How much will it cost to build my app idea?

The short answer is: it depends.

It depends on many things – Who’s building it for you, is it for iOS only, Android only, or both, does it require a database with a server running an API (to connect your app users to data) and what other features does the app require?

It’s the ? dollar question we always get asked. You’ve got an idea or you run a small-medium sized business and want to get a mobile app built. How much is it going to cost to get it up and running?

Who’s Building it For You?

There are quite a few options when choosing who builds your app.

The cheapest option is to outsource internationally. Parts of Asia, the Subcontinent and Eastern Europe offer developers at substantially lower rates than you may find in Western Europe, the USA and Australia. This is mainly due to the difference in the costs of living among other things. IT is more than possible to find a good developer internationally, however, managing projects like this can be a significant challenge due to time zones, language differences and cultural differences.

You can choose to work with a large app development agency. Finding a good agency is key here as they are most likely going to be the most expensive option for you. The premium price comes from resources and reputation. Doing your research is important to make sure the agency has a solid track record of delivering quality applications within budget and on time.

A smaller development agency, similarly to the large agency, can be a good option if the asking price of the large agency is too high. Again, it is vital to do your research to find a reputable agency. A smaller agency is most likely going to charge you less as they have fewer resources (employees to pay) and smaller overheads. Again, ensuring time and budget constraints is vital.

Which Platforms?

iOs only? Android only? Or both?

This is an important question to ask yourself, and will mostly come down to the users you are targeting. However, this decision will impact the total cost of your app. An app that only needs to run on one platform is always going to be cheaper to have developed than an app that needs to run on both. It used to be that iOS was not equal to Android in cost, but this is no longer the case. There is no significant difference any more and will roughly double your cost. Not only the initial development but running on both platforms will traditionally cost you twice as much to maintain as there are essentially two separate code-bases that need bug fixes and maintenance.

It is possible to have a hybrid or cross-platform app built that runs on both iOS and Android from only one code-base. This type of app will reduce your development cost and time, but can potentially have some functional limitations as the way the code interacts with the user’s device is different to a traditional native app.

Need a Database?

If you need your users to be able to access dynamic data, create new data or update existing data, then your app needs a database.

This means a few things with regards to the overall cost of your app.

Firstly, there’s the hosting costs for the data itself. You’ll need the database, the storage and a host that allows the data to be accessed.

Secondly, you’ll need an API that manages the data access and changes that the users are allowed to make. This is separate from the app itself and can often require a different skill set from the developer(s).

Lastly, You’ll also need a hosting provider for the API so that the mobile devices can communicate with the API. All of these items also need ongoing maintenance and any bugs fixed, which only add to the overall cost of your app.

The Other Functionality

The number of different pieces of functionality the app requires will obviously also impact the cost of the app. Need geolocation? Or social media integration? Or individual user accounts with a login/password?

Any of these items (or all of them together) will continue to add to the price. Some functionality is easier to implement and so the price increase will be less, but then others may be more complicated that they appear.

Some may need to also integrate with an API and database, whilst others may only need the app itself to run. The developer you choose will be able to advise you on the levels of complexity and hence the cost.