Evaluating Your Budget: How Much does it Cost to Build Your App?

Evaluating Your Budget: How Much does it Cost to Build Your App?

That’s probably the most common question we get asked, but not an exactly an easy one to answer.

Seeing that you’ve landed on this page, we can safely assume you are in looking to build a mobile application. And for obvious reasons you are curious to know the total cost of app development in Johannesburg.

iSolve Mobility has been designing and developing native mobile apps and web apps for Android and iOS for a while now, and from our wealth of experience working with a range of different clients, from innovative and established businesses, to disruptive start-ups, we’ve learned a thing or two about what goes into creating a mobile app.

Needless to say, the cost of software development varies widely.

Why is the app building process expensive?

On average, it takes 5-20 people about 3-6 months to develop an app. Skilled designers, developers and business analysts need to have the right tools for the job and experience to back it up.

That takes years to acquire, and because of it, a typical cost for iOS developer with 5+ years can be R2,000 per day and more. It also depends on the platforms you choose. If you want to have both iOS and Android, you will need more people and a larger budget and a great team to bring it all up together.

Here’s a quick guideline on how much your app idea is going to cost and time it will require.

Time:

  • A basic app an application with simple functionality that requires approximately 350-700 hours on development.
  • A medium complexity app takes from 700 to 1,000 hours.
  • A sophisticated app, with a backend and api integrations in most cases, exceeds 1,200 hours on development.

Cost:

  • Low to medium complexity: A quality low to medium complexity mobile app built in South Africa will cost between R225,000 and R650,000. A start-up looking to develop an app with a basic feature set for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is likely to cost between R0 and R225,000;
  • High complexity: businesses wanting to streamline internal processes or integrate with other systems should expect to pay between R450,00 and R1,250,000 for an app.

What influences the cost of app development?

The cost of app development doesn’t only hinge on development time and hourly rates. It depends on a number of factors, including technical complexity of the product, size and experience of the app development team, choice of platforms and post-release support expenses.

We eight factors we have identified that influence how much it costs to build an app:

  • number of platforms (iPhone, Android, Web)
  • type of app you are building
  • number of screens
  • app design
  • app integrations
  • backend development requirements<
  • number and complexity of the app features
  • post release expenses

1. Number of platforms

This has a huge impact on how much your app will cost to build, as well as the time required.

Will you require iPhone app development, Android app development, both or will you create a web app?

An additional decision you will also have to make when building your app is whether to develop your app hybrid or native.  What is the difference?

  • Native app development:
Faster and more reliable by its design, specific technology and language for each platform. Best in class security for a mobile application, the best performance, a highly responsive user interface, and access to all native APIs.
  • Hybrid app development
A faster development process, great apps built using web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The hybrid app development route is cost effective and faster.

Generally speaking, if you choose a native app it will have to be built across two different platforms (iOS and Android), which will incur greater costs.  It is important to know, every time you add a new platform, it will typically increase the cost.

2. Identify what type of app you’re building

Different types of apps are priced at varying levels. Is your app:
  • Simple App
This type of app focused on providing collective information to the audience. These are apps whose development requires no API integration, no back-end, or standard UI components.
  • Dynamic App
Dynamic App is the complex and advances application which needs WIFI/data connection for its proper functioning. It provides real-time information, by accessing the database.
  • Database App
Database App allows the user access to search, edit, delete and manage the data. This type of app directly connects to the database to retrieve data and present it to the user. These types of apps require custom UI features, API integration, back-end server, etc.
  • Games
Games are a highly complex app which will provide 3D visualisation to the user. This type of app features audio/video processing, real-time synchronisation, an offline data cache and complex backend.

3. Number of screens

It may sound simple, but every screen on your mobile app requires design and development. Just like any website design, the more pages or screens your app has the more it will cost.  One way to reduce the cost of your app build is by reviewing your app features and therefore the number of screens you require.

4. App design

It’s not just developers that are needed to build your app, app designers are also required.

When it comes to mobile apps, Visual design and UX (user experience) design go hand in hand with your app’s functionality and usability and can make or break your app, no matter how good the idea is.

Designers will not only plan out the visual design of your app, logos, icons, wireframes, and branding, designers are required to make sure the app is user-friendly. Customised design is harder and complex to implement than a standard design. Also, it is time-consuming because it requires deep research.

As a result, app design is an integral part of the cost to make an app.

5.Backend development requirements

Apps that require back-end development and servers will almost always cost more.

Any dynamic mobile application that requires data synchronization across platforms, in addition to the ability to send alerts, push notifications, geolocation, user/login management and integration to third party systems will require a backend.

Backend development is the nuts and bolts that makes the app functional. A backend is essentially an API which facilitates the transfer of data between your app and a cloud hosted database.

6. App integrations

“Application integration is the merging and optimization of data and workflows between two disparate software applications, often a new cloud application with a legacy on-premise application.”

Source: Informatica.com

If you require your app to integrate with other systems, then the type of integration will be a big influence on app cost. Will it be a proprietary integration or an integration to a well-documented publicly available API?

Also, what will the nature of the integration be? Is it a simple integration, where your app may send data to the other system, or a more complex integration that may involve the data flowing both ways?  Will the other system require changes to their API to facilitate the integration? Or if that’s not possible, will you need to make changes your side?

7. Number and complexity of app features

The number and complexity of your app’s features will impact the app cost. The more complex the feature the higher the cost will be.

Every time you add a new feature – for example, a sign-up form, a map interface, payments, video uploads, push notifications – there will be an additional cost. This is because for each new feature an interface will need to be designed and the rules/business logic associated with the features created.

There are countless ways a feature can be implemented. An example is a photo upload feature. A base option would be requiring a user to access the photo on their photos folder.  Another, more expensive option would be to allow the app access to the camera. Both achieve the same outcome but have different levels of developer effort.

We suggest clients consider what they really need for a minimum viable product, and decided how far do you need to go in version one and what can be prioritised for future releases?

8. Post-release expenses

The average app development budget does not solely consist out of design and development.

You should also take into account the money that goes into growing the product. Just like with any business, an app needs regular updates, customer support, backend server maintenance, cloud hosting, and even legal support, not to mention marketing and sales, which have a huge impact on the product’s success.

Who is building your app?

Depending on the project requirements, your budget and location aside, there are different types of developers as well.

You could hire:

  • an independent contractor
  • a small to medium sized development agency
  • big corporations
Depending on what you decide, the price will change. There are reasons behind the pricing structure of these different development options.

For example, an independent developer could be your least expensive option. If you’re only looking to spend about R50,000 to R100,000 on your app, you could probably find an independent contractor who is willing to take on that job.

If you’re going to hire a development agency, the size of the agency will also impact the price. An app development team typically includes a business analyst, a solution architect, one or more developers (depending on the platform), a project manager, a quality assurance specialist, and a UI/UX designer.

App Development Cost Breakdown

It’s really important to note that these costing brackets for app development are guidelines only, as every app and piece of custom software developed is unique, and the process involved in accurately costing a project is, pretty complex due to the number of unknowns.

Very Low Complexity

R0-R22,5000

2-3 months

  • 1-5 Screens
  • Singly functionality
  • Few simulations users
  • Logo design
  • branding
  • Basic User Analytics
  • Lead Capturing to Email
  • Responsive
Low Complexity

R225000 – R450000

3-4 months

  • 5-10 Screens
  • Singly functionality
  • Responsive
  • Low user base
  • Email service
  • Basic user registration
  • Social media integration
  • Reset password functionality
Medium Complexity

R450000 – R675 000

4-5 months

  • 10-15 Screens
  • Singly functionality
  • User functionality
  • Simple admin functionality
  • Low user base
  • Likely to be an internal business application
  • Limited admin functionality
  • 10-20 active simultaneous user
  • User login
  • Database integration
  • API integration
High Complexity

R675000 – R1125000

4-6 months

  • 15-25 Screens
  • Admin application
  • User application
  • Basic SaaS application
  • 10-100 active simultaneous user
  • Requires backend and administration portal
  • Database
  • SMS Services
  • Prepared to scale
  • Push notifications
  • Web services
  • Reporting functionality
  • Data visualisation
  • Basic multi tenancy
Very High Complexity

R1125000+

6 months

  • 30+ Screens
  • Full admin functionality
  • Partner functionality
  • Full SaaS functionality
  • Highly scalable
  • Large user base
  • Thousands of active simultaneous users
  • Various user roles and applications
  • Payment gateways
  • 3rd party API integrations
  • Large user base
  • Various devices
  • Machine learning:
  • Forgiving search
  • Health monitoring system
  • Support features
  • High availability
  • Performance optimisations for various devices (images and content)
  • Advanced user analytics (user engagement tracking)
  • CDN integration
  • Location data
  • Login system
  • Advanced multi tenancy

Final Thoughts

Lots of different factors impact this cost of app development in Johannesburg. It depends on who builds your app, how it gets built, and what you want your app to do.

As you can see from this guide, building an app isn’t cheap. R50,000 won’t get you much. But if you’ve got R100,000 or more to spend, you can definitely get started and build something that’s functional.

One crucial piece of advice is to pick a good team. A good developer won’t do design; a good designer won’t know how to write code. Make sure there is a reliable team of fully skilled people to undertake your project and run things professionally.

If you’re looking for an experienced and creative team to solve your business challenge with state-of-the-art software, drop us a line at info@isolvemobility.co.za