What is the cost of developing an app?

By Becky Lawlor

Developers working together to develop an app


Mobile app useage accounts for 57 percent of all time spent on digital media, and smartphone app use comprises more than half of that time, according to recent research by comScore. Despite the rising popularity of mobile apps, more than a quarter of enterprises globally have not built, customized or virtualized any mobile apps in the past year, a Gartner survey finds.

The primary barriers to mobile initiatives are resources-related, including the cost of developing an app, Gartner reports. For businesses wondering whether they can afford to develop an app, a recent Clutch survey examines how costs are determined and what it’s like to work with an app development company. Here are a few highlights worth considering:

1. Don’t skip the discovery stage

If you’re trying to save on costs, skipping the app discovery stage isn’t the way to go about it — and most developers won’t let you. Seventy percent of app development firms require this stage as part of the process because it is imperative to helping businesses understand the app’s overall value and chances of success. The discovery process can include conducting market research about potential competitors and deciding whether an app is the best channel to meet your overall goals.

Once you’ve completed the discovery stage and determined your app has value to your targeted users, your app will not only be more likely to succeed, you’ll also be in a better position to sell its value to key decision makers.

Average cost: Less than $5,000.

2. Understand the design process

The design stage involves wireframing the visual and user experience (UX) design. This stage is important in helping you understand how the app will look and work for users. The cost of this phase will depend on how many screens your app has, as each screen will need its own design.

Average cost: Less than $5,000.

3. Determine what features you need

The real variation in the cost of mobile app development comes from its built-in features. Simple features such as push notifications, user ratings, reviews and authentication can cost less than $5,000 per feature on average. Features that require complex coding or logic, such as payment systems, web portals and back-end integrations, will significantly raise the cost of developing an app. Even simple features, such as push notifications, can quickly become expensive if they require complex logic to execute.

Additionally, the decision to use a hybrid or native app can also impact costs. Native apps require separate app builds for different operating systems, which drives up the cost compared to hybrid apps.

Average overall cost: $200,000 – $500,000. Some simple apps can be built for $25,000 – $50,000, but most apps produced within that cost range won’t be able to offer the features or value necessary to make the investment worthwhile.

Ultimately, the success of your app isn’t just in the number of features or the cost of developing an app. To succeed at mobile app development, you need to be involved in the process from start to finish, do your research, understand what your customers need, what your competitors currently offer, and then work with app developers who can deliver a better experience for your customers. Be prepared to iterate on the process as your customers’ needs shift and technology evolves.

Written By

Becky Lawlor

Technology Writer

Becky Lawlor is a freelance technology writer specializing in mobility, cloud computing, unified communications and collaboration solutions. She develops and writes content that helps technology buyers understand and evaluate technology solutions, modernize their IT infrastructure…

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