enjoy the following features: dynamic updating of in-app content, a cloud database to synchronize data between devices or users, offline mode support, third party services (like Facebook, weather services, etc.)

They might also have custom user controls, allow for in-app purchases as well as subscriptions or push notifications. They may also be available for more than one type of mobile device and have complex dynamic graphics and animations.

Many business apps, like those that help you manage inventory and keep track of sales, fall into this category.

Sophisticated apps – $100K and above

high cost appThese are the ones that are likely to earn money. They also take a lot of time and money to develop and are not usually released until after extensive testing, tweaking, rework and iterations. Expect such an app to have a really extensive UI design, great graphics and animations, a complex custom cloud services and maybe even a database or file storage system. You may also expect a web service interface, administrative tools, as well as the multi-device capabilities.

A lot of business apps also fall into this category, as do games and entertainment apps.

How to save on app development

Before you come to conclusion that you might not be able to make your app after all due to the astronomical prices, remember that there are things you can do to cut down on the costs.

  • Know what your app should have. You can’t have just decided to make an app without first doing research on the possible target market. Know what they want and what they are looking for so you can streamline your app. You also get to save because you don’t have to put the features you don’t need or those that do not appeal to your target market.
  • Simplify. Keep it simple, at least where the first version of your app is concerned. Don’t put in too many features at once, in promising to be able to do a lot of things your app might be able to do any one thing well. Remember, you might have to release more than one version, depending on how successful it will be. Holding back on features for your first release is also strategic in a sense that you can have users who have actually used your app tell you what features they want added, or if you have to release multiple versions of an app to suit different kinds of users.
  • Recycle code. This is something you can ask your developer to do. Apps require programming and coding, and this may actually take up the bulk of your bill. Asking them to use code from an old app or client products will save them the time and you the money. Keep in mind, however, that not all developers might be willing to do this and they might get into trouble if they use code that is not open source or is subject to copyright.

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