How much does an app cost?

Do you have a digital service that you want to turn into reality? Get a realistic understanding of your development costs.

It can be difficult to be a client, both in a startup and in a marketing department of a larger company. Sometimes we get the question "How much does an app cost?" and our answer is always "It depends." This could be considered a very vague answer when all you've asked for is a quote. But how long it takes to build an app or web service is impossible to say without more context. Let me try to explain why.

Every project is unique

Hopefully, you have identified something that makes the app unique. You've discovered a special need or defined an entirely new target group. All this affects how to reach out to users (marketing), how to onboard users (onboarding), and what mechanism makes users want to frequently use the service (retention).

There is only one way to eat an elephant. One bite at the time.

Have you heard that proverb? It's about having to break down larger projects into smaller parts in order to manage them.

The largest work and expense is programming. However, before we write a single line of code, we recommend that the client undertakes a design phase with a skilled UX designer and experienced UI designers. We often compare the design phase to creating the blueprint for a house where one illustrates the conditions for building their dream project, before we start programming.

The design phase is about gathering context, understanding the business model, identifying potential target groups, developing design concepts, and defining user journeys that are visualized in a clickable prototype. This prototype is as close as we can get to the final product without writing a single line of code. The process is very creative and communicative, and you as a client get a fairly quick impression of the final result. From here, your life becomes much easier.

With a completed design phase, we have a clear basis for estimating the work involved. You can also validate your design with the intended target group. The insights from the design phase also enable technical decisions to be made and the service to be developed, based on a concrete user experience that is supported by feedback from real users.

Whether it takes a week to reach a first commercial release (MVP) or several months, we will not be able to tell until we have design in place. It is you, as the client, who determines when the product is ready for the market. However, a product can often be released sooner than you think. Usually, a single feature is absolutely central to the entire user experience, after which you update the service in short iterations based on user feedback.

How to choose the right supplier?

Allowing multiple digital agencies to submit quotes and then choosing the one that offers the lowest price is a pointless exercise. If you are an experienced client, you already know this, but we see it happening over and over again, yet no client or agency comes out happy from such a process. Instead, choose the agency you have the most confidence in and trust the quality they have delivered in past projects. Personal chemistry is important, ask to meet the team you will be working with before the project starts.

Then set up a budget for a commercial release together with your chosen digital agency and collaborate as if you were part of the same team. Keep in mind that the project does not end after a commercial release. Thereafter, the project needs to be maintained and updated, which also means that the client needs a budget for annual maintenance and further development.

Let's summarize

Manage uncertainty: All projects are unique, which is why it's impossible to say exactly how long it will take to build an app or web service without the right information. However, by conducting a design phase and breaking down the project into smaller parts, one can get a clearer picture and make better estimates.

Communication: A good supplier is transparent at all times thoughout the project and values close collaboration with clients. This gives you as a client the opportunity to get involved and become part of the team.

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Photo of P-A Gustafsson

P-A Gustafsson

Co-Founder & CEO

Photo of P-A Gustafsson

P-A Gustafsson

Co-Founder & CEO