How To Avoid Slow and Expensive App Development


According to a 2014 study by Kinvey, 56% of apps take more than 7 months to de­velop and the av­er­age app costs $270,000. 10% of busi­nesses could not even say how long it took or how much it costs to de­velop a new app, and only a third of apps are de­vel­oped in un­der 6 months or for less than $100,000. Other stud­ies have had sim­i­lar find­ings. For ex­am­ple, the Global State of Enterprise Mobility 2016 re­ports that most apps cost more than $100,000 and more than a quar­ter of all apps cost be­tween $250,000 and $500,000.

Add to these ini­tial costs, var­i­ous on­go­ing costs such as sup­port, and the true app de­vel­op­ment cost emerges. This cost poses a se­ri­ous chal­lenge to star­tups and small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs). This prob­lem is all the more chal­leng­ing by virtue of the dis­tri­b­u­tion of costs.

App Development Process Beakdown

A 2015 Clutch sur­vey of 12 lead­ing app de­vel­op­ment busi­nesses de­con­structed de­vel­op­ment costs into its dis­tinct parts, of which there are seven stages of app de­vel­op­ment: plan­ning, de­sign, fea­tures, in­fra­struc­ture, app ad­min­is­tra­tion, test­ing and de­ploy­ment.


And some of these can be in turn di­vided into in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents. For ex­am­ple, the de­sign stage in­cludes wire­fram­ing, vi­sual de­sign and user ex­pe­ri­ence. This gran­u­lar break­down high­lights the rel­a­tively even dis­tri­b­u­tion of costs.


No sin­gle stage, let alone com­po­nent of a stage, causes app de­vel­op­ment to be slow and ex­pen­sive. Rather, app de­vel­op­ment in­cludes more than a dozen dis­tinct steps re­quir­ing a wide set of skills.

The Problem: The Attention Economy

Competition dri­ves app de­vel­op­ment to be slow and ex­pen­sive. We live in a world where hun­dreds of new apps are pub­lished each day. You don’t just have to per­suade peo­ple your prod­uct/​ser­vice is worth their money, but also their time and at­ten­tion. Moreover, you need to con­vince peo­ple your prod­uct/​ser­vice is more valu­able than its peers.

Unconvinced app sell­ers fight an up­hill bat­tle? A quar­ter of users aban­don an app af­ter a sin­gle use, and nearly two thirds will aban­don within 10 uses. High at­tri­tion rates are partly at­trib­uted to the cor­nu­copia of choice. There have been over 60,000 (and count­ing) apps sub­mit­ted to Apple’s App Store this quar­ter alone, and most will never be down­loaded. Apps are ex­pen­sive be­cause an app that is­n’t down­loaded does­n’t ex­ist (practically speak­ing). This is why you can’t take short­cuts. The best apps, the apps that spread, are built by teams of de­vel­op­ers and de­sign­ers and man­agers. They have to be, be­cause they have to stand out from the crowd.

Gone are the days when apps are made by a de­vel­oper-de­signer mul­ti­tasker in a garage in-be­tween uni classes. Apps are now de­vel­oped by teams of highly trained and di­versely skilled ex­perts. This is be­cause it’s im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to cross-de­vice and res­o­lu­tion com­pat­i­bil­ity, user ex­pe­ri­ence, qual­ity as­sur­ance, Operating System lev­els and ver­sions, back­end in­te­gra­tion, and more. Working with a small and/​or in­ex­pe­ri­enced team is high risk be­cause is­sues in these ar­eas can ham­string even the best app ideas.

The av­er­age team is be­tween 3 and 10 peo­ple, but teams num­ber­ing over 100 are com­mon. This is be­cause, much like build­ing a house, build­ing an app re­quires a range of skills: cod­ing, de­sign, man­age­ment, user-ex­pe­ri­ence, etc. This is why app de­vel­op­ment is so slow and ex­pen­sive: the cheap­est app de­vel­op­ers are not the most cost-ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ers.

How To Develop Apps Quicker and Cheaper

There are sev­eral ways to “solve” the app de­vel­op­ment prob­lem. The best way is to be aware of the true cost of app de­vel­op­ment. Are your ex­pec­ta­tions re­al­is­tic? Are your fore­casts? Knowing the costs and at what stage in the de­vel­op­ment process they ap­pear goes a long way to­wards man­ag­ing your risks and in­vest­ments.

WorkingMouse has par­tially solved the de­vel­op­ment prob­lem with our Codebots plat­form. Codebots is an ecosys­tem of code-writ­ing bots work­ing in part­ner­ship with de­vel­op­ers and de­sign­ers and other bots to ac­cel­er­ate the app cre­ation process. On av­er­age, Codebots writes 92.68% of our part­ner’s soft­ware.


The bots can’t do every­thing (yet) but they can ac­cel­er­ate sev­eral of the steps dis­cussed above, in­clud­ing the bulk of the slow­est and most ex­pen­sive parts to de­vel­op­ing an app. The use of soft­ware bots like Codebots su­per­charges the app de­vel­op­ment process and re­duces costs.

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David Burkett

Growth en­thu­si­ast and res­i­dent pom

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