What does it cost to build an app? This is a million dollar question! There is no single answer to this question because cost will vary significantly based on your project requirements. The cost to build an app can range anywhere from $50,000 to $1,000,000. It all depends on the scope, budget, and timeline of the project.

There are two primary types of projects:

    1. Budget/Timeline Backwards – These projects have a max budget or hard delivery timeline and the project team works backwards to see what can actually be finished for the allotted time or budget. These projects tend to make sacrifices in features or quality in order to come in under budget or within a timeline.
    2. Feature Forward – These projects are focused on the scope and work forwards to determine a timeline and budget based on the scope and features desired. It’s acceptable to spend more to launch the desired scope, and the team is willing to pay more to receive more.


Consumer facing or line-of-business (LOB)

Is your app intended for a defined set of customers or is it meant to simplify internal business processes? Consumer facing apps usually have more engaging and customized user interface (UI) elements, which require a lot more design work. For this reason, the cost to build a consumer facing app is usually higher.

cost to build an app design

Do you want a Rolex or a Timex

Do you want your app to be the next Snapchat or Instagram or is it just a better version of something that already exists? The level of customization that your app requires will play a large role in the total price tag. Creating something with a completely unique design that completely WOWs your audience will require a larger budget.

Are you using onshore or offshore resources?

Onshore resources will typically result in a higher quality product, but will also cost more. Offshore resources are much more affordable, but you’ll lose some of the benefits that come with an onshore software development company. You have to find the right balance between the pros and cons of each type of company. This decision will heavily influence the outcome of your project.

cost to build an app offshore onshore

Complexity of the must-have features

You may have narrowed down the list of features to the ones you really need, but they could still require a lot of work. If the level of complexity is high (i.e. video chat) you can expect to pay a premium price.  

Total number of screens

The cost to build an app is influenced by the number of screens because the greater the number of screens, the greater the workload. In order to cut costs, try to reduce the number of screens. Only create screens that add value to the user experience.

If the screens are relatively similar then including additional screens won’t bump up the price by much. However, if you want screens with pop-up items or toolbars, you can expect a larger price tag. As the number and complexity of the screens grow, so will the cost.

cost to build an app mockup

Number of OS features used (camera, bluetooth, AR, video)

The cost to build an app will be influenced by how many device and platform features your app will integrate with. Do you need access to the camera within your app (i.e. Snapchat), does it need to have bluetooth capabilities, or do you want to incorporate augmented reality similar to Pokemon GO?

By taking the time to really define the features your app requires, you can cut down costs. There’s a big difference between the features you need and the features you want. Staying away from the ‘nice-to-have’ features will result in a lower price point. Initially, you should just focus on the features that serve the core purpose.

There is no single answer to this frequently asked question. The cost to build an app is dependent on the factors mentioned above and several others. If you know what problem you would like to solve with your app, but aren’t exactly sure where to start, we can help you with that! In our discovery phase we’ll learn about your business and your users then draft user stories to set our process in motion.

Thanks for reading!

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