Rapid technological development and introducing cutting-edge technologies like AR/VR and AI fuel the growth of the mobile application market. It is reported that the mobile application market is expected to reach $311.25 billion by 2023, registering a CAGR of 19.2% from 2017 to 2023. Its growth is undeniable, which makes it an appealing industry for investors and development companies.
If you are looking to develop your first mobile app, you must be wondering how long it takes and how much it would cost you. Don’t be surprised that the most common answer you are going to hear is “It depends”. And it really does - on complexity, the number of features, budget, and your expectations. There is a huge difference in developing a calculator versus an application like Tinder.
The mobile app development process is not limited to design and software engineering. Before jumping into it, you should consider creating a business plan, research the market, validate your idea, etc. But let’s start by finding out how long the development process normally takes.
Developing a Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a good strategy to test your app early and make necessary changes. It helps you to get feedback from users early in the development so that you don’t have to wait until it’s launched to discover bugs and errors, besides MVP gives you a chance to start getting ROI early on.
Now that you have an idea of how much time you might need to develop your mobile application, you can estimate the cost of development, but again - it depends on where you want to hire your developers. The price differs for in-house software development teams and outsourcing the job to a third-party, where the location plays a definitive role in setting the price.
It could be tempting to opt for the lower quote, but be sure to find an option where you don’t sacrifice the quality of your application to save some bucks. It takes time and skills to develop an optimized and user-friendly mobile application.
Stages of mobile app development
Time spent on the development project fully depends on the app requirements and software development team’s performance. In our experience at Trio, it takes around 3 to 6 months to develop an application of medium complexity, but this number may vary from project to project.
The stages of the mobile app development process cannot be separated from one another and are tightly connected. The success of the project depends on how well the foundation for development was laid, how clear the requirements were based on the actual programming that can go much faster and would require less time to debug the app and eliminate possible errors.
By the time you are ready to dive in the development process, you should already know your goals and objectives and support them with a researched mobile app business plan that proves the viability of your idea.
Specifications, or specs for short, take about 10% of the whole application development process. This step in the process describes the app’s functionality, navigation, features, technical details. At this stage, vague ideas of the final product do not serve the purpose anymore and need to be replaced with as many specific details as possible.
UI and UX both deal with consumer experience design and play a crucial role in the project’s success. It explains the visual appearance of the application and prototypes how the end-users will interact with the product. In our experience, this stage of mobile app development takes around another 20% of the time.
Backend development takes care of all the internal structures that you will need to support your application like APIs, data diagrams, servers, data integration, and push notification services. However, for simpler apps, it often makes sense to use Backend as a Service (BaaS) platforms that provide all the necessary technology to support the structure of your app.
Frontend development is focused on the client-side of the application and deals with everything that the user sees on the screen, making sure they are provided with a seamless experience and interactions. Frontend development heavily depends on the information provided by UI and UX designs. While custom backend development can be substituted with BaaS platforms, the frontend requires a solid development work.
QA or Quality Assurance is a system of processes and standards that verify the quality of created software. The earlier it starts the more beneficial it is to achieve a quality standard. It is hard to separate it from the backend and frontend development, so altogether we estimate that it takes about 60 to 70% of the whole development process.
Testing your application for bugs is an ongoing process during development that helps to notice small errors in functionality early on and fix them without waiting for the application to be released. That helps to save time and have a viable product that can be tested in the market before the actual launch.
As you can see, we only put an approximate amount of time that is dedicated to every stage of the project because each and every mobile application is unique. The amount of time you will spend on development also depends on the size and skills of a software development team that you hire.
You should keep in mind that the more time you spend developing specifications and detailed requirements of your project, the less time you would need during the development to change things if they don’t correspond with your vision.
The work doesn’t stop when the application has been developed and launched - you should keep in mind the maintenance and support that would be required after the release. Just like any business, a mobile application requires monitoring and changes to make sure it fits current user needs and market demand, but having created a solid app that is viable in the market is a good start.