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How Long Does It Take to Develop a Mobile App?

So you’ve decided that your business needs a mobile app to match your customer’s needs – but how long will it take from an initial idea to the moment when your mobile app will breathe and live your brand? Let’s see some stats for a start:

Roughly 350 billion mobile app downloads are set to produce around $200 billion in profit by 2021, and it’s not surprising that apps are being developed, advertised and sold at rapidly growing rates nowadays.

According to Statista, there are 2.8 million apps ready to download right now on Google’s Play Store and 2.2 million on Apple’s App Store – these numbers are expanding year after year.

The most common question for all business owners and startup founders would be: how much time and effort does it take to create an app?
The answer is not as simple as the question, but let’s try to do some rough estimation.

Data from different studies says that it takes 4-5 months to create a mobile app.
For example, a 2013 survey by Kinvey indicates that a “MVP-quality native app” would require approximately 18 weeks (4.5 months) to build. This figure can be divided into an estimated 10 weeks for “backend” development and 8 weeks for “frontend” development.

Another study by Goodfirm says that:
‘User friendly, simpler apps’ (Tinder, Periscope etc.) take about 3.8 to 4.1 months
‘Medium complex apps’ (WhatsApp, QuizUp) require at least 4.6 months
‘Highly complex apps’ (Uber, Instagram) take from 4.5 to 6 months

All things considered, these studies suggest that an app development is roughly from 4-6 months process to complete. Keep in mind that variations always exist and they will depend on the additional features or functionalities you would like to include besides the basic ones.

Small apps would have features such as logging in, a newsfeed and a possibility to connect and interact with friends while a medium-sized app would have all mentioned plus sharing settings (sharing with external platforms), geo-localization, video support and some sort of integration. The most complex apps would additionally feature multiple languages, robust settings, photo/video editing and algorithms allowing to receive tailor-made content.

The more complex the app, the longer it takes to be developed.

V1.0 MVP

As the general answer to the question is that an app requires from 4-6 months to build, the first version of an app (v1.0 app) may be built in less than 4 months but it depends on many factors.
Some of these factors are:

  • A v1.0 app usually takes about 4-6 months
  • Apps range from a few weeks plain apps to years-long masterwork as quality takes time.
  • Apps that target many features require more time to build than narrow-scope ones.
  • Timeline is somewhat determined by budget
  • Team of cross-technology experts speed up the building process.
  • More efficient timeline can be achieved with the team with right skills and experience.

Typical situation is that too many features requested for v1.0 app can cause problems since apps that are more focused do perform better. Don’t forget that a long list of features will increase the timeline drastically and also the costs as well.

The goal with the feature list should be to cut out as much as possible – just look for the key features that will help you find the market for your app – this approach will help you stay within the 4-6 months timeline.

Key stages in App Development

Since an app development is a repetitive process with different stages of researching, building, testing, tweaking and releasing your app, let’s list them:

1. App Idea!

The very first stage of developing a mobile app is researching and planning of your ‘app idea’ or creating a user story. You must be able to list the reasons on why do you want to create an app, how will it contribute to your customers, does it already exist, how will it be different, what will it do for your consumers and so on.

You will have to do an extensive research on the target market demand and substantiate customer pains, market size and validation of your product idea. You should also research your competitors’ apps and business strategies. This stage is vital because 77% of users never use an app 3 days after installing it.

This stage will usually take several weeks of research and ideas validation.

2. Feature Set

Now you should think about app’s functionalities – all the features you want to include in your app so the best is to think about what do you want your app to be able to do, which tasks, functions and operations will it perform, how will it handle data etc.
You will also establish ‘use cases’, tailored to function as templates on how your ideal users will interact with the app. You also have to decide whether your app will be available for iOS, Android and/or Windows. Keep in mind that developing an app for more than one OS will take longer to finish.

Expect for this stage to take 3-5 weeks figuring out core functions and features.

3. Wireframing

Once you’ve figured out the purpose of you app and the basic feature set, it’s time for you to create ‘Storyboard’ and test your idea against reality.
You should create wireframes – the visual architecture of the app – as it represents the each page of your app and the way they are linked. It is easy to do wireframes today since there are numerous software tools (Adobe XD, Balsamiq) that allow developers to quickly create prototypes.
After wireframing is done, another research is to be done – testing the prototype work. You let users to ‘play’ with your app and provide the valuable feedback. For example, some people choose to develop wireframes early during the features stage, seeing wireframes as evidently connected to the use of storyboards and other basic visual representations.

This stage requires from few days to few weeks depending on the complexity.

4. App Development

The app development consists of front end and back end.
Front end consists of that what is visible to users and interactive. Front end developers are responsible for the look, feel and the final design of the interface.
Back end is composed of the logistics that goes behind making the front end functional. Back end development focuses on how the app works. It consists of server, database and an application and it is what communicates the information and interaction to the users. It includes all activities happening ‘behind the curtain’ such as database management, server-side logistics, data integration and more.

It takes approximately 18+ weeks to complete. (it is said 10 weeks for back end and 8 weeks for front end, but it usually differs depending on the complexity of the app)

5. Beta Testing

During this stage, the app is examined under various conditions to ensure it’s bug-free and that users are comfortable with the interface. You should only commence beta testing with the public once you’ve thoroughly completed alpha testing with your own coding team. You should test the app for usability, compatibility, security, interface checks, stress, and performance.
In user acceptance testing, you discover whether the mobile app works for your end users or not.
Beta testing is crucial for app development. Don’t forget, it’s a good idea to test early and often- it will keep your final costs low. There are websites exclusively dedicated to beta testing like BetaFamily, BetaList, Erlibird etc.

Beta testing can take 3-4 weeks so to collect all relevant details for further improvement.

6. Launch

Your app is finally finished, tested and ready to launch – by now your app has a name, a short description and some promotional images. The policies for launching an app are different for different application stores, so keep in mind that this may take couple of days.
So, your app is launched? You can celebrate, but your work isn’t done as yet.

Launching can take few days depending on the app store policies.

7. Maintenance

As your app will be in the hands of the users, you will get a lot of feedback – you need to incorporate the feedback into the future versions of an app so to improve the usability and functionality.
It is also important to utilize analytics to track app performance like downloads, user engagement and retention. This usage behavior will give you insight into how to improve the app and enhance the user experience.

So, in total?

Adding up the times estimated for each of the stages listed would result in the final time frame of approximately 4-6 months to build a mobile app.

As you can see, building a mobile app is rather long and complex process that requires lots of preparation and dedication to do it properly. Bear in mind that on your app journey, you should remain flexible in your timeline expectations and you should have access to your mobile development team in the post-launch stage.

Considering that your app adventure really begins when people ‘taste’ your work, make sure that launch of your app is the start of your adventure and not the end of it.

Warning: You can save money with native apps in B2B

Warning: You can save money with native apps in B2B

Mobile apps harvest a lot of attention in the world of B2B eCommerce. Depending on your business goals, this decision could make or break the success of your strategy.
According to Gartner, B2B produces 19.4% of digital commerce profit from mobile channels. Although particular growth calculations for B2B mobile commerce are difficult to compile, mobile adoption, estimated by Forrester, will grow at a CAGR of more than 17% between 2015 and 2020. This rapid rate of adoption is sure to result in mobile commerce growth for B2B companies.

Mobile commerce apps are the next frontier for companies which prioritized B2B eCommerce. When you decide to start off with B2B mobile application, you should make a choice based on what you want your app to do – your B2B mobile app should focus on the value it brings to your business customers and delivery of improved experience to your customers.
Your B2B experience will be greatly improved through a mobile app which basically means that your customers will be more likely to stick around.
When building B2B app, you can choose between native, hybrid or web apps depending on your business needs, app requirements, developer skills and timelines.

So, is it a high time for your business to look at introducing B2B mobile apps?

In this article, I’ll guide you through a key mobile options – native B2B mobile apps – and some reasons why native mobile apps offer considerable advantages over a mobile website or hybrid apps.

Why do you need B2B mobile app?

As customers got used to make B2B purchases online and more and more acquire a habit of shopping on their mobile devices, having a strong mobile commerce app – the one that lets the brand to build a direct communication to their buyers – will be a key differentiator.

A rapidly growing section of eCommerce indicates “anytime, anywhere” habits of today’s buyers so mobile commerce apps should let customers order online from their smartphones. Mobile commerce apps are here to stay, and manufacturers and businesses should have already considered the change.

There are few reasons why native mobile commerce apps are particularly tailored for B2B buyers:

1. Performance really matters.

When a B2B customer places an order on a mobile device, it HAS to work. It is highly important that the user experience is flawless, with fast page loads and accurate order confirmations. If there are interruptions in the connectivity, you cannot assure a positive experience or an accurately placed order. This can be the key difference between getting or losing a customer.
Investing in a native mobile commerce app is the right choice if you want to provide an exceptional mobile commerce experience.

Mobile users report that the engaging with a mobile browser gives more challenges, such as having to pinch and zoom screens or the lack of push notifications to provide quick, important updates plus mobile sites are slower than apps.

2. Buyers are often without the Internet access.

Mobile commerce needs to be convenient, allowing the consumer to place orders anytime, anywhere and from any device. The ability to search for purchase and enter orders, even offline, is another crucial reason why mobile users prefer B2B mobile apps over mobile optimized sites.

As mobile devices are made to use on the go and frequently happens that a connectivity is lost while traveling – being able to continue working, even offline, is an important advantage of B2B mobile apps over an optimized site. A native mobile commerce app can exploit the mobile device’s camera as a barcode scanner, letting your buyer to quickly place an order whenever the need arises.

3. Increase brand awareness

For a business to survive in today’s competitive corporate world, the visibility and recognition is a must. A well-developed mobile app can boost a company’s visibility as well as help to create brand awareness.

Mobile apps should supply features attractive to its target audience and all elements of branding the company already uses through different channels such as their website and social network accounts.

4. Better personalization.

Personalization is another essential consideration for B2B mobile apps – it automatically sign users in at the tap of the button, providing instant access to their personalized site unlike website. For business users that have multiple accounts on multiple sites, the ability to quickly and easily log in, search for products, review past history and complete their transaction is a real benefit.

The cost of B2B mobile app can range from $25,000 to $200,000 and it is dependent on the extent of the services you wish to provide to your customers. B2B are often integrated into the business systems such as ordering database, so the cost of development and the launch of a mobile app is highly dependant on your industry.

Why Native Apps?

Native mobile apps are the most common types of app. They are developed for specific platforms and are written in languages the platform supports, for example, Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps and Java for native Android apps. Native apps are also developed using the specific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the given operating systems. Both Apple and Google supply an app developers with their own development tools, interface elements, and SDK.

Most companies would invest in native mobile app development because of the endless benefits offered in comparison to other types of apps.

A B2B native mobile app is essentially a total renovation of the user experience for the needs of a mobile user. It avoids elements that don’t work well on the small screen, such as pulldowns, opting instead of slider bars, large buttons that are easy to see and use on the small screen, and simple, consistent navigation.

Benefits

Main benefits of native apps are that they are very fast and responsive since built for a specific platform and have the best performance. Native apps are more interactive, intuitive and run much smoother considering user input and output. Internet connection is not necessary and they have better user experience as the flow is more natural as there are specific UI standards for each platform. Native apps are delivered in app stores and give developers access to the full feature set of the given platform. Also, with native mobile app development, you get direct access to all native frameworks which otherwise may not be available.

Native apps are designed for the best mobile experience and bring a different approach on how to deal with content, discarding visual clutter and displaying content in the most intuitive way possible for the mobile users, even offline.

Native apps outrun the other apps because they are built in accordance with both, technical and user experience guidelines – they can also quickly access the inbuilt capabilities of the user’s device (e.g. contacts, GPS, camera, etc.).

Although the initial expenses may be higher with a native app, your end result will be saving a lot of time and money in the long run. By offering a great user experience, better performance, and leveraging the device features, you’re able to offer your users more personalized experience.

The combination of the native mobile app benefits will result in a higher conversion rates and will eventually increase your customers’ loyalty.

There aren’t such evident disadvantages with native apps except that you need experienced developers as those are difficult languages to learn and they are more expensive.

All things considered..

The decision to build either a native, web, or hybrid mobile app should depend on your business objectives. It’s important to work with an excellent app development company that specializes in platform specific design and development.

Since your competitors are likely figuring out ways to provide value to their customers through mobile apps, it’s high time for you to figure out your own mobile strategy.
We would usually recommend native app development as it is best to stay with native and not sacrifice on the design elements that are unique to each platform.

The preference for native mobile applications today is widely spread, especially as more and more businesses are implementing native mobile commerce apps for their B2B consumers.

How to choose a high quality mobile app company to increase your ROI

Today, mobile apps have become the survival unit for every online business and the best way to reach out to your target customers. A great mobile app development companies can help you to achieve your business goals.

The number of mobile phone users worldwide is expected to surpass the five billion by 2019. The mobile phone invasion is predicted to continue growing, rounding up to 67% by 2019.
Most of the mobile market expansion can be referred to the increasing popularity of smartphones. The number of smartphone users globally is expected to increase by one billion in a time span of five years, which means the number of smartphone users in the world is expected to hit 2.7 billion by 2019 – in other words, the number of smartphone users is expected to reach over 50 percents.

Considering such crazy numbers, choosing a proper mobile app company is a vital decision yet since there are millions of mobile app development companies present on the market, it makes it difficult to reach a definite decision. Every company should take into account some key factors before hiring mobile development companies since a simple Google search is not enough.

So, how to start your search?

1. Define your mobile app requirements

The first step is to build up your own precise specifications and clearly outline the exact things you want in a mobile app. On a large scale, it depends on the industry in which you work and the type of a product/service you offer but the core remains the same. You can also check the similar apps on the Internet to get some ideas.

Before you reach out to any app company with your request, make sure you have the clear picture of:

  • The goals of the app
  • Features and functions necessary
  • Does it fit your business model
  • Interaction with other software(s)

Even If you don’t have the precise answers to each of these points, don’t worry – a great mobile app team will be able not only to guide you through the steps to implementing your ideas in an app, but also to suggest ideas that can make your app better based on the experience and market knowledge.

At Zesium, for example, our first step of development is discussing those details with the client, and then our team creates function lists and mind maps which outline both: purpose of the app and the way users will communicate with it. It is essential that both sides have a clear understanding of the project from the start.

2. Do a short research

Next, you should check the reputation of the existing companies by a short online research. Collect the details through published reviews for app development, a number of years of experience in the field, portfolio of products, different types of services they offer, background, previous client records, customer retention etc.

To stay on the right track, consider a reputable company that has a demonstrated track record of high quality work. If you are targeting an app that is both user-friendly and functional, the professionals with great expertise in the mobile app development domain will be the best to rely on.

This research can help you shortlisting the right kind of mobile app development companies.

3. Define a budget Once you defined the requirements of your app, you need to define the budget to complete your business goal. The best approach would be to contact mobile app development experts since there are no exact guidelines for the costs – it all depends on the context.

General rule says: the larger the firm, the larger the price. Working with small developers may end up costing you more in the long run – as they have less expertise, smaller companies are likely to make mistakes which you will need to pay someone else to fix and it is not uncommon for an inexperienced team to run over budget. Larger companies are better equipped to guarantee quality and stick to the initial budget, but many have a lot of overhead which increases the cost – a good balance is to try out a medium sized (50–200 people) dedicated mobile app developer. Since each project demands specific kind of development, make sure you choose the most suitable developer for the job at hand.

4. Make use of your professional network and Social Media

In your search of a good, trustworthy developer don’t forget your professional network like LinkedIn – all you have to do is to inform your connections about your needs. You can do it by personal posts or social ads but using both options would be the best choice. Your post should be visual, relevant and with strong call-to-action.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can be great tools for finding a right mobile company – you can describe your project, post the requirements and wait. Generally, it works the same way like with LinkedIn, you just need to be persistent as more motivated you are, the better the chances are to find the right company.

5. Visit dedicated web sites

Websites like Clutch, GoodFirms, Toptal, and App Futura are excellent choice since they contain app developers’ profiles, along with their portfolios and reviews of their past work. You can also visit the sites which host freelance profiles such as UpWork. The best approach would be to reach out to companies that were mentioned on tech-related news sites and have the proper experience within mobile app development.
All the above mentioned sites have a reputation system where you can review a prospect’s past work and read their reviews.

6. Check the support

Some online companies focus solely on selling their applications instead of making them beneficial for customers. If a company doesn’t offer a solid support, it could be a big setback for your business especially if you have spent significant amount of money to buy the same app.

However, long-established companies know the value of their customers and will gladly assist on issues related to the installation of their mobile applications.

7. Check for innovative solutions

Mobile app development companies that develop innovative solutions would be a great choice since if you hire such company, developing and deploying applications on the app stores would be beneficial for your business as well as for consumers. Your company can win a huge business momentum online if you hire innovative mobile development companies because they develop mobile apps for forward-looking businesses. Always try to reach out to such companies who can improve your business standards.

8. Check for cost-effectiveness

Consumers usually focus on buying high quality products at affordable pricing. Since developing a successful app is not an easy task, there is always a fight between cost and quality for a company. That is because high quality applications cost a lot and vice versa.

However, if a company has a longtime existence across the world then cost of their products sold will be relatively less. Only such companies can provide their services at efficient costs.

Companies in the US and Western Europe are the most expensive, while SE Asia offer the lowest prices. Finding a good compromise between price and quality lies in the middle, which is mostly companies from South Eastern Europe.

9. Check for technically efficient company

It is important to check if the mobile app development companies consist of technically efficient developers prior to handing over your mobile app development project to them.

It is also necessary to know which technologies the company works with and whether they are capable of putting up well with the application development idea and the platform you chose to go with. Mobile app companies that work exclusively on mobile app development technologies are the good one to choose.

To sum up…

Keep in mind that a high quality mobile app development company should understand your exact requirements and should never compromise on the quality of the interface. So, don’t rush when you are making a choice between so many existing mobile app development firms.