How long does it take to build an App?
Figuring out how long it takes to build an app will depend of a variety of factors – but in our experience, how long it will take to build an app is a question of knowing what resources you’ll have access to, the scope of what you’re trying to build, and what skill levels you’ll be able to leverage during the process.
Let’s start by talking about your ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) and the creativity and code that goes into bringing it to life.
A mobile development agency like ours will typically tell our clients it’ll take between 12 and 16 weeks to build their MVP from strategy and envisioning, to live release in the App Store.
That’s not to say our team hasn’t worked faster – or worked longer – depending on the project, but this is the average time it takes to build something worthwhile.
Beautiful, intuitive interface design and seamless, indispensable user experiences are the hallmarks of any quality app, and quality takes time.
Know your technical wants and realities.
Do you have an existing website or internet-of-things product to integrate with the app? Where will the app get its content or data? Are you providing peer-to-peer features like a chat?
How big and/or complex is your functionality? Will you need server hosting? Analytics? Do you have a basic understanding of how development works or even a Chief Technical Officer (CTO)?
A development agency will need to know the depth of your technical needs to figure out how much they’ll need to problem-solve for you with your MVP specifically. This might require upfront technical investigations into the possibilities and/or even feasibility.
Know who you need on your team.
Are you already technical and can code for yourself? Just need design or product strategy help? Or are you an entrepreneur with an idea, and you need help with the entire end-to-end execution?
If hiring and ‘owning’ your app-building talent in the house is part of your business strategy in developing your MVP, then you’ll need to factor in the time it takes to hire and train your team.
However, if the time to market (TTM) is your biggest concern, approaching an app development agency who can assign a full time to work full time on your project and really crank it out might be the best call.
Budget for Building an App.
The budget may be a surprising item on this list. Whether you’re part of a company or you’re just an individual, there’s a cost associated with building an app. And that cost adds up as time passes.
That’s still true even if you can build the app yourself. Even with no outside help, there’s an opportunity cost of not pursuing other options.
For assessing timelines and schedules, knowing how much it costs to build an app helps in two ways. First, based on your budget, you can roughly understand how long that budget will fund your app.
In the startup world, that’s called a “runway.” Secondly, once you understand what your runway is, you can further scope your feature list.
For example, if your budget only supports building your app for three months, you need to be much more aggressive in reducing your feature list.
While a more limited budget implies a stricter lens for a feature list, the inverse is not true; a large or “infinite” budget does not grant you the liberty to lack product discipline.
Ironically, it is often companies that have tens of millions of dollars at their disposal—or individuals who can build apps themselves—who go out of business more quickly or never ship their apps.
Don’t let the comfort of money or your own skills blind you. There’s always a runway, it’s just how short or long it is.
The more upfront work that can be done before starting the actual visual design and development of an app begins, the better.
Our process at Kite Agency often has us spending anywhere from 4-8 weeks on planning, strategic marketplace assessments, system diagrams, development spikes, user experience mockups, style boards, user personas, and comparable items.
Kickstarting your app this way helps reduce as many unknowns as quickly as possible and will keep your schedule as accurate as possible.
Then, when you’re designing and developing your app over months two, three, and beyond, you’ll have clarity into when you should call your app feature complete, finish QA and beta testing, and actually ship that app to the app store.
Your app adventure truly begins when people experience your work.