How much does it cost to develop an app?

Sometimes, people who refuse to tell us their idea will ask how much it costs to develop. You will recognise that this is a difficult question to answer well. We could tell you that we have developed apps for a few hundred dollars before, and charged hundreds of thousands for others, but this information is not helpful at all because the range is too great. We could similarly tell you our hourly rate, which is very competitive in our market, but even this quantitative information doesn’t provide an answer because you won’t know how long your product will take to develop.

If you write a very detailed specification for an app and take it to 100 different software development companies, then you’re going to get back 100 different quotes. Here are some reasons why:

  • Estimation is part art and part science
  • Familiarity with similar projects
  • Varying risk assessments
  • Existing code
  • Overheads
  • Margin
  • Level of detail
  • Inclusions in your contract
Estimating what an app will cost

If you build the same house design repeatedly then you could probably estimate the build time very accurately. It gets harder the more customisations you add. App development is by its nature very customised, and estimates get more complicated. There are tools and methods that can help, but estimation remains an art.

If you’ve done it before then you know either how easy it is, or how insanely complicated it might be. Agencies with less experience may seriously underestimate risk and provide an unrealistic estimate – which is great if you want a saving but catastrophic if you require delivery.

Existing code can also affect estimates. We don’t have to write a lot of common code (the base code that many apps use such as user accounts, logins, password retrieval, etc.) every time we start a project because we use our in-house framework to get us started. Smaller agencies by contrast may start with an empty page or even worse, a third-party template.

A freelancer working out of their bedroom will charge significantly less than a listed company in the CBD. Dapper Apps sits comfortably in the middle. Our Perth office is in the Perth city region just far enough from the CBD that we can visit our corporate clients in 10 minutes, and yet still offer our visiting customers free street parking. We also boast an international team which is extremely efficient and cost effective and allows us to offer cheaper rates to our clients.

Fixed price vs. agile contracts

Many situations require a fixed price contract and we’re happy to oblige. We factor risk into these quotes and will charge more if we believe a project seems likely to run longer than we might like.

Agile contracts are where we charge for time spent and are our preferred option. You get the best software products if you can develop iteratively, looking at each app version as it is delivered and tweaking it as you go. If you have a fixed price contract then the scope is limited but with agile contracts you assess your budget and goals throughout the project.

For limited clients we offer a discounted rate in exchange for sweat equity.

Before we talk about money though, we need to answer the important question, can you help me?

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