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The demand for mobile apps seems to be unstoppable, and global spending in major app stores is expected to climb to $157 billion by 2022. But how much does it cost to create an app? The answer is complicated because there are many different types of mobile apps and many different ways to develop them. After reading this article, you will understand the main factors that influence the cost of developing an app and know the average cost of app development.

how much does it cost to create an app

How Much Does It Cost to Create an App Worldwide?

Experts predict that the number of mobile users will reach 7 billion by the end of 2020. The global growth in mobile use is an enormous opportunity for organizations that would like to engage new customers and deepen their relationships with existing ones.

While large multi-national enterprises have enough resources to fund their own in-house app development teams, small and medium-sized businesses need to make every single dollar count to stay in the green, which means that knowing the cost of creating an app is very important to them.

Generally speaking, mobile app development cost varies widely. Thanks to a frequently cited survey by Clutch, we know that leading mobile app development companies charge between $37,913 and $171,450 to develop an app, but some don’t hesitate to ask for $500,000.

Of course, leading mobile app development companies are just the tip of the iceberg that is the development industry. Most apps are developed by smaller agencies, some of which have employees dispersed across many sites around the world. According to research from GoodFirms, agencies charge, on average, between $40,000 to $60,000 for a simple application and between $61,000 and $69,000 for a medium complexity application.

If you’ve expected the cost of creating an app to be much lower, don’t worry: it’s possible to develop an app for just a few thousand dollars, but only if you choose an agency that’s located in a country where developers earn considerably less than developers who are based in the United States.

Outsourcing or Local Development?

Choosing between outsourcing and local development is essential if you want to get an accurate answer to the question: “How much does it cost to make an app for your business?” Even for larger companies with plenty of resources, it often doesn’t make much sense to hire an in-house development team and invariably spread themselves thin.

mobile app development cost

Instead, they partner with mobile app development professionals like ComboApp and let them worry about the technical aspects of creating a mobile app while they focus on their core competencies. To help you decide which approach is better for you, here are some of the most important pros and cons of outsourcing software development:

Pros of outsourcing

  • Cost: The fact is that the United States is an expensive place, and the average base pay of a US-based mobile app developer is $96,000 a year, an average hourly wage of $48 per hour. It doesn’t make any sense for most companies to spend so much money on a software developer if all they want to do is develop a single application.
  • Time-saving: Hiring software developers takes a lot of time, and the same can be said about planning in-house software development projects. On the other hand, mobile app development agencies and freelance software developers are instantly available, and they already have previous experience that helps them quickly overcome common roadblocks and develop complex apps on time.
  • Flexibility: The mobile app industry is in a constant state of flux, and a few months don’t go by without a new technology sending ripples through it. With outsourcing, you can easily find developers with the right skill set for your project and hire them without any delay.
  • Access to talented developers: 9 in 10 business owners are struggling to find and hire IT professionals in the United States. Fortunately, the world is a large place, and there are no shortage of talented software developers in other countries.
  • Scalability: If one day you decide to add more functionality to your application, you can simply outsource more developers to get the job done. Likewise, you can just as easily scale down your pool of outsourced talent if you decide to put your application in maintenance mode.

Cons of outsourcing

  • Lack of face-to-face communication: Even though modern technology makes it remarkably easy to communicate over long distances, some issues are still easier to solve face to face. Unfortunately, outsourcing doesn’t allow for much face-to-face communication, which is something not all businesses are willing to accept.
  • Cultural differences: When outsourcing a software developer based in a different country, cultural differences may create surprising communication issues. In some cultures, for example, it’s considered to be rude to directly critique someone else’s work, which is something most Americans are used to.
  • Time-zone difference: It’s never fun to discover an app-breaking bug and be unable to fix it in a timely manner because all outsourced software developers are asleep. That said, most vendors solve this issue by scheduling meetings and ensuring that at least one person is always available.
  • Lack of control: Companies that decide for outsourcing should expect to give up a certain degree of control over the development process. Attempts to micro-manage outsourced developers typically result in a lot of frustration on both sides.
  • Security risks: For companies operating in certain industries, outsourcing isn’t an option due to the security risks associated with it.

As you can see, both outsourcing and hiring an in-house development team have their pros and cons, some of which influence the cost of creating an app, while others influence the development process itself.

What Affects Mobile Application Costs?

The cost of applications depends on several factors, and understanding them is key to answering the main question presented in this article: “How much does it cost to create an app?”

1. Complexity of the project

In many ways, mobile apps are like websites. There are extremely simple apps that don’t do much besides displaying static text and perhaps a few images, and there are also incredibly sophisticated apps that provide real-time messaging capabilities, NFC payments, and much more.

average cost of app development

Whereas a single freelancer can put together a simple application with limited functionality in just a few weeks, it can take around 2,000 hours to create a complex enterprise mobile app with real-time centralized database synchronization, notifications, chat support, and other popular features.

Mobile games are a whole different animal altogether because they can be just reskins of white-label titles sold by mobile game factories or groundbreaking 3D titles with real-time multiplayer, achievements, and virtual currency.

2. App Development Approach

In 2020, Android and iOS dominate the mobile landscape. Most companies that decide to develop a mobile app want to target both platforms at the same time, which can be done by either developing a separate native application for each platform or using a hybrid/cross-platform mobile app development framework to target both platforms at the same time.

how much does it cost to make an app for your business

Native app development is virtually always more expensive because it essentially doubles the amount of work required, but it allows developers to take full advantage of platform-specific features and provide excellent performance.

On the other hand, hybrid/cross-platform app development frameworks like Xamarin, React Native, or Adobe PhoneGap, can be highly cost-effective and fast to work with, but they may not support all features that are available to developers in the latest version of Android and iOS.

3. Backend Infrastructure and Maintenance

Some apps require a backend infrastructure that’s more complex than the apps themselves. Online stores are a good example because their features typically include content management capabilities, discount code management, checkout, search functionality, reporting, integrated blog, marketing tools, and much more.

Sometimes, this infrastructure is already present, and software developers simply need to take advantage of it, but that’s not always the case. Developing all this functionality from scratch can take a lot of time and money and greatly add to the total mobile app development cost.

Because mobile users today expect bug-free apps and frequent feature updates, it’s also important to take into account the cost of ongoing maintenance, which usually ends up being about 15 to 20 percent of the original development costs.

Conclusion

So, how much does it cost to develop an app? That depends on many different factors, ranging from the geographic location of the developers to the complexity of the application. To get an accurate estimate, it’s always best to contact professional mobile app developers and development agencies directly and ask for a quote.

Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site. We look forward to helping you become the next unicorn!


FAQs

How much does it cost to create an app?

Mobile app development agencies charge, on average, between $40,000 to $60,000 for a simple application and between $61,000 and $69,000 for a medium complexity application. When calculating the cost of developing an app, it’s also important to take into account the cost of ongoing maintenance, typically about 15 to 20 percent of the original development costs.

How long does it take to make an app?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. Some apps can take a skilled mobile developer just a few weeks to finish, while others may occupy an entire mobile app development agency or an in-house team for years. What’s more, developers are rarely done when their application is finally released because they are expected to provide ongoing maintenance and work on new features.

What are the most popular categories of mobile apps in 2020?

Games are the most popular category of mobile apps in 2020, with a 24.43 percent share in the app stores. Other popular types of apps include business, education, and lifestyle apps.

How much money does the average mobile app make?

Apps can be extremely profitable, which is evident by the fact that global mobile app revenues are projected to generate $935 billion in 2023. Some of the most popular apps in the world, such as Tinder, earn hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but most mobile apps make no money at all.

Is it possible to create a mobile app for free?

Yes, it’s possible to create a mobile app for free and without any expert knowledge using a free app builder. However, you should never expect a free app builder to deliver the same results and functionality as a professional software developer.

Wondering how to design an app? In this article, we explain everything you need to know to create the best app design possible, from the application design process itself, through modern approaches and trends, to mobile app design tips. If you already know a thing or two about designing mobile apps, you can consider this article to be a refresher.

How to Design an App

There are many different ways to design an app, but they all follow a similar series of steps. Understanding these steps can help you transform your application from an idea into something tangible.

How to design an app from scratch in 2020

1. Goal Setting

Before you hire a mobile app design agency or create the first mockup, you should figure out what you wish to achieve.

It helps to answer the following three questions:

  1. What exactly should the application do?
    • Examples of possible answers: play local MP3 files, allow users to book an appointment, take selfies enhanced with free and premium filters, etc.
  2. Who is the target audience for the application?
    • Examples of possible answers: young music listeners, existing customers, all smartphone users, etc.
  3. What are the most crucial functions and features of the application?
    • Examples of possible answers: folder-based playback, appointment scheduling, live filter, etc.

set goals before the mobile app design process starts

Resist the temptation to create an application with a lot of features, especially if you have limited experience with mobile app design. You can always add more features later, so there’s no reason to take on more than you can chew.

2. User & Market Research

You can’t design an outstanding product if you don’t understand the people who will use it. What are they like? Are they using some other apps to solve the problem? These are just some of the questions that you should try to answer during the user research stage.

It also helps to research your competitors and figure out what they’re doing right and wrong. Test their features and take notes whenever you stumble upon something interesting. This will give you better ideas for your own product, making it more likely that the first version will receive raving reviews.

3. Creating a Wireframe

An app wireframe is a schematic illustration of the user interface that focuses on the organization of individual components and intended behaviors. You can think of it as a bridge between your vision for the application and the finished product.

You can easily create a wireframe using specialized tools like Balsamiq Mockups, Gliffy, and Mockflow.

How to design your own app

It shouldn’t take you more than a week or two to create a product mockup. Remember that the goal is to capture the flow and interactions of your application, not meticulously plan the exact placement of each element. In fact, you can create a wireframe of an app with nothing more than a piece of paper, but modern wireframing apps make the process simpler because they include UI templates and commonly used elements, such as buttons, sliders, and icons.

4. App Design

Now it’s the time to get your app designed. Because a lot depends on this step, make sure you choose the right approach and don’t just rush into it without carefully evaluating all available options.

Essentially, you can either create the design yourself or let someone else do it for you. The first approach can be recommended to those who have plenty of experience with graphic design and enough free time to create a modern app design from scratch, while the second approach is what we would recommend to everyone else. We describe the most popular designing approaches in the next section of this article.

5. Collect Feedback

With your app designed, it’s time to collect feedback from real users. This step is very important because what follows the app design process is development.

Don’t let your own opinion cloud your judgment and approach the feedback you receive as a scientist would approach data points. It doesn’t matter if you absolutely love the contact form you’ve designed yourself if 90 percent of your testers find it confusing and unintuitive.

Modern App Design Approaches: Contest vs. App Builder vs. Agency

Choosing the right approach isn’t easy because they all have their pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at three popular approaches.

App Design Contest

Contests on sites like 99designs can be a cost-effective way to get a lot of different ideas from talented freelancers and sometimes even mobile app design companies. The cost of the contests can vary a lot, but you can expect to pay around $4,000 for a straightforward, simple app design. The biggest drawback of the contests is how time-consuming they can be. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a submission that meets your expectations.

Recommended for: Those who want a lot of options and have time to spare.

App Builder

App builders are software applications or online services that allow people with little to no experience with design to create functioning mobile apps without writing a single line of code. Typically, they feature a range of templates that can be easily customized to fit any business and application. Most services offer multiple monthly or annual subscription plans, with $100 being the average monthly price. Of course, even the best app design software has its limitations, such as lack of optimization and originality.

Recommended for: Those who want to create a simple mobile application on a budget.

Agency

Agencies are professional mobile app design companies that employ experienced designers, developers, and managers. When you choose a reputable agency, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll end up with quality work, but it may cost you more than other options. ComboApp, for instance, is an excellent example of a mobile app design company that delivers quality work at a reasonable price.

Recommend for: Those who want the best app design possible and are willing to pay extra for it.

choose a mobile app design company for your app

5 Tips to Design Awesome Apps

Rules are meant to be broken, but not all the rules. By following the tips below, you’ll be able to create an app that users actually want to use and feel connected to.

1. Keep It Simple

When designing an application, it’s easy to attempt too much and achieve too little. Usually, it’s better to keep things simple to avoid the numerous problems that go hand in hand with unnecessary complexity. That doesn’t mean that your design needs to be basic and boring.

Even a simple design can be eye-catching, but it should always keep users focused instead of distracting them with bells and whistles that serve no purpose other than to provide some eye-candy. By keeping the style of your application simple, you will also find it much easier to meet your budget goals.

2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

There’s a good reason why so many of the most downloaded apps in the world look and feel similar: users don’t like it when mobile app designers reinvent the wheel just for the sake of reinventing the wheel. If they tap a familiar button or perform a common gesture, they expect a certain thing to happen, and it’s your job to meet this expectation—not subvert it.

make your mobile app design intuitive

Indeed, imitation is one of the best ways of how to design your own app without any experience. We’re not suggesting that you copy popular apps element by element. That would be illegal and morally wrong. We’re suggesting that you use them as a reference and reuse the same common design elements.

3. Embrace Iterative Design

App designers can choose from a number of different approaches, but there are many reasons why iterative design is the right way to go. With iterative design, there’s no room for blindly replacing various user interface elements in the hope of somehow improving the overall experience. Instead, all decisions are based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining.

It also encourages early user feedback, making it easier to spot serious issues early in the design cycle, when it’s easy to fix them. In-app user behavior analytics play an important role in the interactive design process, and they’re well worth implementing.

4. Design for the Thumb

In the smartphone era, the pen may still be mightier than the sword, but the thumb is definitely the mightiest of them all. It’s so mighty that 49 percent of smartphone users rely on only one thumb to get things done when interacting with their phones, according to research on mobile device usage by Steven Hoober.

When designing a mobile app, you should always keep this statistic in mind and make it possible for users to control your application with just one thumb. To accomplish this, place all important elements users are expected to interact with within reach of the thumb.

5. Choose the Right Color Pallet

Colors are of great importance when designing an app. By choosing the right color pallet, you can complement your brand, invoke positive emotions, and make the application easier to navigate. Because different colors can affect emotions in different ways, you should always evaluate whether the colors you’re using are a good match for your product.

best app design colors

For example, the color red is potentially a great choice for a fitness application because of its association with fire and aggression. The color green, on the other hand, sparks the feeling of calmness, making it suitable for meditation and financial apps.

Conclusion

Now that you understand what goes into designing a mobile app, it’s time to select the right approach based on your unique needs and priorities. Regardless of which route you decide to go, always keep in mind the tips mentioned above to end up with the best app design possible.

Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site. We look forward to helping you become the next unicorn!

 

FAQs

How much does it cost to design an app?

The cost of designing an application depends largely on the mobile app design approach you choose. It also depends on the complexity of your product. As such, it can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

How to design an app on a budget?

Choosing the right app development team is essential for designing an app on a budget. An experienced mobile app design company can expertly guide you through the process and help you avoid the numerous potentially costly pitfalls.

Is it okay to use a mobile app design template?

That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to create an application while spending as little money as possible, an app design template might be a right choice. However, if you want your application to stand out and be original, we highly recommend you avoid cookie-cutter solutions.

How difficult is it to design an app from scratch?

The designing process has several stages, each of which must be completed successfully for the end result to meet the original goal. For mobile app design companies with a lot of experience, that’s not a problem, but it can be a real challenge for someone new to this field.

Why is it important to conduct market research before the app designing?

Proper market research will give you a better understanding of your intended target audience, what features they would like to see and are willing to pay for in the application, and how to make your product stand apart from competition.

Why is user feedback crucial for designing an app?

Collecting feedback and listening to your users is the best way to perfect your application and avoid costly design flaws. Involving potential or existing app users with an app’s design process is also a great way to fire up the community about the product and give it some viral uplift.

Business Insider has recently shared amazing data on app-install ad market`s growth: according to BI Intelligence study, US mobile app install advertising revenue will reach $4.6 billion this year and grow to $6.8 billion by the end of 2019.

App install ads, which accounted for about 30% of mobile ad revenue last year, gains popularity among all kind of app developers. With its 700 million daily users on mobile, Facebook proved to be an efficient app install ad platform with great targeting options and helpful analytic tools.

Whether your Android app is a niche local online store, or wide-audience social network, Facebook app install ads (FAIA) can provide you with app installs, valuable usage data and user engagement. FAIA will genuinely convert social media traffic into app downloads by showing app`s ads in user newsfeed. In this article, we take a closer look at FAIA benefits for Android app developers.

1) Be as specific as you need with targeting

Everyone knows that Facebook owns the most comprehensive user data, which provides a new level of efficiency into targeting. Apart from standard (yet very accurate) targeting, like location, age, gender, Facebook collects information on user`s phone type, activities, installed apps, visited websites, social connections. FAIA has a unique targeting feature, called Lookalike Audiences, used for finding users with same parameters as your existing audience.

2) Control each step of your ad campaign

Facebook Ads dashboard provides you great visibility of ad campaign metrics and makes it possible to evaluate each funnel step even on the small budget level. There are several helpful metrics, apart from CPI: “Reach” (number of people who actually saw the ad, helps customize ad targeting), “CTR” (shows the efficiency of each ad type), “Frequency” (how often ad is shown to same user, 1-1.5 is a norm).

3) Find the best performing ad for your app

It`s always a good idea to test different creatives and copy when launching app install ad campaign – the difference in CTR can be as high as 20-40%. Facebook ads platform let advertisers segment their target audience and show specific ad for each segment, to find the best performing ad for each audience segment, like male-female or age groups.

4) Use advanced in-app activity analytics

Once FAIA generates an install, all user behavior inside your app can be traced back to a specific ad. Such insight, called App Events, is a part of Facebook SDK for Android and it’s incredibly valuable for understanding retention and lifetime value of each user. You’ll be able to find out data like average time between install and conversion and what kind of users makes more purchases.

5) Consider App Engagement instead of Push Notifications

If you want to retain existing users in a more delicate manner than sending them push notifications, FAIA has a great tool to do this. With Engagement ad format, you can show your ad for users who have installed your app, have joined your page or attending one of your events. Facebook also provide deep linking option, when you can choose the specific app area to send users to, which is ideal for engagement of existing users.

Although mobile app-install ads cost more than standard Facebook ad units, they pay off with great performance and high ROI metrics. If you need professional advice to launch your first Facebook app install ad, or you want to develop a full-stack app marketing strategycontact ComboApp professionals.

 

ComboApp Team

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Let’s chat.