How Much Does it Cost to Build an App

We’ve all heard of those crazy successful apps like Instagram, Angry Birds, Uber, Twitter; that have changed our lives. I bet you even have an idea for “the next big thing” that’s totally going to change the world. But technology can be scary and chances are you can’t code the app yourself.

But how does the entrepreneur enter the space? The most basic place to start is to understand how much an app actually cost to develop. At Space Chimp we develop apps everyday and understand the intricacy of pricing an app. Now we want to pass that knowledge on to you. The good news is, it isn’t rocket science.

Apps are built by people believe it or not so the formula for calculating cost is simple – Number of Resources X Hours X Hourly Rate = Cost

But before we dive in to the cost of how much it cost; let’s determine the best way to hire a team for your next app.

How to Find a Good Developer

First you need to decide if you want to hire an agency or freelancers. They both have there trade offs. At Space Chimp we actually give you all the benefits of working with freelancers without any of the risk. But lets take Space Chimp out of the equation at the moment.

Agency

Finding a great agency starts with some Google searches. Search for companies that have won some awards or have built apps you really like. The apps don’t have to be similar – just awesome.

You may also do some searches in your local area that’s always a great place to start but don’t confine yourself to geographic region.

In the end, its all about the talent. That’s who you’re hiring to build your app. And that’ the great thing about hiring an agency; they’ve already vetted great talent for you.

The obvious con with an agency is the cost is going to be hire. But you’re paying for reliability, proven processes, and experience.

Freelancers

Finding freelancers can be tricky. First, where do you start? There are so many places to look. How can you verify the legit talent from the posers? To be honest, its hard and takes a seasoned eye to weed through great talent. But, if I had to to start somewhere, I would stick to a select couple of sites which boasts high level talent.

1. Designers – Look at Dribbble.com and Behance.net

2. Developers – Post a job on GitHub. Its a bit pricey but it’s worth it.

The obvious risk of hiring a freelancer is that it’s hard to truly vet the talent. More importantly, if something happens to them, you’re totally screwed.

Now that you have an idea of how to search for talent let’s dig in to the pricing a bit.

The Size of the Team

The size of the team may vary a bit depending on the size of the project but lets consider that we’re building the average consumer app that you might find on the app store. Generally you’re going to have the following team:

  1. Frontend developer – Codes the app
  2. Backend developer – Codes the connections with the server
  3. UI/UX designer – Designs the app
  4. Brand Designer – Designs the brand
  5. Project Manager – Make sure it all comes together in an organized way

How Long Should it Take

It should take roughly 10 – 12 weeks to develop an app. You’ll have two full-time developers, one part-time project manager and then two part-time designers.

  1. Frontend developer – 40 hours per week
  2. Backend developer – 40 hours per week
  3. UI/UX designer – 10 hours per week
  4. Brand Designer – 10 hours one time
  5. Project Manager -20 hours per week

If you break it down that’s 120 hours per week added as an additional cost. The average hourly rate is anywhere from $50 on the low end to $150 on the high end. If we take an average hourly rate of $100 per hour that gets us to roughly $100k – $150k. If

Things that Could Affect Cost

Obviously, the example I provided is a very general example. But if someone tells you they can do it in half the time or drastically cheaper; their most likely cutting corners somewhere. With that said, there are somethings that can affect cost. For example, Android apps tend to be be more expensive then iOS because of the various screen sizes. The complexity of the code can change cost as well. Is your code general or simple like a calculator or flashllight or are you creating something entirely new. If your app is the next Facebook or Twitter then you’re probably going to spend alot of money to build that. Look at how many employees Facebook has.

On the other hand you can start with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and build a proof of concept that you can transition in to an investment round where you can get funding for a full version release.

Conclusion

I get people all the time that say, oh an app shouldn’t cost more the $25 – $50k. Go ahead and try it! If you hire two full time developers and a designer, you won’t make it past two months. Then what do you do?

Building a business from the ground up isn’t cheap and it entails alot of bumps in the road. The good thing is, you’re an entrepreneur. You welcome the challenge. You thrive on adversity.

And you know that victory is so much sweeter when you have to work for it.

Need help building an app? Contact us

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