Building An App? Here Are Some Things That Drive up It’s Cost



How much will my app cost to build?

It’s one of the first questions you’ll ask when you approach app developers.

Though there are a good number of app cost calculators out there, estimating the exact cost of an application yourself is a bit tricky.  Incremental costs in app development are never the same across the board. Varying platforms, iterations, complexity in features, and developer rates all influence the price of app development.

However, there are variables we know that drive up the cost of building an app. Thanks to these known variables, you can better prepare yourself to make good decisions for your project.

Let’s take a look at these factors that contribute to the cost of your app.


Application Platforms

Mobile Application $$$

As a general rule of thumb, traditional mobile apps will run up the development tab. Mobile app platforms are appropriate for more polished, customer-facing, and hardware-centric applications (in which camera, bluetooth, gyroscope, etc. are required).

For widely used mobile apps, development is eventually done separately for both IOS and Android platforms, doubling  the cost of building an app. It’s also important to note that respective app marketplaces can reject an application for any reason, at any time.

Web/Hybrid Application $-$$

Web and hybrid apps are cross-platform making it an appealing feature since they only have to be built through one codebase to work on multiple platforms. Hybrid apps, like web apps, are also built within a web framework but have the added benefit of having native mobile functionalities. Using responsive design frameworks, these apps use responsive design frameworks that will work and fit into almost any given screen via the device’s browser.

At Gravit-e, we often advise starting with a web or hybrid app as an MVP  in an app’s initial iterations. Beginning with a web or hybrid app would keep costs low during its validation stages, and make its time-to-market shorter.  

Though Gravit-e has more focus in building web-based applications, we have worked on many mobile apps (link to future case study on Kintec Kiwi) with our mobile app partner Two Tall Totems.



Defining your Project’s Scope

To come up with a quotation, developers need a considerable amount of time. You can cut into this time through good ideation practices that showcase your app idea well.

Develop a stellar requirements document that communicates your project scope well. The more defined your scope, the less time (and money) will be spent in consulting and requirements analysis during pre-development.

Number of Iterations

Defining the scope and all of the requirements before development follows the “waterfall” methodology. This app development method requires minimal app iterations. It follows a defined and linear project scope from the beginning (requirements analysis) to the end (app deployment).

Without a defined scope, applications develop and evolve continuously over time. This “agile” methodology follows an iterative style that can better respond to users’ needs. However, this style of development is generally more expensive since it deploys multiple versions of an app.

A clear and well-defined scope will cut the cost of building an app. However, some features can go right back and inflate it.


Here are some features that will drive up the cost of your application:


Photo Credit: mitroztech

Targeted For External Users

If your company is targeting consumers and not an internal team, there is a high chance that your app will be fairly expensive. Generally, applications targeted for external users have more polished UI. Apps for internal teams are more pragmatic, less polished, and carry a lower price tag.

Login Portals

Apps that require users to generate an account through usernames and passwords need a whole slew of backend development. A database that has to house all user credentials securely brings an added cost to login portals.

Dynamic Pages

Does your app pull in external content that is constantly updated? For example, a news or weather app that has dynamic content that requires careful maintenance and oversight to ensure that content is being released in a timely and accurate manner.


Few applications exist that don’t require APIs to facilitate third-party integrations. The long list of possible integrations includes: shopping carts for e-commerce sites, accounting and inventory integrations for a shipping and fulfillment app, a CRM integration for a sales funnel app, and social media integrations for consumer-targeted applications. These integrations take considerable time in development and quality assurance.

Offline Functionality

Data that’s inputted offline, then cached into the app to fulfill actions once the app is online needs complex back-end development.


Internal Development Team vs. Development Agency vs. Offshore

Photo Credit: Agilities

Developer rates depend on source and location. Rates will vary between hiring an internal team to support ongoing development, working with a development agency on a contractual basis, or going offshore for services.

Internal Dev Team

Hiring an internal team would be more expensive in the long run, but it would also bring the most value. A dedicated internal team can maintain your app through different iterations after the initial deployment. That said, with a small internal team of only 1-2 developers, if a developer leaves for another job the disruption is often extremely high.

Outside Dev Agency

Contracting an outside agency can be a cheaper option than hiring an internal team. However, it may prove to be less valuable in the long run as some agencies are very product focused and will hand off the project and move onto something else once they fulfill the terms of the contract.

Offshore Dev Agency

Offshore developers come with the lowest price, but this option often comes with many drawbacks. Your project sacrifices quality due to communication barriers, time differences, and overall messier development practices.

From hiring the right developers to choosing the essential features, to preparing your project; there are many ways to control the cost of your app’s development. Knowing the factors that inflate cost is half the battle.


We hope our discussion today sparks more questions and drives you to productive conversations.

Have one of those productive conversations with us! Find out how much your application will cost with Gravit-e. Contact us, and we’ll give you a quote!