When people send us inquiries for app development, we are usually tasked with answering two questions:
As with all things tech, the short answer is always:
This, of course, is not a useful answer. In order to answer this difficult question, we usually need to get further into detail about what kind of app you are looking to buy.
We use quite a few analogies when discussing the technical details of app development, but my personal favorite right now is comparing app development to building a house.
If you were to hire a contractor to build your house, they likely will ask you a ton of questions to best determine how long the construction process will take. Here are just a few examples:
Similarly, if you were to approach us for an app development consultation today, we would want to get answers to these questions in order to provide a more accurate estimate:
If you're planning on building an app for iOS, Android, the web, Windows Phone and Blackberry, you should expect the overall project to take a good chunk of time to complete.
If you're only targeting a single platform to start, your development time is generally shorter.
The deadline is always a factor when it comes to app development. If the deadline is a critical factor, you should expect to pay more to bring on additional developers and designers into the project team.
It stands to reason: an app with very limited functionality will always be quicker to develop than a fully-featured app. Toning down the complexity of your project can really help to bring your product to market quicker.
Apps differ from homes in one very real way: an app is not a tangible object. Almost every app will require some sort of revision and upkeep, especially once the app is live in the store.
However, if you put more research and thought into the app up front, your development team can move on the idea much faster than if the idea is still murky.
Much like the difference between building a cookie cutter house versus an architectural marvel, using certain frameworks like PhoneGap or Xamarin can greatly increase the speed at which your app is completed.
Building an app with native languages will likely take more time up front, but if you want your "house" to be able to better withstand the "elements" (OS upgrades, hardware improvements and so forth), native is the way to go.
Having a complete vision of where you'd like to take the app in the future can help developers make design decisions up front that will make it easier (and more cost-efficient) in the future to get there.
Getting a rough prototype out the door is a great way to get user feedback right away, but if you are looking to build an app that will add features with time, you will want to factor in some time to allow your developers to build it out appropriately up front.
This day and age, users are smarter about using apps which trust their privacy and treat their information with an appropriate level of security. At a minimum, you'll want to include a deadbolt-level of security (using HTTPS, encrypting passwords and so forth), but are you building an app which needs to be HIPPA-compliant? Are you building an app which deals with credit card information?
Nobody wants to be the next Sony/Target/Ashley Madison. If your app handles sensitive data, it's important to budget some time to test your security measures and make sure it's handled right.
Some projects are built with a very "agile" approach to development, where it's more important to get the app shipped than it is for it to be perfect. Some projects necessitate a more "finished" level of polish, where features are tested multiple times and every pixel fits perfectly into place.
The spectrum for the level of polish in apps is wide, and the closer you are to the "finished" side of the spectrum, the longer it will take to develop.
In 2013, mobile backend service provider Kinvey estimated (with multiple caveats) that it takes 18 weeks to develop an app.
In our experience, the amount of time it takes to build an app lies on a spectrum of somewhere between 3 and 9 months.
The more basic apps, like sales tools and various productivity apps, tend to lie on the 3 month end of the spectrum.
The more advanced apps, like social networks and highly interactive apps, tend to fall on the 9 month end of the spectrum.
Are you trying to determine how long your project is going to take to build? We'd love to help! You can leave a comment below or contact us today for a fast consultation!