Let’s talk timelines –– here’s how long it takes to build an app

We can talk all day about custom software development and mobile apps. We can talk about artificial intelligence unlocking business value. Or automation and structured data. 

But in most cases clients want to know two things: What does it cost to create an app and how long will it take?

They’re the key questions we get, every time.

How much does it cost to build an app? There are general ranges, but the short answer is that it depends on the number of features you need and the complexity of the app. 

As for the time required to build an app, that’s what we’re going to unpack in this article.

On average, most of the applications designed by our team — which tend to range from medium- to larger-sized projects — take anywhere from five to 10 months to complete. Business needs are driving app development, and in many cases timelines are driven by our clients.

Invest the time to get it right

Discussing timelines is a critical part of every project. Without disciplined project management and transparent, continuous conversation between a developer and an organization on progress, hurdles, and objectives, there is little to no chance for success.

Well-scoped timelines come from a thoughtful and strategic conversation about your business needs, and what success looks like. 

In the development of an application and/or custom software, we set milestones for development and our customer experience teams will keep you informed about what we’re working on, what we need from you, and any schedule changes.

We are capable of sprints to deliver on short timelines, but often there are factors within our client’s world that slow that process down. Maybe you need multiple stakeholders to provide input. Or your data isn’t yet organized or accessible for an app. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know until we talk it out and provide strategic counsel on the benefits and risks of certain decisions.

A delay in making a decision by a week can have a domino effect, so we spend the upfront time to understand your business goals and come up with realistic timelines.

If another app developer is telling you they can have your app ready in a few weeks or months and they haven’t done a thorough review of your business, goals and potential challenges then you end up paying for it in the long-run.

Onboarding and project kick-off is where our process begins. At Vog App Developers, we start with a high-level discussion to understand the problem or opportunity your application will address, as well as the specific audiences or user groups it will serve. Armed with this insight, we can then move on to development, testing and deployment –– altogether, there’s a lot to get done. 

If you seek a faster than average timeline for the development of your app, there are options that can speed things up, but they come at a cost.

Ask about the team who will work on your app

App development is a black box to many. Some companies promise a small army will work on an app, and in some cases extra bodies can help. But in almost every case, a strategic build with the right kind of developers will yield better returns.

If you are shortlisting a developer to build your custom software and mobile apps, there are three questions you should ask:

  • How many resources are dedicated to your project? 
  • How many senior developers are taking part in the project? 
  • Will any of the work be outsourced?

Outsourcing is increasingly common in the development industry, to offset cost, flexibility and speed to market. In 2020, nearly 14 percent of IT budgets were allocated to outsourced labour, according to a study by Computer Economics

At Vog App Developers, however, we keep 100 percent of our work in-house to ensure quality control and limit the degrees of separation between our clients and the people actually working on their app. 

Develop a Minimum Viable Product

The concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has been around for more than a decade in tech, but for many of the companies we work with it’s still a new idea.

An MVP is intended to create and launch a technology product (in this case, your app) that integrates only the most required features. No bells and whistles, which means less complexity and thus a shorter development time frame — in theory.  

An app focused on a MVP would still solve the core problem that was outlined during your business planning process, but will likely not offer any extra features. Some glitches may even occur, which hopefully early adopters/users of the app will understand and forgive because they know an enhanced version of the application is set to come in future. Your fully functioning app still needs to be built out, of course. 

As well as potentially bringing your app to market faster, MVPs can also provide an opportunity to “run mini-experiments” that test your target audience’s initial response to the key components of the platform.

While not the right fit for every business, MVPs are one way we can get to market faster with an app as its purpose is to test or collect feedback and data on usage before making assumptions on how people will actually use the product.

Ask if your developer will use third-party code

Some software development firms regularly purchase or even copy code or scripts that have been developed by an external source –– then modify them for the project they are working on, to cut back on labour and time. In doing so they can save two or three months of development work. 

You should ask your developer what is being written from scratch, and what is being repurposed from existing code.

Though we build almost all products from the ground up, on occasion we will purchase and use third-party templates or plugins. We do it only when we know it’s the best option for our clients’ needs and timeline, and only when the code fits the client’s needs. We disclose when we do this transparently with our clients.

What matters most as you evaluate your application’s development timeline, is that you are experiencing open communication with your developer. Ask yourself if they seem to be honestly explaining the strategic reasons for resource allocation, product options and outsourced labour or coding decisions. 

If you want an app but don’t know what to ask, here’s everything you need to do to plan for success. Want to talk about timelines? Contact us and we can provide a quote and timeline specific to your business.

How much does it cost to build an app?

It’s the question we get asked more than any other. 

Yes, we get asked what business needs are driving app development, and we are often asked what a company needs to do to make an app successful. But above all else, the six words we get most often are: How much does an app cost?

While there are some general ranges you can plan for (see below), the short answer is that it depends on the features you need and the complexity of the app.

In this article we’ll cover the primary considerations that drive cost for custom app development. If you’re looking for specific pricing for an app for your company, contact us and we can provide a quote specific to your business.

Variable cost elements

Considering the many functionalities and features that determine the ultimate price of an app, it’s important to discuss variable details with a developer. Variables include: timeline, payment expectations, server and operational needs, as well as any potential extra charges that might arise.

Your developer should also work with you to determine how future costs can be reduced based on your specific needs, he says. 

There are cases where server costs can be mitigated by making sure an app doesn’t pull on the server all the time. Implementing something like Amazon Web Services (AWS) can also lower operating costs. Or in the case where a business needs to move a lot of data, data transfer can be optimized to lower cost.

Of course the price of labour is also a factor to consider. Many firms outsource much of the actual development work done on apps. In 2019, the global outsourcing market was worth $92.5 billion, according to Statista, and cost reduction is the primary reason why companies farm out labour, says a Deloitte survey

Vog does not outsource any of its labour because quality control is easier to manage in-house and many clients prefer to engage directly with the people who are working on their app.

If you’ve been quoted what seems to be a too-good-to-be-true price for an app, you should ask your developer where it’s being built and how quality control, security, and client service will work once the process starts. 

A tactic among some lower-quality app developers is to quote low to win business, and then skip over details, QA, and security requirements in the process. Vog has been brought in to multiple projects in order to fix code written by other developers when projects were outsourced or critical components were skipped. It’s ultimately cheaper to do it right the first time.

And if you’ve been quoted $20,000 or $30,000 for what you think should be a comprehensive app, the developer you’ve found is likely offshoring or cutting corners. 

If you’re looking for specific pricing for an app for your company, contact us and we can provide a quote specific to your business.

Payment and financing options 

Other common cost-related questions include payment timelines and financing options. Each developer is going to have her or his own payment guidelines. At Vog, we are flexible with clients so we might bill them in sprints, or if a client pays 30 percent upfront, they can then pay off the balance in monthly payments.

Financing is also an option through a partnered financial institution. The nice thing about going with financing is that your term can be over the course of up to 72 months, so you can finance your software for the long term.

This can be particularly helpful if a client is engaging the developer for a support contract, after their app has been built and launched. Support or maintenance fees typically range from $1,000 to $10,000 a month, primarily just based on hours required and if a team is going to be dedicated to your account.

Annual maintenance or support contracts will typically cover:

  • Server hosting charges
  • Maintaining stability and performance
  • Bug fixes and app updates
  • Developing new features 
  • Infrastructure and 3rd party API charges

All the factors that determine the final cost of your application –– not to mention ongoing support fees ––  might seem overwhelming. But a savvy and efficient developer should walk you through the variables and options available early on in the development planning phase, and help you access the best value for your project.

If you’re looking for specific pricing for an app for your company, contact us and we can provide a quote specific to your business.

Cost ranges for application development

Some examples of specific factors that influence an app’s price tag include: 

  • Moving data to a cloud environment for access and use within an app.
  • The number of platforms the app will live on (web, iOS, Android).
  • How it will use hardware features built into your smartphone, including GPS, augmented reality, and motion coprocessors.
  • Social media platform integration.
  • The complexity of the visual objects included in the application.
  • The level of support or ongoing maintenance it will need.

In general, apps and price ranges will typically fall into three overarching ranges:

Simple app pricing

Producing a simple app that provides basic features and perhaps two to four core functionalities, will typically cost between $60,000 to $100,000.

Standard app pricing

If you start building integrations with other platform providers that necessitate using APIs from platforms like Stripe or Google, this compounds the cost. The average price for creation of this type of iOS or Android app — that potentially includes a web component as well — is typically between $150,000 and $200,000.

Advanced app pricing

If the complexity of the app is more advanced and requires a platform to engage a more expansive set of user groups that also require different or complicated interactions, for example, then it typically costs between $200,000 and $500,000.

If you’re looking for specific pricing for an app for your company, contact us and we can provide a quote specific to your business.

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