What does it cost to build an APP?

The most important thing to understand is that pricing is essentially a construct of time and development cost.

Time = the amount of time it takes for the project to be completed.

Cost = the cost of having the project developed, including developers, designers, project management and testing.

Here are 5 questions that can help us understand your project so that we can price it accordingly.

Question #1 – What do you want to build?

The big questions is what exactly do you need done. As with most services we purchase, the more complicated the project, the more expensive. Think of it this way, if you went to a construction company and asked them to build you a real estate property they would want to understand what exactly it is you are looking to build. Do you want a shed? A home with a white picket fence? A skyscraper or a football field? Explaining your project in detail helps us understand the scope of work.

Question # 2 – What device are you looking to build for?

iPhone only?
iPhone and Android?
iPhone, Android and web?
iPhone, Android, web and desktop?

There are many other options not listed here, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ve listed the most common options.

Question # 3 – When is the project due?

As the saying goes “time is money”. Translate that to development and you get; the faster you want it, the more it will cost. Its fairly simple, if 3 people work on your project it will be delivered faster than if 1 developer takes on the workload all by himself.

Question # 4 – How important is quality?

Some times clients want to test an idea and aren’t ready to make a large investment. That’s ok, if you’re looking to get your concept to-market as quickly as possible and test it’s viability then perhaps building a high-end solution doesn’t make much sense.On the other hand, putting out a product that keeps crashing or is badly designed isn’t a good first impression for your users and perhaps future partners/investors.

Question # 5 – How important is local development?

There are many reasons why having a local team would be a great asset. First, a lot of it has to do with security. Would you want a freelancer that works 8,000 miles away from you having access to your code and intellectual property? Are you looking to meet with your developer face-to-face? Do you want to be able to give your developer a call during local business hours? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether a local team is appropriate for your project. Frankly, sometimes the cost of a local team may not justify all of the benefits above and an outsourced team becomes a better fit, not to mention would be much cheaper.

Now lets get to the goods, the actual numbers.

After Answering Questions 1 through 5, lets use the following for our test case:

Answer to Question #1 – What do you want to build?

Let’s assume you want to build an app with a fairly common set of features. A good example would be a dating/social app, let’s use Tinder, a very popular dating app as our model.

Here are the necessary features:
* Users, including authentication and Facebook login (Ability to have people sign up with your app using Facebook)
* Profiles (Ability for users to have and edit their profiles)
* Messaging (Ability to send and receive real-time messages)
* Geolocation (Ability to use the iPhone’s GPS)
* Posting to app (Ability to add data on the app)
* Notifications (Ability to send in-app notifications to your users)
* Friendships/relationships (Ability to accept or reject other users)

Answer to Question # 2 – How many devices does your app need to work on?

Most of our clients, who are looking for mobile development usually start out with an iPhone application. I won’t digress into why because I don’t wan to lose the focus of this post but I am happy to write an article about this later.

Answer to Question # 3 – When is the project due?

As for time, an average project including consulting meetings, design, development and coding takes about 6 months (assuming we are discussing the project above) and using a dedicated team including one developer, one designer, one project manager and one tester.

Answer to Question # 4 – How important is quality?

Let’s assume that you want a product that won’t crash (don’t we all?), an app that is built using all of the latest technologies and can be easily scalable as your business continues to grow. Essentially a quality product that’s built using Apple’s native Swift programming language.

Answer to Question # 5 – How important is local development?

The reason this question is important, is because naturally, depending on where you are, the cost of development will vary. In the United States, due to the value of our currency and the need for good engineering, development costs are typically higher than in other places around the world. To take it 1 step further, in areas like Silicon Valley (California) or Silicon Alley (New York) where there is a concentration of great talent, the price of development is even higher. Having said that, great engineers tend to go to these places to earn the money they so definitely deserve. Remember = You always get what you pay for. Especially with technology. 

Now that we’ve answered every question, it’s time to do some Math:

First let’s take a look at the cost of development in New York City, the headquarters of BKLYN.co

First we need a developer:

An average NYC iOS developer makes $80,000 which translates to $42/hr.

Then we need a designer that can help design a great user experience and use modern design elements to attract and retain users on the app.

An average NYC Graphic designer makes $50,000 which translates to $26/hr

We need a tester, someone who is responsible to make sure all the kinks are properly worked out so the product is good-to-go on delivery.
An average NYC Quality Assurance analyst makes $55,000 which translates to $29/hr

Finally, we need a Project Manager. Someone who will be responsible for making sure the project gets done on time and on budget.

An average NYC Project manager makes $90,000 which translates to $46/hr

Total Hourly Cost for this 4 person team is = $143/hr

Now let’s assume this team is working on 3 projects at a time, and your project is one of those 3.

We can now divide their hourly rate ($143 by 3), this gives us $48/hr

$143 / 3 = $48/hr

Now we know that your project will cost the development company roughly $48 for every hour of work.

If the development time is 6 months, then we can say 160 hours per month (8 hours per day x 5 days a week x 6 months = 960 total hours)

960 total hours of work x $48/hr = $46,080

There you have it. $46,080 is the cost to the development company assuming the company makes zero profit. A company with 0 profit is not really a company that can stay in business so you have to assume there will be a margin built in on top of that number.

Well there you have it, I hope this helps you frame a general understanding around pricing. If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, feel free to add them below.


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