What’s the Average Cost to Build a Mobile App?
By Tim Smith
The great thing about building your own mobile app is that you can create something that is new or different than what is available today. Even though millions of mobile apps have been built, yours will be custom to you and your organization.
But how much does it cost to create a mobile app? Because apps are one of a kind, it can be challenging to provide an estimate. It really depends on the app features and technical details of behind the app’s concept.
Mobile App Costs: The Short Answer
In our experience, the majority of custom mobile app projects fall somewhere between the $50,000 and $250,000 mark to design and develop the software.
App development pricing falls within a broad range, and that may not be that useful if you are ready to put a number in your budget. That said, it’s important to remember that a mobile application can mean anything from a calculator to a full enterprise shopping system like Amazon that supports millions of users.
No two custom-built applications are the same. Therefore the cost to build your mobile app could be vastly different from the cost someone else paid to build their app.
To get a better idea of where you might fall on the spectrum of costs to create an app, below we’ve included someof the biggest factors that we find influence mobile app costs.
Biggest Impacts on Mobile App Costs
This one is straightforward. The more screens/pages you have, the more work that needs to be done to build your mobile app, and the more expensive it will be.
Small iOs and Android applications might have 5-10 screens; medium are in the realm of 11-25; large are anything more than 25 screens.
What constitutes a screen? Generally, you would count anything that the user sees when they first come open your mobile app, and then each unique screen behind every button click, link click or menu click.
Generally speaking, small apps tend to run $50-75K, medium apps are around $75-150K and large apps are $150K +.
Complicated logic means more time coding and testing. If your application performs a lot of heavy analysis, scoring or number crunching, or if your secret sauce has a lot of nuances and permutations, your application probably has some complexity to it that warrants special attention.
Creative design and user experience design are fun! This is where you get to select your fonts, color palettes, and images as well as have custom illustrations and animations made to give your application some sizzle.
Like when you decorate a house or buy a new wardrobe, there are nice options, there are extravagant options, and there is a range in between.
We typically recommend a creative design app development budget of about $8,000-16,000 to cover the initial visual design and going through a few iterations of feedback and revisions. If you need more design time or have a lot of custom artwork that needs to be created, then the cost of the project will go up.
A stand-alone app, like a calculator, is something that can run on its own without internet connectivity. But most mobile apps have some kind of server and administration component that supports them.
What does a server and administration system let you do? The following is a short list to illustrate the point.
- Have a central repository to store and share data with the app and allow users to access the same information from any device (like Dropbox or Evernote)
- Manage the app, including users, security settings, and other configurations
- Process user requests (like placing an order)
- Interact with a user through messages
- Analyze data with reports
- Integrate with 3rd party tools like payment gateways and text messaging
Stand-alone applications are cheaper to build than systems with servers and administration sites. The more extensive your server and administration portal functionality, the more expensive your application will be.
Integration With Other Systems
Integrating with external software introduces a lot of unknown variables into the equation. Sometimes the integrations are effortless and sometimes they are extremely difficult.
Common integrations like payment providers such as PayPal or Authorize.Net are easy to integrate with. The same goes for credit check services from Equifax or Experian.
But older, or lesser-known systems may pose a challenge and increase the project cost.
When integrating with a third-party system, you will need to program the application to handle all possible failure points. What happens when service isn’t available or is returning a result you don’t expect? Handling these types of issues so that your application responds with grace adds time and effort to your project.
Designing Your Mobile App to a Budget
Similar to building a house, software can be designed to fit a certain budget or even development timeframe. You may want a butler’s pantry and a finished basement but if it doesn’t fit your numbers, these may be lower-priority items that you decide to not include in the house.
The same goes for building software. A good software development team can take your ideas, and create a design with a target budget in mind. Once the initial design and cost estimate are complete, certain features can be added or removed to hit your target number. It is worthwhile to put a reasonable number to your target budget when you start a project.
But what is reasonable? Well, we all know that you can’t build much of a house for $10,000. Similarly, you can’t build much software for $10,000.
If your budget falls somewhere between the $40,000 – $250,000 range with allowances given to the factors that typically increase cost, chances are it can be designed to your budget.
A Beginners Guide to Software Discovery
Before you get started in developing your software app, your thoughts and ideas should be clarified and written down so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist.
You can grab a copy of that checklist below and share it with your team!
Let SOLTECH Help You Price Out and Build Your App!
Are you ready to start a new software development project? Work with our team or let us help you recruit a team of your own. Just reach out and we’ll be happy to assist.