When deciding to give custom app development a try we consider various factors. We look at the development company check their about us section to see the faces we will be seeing often on our calls, and dig through their tech stack to see if it’s not from another era. Is there anything I’m forgetting about? Oh yeah, the elephant in the room - the app development cost. How much does it cost to make an app and is it worth your money? Let's find out together!
The App Development Cost Breakdown - How Does It Look Like at Railwaymen?
I remember the times when paying for software was considered “lame”. Around 15 years ago, we were all simply adjusting to the Internet potential of giving us things that we had to pay for before for free. Did you want to be up to date with things that were going on in the news? Don’t need to buy a newspaper anymore - here is this entirely free news portal. Want to listen to music? Don’t buy CDs - just open YouTube and type in your favorite artist name. I believe you get what I’m talking about, so let’s fast forward to today.
When I’m writing this article in 2021 we’re starting to notice that if we want to receive something truly valuable and of the highest quality, we simply have to pay for it. Yet, the idea of Cheap App Development is still alive - in the United States Alone, this phrase is searched in the Google Engine 140 times a month. And if we compare it to phrase quality app development we see that this one… got 0 searches.
Valuable App Development Search Queries Comparison
For me, a person working in the Software House for almost 2 years already, it’s mind-blowing. I understand the reasons, why people want to save up some money when creating software (most of them, coming from the source that they don’t fully understand its value) but on the other hand - it still amazes me, that not everyone understands the dangers, that come along with creating your app for pennies.
So how to secure yourself from both sides: don’t pay too much for your app if you could get the same quality for less somewhere else and don’t invest too little, risking receiving a really bad product that won’t satisfy your needs? Ask Software House to justify their app development prices.
And this is exactly what I’m going to do in the article below.
What are the costs of developing an app in Railwaymen?
I know that you are all tired of hearing “it depends”, so I will try to give you as many details as I can basing on examples from our Railwaymen experience. I can only tell you how the app development cost looks like in our software house - bear in mind, that each app developer probably has got its own price list to make an app. And many, many factors influence it - I can only speak about those, that affect our cost to build an app.
So here it is - if you want to develop an app MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with us, you need to dedicate around 25$k - 50$k. The exact amount will be estimated after seeing your app technical documentation. You don’t have one ready? I strongly recommend you to order our Discovery Phase Service at first - the prize depends on its scope and varies around 7$k - 8$k. Besides your app Technical Documentation, the Discovery Phase Documentation includes competitors analysis, market research, lo-fi wireframes, monetization strategy proposition, and lists of functionalities, that your app should have to reach your business goal.
Then you can take this around 30 pages file and:
- look for a VC/Angel Investor, who will ensure the funding for your app idea (lots of them complains, that people come to them asking for money without any app idea business validation - so this will give you a huge advantage!),
- go to another software house/freelancer, and be sure, that they’ll build you exactly what you want, or
- move to the development part with us - but only if you’ll want to, no strings attached!
We prepared a special Free Ebook that shows how the Discovery Phase Documentation might look like (of course that’s a demo - the one prepared for you, will be much more in-depth) on the fictional Dating App example. Just fill-up the form below, and I will send it to your inbox now 👇
Railwaymen Discovery Phase Free Ebook
Ok, let’s go back to our prizes. So you know, how much we charge for the Discovery Phase, MVP - but how much will it cost me, if I decide to pursue my software development process further?
Exactly a year ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just getting started, we released a Social Networking Platform called Frindow. Creating this advanced social app (with internal chats, video chats, different profiles, etc.) cost its creator Marcus Hamilton from London 120k$ - 150k$. You can read more about the team structure, functionalities, and more here. That's a pretty average cost if you want to invest in the development of a pretty complex app.
App Development Cost Estimate for Social App Frindow
Railwaymen App Development Cost Breakdown - What Influences Our Prices?
When we’re sharing our prices with our potential clients, we usually receive three different reactions:
- The first one: Ok, I understand that you are professionals, who dedicated a lot of years to advance your programming, design, and testing skills. I’m happy to trust you with my money. (every software house Holy Grail - hardly ever happens).
- The second one: Why do you charge so much?! I’ve seen that companies from Ukraine, India, or your competitors from Poland expect less money than you do! (a pretty common one).
- The third one: How can your prices be so low? I’ve reached out to other development companies from the United States and Western Europe and they’ve given me much higher estimations. There must be a catch hidden somewhere! (also a common one).
Let’s say that the first reaction doesn’t need elaborating further. It’s the ideal one, where the client is already educated enough and aware of the benefits that the custom app development brings, that he/she is willing to invest his hard-earned money in it, understanding why is the price like that To become a client like that I recommend you to read more articles on our blog, published under Business & Technology category.
For the reasons why creating an app, in general, is not a cheap process you can read one of our previous articles here. Now I would like to play the Devil’s Advocate role for the other two sides of the spectrum. ;) So here we go!
The 1st Perspective - Why Are You Charging More Than Other Software House?
We charge so much because:
#1 Most of our developers are seniors.
And that’s just a fact, that a Senior Programmer is more expensive than a Junior or Intern. So if you’re reaching other development team and start to get excited, how little they charge - check who exactly will be working on your project.
Railwaymen About US Section - Senior RoR Developers
Just imagine - a Senior Developer takes around $60 per hour. The Junior takes $20. They both receive the same task to finish. The Senior Developer does it within 2 hours because he/she just KNOWS how it should be done. The Junior, who is just at the beginning of his programming journey, needs 8 hours to do it, because he/she needs to check Stack Overflow, ask his/her colleagues for guidance, and change his/her approach a few times through the whole process. In the end, the Senior appears to be the more cost-efficient one, as he received 120$ for the work, and the Junior got 160$. Hiring Seniors is simply more cost-efficient.
#2 We do everything in-house.
I’ve worked in software houses/technology companies before and I know that it is a very common practice to outsource some work outside. Starting from things like Marketing (Copywriting, SEO optimizing, etc.), Quality Assurance, UX/UI Design (they care deeply about the app design), or development ending. We don’t outsource ANYTHING. Everything you read on this blog for around 1,5 years was written by us. And every application we made - was born in our Cracow Headquarters.
Why is that? Because we want to maintain full control over your app development process, as we’re signing our names under it. We’ve seen too many corporations outsourcing some of their processes abroad because it’s cheaper, and the friction that it causes. Not with us. Believe me, we have so many projects already that we could easily outsource some of them to other companies and make some profit but we simply don’t do that. Our clients' satisfaction and company reputation are too important for us, to endanger it that way.
#3 We don’t do simple apps.
If you want to create a very basic application, with few functionalities, graphic designs, and integrations - you should probably choose another company. We specialize in creating applications that other software houses find too complex to even try to make.
ProEst Admiration of Our Work, that Helped to Become One of The INC5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the USA 2020
For example - we’ve built and constantly develop a Cloud-Based AI Construction Estimating Software from the United States called ProEst. Developed an advanced Marketing Automation Platform for the Law Industry James Marketing Amplifier. Created a comprehensive Cloud-Based Cost Management App for the fintech industry CostTracker. So as you can see we like to start small (mentioned before MVP) and then grow our client's app along with their business strategy.
#4 The quality of our code is simply higher.
In each app project, we require 100% test coverage from the early beginning. It's a part of the test requirement so that the whole test case will not pass unless the code is fully covered. We're doing a code review for each portion of the delivered code and covering the whole code with unit & function tests. Thanks to the usage of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery we're able to limit time spent on app distribution.
We automate all the tests that are crucial and focus on critical areas of the application. Our team always leverages the amount of time and work needed to create and maintain the automated test sets against the ability to manually follow test cases. However, each application is different. Customer awareness of the automated tests is also an important factor we take into account.
When considering our app development cost breakdown I need to mention our app maintenance services. We won’t leave you with your app alone when the development is finished. We’ll be your technological partner all the time when any small updates will be needed - for a significantly lower price.
#5 The business side of your idea is as much important for us as the technical one.
Some software houses provide “only” technological expertise. We do so much more than that. Starting with a completely free-of-charge Design Thinking Workshops (more here), moving to the previously mentioned Discovery Phase service (download free ebook about it here) at marketing & business consulting after your app is live ending. We understand business on the level that few other app developers do.
Among our team members (especially Project Managers, Marketing Specialists, and Business Development experts) you will find experienced professionals, who worked in several technology companies before. We know how to talk with accelerators. How to acquire fundings. Build your market presence right, acquire users for your software and monetize your app well.
Our app development cost breakdown - apps we’ve helped to succeed already
Let’s switch sides.
The 2nd Perspective - Why Are You Charging Less Than Other Software Houses?
We have lower prices than other software houses because:
#1 We’re based in Poland.
The median income in Poland for 2020 was 1 304 dollars without taxes. You might think - what?! How can you make a living for so little? But the reality is, that it’s not that hard. Sure, maybe you couldn’t afford to eat outside every day with that kind of paycheck, or it’s hard to support your family by yourself, but as it’s around 3 700 zloty after taxes, which enables you to:
- rent a studio apartment in a Cracow city center (around 1800 zlotys for everything a month - 900 zlotys if you decide to share it with someone),
- pay for your phone (around 50 zlotys),
- Internet (50 zlotys),
- and still be left with 1800 zlotys to spend on food, clothes and anything you like - I must say it’s not that bad.
For most of my student years, I was living in the center of Cracow for 500 dollars a month, and I could afford to go to clubs, buying beers, and eating outside with my friends from time to time. No wonder so many people choose Poland for their bachelorette parties ;)
You see, we’ve reached the title of a “developed country” (advancing from the “developing” one) not so long ago in 2018. When you take into consideration other Central and Eastern European Countries - only Estonia and the Czech Republic are slightly higher than us, but we still beat Lithuania, Hungary, and Ukraine.
Source: World Population Review
What does it mean for you? We can charge you less because our costs of living are simply lower. I’ve given you the example of the median salary in Poland in general - to get a full picture, you need to see the data for the IT sector specifically.
Based on the report prepared by one of the biggest IT job board in Poland Bulldogjob.pl, the median monthly salary for a Junior Developer is 1200 $ after taxes (around 4500 zlotys), Regular Developer gets around 2000 $ after taxes (7800 zlotys) and Senior Developer earns something around 3000 $ after taxes (12000 zlotys).
So to sum up - the amount of money, that might appear to you being nearly suspiciously low, can ensure a high standard of life here in Poland. So don’t hesitate to benefit from that!
#2 Access to great talents & keeping them
Many software houses struggle with the issue of attracting the best app development talents to their projects. Especially those from the United States or Western Europe - learning programming is hard and requires lots of different skills like creativity, resilience, or attention to detail. Luckily, in Krakow where our app development company is based, we have great technical universities, which ensure a constant flow of talents.
We hire juniors and train them knowing that if we’ll just give them a chance they will surprise us with their hard work and dedication. We have 12 Senior Ruby on Rails Developers onboard and 11 of them have been trained and promoted inside our company. That’s why we can offer lower prices than US or Western app development companies - we don’t have to look for programmers in other countries, invest in relocation packages, etc.
#3 Pretty small company support structure.
The harsh truth is, that when it comes to software development companies, only the people who are working on the clients' projects are the hands-on breadwinners. Project Managers, Software Developers, UX/UI Designers, Quality Assurance Specialists - these are the ones, whose work the clients are paying for. But you still need to attract those clients somehow, recruit the employees or manage the finances inside of your organization.
Our Railwaymen Support structure
The bigger the support structure gets - the higher the prices become. In our software house, we maintain a pretty small support structure, which enables us to have lower prices than for example companies, which have 20 people marketing departments (we have 4) or 30 specialists sales team (currently, we have 3 and are doing pretty alright).
#4 We’re able to work hard.
This one can be a little bit controversial so please take it with a grain of salt ;) We can offer lower prices than Western European countries (especially those from the Mediterranean region) because of our work culture. During our years of experience in the app development industry, we’ve noticed that our Polish approach to work is very similar to the American one. That’s why we cooperate so well!
Our meetings are kept to the point, we like clarity, order, and keeping deadlines is incredibly important for us. We don’t mess around (unless it’s one of our after-work parties ;) ) so we’re extremely cost-efficient. When choosing us as your app development company, you will gain access to Jira where you’ll be able to see what tasks are planned for each sprint, for how long are they estimated, etc.
Want some confirmation? You can ask Marcus Hamilton from Frindow - he was (and is, as we still cooperate) amazed by the amount of work we’re able to deliver in a specific time. So be sure that if you’ll choose us as your development company, every hour spent on your project by us will be justified well.
Marcus Hamilton Frindow Creator Review
How much does it cost to develop an app at the true price of starting from scratch?
Want to receive a real app development cost breakdown when you have absolutely NOTHING but an app idea? In that case, you should prepare for costs as below:
- $6k - $7k for the Discovery Phase
It’s not mandatory, but I strongly recommend you to buy it. No serious app development company on Earth will develop your app based on an idea only. Imagine - it would be like going to a construction company and asking them to build your home without an architectural plan. I guarantee - 99 % of them will refuse to do the work. And the 1% that will agree will build you something, that you won’t probably like in the end.
Thanks to Discovery Phase you will receive your app Technical Documentation, Competitors Analysis, Features Breakdown, Lo-Fi Wireframes, User Personas, User Journey, Monetization Strategy, and much more.
- $25k - $50k is the average cost to make the MVP
Back to the home metaphor - you can go to a construction company and tell them that you want a fountain in your backyard, spiral stairs, and a golden chandelier. And then tell them that you have $ 100 k for all of that. Or - you can tell them right away that you have $ 100 k and ask (as they are the experts, who already built hundreds of houses before) what kind of home can you have for that budget. The same goes for the app development cost breakdown.
We can build you an MVP for $30k, for $40k, or $46,750 even - it’s all up to you, how much do you want to invest, and what to get in return! You can start with 25$ and then move further with time. We recommend that idea if it’s your first approach with custom app development - you will get a sense, whether this is something you want to pursue or not. In short words - you can build a fully functional app with us within 3 months for 25k.
The final cost of app development (MVP) at Railwaymen: $31k least - $57k max.
How much do app developers charge per hour (their hourly rate)?
App developers in general? Probably each one of them has got its price tag - just kidding ;) Not so long ago we decided to stop charging per hourly rate and switch to Man Day app development costs estimation. Why? Because it reduces the pressure on developers. Imagine how you would feel if each day you needed to explain yourself for every hour of your work? It would impact your creativity and focus. Hey, we’re all human, not robots - the Man Day approach enables our programmers to be more relaxed at work and as a result, is far more productive. But don’t think that it means they’re becoming lazy or anything like that!
Programming is undoubtedly very demanding work and you’re not getting better at it by staring on the screen for hours each day without any breaks. Lots of developers will agree, that sometimes the best ideas come to their mind when doing something entirely not work-related. And our Project Managers care about our developers dearly, keeping the clients' interest high as well. Since we switched from charging per hour to Man Day, not one of our clients has noticed the break-in of our work quality. On the contrary, it simplifies the cost estimation process for everyone, so we can focus on more important things, like building awesome web & mobile apps!
How do you estimate mobile app development?
We have a separate article dedicated to that topic, written by our Project Manager Olgierd. So if you want to receive an answer to this question, as best you should read it here. The specific mobile app cost is prepared after receiving detailed Infos, on what features do you want your mobile app to have. Push notifications, data storage, third party services, data encryption or just a simple app? These all together make a difference.
In short words - we talk a lot with our clients, our developers, UX/UI Designers, QA Specialists (taking care of testing and deployment), and then simply do the math. The mobile app development cost highly depends on the complexity of the app, how much does the client already has prepared (technical documentation or wireframes for example), and how many hours of work will our mobile app development process will take.
The mobile app development cost for two separate, native applications (one for Android and the second for iOS) is usually higher BUT sometimes it is necessary. We're able to build a hybrid mobile app that will work both on iOS and Android (using React Native) but we recommend it only in the case of simple apps. In short words: building a native app is more expensive, but sometimes simply necessary to accomplish your business goals.
For example: in a few weeks, we will be probably releasing a mobile Dating App built entirely in React Native. It was the most cost-efficient solution, to fit in the client app development budget and test his app idea itself. Also - dating apps don't process lots of data, so one app both for iOS and Android was a good choice.
Shawarmer native mobile iOS and Android app
An example from another spectrum: we've built two separate iOS and Android apps for the GCC Region's biggest network of Shawarma Restaurants called Shawarmer. A hybrid approach with React Native wouldn't fulfill its goal here, because too much data is processed inside those apps, various complex integrations as well and in terms of UX/UI experience - the client required the highest quality possible. The mobile app development cost, in this case, was higher, but also the Return of Investment (ROI) was bigger and faster, as over 1 million users have downloaded it already! We've put it inside the App Store by ourselves so we know it ;)
Mobile Application Development is one of our specialties, and you can read more about it here.
It’s perfectly understandable that when you are looking for an app development company you want to compare their prices. Just be careful to not treat that as the most important factor when deciding on your future technology partner. We recently acquired a client who said that was considering 9 other app developers besides us - part of them was USA-based. Some of these developers sent him a project estimation right away. And he was so surprised - how can they know, how much exactly will my app cost, since they didn't ask me any further questions?!
Our Railwaymen approach is different - we dig deeper, ask questions, set meetings with our Project Manager, the development team (programmers, UX/UI Designers, QA Engineers), and then - prepare an estimation, that is the most accurate as possible. And that was the reason why this client chose us - it wasn't about money, but something much more valuable. Peace of mind and feeling secure.
Basing your decision to pick the best one among hundreds of app development companies on price only is one of the 22 Crucial App Development Mistakes you can make when working on your app. Want to know what are the other 21? We’ve recently published an ebook that covers this topic in detail.