How Much Does a Custom App Cost?
Creating a custom app for your business is sometimes a great idea. A custom app can help you streamline and improve your business operations, keep you in better contact with customers and clients, and possibly help you manage your finances. The possibilities with an app tailored directly for your business, institution, or organization are endless….but it can also be costly.
Due to this, the first question most business owners have when considering creating custom software for their business is “How much is an app going to cost?” That’s a very important question, but it’s not easy to answer. The price of an app can easily range in price from less than $50k to over a million dollars!
The following questions are covered in this article:
- Why does the cost of an app vary so much?
- What affects the price of an app?
- Can I get my app running without breaking the bank?
- What if a custom app just isn’t in my company’s budget?
Why does the cost of an app vary so much?
Why such a disparity in price? Since an app is not a tangible product, most of the pricing is typically based on the time that the developers work on a particular app project. A custom app is not much different than a custom-built swimming pool or a brand-new house. An app can come with many different features and vary greatly in complexity. The more features and the more complex an app is, the more it will cost due to the time involved to create it.
What affects the price of an app?
Let’s run down the most common things that could affect the price of a custom business app.
Size and Functionality of the App
The larger and more complex the app, the longer it will take to build. Factors that can determine the size of the app include the type of registration your app will have, how many types of users will access it, how long the workflow is, and how many features it will have. An app’s features can include any of the following:
- Can the app take photos?
- Does it collect payment for a physical product?
- Does it collect and provide access to a digital product?
- Does it allow for chat between users?
- Does it allow the users to send attachments, whether video or documents, through chat?
- What types of information does the app collect from its users?
- What type of login is the app going to require?
- Does the app allow access to some content without login?
- How long does the app allow users to stay logged in?
- What types of notifications does the app provide users?
- What types of user info does the app store?
- Does the app store medical or financial information?
- Does the app track detailed statistics?
This is only a sampling of different features an app can have. For a worksheet that breaks down most of the options and features that an app might have, you can take a look at our app feature questionnaire and determine which options your business app will require to make it look and function according to your needs.
If an app has the same settings for all users regardless of the type of user, it will be less expensive than having multiple settings for different users. The more customization the app provides to the users, particularly if it varies its setting for different users the more expensive it becomes.
If an app is used primarily by employees or in a situation that requires very little oversight from administrators or an outside party, the app will be less expensive. An app that requires the product owner to delegate oversight capability to others, such as a medical app that collects sensitive info, will be more expensive. This is also the case for an app that needs to make certain that its users do not violate its Terms of Service, such as an app with chat functions or an app that allows users to post pictures.
The languages used to create the app
The type of development company
When developing an app, the app founder has a number of options as to what type of development company they would like to use, which can have a large influence on the app’s ultimate cost. Types of app developers include onshore, nearshore, and offshore developers. Local developers tend to be more expensive than developers who operate from other areas in the United States or Canada. In addition, developers from Asia, such as India and China, tend to be less expensive than ones closer by. There are a lot of other considerations besides the cost of developers, however, and the price of hiring a development company near you may be worth the extra price. You can learn more about the different types of developers you can choose from in the above link.
The infrastructure cost
When developers are developing apps, they do not create much of the backend infrastructure themselves. This infrastructure can include data storage and delivery, processing, security, and backups. Infrastructure services allow an app founder to scale an app as needed, and they only pay for what is actually used, versus a business creating such infrastructure on their own, which may cost much more in terms of funds.
These infrastructure services are delivered through a public cloud infrastructure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most popular and frequently used supplier of this type of infrastructure, but there is also Google Cloud, Microsoft Asure, and a number of smaller infrastructure services. These services often start off as free trials. Free trials eventually wear off, however. In addition, an app may use more time accessing a service than allowed for free, or more memory is required as the app scales to accommodate its users. The price of these infrastructure services would need to be factored into the ultimate cost of the app.
Can I get my app running without breaking the bank?
When an app founder has an idea for an app, they will often go through several discovery meetings with the developer, which will help them fine-tune their app idea and determine how much the initial costs for their app will be. Because of how expensive apps can cost, the product owner may create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) first. This is a bare-bones, no bells and whistles version of the app. An MVP only contains what the product owner deems as totally necessary for the app to function.
The product owner may then add extra features to the app over time depending on the user experience that a business wants the app to provide and feedback that it receives from users. An MVP can often be created for a more complicated app for less than $100K.
What if a custom app just isn’t in my company’s budget?
A custom app is definitely not for everyone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a business that cannot afford a custom app is out of luck when it comes to simplifying or scaling their business operations. There are many SaaS (Software as a Service) products available that are paid for on a subscription (monthly or yearly) basis.
Many SaaS apps offer free trials so business owners can try different products before committing. SaaS products are usually much cheaper than a custom software project, though they do come with limitations on what you can do. There is also a limit on how much they can be customized to suit a business’s needs, and it is sometimes difficult to switch from one SaaS product to another. They may still be worth looking into, however, to determine if they can help at a reduced price.
Matraex is a custom software and app design company located in Boise, Idaho. Designing custom software is an important decision, and we understand that you may have a lot of questions. We hope to help you figure out if designing an app is the right move for your business and who to trust your business to. Check out Matraex’s other informative blogs. If you have any additional app development questions, we’d love to answer them for you. Contact us or call us at (208) 344-1115, and we’ll help you with any questions you may have. You can also leave your question on our Google Business Page. Your question may even become a new blog!
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