On which devices and operating systems should the app run? You should first decide if you want to create a product for iOS, Android or both. The Flutter technology enables developers to save some of the expenses when developing an app for both Android and iOS.
The costs will also differ based on your choice of the supported versions of the operating system(s). Nevertheless, since most users update their OS to the newest version within a few weeks from the release, you can focus mainly on the latest version, especially when developing an iOS app.
2. Complexity of features
One of the crucial determinants of the total cost is definitely the scope and complexity of your app's features. The basic functionality is often accompanied with the following extra features:
- back-end infrastructure
- messages or chat
- push notifications
- activity tracking
- in-app purchases via payment gate
- features utilizing the hardware of the phone
- app personalization based on machine learning
- managing the app and data via web app interface
- advanced data processing methods
- social media integration
- using camera or microphone
When developing a brand new mobile app, the ideal approach is to start with a basic version offering only the most fundamental features (MVP) and then add the additional nice-to-have features one by one in the subsequent phases of the project. This is because such features can substantially slow down the development process and increase the total cost of the app.
Mobile app design doesn't entail merely the visual looks of the user interface (UI). Instead, the most demanding part of this phase includes designing the whole product in terms of functionality and navigation, the so-called user experience (UX).
Ideally, the project should start with a series of Design Sprint, week-long intensive blocks of work focused on UX design. The sprints will produce the ideal prototype, already tested with end users. The investments necessary for this phase are again determined by the scope of the app and the target level of thoroughness you wish to ensure for preparations of the UX.
The visual side of the app can be based on the basic system design in order to save some expenses. However, it can also include a unique tailor-made graphic elements or even highly demanding features such as animations or special real-time depictions of data.
4. Manipulation with data
Will the app enable users to make video or voice recordings and take pictures? Your calculation of the total cost should also include monthly or yearly costs of a cloud-based data storage which can be surprisingly costly if the amount of data stored gets becomes very large.
The speed of storing and downloading data can be crucial for certain types of apps. If this is your case, don't try to save money on the storage service.
Another important factor in this category is security. If your app has to handle confidential data such as personal payment history or sensitive business information, you should definitely invest in a cloud solution which guarantees perfectly safe data storage.
The project will further grow if your mobile app needs to implement a Content Management System (CMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. If you haven't used any CMS or CRM before and the existing licensed third party solutions are not a good match for your project for some reason, it might be a smart decision to develop a custom CMS or CRM from scratch.
The number of people in the development team is dependent on the required features and chosen design approach.The basic team includes a project manager, UX designer, tester, at least two developers and sometimes also a dedicated back-end developer. More complex projects require more developers, some of whom can also primarily focus on iOS or Android.
Avoid trying to save expenses on this part of the project. Thorough testing of the final product will dramatically increase your app's quality, speed up the development process and save your some costs related to further adjustments in the future. Make sure to book sufficient capacities for this task.
If you are about to create a very complex app with many demanding features, you should include testing in the planning of the respective sub-phases of your project to prevent the cumulation of bugs and errors in the long run.
8. Support and further development
Last but not least, don’t forget to take into account the long-term costs of maintenance, adjustments to the app, data management and cloud services, launching several updates and offering continuous support to users. And mind that the promotion of the app will cost you something too.
The total mobile app development cost simply cannot be estimated based on a one-sentence description. However, we prepared three basic examples with estimates of required hours of work so that you could make a clearer picture of the overall financial demands of app development.