Getting Clear with App Development Cost in 2021

One of the questions frequently asked by clients is: how much will my application cost? This often makes the company representatives scratch their heads since it is asked before full negotiations about the nature of the application, the necessary features, the chosen platform, and so on.

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

Getting Clear with App Development Cost in 2021

While the client often simply does not understand what the development process of the application includes.

The price of an application depends on a very large number of variables. In addition to the factors listed above, it is also necessary to understand the approach that will be applied to development.

For example, the cost of developing an application will be very different from the cost of building an MVP of such an app.

And even having all the required information, the announced budget still remains approximate since it does not include potential problems that may arise during the development process.

First things first

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

There are two main types of clients who come to development companies in order to put their ideas into practice.

The first type is dreamers who strive to fulfill their ambition at all costs. Such clients think big and rarely understand the technical aspects of a future app.

The second type is technical specialists who clearly understand the entire stack of necessary technologies, features, and so on. Estimating the cost of production with such clients will take the least time.

Regardless of the type of client, the cost estimation procedure begins with an interview. At this stage, all aspects of the future application are specified and described, including the technical properties of the project. Ideally, by the end of the interview, the developers should have the following data:

  • Application positioning and target audience;
  • User personas;
  • User journey map;
  • Tech stack;
  • Platforms (iOS, Android, Desktop, Web, etc.);
  • UX and UI design aspects;
  • Limitations on budget, time, application load, and so on.

Only after all this data is known, you can start negotiating the cost of the application.

What affects production costs the most?

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

Let’s look at the main factors that affect the cost of app development.

Labor cost

First of all, it is important to understand that there are two types of payment for developers and designers: fixed price and hourly payment.

The fixed price is likely to be more expensive. But, most often, with this form of cooperation, the development company stays within the agreed budget and takes care of overruns.

On the other hand, hourly rates differ depending on which country the specialists are in. The highest rates are in the United States and Western Europe.

The rates of developers in Eastern Europe are cheaper. While Indian, Middle East, and South Asian markets come with the cheapest rates.

But you need to be careful here and not fall into the trap of small rates’ chase. Obviously, such prices are determined not only by the economic situation in these countries but by the quality of specialists.

That is why entrepreneurs choose the middle ground – the East European market, which offers qualified specialists at reasonable rates. This option, again, doesn’t suit absolutely everyone but remains one of the most popular outsourcing destinations.


Outsourcing is a really good idea. Globalization has reached the point where using the services of developers, who are located in the other hemisphere, is easier than ever. The only problem that may arise is the difference in time zones. But this is not critical.

Application complexity

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

This is the second most important factor that affects the cost of the application. As you understand, a simple e-reading application will cost way cheaper than a comprehensive social network app.

The complexity and number of features determine how many specialists you will need, including the exact number of man-hours. It is these hours that determine the final cost of the application by 90%.

Let’s briefly list the main features that usually require additional costs:

  • Back-end development

The need for developing the app’s server-side may well double the price.

  • User-oriented features

These include personal profiles, messaging, enjoyable design, data archives, and so on.

  • Payment systems

Adding the ability to make payments inside the application will require additional time and effort from the developers.

  • Interaction with the user’s device

Using the power of a user device, its memory, camera, and so on, requires specific APIs, which also complicates the development process.

Chosen platforms

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

Obviously, if you want all operating systems and platforms to support your application, you will have to invest more in development. Although there are popular solutions for developing cross-platform applications (with a single code base and backend part), such applications will not always be truly native.

It is safe to say that the price of the application will increase several-fold if a decision is made to develop an app version for each individual platform using native languages.


The information technology market is constantly evolving. Regardless of the type of application, each day it must deal with a new update, trend, and so on.

That is why maintaining the flawless running of the application, regular code updating and bug fixing are the most important elements that affect the final price of the application.

Earlier, we mentioned that the complexity of the application and the number of man-hours determine its cost by 90%. Most often, a certain number of hours per week is allocated for maintenance & support, and these hours account for the remaining 10% of the cost. So, this issue should also be discussed at the earliest stages.

Summing up

Getting Clear with App Development Cost
Getting Clear with App Development Cost

Even if you scrutinize all sources within the Internet, you will not find a guide or an online calculator that gives you accurate data regarding the cost of your app. This is always purely average data, which is often based on the lowest rates.

The purpose of this article wasn’t to give you an accurate estimation of how much an application would cost. The purpose of this article was to give you an understanding that you should decide on the price only after thorough negotiations and discussion of a large number of details.

And in this regard, 2021 is no different from 2020, 2019, or any other year.

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