What You Need to Know About App Cost Calculators?

What is an App Development Cost Calculator?

App development cost calculator helps you estimate the cost of building an app that you have in mind. Typically, app development agencies will this tool on their website where you can input details to come up with an estimate figure. The tool, therefore, saves you the pain of sending inquiry emails to different development companies to get a quote for their services.




The Why?

App development is a complex undertaking. A typical app can cost more than $10,000 and take months to build and launch. In addition, the cost comes with no guarantee of a return on investment in terms of revenue or operational cost reduction. Therefore, it’s important that promoters of an app have a strong business case for moving ahead with development plans.

The Subjectiveness of Cost Calculators

Just like any complex problem-solving algorithm, app development calculators are heavily subjective. There are multiple cost drivers including labor, desired features, the perceived complexity of the features, the operating system(s) you are building for, the amount of testing needed, and many more. Each agency is likely to assign varying weights to each of the factors determining the final cost of the app.

When attempting to get a fair estimate of the cost of the app, it may be advisable to use several calculators to come up with a range or an average figure.

The Factors Affecting App Development Costs

Let’s break down the primary determinants of app development costs.


Perhaps the most important determinant of app development costs today is the type of application. Is it a purely Android app you want? Is it an iOS app? Do you want both versions?

In emerging markets, specifically Africa and Asia, Android commands a supermajority in market share. You may therefore need to prioritize an Android app or at least ensure you have two versions released in the market. The latter choice will mean more app development hours. You may need a team with more developers to ensure the right mix of skills to deliver high-quality native Android and iOS versions of your app.




The Team

Labour is the biggest cost in any development project. Fortunately, the promoters of the app have a choice between working with agencies or with freelance developers. They can also choose to work with developers from different markets because costs differ significantly depending on location.

In the North American market, software developers can charge north of $100 per hour. In Europe, this can be 30% less, and in Asia, the rate can be as low as $25 per hour.

An individual developer can be quite flexible with the amount charged, especially for a big project. However, working with an agency with a big team may mean that they have all the expertise needed to execute the project in-house. A big team is also more likely to keep up with project deadlines.

For complex projects that will require continuous maintenance and updates, some companies may decide to hire an in-house team. This will ensure continuity in the project even when some members of the team move on. It also gives the company control over the documentation, hosting, and other critical elements of the project. Most software-dependent companies are better off with an inhouse-team that is continually working on new features and innovations that may present revenue opportunities.

The Business Model

The purpose of the application will determine the payment processing and security features that will be necessary. An app can generate revenue either through subscriptions or through in-app selling.

An example of a subscription application is Spotify. Such an application requires building account management features and includes a payment processing solution that accepts payments from multiple cards and payment apps.

E-commerce apps require inventory management, a shopping cart feature, and payment processing. Fortunately, developers need not build each of these from scratch but instead, they integrate the main application with third-party industry-grade solutions.

An application that requires payment processing and the necessary security integrations will cost more to build due to the additional hours of integration and testing.

User Interface and User Experience

A mass-market application must invest heavily in UI/UX to guarantee success. The importance of UI/UX is such that there are now front-end developers who specialize in this. They spend hours thinking about how to make the application attractive and intuitive for users. They think about the colors, fonts, button placement, page layouts, progression from one screen to another, and possible choke points in the journey. The goal is to ensure that users find what they need quickly while also maximizing their potential spending within the app.

UI/UX testing is a big part of the development process. The team will in many cases build two versions of the same window and put them both into the market, gathering feedback before building a final version. Extensive UI/UX testing results in additional costs but in most cases, it is usually worth the extra hours.

Feature Complexity

The degree of complexity of an app will naturally affect development costs because of the hours necessary to build and launch. The number of integrations with third-party feature solutions also matters a lot.

Consider a food delivery app that requires integrations to add features such as location tracking, in-app messaging, payment processing, and order status notification. All these features require integration and testing to ensure the app is robust enough to go to market.

During the development, the team must also ensure that the number of features does not result in a slow and hard-to-use application. The layout and interaction of features must be well thought out.

Security Features

App users will need assurances that the security features and testing on your app guarantee the safety of their information. Data breaches not only present a reputational threat to your brand but also legal and potential financial implications if negligence can be proven. Therefore, a significant portion of the app development costs will be taken by designing and implementing of security features for the app.

Interactive apps are particularly prone to data security threats due to the constant passing of information between the user and the server. This is not the case with a more static website or application. Apps with a wide user base are also more likely to suffer more security threats because of the wealth of data stored. Similarly, e-commerce applications are a common target for hackers interested in personal financial information of customers.

Common security measures in apps today include multi-factor authentication for logging in and approving payments. Passwords that users input should be masked using cryptography so that even the internal team cannot crack them. There are also standard security protocols that the iOS and Google Play Store require apps to have before publishing.

It is always best to work with cybersecurity consultants to determine the best combination of security features based on an app’s intended use. They can also recommend threat models to use to get for regular security checks when the app goes to market.

App Hosting

The choice of a hosting service provider directly affects the final cost of your application. The size of your application and the traffic you expect determine the bandwidth you require from your host. A reputable host should guarantee 100% up-time for your app.

Some applications are unique in that they do not need a hosting solution because they work as stand-alone projects with no external communication. In that case, they can be downloaded onto user devices and work fully without communicating with a server.

However, some applications are such that some complex computations require significant CPU power so that only the output is sent back to the user’s application. Other apps have thousands of users using them at the same time. Such applications need resources that only a hosting provider can give. By using a hosting provider, you outsource some of the data security responsibility to them. You rely on their world-class security features to guarantee the safety of user data while at rest.

Using a world-class hosting provider may come with the assurance of support and well-laid-out disaster recovery operations in the unlikely event of a breach.

Therefore, the hosting package that you need and choose will determine how much you will be paying regularly to keep your app running.

Maintenance Costs

The industry best practice is to factor in about 10% of the initial app development costs for annual maintenance and improvement. Inevitably, there will be bugs and feedback from users as they find utility from using the app. Even on the first year after launch, it is important to set aside a significant portion of the budget towards maintenance, perhaps even higher than what will be necessary in subsequent years.

Building Your Own App Development Calculator

The different app development cost calculators available online vary according to the weights given to cost drivers. Bias due to different project experiences is inevitable. With this in mind, you may want to build your own cost calculator. The main advantage of your own cost calculator is you can make adjustments as necessary. For instance, you may want to go with an off-shore team as opposed to a North American team.

Work with NS804

At NS804, we have a proven track record of building and deploying successful apps for clients in the e-commerce, service sector, and corporate operations. Our team’s skill and experience mean we can tailor our services to suit your project needs, regardless of size or scope. Whether you need an Android, iOS, or both versions of the same app, we will deliver on time and within the budget.

You can now use our app cost calculator to get an estimate of how much your app will cost to build. We have included numerous app and feature categories to help you get as accurate an estimate as you can find. Check out the cost estimator here.

If you wish to engage us further regarding your app idea, reach out to us by filling out this form and a member of our team will be in touch soon.

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