What’s one of the top questions people ask when they’re thinking about developing an app? For us, it’s “How long will this app take to build?”
Have you been asking this question yourself? If so, we’re here to provide some guidance.
Read on to learn how long, on average, it takes to build an app. We’ll also take you through the five phases we use when developing a new app.
How Long Does It Take to Build an App?
In our experience, most apps take somewhere between 3 and 9 months to develop.
Clearly, there’s a pretty significant range. There are a lot of factors that can add or take away time from the app’s development process, including the following:
Differences in functionality are one of the main reasons why some apps take longer to build than others. If your app idea will require a variety of features, all of the app development phases (design, back and frontend development, quality assurance, etc.) will take longer to complete.
In addition to the number of features your app will offer, you also need to consider the complexity of those features. The more complex they are, the longer it’ll take to incorporate them and make sure they work properly.
For example, a basic search feature won’t take too long to develop. However, a feature that allows users to scan a product or take a photo to find the most affordable price for a particular product will be more time-consuming for developers.
2. Business Objectives
The client’s business objectives influence the app development timeline, too. When you first come up with an idea for an app and create a business plan for it, you’ll need to think about how the app will work and what kinds of problems it will solve for your customers or clients.
The amount of time it takes to complete your app will vary depending on the specific needs you hope to address for your target audience. You’ll also need to factor in the time it takes to do research and assess your audience’s priorities and values.
3. Idea Validation
In addition to researching your target audience, you also need to think about the time it takes to further validate your app idea. Idea validation includes conducting competitor analyses and conducting market research.
Taking these steps allows you and your development team to get a better idea of which features your app should and shouldn’t offer. If you find that all of your competitors are using a specific feature, for example, you’ll know that you should probably include it in your app as well.
4. Third-Party Integration
Do you have plans for your app to integrate with other apps, programs, or tools? If so, you can expect that it’ll take longer to complete than an app that works independently.
Not only do you have to spend time figuring out which third-party apps and services you want your app to integrate with, but you also need to consider the length of the integration process. All of this can be time-consuming and will add to your total app development timeline.
Remember that your budget also plays a role in app development time. This might be surprising at first, but it makes sense when you take a step back and think about it.
First, you need to consider how long it’ll take you to secure funding for your app. How many months will it take for you to raise and save up money to hire a developer, for example? If you have to meet with several different investors or crowdfund before you have the money available, you’re looking at a longer timeline.
Let’s say you already have all the money ready to go. Is your budget still a contributing factor? Yes.
If you have a long list of complex features that you want your app to have, you might find that your budget doesn’t last as long as you may have initially planned. The same could happen if you run into trouble during the development process and need to spend extra money to get things working properly.
The 5 Phases of App Development
Every developer has a slightly different process when it comes to turning their clients’ app ideas into realities. The following is a breakdown of the 5 phases we go through when working with our clients:
1. Research & Prototyping
When we start working on a new app, the first phase of our process is the research and prototyping phase.
Never underestimate how long it takes to research an app and create a working prototype. When we take on a new client, we spend several weeks digging into their app idea, learning about their target audience, analyzing competitors’ apps, and figuring out what we need to do to ensure we provide them with a high-quality finished product.
The research stage is essential. It gives us a deeper understanding of your industry and target market, as well as the problems you hope to solve.
From here, we can create a prototype of your app.
A prototype is not a fully functional app. Instead, it’s a model that helps us to figure out the layout and design of your app. It also includes a detailed breakdown of the functions and features that are going to be the most valuable to you and your target users.
2. Backend Development
Once we’ve finished our research and have created a prototype, our next step is backend development.
In simple terms, backend development involves preparing our client’s app to ensure it works in the way it was intended. It’s all about making sure everything “behind-the-scenes,” the stuff you don’t see when you’re using an app, is working properly and most efficiently.
Backend developers prioritize creating a dynamic app with robust architecture. They use tools like Python and MySQL and take a more analytical, systematic, and detail-oriented approach.
Good backend development is essential to creating a great app. If there are issues on the backend, you’re going to have a hard time (if not an impossible time) launching an app that works well and that your customers want to return to again and again.
3. Frontend Development
Once everything is working well on the backend, our developers move on and start working on the frontend. The frontend refers to all of the features and aspects of an app that your target audience engages with, from the search bar to the checkout process.
Frontend development focuses on making sure the app looks good and provides users with a top-notch user experience.
This idea of empathy is particularly important. It ensures that the app doesn’t just look good, but is also easy for members of the client’s target audience to use.
If the frontend developer does a good job of empathizing with the target audience and their pain points, it’ll be easier for them to create a high-quality app that helps the business to grow and succeed.
4. Quality Assurance Testing
The quality assurance phase is another essential step in the app development process. Quality assurance is all about checking out factors like the functionality of the app’s features and the user experience. These processes help to eliminate bugs and ensure that everything works properly.
When you’re looking for a developer to work with, be sure to ask about their quality assurance process. How long do they spend, on average, reviewing their work and testing the app before they get ready to launch it? What kinds of steps do they go through during the testing process?
If they seem as though quality assurance isn’t important to them, or if they can’t give specific answers to these questions, those are major red flags.
Finally, once everything has been reviewed for quality and functionality, it’s time to launch your app and make it available on the app stores for people to download and use.
Remember, the launch isn’t the end of the app development journey.
Once we’ve launched an app and given people some time to download and use it, we may need to do some follow-up work. This gives us a chance to review analytics and respond to user feedback.
By doing this, we’re able to streamline the product and make adjustments so that it better serves your target audience and increases your business’s chance of becoming profitable.
Start Building an App Today
There’s no one specific answer to the question “How long does an app take to build?” It depends on a lot of factors, from your goals for app functionality to your app development budget.
However, with this information in mind, you should have an easier time figuring out an approximate timeline for your project.
Are you interested in partnering with a developer to create your app? If so, reach out to us today to get started!