What does it take to develop an app?

Have you ever had thoughts like “several platforms I followed claimed to be developing apps six months ago, but the results have not yet come out”? You might wonder, so, is it really difficult to develop apps? Today let us explain the development process and difficulties of the entire apps in plain language.

First, to answer the questions briefly, let’s explain the internal structure of the industry one by one.

How difficult is it to develop an app?

It can only be said that the process is rather difficult and cost-intensive. 

The simplest way to develop an app might start with a couple thousand dollars, but you could expect it as a relatively simple graduation project from college students. Generally, these apps are single-ended (like Android or Apple only) and do not include any backend services (no cloud data interaction, all data is interactively saved in the local mobile phone itself). If you are looking at the formal commercial apps, they generally start at $10,000, which is more complex in many ways. The reasons their starting price are much higher will be explained below.

App downloads up 15 percent in 2016, revenue up 40 percent thanks to China | TechCrunch

(image source: TechCrunch.com/)

What are the development processes?

  1. Negotiate requirements: both parties participate, get a requirements document, and the developers will sort it out.
  2. Make a flow chart: implemented by the developers, design the running process of the software, and then confirm by the customers.
  3. Make a prototype diagram: all the interfaces used in the application are drawn, which contain all the elements and fields that the interface should have, but there is no specific layout and color rendering in this step.
  4. Make design diagram (UI): According to the prototype drew in the previous step, make a specific layout and color rendering. The final product is a set of user interface design drawings.
  5. Coding: written by the developers.
  6. Testing: The developers are responsible for checking whether there are bugs step by step, based on the customers’ requirements and the design diagram.
  7. Delivery: The developers will provide the product to the customers.
  8. Additional details: To protect property rights, all apps must obey the “software copyright” to be published. This is generally handled by the developers as an agent.

What are the difficulties? 

Major difficulties:

  1. Requirement sorting. It is necessary to clarify what functions you need to integrate into the app and the purpose you want the app to achieve. The main difficulty comes from the high cost of communication between the two parties.
  2. Depending on what type of project you are doing, the major difficulties might come from the functions of the type of app. For example, the difficulty to develop a live streaming app, where an anchor may have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of viewers at the same time, is to ensure the streams are smooth for all the viewers.
How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Mobile App?

(image source: softxpert.com/)

The difficulties can be simply divided into the following categories:

High users concurrency: referring to how to solve the problem of a huge amount of users accessing the server at the same time without crashing the program

Logic difficulties: the internal business logic of some products is very complicated, and there are many intersections. It is difficult to ensure that the data and the process is correct

User interface (UI): dazzling interface effect takes a lot of time

Experience optimization: this can be said to be the most difficult. For example, it might take 3 seconds to process a picture in the early stage of an app, but in the later version, it was requested to be optimized to 0.5 seconds. What the users do not know is that the developers have spent several months writing thousands of lines of codes to get the picture to process in 3 seconds. On this basis, optimization is really troublesome.

How much manpower is needed in the development process?

Android programmers (Android) + Apple programmers (iOS) + backend engineers (java or PHP) + product manager (design process) + UX/UI designers (design interface)

Small projects might require one person for each department, while larger projects might require multiple people per department.

Why does the price of apps development vary in a wide range?

The majority of people do not have the corresponding technical qualifications themselves, so they could only seek help from companies that specialize in app development. Usually, when customers want to choose an app development company, they will look for several companies for comparison. In the process of comparison, they often find that different companies have huge differences in quotations. The same app development service can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands. The customers might then find it very difficult to make choices. Let’s talk about the main reasons for the big difference in the price of app development so that everyone can make better choices.

(image source: LoopUp.com/)

The difference in development methods

There are multiple methods for developing an app, like template development, mixed development, and custom development. Template development is to apply ready-made templates. The production cycle is relatively short, the workload is small, and the price is usually the cheapest. However, the app will also lack characteristics and the post effect will not be strong. Custom development is to make personalized customization based on the customers’ needs. The production cycle will be longer, the workload is larger, and the price is typically the highest. But of course, this kind of method will give the best effect. As for mixed development, the workload and price are just in the middle of the two, and the effect falls short of the best, but are better than the worst.

The difference in technical abilities

Different development companies have different scales, locations, strengths, and levels. For example, large-scale development companies have more development team members, higher technical levels, and are more experienced. Apps developed by them naturally require higher prices. But certainly, the quality of the app they developed will be more guaranteed.

The difference in service quality

Each development company has its own service standards and characteristics that make them unique from other companies. A development company that values service quality will pay more efforts in their projects, and so it will inevitably require a higher price. The higher service standard of the development company can secure better app quality, which allows the customers to gain more from the mobile internet.

The difference in hardware cost

If an app would be published to the mobile internet, then the support of the server would be necessary. Only by storing the app data and files in the server, users can obtain valid data when using the app. The price difference between the different servers is also very large. If the app has fewer users, the service configuration can be lower, and the price will be lower, but if the app has more users, then the high-quality services would be needed to support the traffic which would usually require a higher price. However, it should be noted that a server with quality assurance must be chosen to ensure a stable operation of the app.


Regarding the app development quotations and time, you should research the market to determine how much it will cost, and then decide whether you would like to proceed or how to do it. You should have a basic idea of your own needs first, and then find a reliable company to refine your plan. Skipfour is a technology company that provides professional app development services. With more than ten years of service experience, we have helped to turn numerous brilliant concepts and ideas into actual products. You are more than welcome to contact us and tell us about your ideas! If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, like our Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news!

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