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How Much Does It Cost to Build an App in 2024?

May 17, 2024

One of the first questions prospective clients ask us is: 'How much will it cost to build an app?' While we'd love to give a simple answer, the reality is that app development costs can vary widely based on a number of factors. Estimating the true cost of an app upfront, before all the requirements and details are defined, is a bit like asking how much it costs to build a house without knowing anything about its size, style or location.

The cost ultimately depends on the unique scope and needs of each app project. But that doesn't mean costs are impossible to plan for. By understanding the key factors and tradeoffs involved, you can make informed decisions, allocate the right budget, and set your app up for long-term success.

Why App Development Costs Are Hard to Estimate Upfront

When a client first approaches us with an app idea, there are usually many open questions and unknowns:

  • What exactly will the app do? What problem is it solving for users?
  • What features and functionality will be included?
  • What will the user experience be like?
  • What technical approach makes the most sense? Native mobile app, hybrid, web-based?
  • How will the app need to integrate with other systems and scale over time?

Defining the answers to these questions is a crucial part of the development process itself. At Luminos Software, we work closely with our clients to collaboratively refine and clarify the product vision. We employ an agile development approach that allows us to thoughtfully define requirements while staying open to valuable iteration along the way.

Rather than locking in every detail in a rigid 'waterfall' approach upfront, we believe that some flexibility ultimately leads to better outcomes. By continuously gathering user feedback, testing assumptions and adjusting course as we go, we're more likely to deliver an app that delights users and achieves key objectives.

So in short, app costs are hard to accurately estimate because development is a process of discovery and refinement, not a predefined spec.  But by understanding the factors involved, we can still effectively scope and budget for your app project.

Key Factors That Impact App Development Costs

The main cost drivers in app development tend to be:

  • Feature complexity: The more complex the app's functionality, the more development and testing time. Apps requiring offline access, real-time sync, complex business logic or heavy media processing will be more involved.
  • Backend infrastructure: Many apps need a robust backend to power features and manage data. User authentication, content management, data storage and third-party integrations can add significant development effort.
  • Choice of development approach: Native iOS and Android, hybrid/cross-platform, or progressive web app approaches each have distinct cost and timeline impacts. We can help identify the optimal path based on your needs.
  • Design and UX: Crafting an intuitive app experience takes deep thought and iteration. The level of bespoke design required should be factored into the project estimate.
  • Ongoing evolution: The best apps continually improve based on user feedback. Planning for regular updates is key for projecting full lifetime costs.

An experienced app development consultancy will guide you through mapping out these factors to arrive at a realistic scope and budget for your app idea. They'll be a close thought partner on the key decisions and tradeoffs.

Pros and Cons of Different App Development Approaches

A key fork in the road impacting app costs is whether to build fully native, use a hybrid approach, or opt for a progressive web app:

Native iOS & Android
  • Fully native user experience leveraging all device capabilities
  • Highest level of polish and performance
  • Longer development times and costs due to separate codebases
  • More specialised skills to build and maintain

Best for apps where native UX and tight device integration are critical

Hybrid/Cross-Platform (e.g. React Native)
  • Single codebase deployed to both iOS and Android
  • More efficient than separate native apps
  • May not support every latest platform feature
  • UX may not feel quite as native as platform-specific apps
  • A pragmatic way to target both platforms for many app use cases
Progressive Web App
  • App-like experience delivered through mobile browser
  • Built with common web technologies
  • Efficient development, but less capable than true native apps
  • Can still work offline and be added to home screen
  • Good for lightweight app needs that work across devices

At Luminos Software, we're well-versed in all these approaches and will help choose the right path for your app based on your specific goals and constraints.

The Value of an Experienced Development Partner

When it comes to efficient and effective app development, there's no substitute for experience. By partnering with an agency that has a proven track record across business domains and technical challenges, you gain key advantages:

  • Deep expertise to refine your concept and choose the optimal approach
  • Agile process delivering results while staying flexible to evolving needs
  • Specialised skills across mobile, web and modern backend architectures
  • Ability to scale the team as the project evolves
  • A dedicated partner invested in your app's long-term success

At Luminos Software, we've built highly impactful apps that delight users and drive real results. From native apps enabling vehicle maintenance management, to progressive web apps powering student learning portals, to cross-platform apps connecting patients and doctors, we help our clients bring their app visions to life.

Bring Your App Vision to Life

As we've explored, answering 'How much does it cost to build an app?' requires mapping out the unique scope, approach and ongoing needs of your app project. Costs depend on factors like feature complexity, development path, design needs and lifecycle plans.

Providing an accurate estimate starts with an in-depth discovery process to uncover requirements and chart the key decisions involved. This is best done in close collaboration with an experienced development partner who can offer transparent guidance to navigate the journey.

At Luminos Software, we prize open communication, insight and long-term partnership above all else. Our mission is to understand your distinct needs and craft a development approach that positions you for lasting success. We won't sugarcoat the challenges, but we will apply our proven expertise to uncovering the optimal path forward.

If you're considering an app project, let's talk. Contact us for a free consultation and together we'll explore how to transform your app vision into reality in a way that aligns with your business goals.  

Though the cost question can seem daunting at first, with the right plan and partner, the end goal is achievable: a top-tier app that captivates users, generates results and lays the foundation for ongoing growth. Let's chart that course together!

Let's create remarkable results

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