The cost to develop an app depends not only on the planned functionality, but also on many factors: whether you need help in preparing documentation, design, development of the server part, and technical support. The more complex the project, the more expensive it is. It is impossible to predict the exact cost. But how do you know how much money to develop an app

How much does it cost to develop an app?

Below we will talk about the basic steps, which are the basic steps in the development of any mobile app. The most successful teams pay much attention to these steps. And the more users the implemented project has, the more focused the creators’ attention was on the marketing strategy, starting from the very first step.

Marketing strategy and documentation

The cost to develop an app should definitely include the creation of a branding strategy. Successful teams base their thinking on traffic and the shortest path to the target audience. The primary goal of a new service is to provide the maximum benefit to the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of time. 

Approaches to getting through this stage vary:

  • Some project creators do everything themselves, including a detailed terms of reference;
  • Someone thinks through a basic strategy (the product should be in such and such a form), and a detailed description is ordered from development studios;
  • There are also different combined approaches: everything is there, but a marketing strategy, clickable prototypes, etc. is needed.

The experience of successful cases included:

  • Analytics — an overview of the market, successful and failed similar projects. If you want the cost to develop an app to justify itself, you can not save on analytics.
  • Marketing strategy — a map explaining the logic of the path to the users, the proposed tests, the steps before, and after publication. 
  • Developing a clickable prototype website or mobile app — the highest level of abstraction of the terms of reference. 
  • Writing complete technical documentation, without which it is impossible to evaluate in detail or plan the work of the programmers. 
  • Creating an estimate and a plan for working on the project is usually the result of writing the terms of reference.
  • Sometimes — the formation of a pitch, a presentation for investors, describing the key product features of the project.

Impact of design on the cost to develop an app

Design development can also include a lot of areas:

  • Branding — corporate identity, tone of voice, and other aspects of the project’s visual paradigm. 
  • Logo — as a rule, it stands alone in the work schedule.
  • UI and UX development — it depends on the type and scale of the project, from one week to one month. 
  • Promotional materials — banners for advertising, app stores, press kits for the media, presentations. 


All contractors (not only in IT) try to draw the customer’s attention to this part of the work as little as possible. It is not visually visible and you can’t touch the results of the development team manager’s work, in contrast to the results of programming and design.

We know the importance of organizational work: one and the same task, which involves several people, can be accomplished in completely different timeframes and with different quality depending on how the process was set up, how clearly instructions were formulated, and how often their execution was checked. The work of the project manager takes from half to full load during the entire development period.

Mobile app development

Cross-platform or native development? The main question all teams have at this stage. The cost to develop an app on a cross-platform technology is really high, since cross-platform technologies allow you to significantly save resources on this expensive stage!

And, it seems, what arguments for native approach there can be for such savings, considering that Flutter and React Native offer compilation in Swift and Kotlin, which means that in the end everything works fast and on native components. On the other hand, if cross-platform technologies are so good, then why are almost all popular products made only on native technologies?

Facebook, Instagram, Tesla, Uber, Pinterest, and Skype mobile apps were originally written in React Native, and Google Ads, and some Alibaba Group products were written in Flutter. But every other popular app you see in the App Store and Google Play is built on Native technologies.

Server development as an important component of developing an app

In some apps, such as messengers or services with complex databases, implementing the server part of the project can be more labor-intensive than its visual part.

This is determined not only by the thinking out logic of the product, but also by the architecture: databases must be backed up in real time to always have a backup, and user data must be protected (and stored separately from the main information), and the service must run quickly by itself.

And labor costs are also affected by such minor things as containerization (Docker) and documentation.

Modern backends look something like this (two zones with database replicas, automatically extendable servers, and a balancer based on Amazon AWS):

You always have to go from simple to complex, and in practice many products evolve evolutionarily, but for a lot of service categories (messengers) the backend is key.

The length of time to develop the server-side is also highly dependent on the type of application and can range from a couple of days to two to three months of work.

Testing — also part of the cost to develop an app 

A correct approach to the development architecture allows you to avoid countless errors. However, not all cases can be tested not only from a technical point of view but also from a logical point of view. For example, what if, immediately after debating a user’s card, the Internet on his device is lost? What should he see at that moment, so he doesn’t have to worry about it?

Different screen sizes, different device specifications, peripheral devices (headsets), incoming calls at times when the application is running, and many other factors in each case and in the total may not lead to the user experience you’d like to form.

Even though all sorts of cases will only get tested, testing after development is essential. 


Most often it does not take more than a couple of days to prepare (screenshots, screencasts, description, keywords) and send it out. However, it is important to make sure that all the application nodes work correctly.

For example, external links in the mobile app, analytics tools, and payment systems, if any, are checked before publishing. Test accesses are also set up for Apple and Google validation teams so that they can test all product features.

Technical support

The cost to develop an app should also include tech support. iOS and Android are regularly updated, and applications, regardless of their technology stack, must also be kept up to date.

Frequent and quick interventions from a technical point of view are not required; the mobile app will be able to work in backward compatibility mode even after several updates of the operating systems. From a marketing point of view, however, users need to be supplied with regular product improvements: the teams of the most successful projects outline this update plan from the very beginning of development.

Often a base version is published with the first version of the product, but an update is released every two weeks. This approach allows them to start collecting feedback from users more quickly, and to show themselves as an active, vibrant, evolving service.

Cost to develop a custom mobile app for iOS and Android

Marketing Support

Cost to develop an app won’t pay for itself if you approach marketing irresponsibly. When a mobile app has its first users, they need to pay attention to providing a high quality of service:

  • Every review on the App Store and Google Play should be answered;
  • All customer service calls must be handled;
  • All the difficulties that users have got into, according to the analytics, must be resolved.

Work is also required on analytics, community organizing, and user engagement. It is necessary to:

  • Generate weekly analytical reports and generate hypotheses from them;
  • Check the correctness of the analytical tools;
  • Maintain the website and social media accounts;
  • Negotiate with opinion leaders and media representatives.

Also, many teams start marketing work at the very start of a project and don’t stop for a minute:

  • One to two months before release, a future project page is published in app stores with the option to pre-order;
  • The project is launched, the project blog is maintained, and groups in social networks are developed;
  • There are constant negotiations with experts and opinion leaders.
  • Labor costs strongly depend on the scale of the approach and the depth of its development.

To determine the cost to develop an app and the timing of the project, you need a systematic approach: you need to ask potential developers a specific list of questions and compare answers based on the emphasis on certain stages of work. Great ideas and great implementations to everyone. Let’s make bright, useful and profitable services. Protection Status