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  • Writer's pictureFelipe Jaramillo

How Much Does it Cost to Build an App in 2024?

Updated: May 6

Have you ever wondered about the investment required to transform an app idea into a reality? As technology evolves, so does the cost of creating digital solutions.


Understanding the financial landscape is key to turning the digital gears of your next project in 2024.

How Much Does it Cost to Build an App in 2024?

While app development can be expensive, several factors dictate the final price tag.

Many choices, from complexity, design, and functionality to the selection of your development team, can increase or trim your budget significantly.


This article will explore the nuances behind app development costs in 2024. We'll guide you through the cost-driving factors, development process intricacies, and optimal approaches to ensure your app ventures can take flight without breaking the bank. Let's dive into how Much Does it Cost to Build an App in 2024?

 

TL;DR - Key Takeaways

  • App development costs in 2024 range widely based on complexity, with simple apps starting from $15,000 and premium/complex apps exceeding $200,000.

  • The choice of development partner, whether local or overseas, significantly impacts the overall cost due to labor rates and expertise levels.

  • Maintenance and updates represent hidden costs that can accumulate over time, emphasizing the need for long-term budget planning.

  • Regional variations in app development costs are substantial, with prices differing across continents due to economic factors and talent availability.

  • Utilizing cost estimation tools, consulting with experts, and examining case studies can provide a more tailored and accurate cost prediction for app projects.

 

 

Kickstarting Your App Project: What Drives Costs?

Kickstarting Your App Project: What Drives Costs?

So you're at the front of a startup or maybe paving the way in an established business. You've spotted a gap in the market, a digital niche ready for innovation. You envision a sleek and user-friendly app, possibly the next disruptor in the tech world.


However, just as a painter needs to understand the cost of their brushes, canvases, and paints before commencing their masterpiece, you must unravel the app development costs.


As you start creating an app, let's see first the factors that will shape its financial roadmap from conception to launch.


Always mind that not every project starts with a fully defined scope. Your app's development journey can be dynamic, adapting and refining its scope as you respond to market feedback and evolving needs.

 

Complexity and Feature Set

Diving deeper into an app's complexity reveals that its engine is just as important as its aesthetics and surface-level engagement.


The more intricate the engine involving a backend, user analytics, CMS support, and other features, the steeper the development costs. A good way to measure complexity is the number of user interactions: each swipe, tap, and scroll translates into lines of code, design time, and, inevitably, expenses.


The complexity of an app and the features it includes are the most significant factors affecting development costs. Apps are generally categorized into three levels:


  • Simple Apps include basic functionality and minimal features.

  • Moderately Complex Apps: These may feature integration with third-party services like AI, more sophisticated user interfaces, and enhanced security measures.

  • Highly Complex Apps: Advanced functionalities such as real-time user interaction, complex back-end infrastructures, extensive use of hardware features, or innovative technology (like AR/VR).


To put it simply, every app consists of many different components.


Does your app need advanced security? Are you planning to make it work smoothly with other systems? And will it have an interface that's easy to use but organized? All of these things take more time, effort, and money, which will increase your investment.

 

Development Timeline

Given the complexity, timeframes can vary dramatically based on the project's scope. The development timeline can span from a few weeks for a minimal viable product (MVP) to over a thousand hours for apps with sophisticated functionalities that industry leaders like Uber or social platforms like Tinder.


Understanding the Time Investment

  • MVPs and Simple Apps: These can be developed relatively quickly, providing a functional baseline to refine and expand upon within 4 - 8 weeks.

  • Complex Applications: Development for complex apps often involves intricate planning, extensive coding, advanced feature integration, and rigorous testing. These apps might require around 1000 to 1200 development hours, translating into several months of work.


Here is an estimate of the time and cost required to develop an app based on its complexity.

Complexity

Estimated Time to Develop

Estimated Cost

MVP

4-8 weeks

$10,000 - $20,000

Simple App

2-4 months

$15,000 - $60,000

Mid Complex App

6-8 months or more

$20,000 - $130,000

Highly Complex App

8-14 months

$25,000 - $250,000

*Please note that all prices mentioned are approximate and may vary based on project specifics and market conditions.


App Types and Their Impact on Development

There are three primary types of apps: native, web, and hybrid.


Each type is designed to cater to specific business needs and user experiences, with distinct advantages and implications for development cost and time.

 

Native Apps: Performance at a Premium

Native apps use languages specific to their platform—Java or Kotlin for Android and Swift or Objective-C for iOS. This approach allows native apps to perform exceptionally well on their respective platforms, leveraging the device's hardware and software capabilities to their fullest.


  • Advantages: Native apps deliver fast performance and a high degree of reliability. They provide a seamless user experience by closely integrating the device’s UI elements and functionalities.

  • Considerations: The sophistication of native apps comes at a cost. Development is typically more time-consuming and expensive due to the need for separate codebases for each platform, and the intricate integration with the device’s capabilities increases initial and ongoing maintenance costs.

 

Web Apps: Accessibility and Convenience

Web apps function through a browser and are not installed directly on a device. They are often developed using JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, or VueJS, making them platform-independent and accessible from any web-enabled device.

  • Advantages: The primary benefit of web apps is their broad accessibility and lower development costs than native apps. They require a single codebase, which reduces development and maintenance expenses.

  • Considerations: Generally web apps offer slower performance on mobile and a less refined user experience compared to native apps.

 

Hybrid Apps: Balancing Cost and Capability

Hybrid apps combine elements of both native and web apps to build a single codebase that works across mobile operating systems. They are developed using hybrid technologies like React Native and are wrapped in a native container, allowing them to utilize some of the device’s native features.

  • Advantages: Hybrid apps provide a middle ground between the performance of native apps and the cost-effectiveness of web apps. They can access certain hardware features and offer a better user experience than pure web apps, while still being cheaper and faster to develop than native apps.

  • Considerations: While hybrid apps can reduce initial development costs and accelerate time to market, they might involve complexities related to integrating web content with native elements, which can sometimes add to the development time and cost.


 

Budgeting for App Development and Maintenance

Each app type carries its maintenance challenges and costs, which should be factored into the overall budget.


It’s important to consider not only the initial development costs but also the ongoing maintenance and evolution of the app. Initial features and designs may require updates and enhancements to meet evolving user expectations and technological advancements.


Designing your app with these factors in mind can significantly enhance your ability to manage the complexities of app development and ensure your project remains financially viable and successful in the competitive mobile app market.

 

Regional Pricing Variations in App Development

You've probably heard that where your development team is located can make a big difference in your app's price tag.


Labor costs, standard of living, and market dynamics all play a part in shaping the cost. It's not just about the quality of work but the region's economic backdrop.

Here's a table that outlines the typical cost variations when hiring onshore, offshore, and nearshore development partners.


Average Sofware/App Development Hourly Rates Per Region

These figures are estimates based on average hourly rates and can vary depending on the specific region, the complexity of the project, and the expertise of the team:

 

Development Option

Description

Average Hourly Rate

Onshore

Hiring developers within the US.

$70 - $170/hr

Offshore

Hiring developers from overseas countries, like India, Ukraine, or Serbia, often with lower labor costs.

$19 - $70/hr

Nearshore

Hiring developers from countries that are geographically close to your own, typically in the same time zone, like Colombia, Mexico, or Brazil.

$29 - $80/hr

 

 

Deciding where to develop your app isn't just about finding the lowest rate. You've got to weigh the pros and cons, like communication risks and time zone differences.

 

  • Onshore Development: Typically the most expensive option. It offers advantages like cultural alignment, ease of communication, and similar working hours. It is ideal for projects requiring frequent updates and close collaboration.

  • Offshore Development: Offers significant cost savings and is beneficial for smaller projects with well-defined processes that can be easily communicated over a distance. However, challenges include time zone differences and potential language barriers.

  • Nearshore Development: Strikes a balance between cost and convenience mantaining high quality, mitigating some of the communication and time zone issues associated with offshore development while often being less expensive than onshore.

 

Understanding the App Development Process

App Development Process Explanation

Ideally, an app starts with experts, business analysts, devs, and designers teaming up. They kick things off by mapping the plan, detailing everything from tech specs to design dreams. This stage sets the groundwork for all that follows.

 

Defining the Project Scope and Requirements

This phase involves thorough documentation, such as Software Requirements Specifications (SRS) and Functional Requirements Documents (FRD), clearly outlining the expected final product.


This early stage helps prevent "scope creep"—the gradual expansion of a project beyond its original objectives—which can lead to resource waste and budget overruns.


Project managers and business analysts must collaborate closely during this phase to outline the scope effectively, considering the project's goals and the end users' needs.

A well-defined project scope is key to saving time and money by avoiding unnecessary features that don't serve the core objectives of the app.

 

Wireframing and Prototypes

Wireframes step in as the skeletal framework of the app—simple, focused outlines highlighting the functionality. Taking approximately 30-50 hours, wireframing is essential for visualizing the user experience (UX) and front-end features.


Prototypes advance the wireframes, offering an interactive simulation of the final product. Typically involving another 50 hours of development, prototypes are critical for refining the UX and serving as a demonstrable model for stakeholders and testers.

 

Designing UI/UX

The design of an app is often a key factor in its appeal. UI/UX design is where form meets function. It's about making the app look beautiful and easy to use.


Essential to this stage is the meticulous planning of user journeys and the creation of scenarios that will go on to define the user's interaction with the app.


Design teams specialize in modeling application functions and bringing the envisioned features to life, ensuring the interface remains intuitive, appealing, and consistent with user expectations. Done correctly, UI/UX stands to captivate and retain users, making it a valuable investment in the app's lifecycle.

 

Software Architectural Planning

This phase involves making strategic decisions about the overall architecture of the app, which directly influences its performance, scalability, and maintainability.


Key Considerations in Software Architectural Planning:

  • Choice of Technology Stack: Deciding on the programming languages, frameworks, and tools used to build the app. Factors influencing this decision include the app’s requirements, developer expertise, and the ecosystem’s support for these technologies.

  • Scalability: Planning for scalability involves ensuring the app can handle growth — in terms of user numbers, data volume, and transaction intensity — without degradation in performance. This might involve considering cloud services, load balancers, and scalable databases.

  • Security: Establishing a secure architecture to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory standards. This includes defining how data is encrypted, authentication mechanisms, and security protocols.

  • API Integration: Defining how the app will integrate with external services and APIs. This includes selecting third-party services for payments, analytics, or social media integration, and planning how these integrations will affect the app’s architecture.

  • Data Management: Determining how data will be stored, retrieved, and managed securely. This decision impacts the choice between SQL or NoSQL databases, the schema design, and data access strategies.

 

Developing Back-End and Front-End

The development stage is where the abstract becomes concrete. Back-end development equips the app with core functionalities, managing data storage and business logic using Python technologies.


On the other hand, front-end development deals with the user interface and experience using programming languages such as JavaScript, Kotlin, or Swift, among others.


As we explored, the cost of app development escalates with complexity. A basic app with essential features may start from $10,000, while medium and large apps with sophisticated features and user interactions can quickly escalate to $50,000 or far beyond.


Coding demands language and framework proficiency, so selecting a solid development partner is a significant decision.

 

Integrating Third-Party Services

Making an app truly functional often requires intertwining it with third-party services, which can extend timelines and inflate budgets, especially when integrating advanced AI capabilities.


Strategic planning by a skilled app architect can foresee and efficiently weave these integrations into the app without excessive expenditures.


For an app to reliably interact with social media or payment gateways, developers implement APIs. Each integration is an investment factoring in potential licensing fees.


Implementing AI-Powered APIs

Developments must implement robust APIs for functionalities involving interactions with AI-enhanced services like chatbots, predictive analytics, or personalized content recommendations. Each of these integrations represents an investment, not only in terms of development time but also potential licensing fees for proprietary AI technologies.

 

Testing and Quality Assurance

Ensuring that an app functions smoothly and provides a bug-free experience is the domain of testing and quality assurance. This is an absolute necessity before the app sees the light of day—a phase that can be anticipated to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 but saves much more in potential post-release fixes. QA testers are the unsung heroes, laboring behind the scenes to catch flaws and safeguard the user experience.

 

Launching and Publishing the App

After rigorous testing, your app is prepared for launch. Publishing on platforms like the App Store or Google Play requires adhering to their guidelines.



Upon launch, an app's journey isn't complete—it's only just beginning. App analytics come into play, monitoring performance and guiding updates.


Listening to user feedback during the initial app release is important as it can influence the app's reputation and future demand.

 

Cost-Effective Tech: React Native Development

As we've seen, React Native brings a unique perspective to cross-platform development. This JavaScript framework allows developers to build hybrid mobile applications that are almost indistinguishable from native apps in terms of performance.


React Native uses web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to create modular UI components that are both efficient and effective on iOS and Android devices.


The ability of React Native to blend into existing projects contributes to reduced development time and costs, potentially by up to 40%. It shares advantages with other cross-platform tools yet stands out by offering near-native performance.


Similarly, developing a progressive web app (PWA) aligns with the cross-platform philosophy, offering a singular application accessible on iOS and Android platforms.


You can learn more about this technology on the React Native official website or by reading blog publications.

 

Choosing the Right App Development Team

Selecting the appropriate development team is critical for maintaining the continuity and consistency of your project.


Small agencies with around 3-10 developers offer a sweet spot between freelancers' affordability and larger teams' comprehensive expertise. These smaller teams provide more consistency and a higher skill level than individual freelancers, making them a good choice for many projects.


Conversely, larger teams composed of seasoned developers may cost more but bring a wealth of expertise. They are especially well-suited for tackling complex apps and understanding intricate business models.


Switching from one team type to another, such as from freelancers to agencies, can lead to significant setbacks, often requiring you to restart parts of the development process. This makes assembling a team with the right level of proficiency a delicate and potentially expensive endeavor.


Outsourcing is a great solution. When done right, it allows you to access dedicated developers from around the globe, matching your specific needs regarding expertise and budget.


Opting for a unified design and development team within the same company can also streamline the process, enhancing coordination and potentially reducing the time to market.


If you're looking for a reliable development partner, consider hiring Leanware. As a solid nearshore software development company, we deliver world-class quality, ensuring your project is handled efficiently and effectively from start to finish. Choose Leanware to leverage top-tier talent and ensure your app is developed with the highest standards.



leanware nearshore software development company
leanware awards and clients

 

Wrapping It Up: Understanding the Cost of Building Apps in 2024

So, there you have it! Whether you're jotting down your first app idea or gearing up to jump into development, the cost of creating an app in 2024 covers a wide range.


You might find simple, budget-friendly apps that are easy on your wallet, or you could explore the realms of high-end apps packed with features that require a heftier investment.


Remember, the total cost will depend largely on how complex your app needs to be, the expertise of your chosen team, and where they're based.


Budget smartly and plan thoroughly, and with the right partnership, your app could be the next big hit that has everyone tapping, swiping, and nodding in admiration.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to develop a simple app in 2024?

The cost to develop a simple app in 2024 ranges from $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the features and complexity.

What is the price range for developing a complex app in 2024?

How long does it take to build a basic application in 2024?

Are there differences in app development costs between regions?

What factors influence the cost of app development in 2024?

Can I get an exact estimate for my app development project?


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