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Assessing App Development Company Prices: What’s Fair, What’s Not

David Barlev

October 19, 2020 · 6 minutes

When it comes to assessing app development company prices, it can be a bit of a mixed bag.

The thing we all would rather do ourselves if we just knew where to start. When you have a great idea for an app, the real challenge seems to be finding the right team of designers and engineers who can help you build it.

Not only can it be tough to find the right people, but it can also be expensive, especially if you don’t know the first thing about pricing it out.

In this blog, we’ll go over some basics of assessing app development company prices and what to expect when budgeting for the development of your own app.

What Will It Cost Me?

A computer battlestationLet’s just get this out of the way—a halfway decent app that can be used by more than one person is going to cost you at least $10,000.

Why?

Because each time a user enters input and expects an output, there must be a series of data tables created to provide an accurate response. Each of these tables must be designed, engineered, and tested before use, usually requiring hundreds of hours of work.

Additional considerations are business logic, APIs, and frontend development.

Are there apps that cost less? Yes. Take a chatbot like Eliza the CyberPsych here. This is not a complex program, so it doesn’t cost much. The downside, however, is that no one really uses it.

On the other hand, WhatsApp has been downloaded over 16 billion times, thanks to its reliable messaging encryption, file storage, and contact safety.

You get what you pay for, and a good app can produce high returns on your investment.

What Goes Into an App?

Creating an app isn’t just throwing some cheese into a mouse wheel and seeing what pops out. There’s planning, development, and testing to be done, and each stage requires unique specialists who usually charge by the hour.

You can find freelancers on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

If you’re lucky, you may already know someone who can help. Otherwise, you may have to consider going the studio route.

While studios are usually a more costly option, they offer talented teams who can help you feel confident throughout the entire process. In general, the larger the studio, the more they will charge for their services.

Where Do I Start?

As with any good product, you should give yourself plenty of time to plan. By spending plenty of time upfront on a good plan, you’ll save yourself a lot of money down the road by avoiding changes to your app.

As you begin to research app development company prices, you’ll want to meet with developers, UX (user experience) designers, and marketing consultants who can help you flesh out the big picture of your app.

Consultants like these can cost anywhere from $100-$200 an hour, so be prepared to bring specific questions to your meetings with them if you want to keep costs low.

Some questions could include:

  • What kinds of functions will the app perform?
  • What is my budget?
  • Will users need a subscription?
  • What is the app’s target user demographic?
  • What kind of security will the app need?
  • Will the app need to use features like push notifications or geolocation?
  • Do I plan to scale this app?

Remember, while app features seem simple to users, each one requires many hours of design and testing before it can be used without issue.

Is Your App Urgent?

You may have a timely idea that needs to make it to the market right away. If so, ask what kind of features the app will need to use, as these will determine how it works with each user’s device.

There are two types of app formats:

  • Native: Works seamlessly with a smartphone’s operating system, allowing access to the phone’s calendar, GPS, and more.
  • Hybrid: Cheaper to design but more limited in its capabilities. Depending on your goals, this may not be a problem. For example, a calculator app doesn’t need to be able to communicate with users (What’s the square root of pi? Find out now!).

Knowing how your app interacts with devices impacts its success in the market. For example, WhatsApp was virtually unknown until Apple introduced push notifications, allowing the app to send users messages that they had received a message, encouraging them to use the app more and making WhatsApp the titan it is today.

Who Can I Trust to Make the Best App?

A woman staring at a monitorThanks to the internet, developers can work from anywhere on the globe. A surprising number of developers do their work from Russia, China, India, the UK, and elsewhere.

Outsourcing your labor will affect your cost, as developers in the US charge more than developers in any other country, on average.

How much does it cost to hire a trustworthy developer? Plan on spending around $50-$100 per hour of work. Also, spend time outlining what your app needs before beginning any work so as to avoid some of the costly bottlenecking that plagues many projects. A good plan could even entice investors to fund development for your app.

Results will always speak for themselves. Find someone with a good reputation who has worked on projects similar to yours. If you find someone you enjoy working with, ask for recommendations. Many times they will have a friend they like to work with, helping your project to run smoothly.

Planning for an Audience

If you want your app to be successful, the right identity is key. This is achieved through brand strategy and marketing, and these tasks introduce more costs to your budget.

You will need to ask some tough questions:

  • Who uses your product?
  • How are your competitors marketing their product?
  • What is your long-term vision for your product?

Branding shops and marketing services can help, but many charge $1,000 just to create a logo and other relevant media. One way to get around this is to find a marketing agency you like and email an employee individually. By starting a conversation this way, you can often find answers and recommendations to move you forward.

What Should I Expect in the Future?

Successful apps must be able to weather changing markets and stay relevant. This is something your consultants can help you explore. For example, you may want to offer tiered membership subscriptions that allow greater access to your app’s features. This means periodically advertising to users and continually refining the app to be as usable as possible.

Stay within the Scope of Your App

Be careful not to get carried away with extra features. These can quickly drive up expenses and make it hard to market your product. As financial troubles are the number one reason for failed apps, staying within your budget is critical.

Protect Your Users

Data security is an increasingly common issue. In the last few years, there have been massive data breaches that affected Facebook, Verizon, and other tech giants, leading to millions of dollars in fines and irreparable damage to their reputations.

Hiring a data security officer and quality assurance architects will help you better protect the sensitive data of your users and avoid some of the common pitfalls that hackers like to target.

Continuing Testing & Education

Keep asking users how they like your app. Stay in touch with them by sending relevant information they can use. Find ways to improve your app through user testing and surveys. You don’t have to have all the answers, but asking the right questions can establish trust with your users, steering your app toward longevity.

So, How Much Should My App Cost?

A series of code on the screenDeveloping apps is a costly process, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you simply don’t have the money to drop on creating an app, consider finding a partner who can take some of the project equity in return for developing the app.

Not big on the idea of sharing equity? You may be able to draft a proof of concept that will attract investors to your idea. Not only will this give you a better shot at protecting your creative control over your idea, but you will also have the benefit of business insight from someone with experience getting a project off the ground.

Work with an Experienced Team

Just because a developer knows how to build an app doesn’t mean they know how to build your app. You should seek a creative team that has experience in your specific vertical, and doing so is easier than you might think. Do a little research on who developed your favorite apps and don’t be afraid to talk to them. You just might find someone interested in helping you.

In any case, the time you spend planning won’t be wasted. The more questions you can ask about how to approach your project, the more ways you’ll find to save money without sacrificing quality. Consider reading what people have to say on forums like Reddit or Facebook. These groups sometimes yield opinions from real experts who can provide you with information you didn’t know you were missing.

If you feel confident assessing app development company prices and you’re ready to move forward
Reach out to us directly to schedule a free consultation.

About David Barlev

David is the Co-founder and CEO of Goji Labs. David loves working closely with passionate founders to understand their vision and help them build beautiful applications while focusing on risk-mitigation. As an author, he focuses on informative and educational blogs that enable our clients to make the most of their businesses.

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