I remember when I was young I couldn’t wait to finish my education. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I hated all of my subjects or wanted to start work at the age of 10 (lol). But I was more focused on getting to the next step, than enjoying the journey itself. Being in kindergarten - I wanted to go to primary school already. When I was in primary school, I wanted to go to highschool. And basically - I could have ended my education there, as, in Poland, it is only obligatory to educate until you’re 18 years old.
But two things have changed along the way: my hunger for knowledge and leaving my parents home has led me to apply to a University. And the second thing - the situation on the market changed to the point where without a higher (university) education you could hardly get any well-paid job. So the next three years have passed on getting my journalism associate diploma.
After achieving that (yay, I was happy for about 5 minutes and then needed a new goal - damn you, our modern society) - I would be perfectly fine to stop learning. Come on - I’ve spent nearly 15 years of my 21 years long life educating myself, that should be enough right? But I’ve found an entirely new bachelor's degree that I’ve thought will help my career (and did). And here I am - being 26 years old and certain, that my education will never stop. And the same might happen with your application.
Ok, but what your education story has to do with the app development timeline?
I’ve used that story of my life example not without a purpose, but to explain to you, how much the time of building your app will differ regarding the approach you choose. If you have a clear goal in your life and an idea for yourself, finishing highschool will be perfectly fine for you. In regards to building an app topic, that means creating an application MVP in 3 months and being done.
But if like myself, you’re not exactly sure, which career will be best for you, how the job market will look like after you finish your education or what do you REALLY like to do - you will be constantly learning and evolving. And in the app development world - that means building an MVP (it’s ALWAYS a better idea to start with it!) and then developing it for years. It requires a different mindset - not impatiently waiting, when my app will be “done”, but being open to perceiving it as a living system, that can constantly grow as long as you’ll take care of it.
But don’t worry - I’m not gonna leave you with that info and nothing else! Below I will deeply explain, how many hours exactly our developers spend on creating some of the apps from our portfolio. All of that to give you a sense, when should you start your own app development if you want to make it live a few months from now - maybe there is no need to wait? Being an app entrepreneur awaits you - so let's find how long does it take to build an app!
How many hours does it take to develop an app?
I could finish this paragraph on using this beloved by the software houses phrase “it depends”. Because it really does - it’s much faster to build an app like Tinder (and cheaper) than to create a second Facebook. I cannot speak for other app developers but below I will show you how long did building specific apps from our portfolio take.
How long does the mobile app development process take? [Simple one]
Let’s start with a simple app example. Akuarella is a mobile app (both for Android and iOS devices) that helps parents spontaneously capture the smiles and joy of their babies and children. This selfie application is targeted at parents who want to take the perfect picture of their children with a natural smile with ease, without them even knowing.
In this case, the whole app development process took around 800 hours. But bear in mind, that it wasn't “just” a development part. Our development team made this app from A to Z - prepared the whole UX / UI Design side (graphic materials, user stories, and more), back end, provided Project Management services, and as the result, made two, separate native mobile apps (iOS and Android). We believe, that this kind of approach (full in-house) helps to make truly savvy apps! If you have some of these things ready (for example graphic designs), the time will be shorter.
So in general, 15 people from our company were somehow engaged in this mobile app development project, when there was a need for their services. So at the first sight, 800 hours might look like a lot - but if you count how many people are engaged in the project at the same time, the whole development time wraps around 3 months to have your mobile app live and see it in the App Store!
This specific app had a clear goal from the very beginning. It was specially designed for famous Puerto Rican actress Adamari López and her daughter Alaïa. All the profits from the app were donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Tennessee, USA. So it wasn’t one of these apps that needed to be constantly developed and maintained.
How long does it take to code an app? [A Complex App Example]
Now let’s move to the second example, of a more advanced application. James Marketing Amplifier App is a marketing automation web application for the law industry. The purpose is to help them improve their marketing to obtain more and better clients. James Marketing Amplifier offers high-value law content that can be sent to segmented clients through email campaigns. With this online tool, law firms receive more signups from their website, acquire customers through referrals, grow and improve educational content on their blogs.
Making the app 1.0 version live took our team around 1200 hours. This project involved 7 people: Project Manager, UX/UI Designer, Quality Assurance Specialist, two Front-end Developers, and two RoR Developers. Fun fact - we released this app in the middle of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic! The whole development part of this app version (not counting estimations etc.) took us around 4 months.
After releasing the first version of the app, we’ve almost instantly moved to further development, as based on the users' feedback ideas for new functionalities and amendments came naturally.
Important note: it is ALWAYS our clients' decision, whether they want to further develop their app. We’re providing them with fully functional, bug-free, and stable software - it’s not like with computer games, where you almost always have to download the Day-1 patch.
So you can always end your work at the chosen scope and end up with a perfectly working app. But if along the way, you will notice that your target audience has changed or spotted out some new business opportunities - we will be there, to come back to growing your software. Whether it will be weeks, months, or years - we’ll be there.
How long does it take to make a simple app?
First, we need to determine whether we’re on the same page as a “simple app” is. Building the second Uber is NOT a simple app. Because despite the fact that this is an app that is already live - we don’t have access to source code to just take it and adjust it to your needs. The same situation applies to apps that seem to be simple at first look. Let’s take one of our foodtech apps for example.
From the user perspective - it’s a pretty basic, food ordering mobile app. But the real complexity hides in the app integrations (with NCR POS system or popular in the GCC regions Mada cards) and the Admin Panel that is available to the app owner.
But let’s say that your application is really simple (something like Smoke-Free app that is mainly a content-based app, which aims to motivate you to quit smoking). In this case, building an MVP shouldn’t last longer than 3 months.
How long it takes for a development agency, to finish the app started by someone else?
There is one additional matter I want to cover here, which is time-related. We often encounter a situation at Railwaymen, when someone comes to us and says that he/she has got an app finished in 70 % (the question is - how poor of a freelancer/software house you’ve chosen, that he/she/they couldn’t get it 100 % done?) so he/she expects that we can take over the app and get it done within a month or so. Unfortunately, that’s not how it goes.
Imagine the situation when you’re a book author and you are asked to finish the book that someone else started to create. First of all: most of the authors wouldn’t agree to that and would propose writing it once again from scratch with similar characters, plotlines, etc. And the ones that would agree to finish someone else's work, would need extra time to read thoroughly the part already done, to understand it and avoid any loopholes in the storyline or pure nonsenses.
Now we want to share it with you!
The same goes for app development. If we receive a code after someone else - we will look at it. But if it will be garbage - we’re very sorry, but the only way to save the software idea itself is to make the app once again from scratch. Reach to us, if you struggle with a similar situation - our experts will carefully review your code, and find the best solution to maintain the app quality.
How difficult is it to develop an app?
I think the best person to answer this question will be our CTO Kamil - see what he says below.
What does it take to make an app? Years of experience!
One of the biggest factors that influence the app development time is the number of Senior Developers that the app development company has got on board. Naturally, they will require less time to learn things needed to create your app, as they’ve already encountered similar challenges in their previous projects. In our company, we have more Senior RoR devs than juniors & regulars combined (at the time I'm writing this article, it’s 12 vs 8, without counting the CTO)! Check our meet the team page and see for yourself.
Our programmers, QA Specialists, UX Designers, and Project Managers are building savvy apps for years already and they're sharing their knowledge on our company blog (check the web development, mobile development and product design categories to see for yourself). They also record Tech Talks as below: this born from a pure passion for Vue.js framework speech, recorded by our Ruby on Rails Developer Szymon will give you a sense, of what kind of energy you can expect from our side.
Is it expensive to build an app?
Yes and no. If you will build a 200 k worth application that will bring you thousands of dollars a month of passive income or savings - it is not. But if you will dedicate the same budget, to build an application promoting an event that happens once a year (and is not WebSummit or Mobile World Congress size) - yeah, it can be pretty much. So it is best to not look at your software general price, but the Return of Investment (ROI) you can get from it.
As in life - if you invest little and play safe, you will not gain a lot, that’s a harsh truth. If you will let your money sit in your savings account still, you will receive around 0.5 % of interest a month (minus taxes!). But if you invest this money on the exchange - you can either earn much more or lose everything.
Luckily the app development world nowadays is very much like playing on the stock market. You have experts that can advise you how to move your funds, whether you want to earn more and risk a bit more or grow slower, but in a much safer way. By the way - doesn’t read about playing safe seem so ridiculous in the middle of a pandemic?
Ok, I understand - but what amount of money does it take to build an app MVP with you?
Each app development company will have its own app development time and required budget: I can only speak about how the prizes look like in our company.
For a Minimum Viable Product (a basic version of the application, with minimal functionalities to check the market, whether there is a potential for further development) we charge around $20,000 and $30,000 and we build it within 3 months.And then if you want to proceed further - the app prize depends on functionalities, the number of people involved, the country, you choose the software house from, and many different factors. You can read more about it here!
The key here is to hire the app development agency that will dedicate enough time on a planning stage, to determine a feature list, user experience matters, determine the target audience, back end, and front end works required, serve side logic challenges, the number of app developers needed to finish the application and much, much more. Make sure that they don't speed up this part of the development process as it's crucial to your app success.
Conclusion - how long it takes to build my app?
So as you see there is no clear answer to the question of how long does it take to make an app. I’ve presented you with some examples from our company with the exact numbers - hope it will give you a better understanding, as you look at these apps and compare them to your own app idea. Ultimately the best way to find out how long does it take to finish your app development process is to contact us. No matter, whether its'a mobile app development project or web - its time & prize estimation is 100 % free with us. And who knows - maybe it will turn out that the funds you already have are more than enough ;)
Remember as I said that the app development world now is similar to playing on the stock? It’s far less hazardous and uncertain than it was a few years ago and that’s because the research BEFORE making an application is becoming more and more important.
And in our company, that research period is called Discovery Phase. Based on that service, you will not only receive a detailed estimation of how long the building your app will take but what functionalities it should have at the very beginning, which clients you should focus on, and generally verifying, whether your idea makes sense.
Want to know more about Discovery Phase and our company in general? No problem - we’ve prepared a nice and light PDF file that you can take with you on your next journey, waiting in line for a doctor appointment or simply having not much to do with yourself when your dinner is cooking ;)
Fill out the form below and we will send it to you within seconds!