9 Costs to Consider Before Hiring a Custom App Developer

Consider these 9 Costs of Making an App Before Hiring a Custom App Developer

If you want to stay competitive in the 21st century, you need an app to meet the needs of your customers. A mobile app can be the perfect tool to better connect your small business and the products or services you offer to the customers who need them.

If you really want to utilize what technology has to offer your team, you need the right mobile app. Now, how do you create one? When you want to take your app from vision to execution, you have a few options. You can:

  • Have an in-house team develop your app,
  • Hire a custom app developer to get the job done, or
  • Use a do-it-yourself app builder.

No one likes the idea of paying monthly fees. If you are in sales, you know that anyone who finds a way to make residual income has it pretty good. But, be careful dismissing that monthly payment for an app service and opting for a customized sales app. You will be surprised to find that paying once up front does not necessarily mean you are saving money. Here’s a look at the breakdown of fees for building a custom app.

The Costs of Making an App

Custom Apps Are Extremely Expensive – Like Second Mortgage Expensive

One of the pieces of misinformation going around about apps is that they are easy to make, especially since most of the tools to build one are free to use online. In terms of coding specialized programs from scratch or producing an AAA game title, they are. But the reality is that if you decided to hire highly skilled professionals to do it, they don’t come cheap.

  • The most basic professional app can cost upwards of $100,000.
  • You will need to hire developers, designers and other specialists to get it up and running. These guys charge hourly.
  • Multi-platform options are about $50,000 in additional fees.
  • Integration with enterprise software platforms will double the cost.
  • Compatibility problems, performance issues, licensing and legalities cost in the neighborhood of $200,000.

You Will Have to Revise Your App After You Launch – And You Will Have to Pay for the Revisions

Like every new technology tool, you will get feedback from your users about how well it’s doing its job.  In addition, users will begin to tell you what they’d like to see from the app.  If you want to keep your users, you have to revise the app to suit them.  So you need to figure in hourly costs for revisions.  Expect to:

  • Add features to it as it is used, and
  • Expand based on your team’s feedback.

A good way to put it is for the app to do its main purpose well means other functions will have to take a secondary role. Do you want a race car or an off-road vehicle? You have to decide what you need your app to do.

The Cost of Customizing For Your Brand Will Mean Additional Fees

Having an app developed takes a ton of money, in and of itself, but if you want it to reflect your company’s own brand and style, get ready to pay even more. Not only will it require more work from the developers, but other designers may have to be hired.

Keep in mind:

  • The average hourly cost to develop an iOS app is $150 per hour.
  • The average hourly cost is $168 per hour for Android in North America.

Customization Takes a Long Time, Seriously

The growing popularity of apps means that a good developer might have a backlog of clients. Also, building a quality app takes time. You aren’t going to call a dev team up, and have your app ready by next Friday.

  • On average, it takes 18 weeks to develop and publish a standard app.
  • A simple app will take less time, but it will still be a minimum of a few weeks.
  • If you need a bigger more multifaceted app, the time table can grow significantly.

You Will Be Responsible for Your Own Security and Security is Costly

When you build an app that is linked in any way to money or personal data, there will be someone trying to steal it. Not maybe. Not probably. Definitely!

  • Keeping that data and money safe falls on you.
  • Any data breeches that happen can be costly to fix, both in terms of the app and in terms of client relations.
  • This is another added cost that will carry on long term, for the life of the app.

You Will Have to Upgrade – They Are Not Optional and They Are Not Free

Chances are, whatever you are using to read this had an update within the last few weeks. Unless we’re on a Windows machine and missed the restart notice which made you lose hours of work, you might hardly notice. Just wait until it’s up to you to update your app.

  • There will always be operating system updates
  • You will need to add a patch for your app because something it’s integrated with had its own update/upgrade
  • Every new hole in security will have to be fixed.

You Have to Service Your App – Service Fees Apply

All those updates we talked about take money, and it will be a cost that follows you for the entire life of your app.

  • The people you hired to do your app should handle these upgrades and tweaks.
  • If you outsource the maintenance, it could be a bargain that costs way more in the long run because you have new people working with other people’s code.

You Need a Functional App but Style is Crucial – Designers are Expensive

We have all fallen in love with something the moment we saw it only to be disappointed once we started using it. It could have been a car, kitchen gadget or a slick looking piece of electronics. We were left with a good lesson that we still end up ignoring sometimes. Just because something looks awesome doesn’t mean it is.

  • Avoid the enticing to make the menus extra flashy.
  • If the end product is a clunky nightmare to use, it is a failure and all your money will be wasted.

Developers Don’t See Your Big Picture and They Bill You Hourly Anyway

One thing to keep in mind when talking to your app’s developers is that they are engineers, and engineers think differently than the rest of us. The best way to put it is that they take everything literally. It’s part of their mindset. They have to think in terms of literal exacts and perfect precision because “close enough” doesn’t work.

  • Keep it technical and straightforward otherwise you lose money in hourly changes.
  • Developers will never be as passionate about your ideas as you are so your vision will cost money each time they revise.


Custom apps don’t come cheap. Period. They require maintenance and upgrades.  And these changes and tweaks come at a hefty hourly rate — a rate a lot higher than the monthly fee of a do-it-yourself mobile app builder. So before you hire a custom app developer, do your research, and go with the development option that works within your budget to ensure you see a return on your mobile app investment.

App Development Photo via Shutterstock

Andrew Gazdecki Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a do-it-yourself mobile app builder and mobile website creator for small businesses with over 500,000 customers worldwide.

5 Reactions
  1. Custom apps are useful but it is also very hard to maintain. It is not just about getting the app done but also getting it updated as well.

    • I couldn’t agree more and I think that’s where a lot of businesses or individuals don’t realize. Custom mobile apps aren’t a one and done service, they need on-going support and maintenance as Apple and Google continue to raise their standards.

  2. I’m an app developer myself, and I think you’ve mostly nailed it as far as costs and considerations. There are 2 points I do not fully agree with, however:

    1. Custom Apps are extremely expensive: I think your estimation is a bit high. Of course, price (as well as time to completion) will vary greatly based on your app’s complexity. But my experience is that the average cost falls much lower than $100,000 – probably closer to $15,000-$25,000 when all’s accounted for. (Developer, designer, etc.)

    2. Developers don’t see the big picture: here I strongly disagree. While it’s true some developers will “just do as they are told”, a lot of us, myself included, take great pride in talking to our clients, learning what they are trying to achieve, so we can give our two cents about how to get there. As with any other professional, you have to shop around and find one that matches your goals and your style. If you don’t have a good connection with your developer, based on mutual trust and respect, then this is not going to produce the best possible app for you. But once you find the right fit, you’re both in this together and you can offload the app building and design to them – as it should be. That’s why you hire them, isn’t it? You shouldn’t have to shoulder the design and app building yourself.

    Thanks for the article though – I will definitely be showing this to my future clients, as a good starting point for our discussion!

    • Hey Jean, I would agree with you. This is on average based on research I conducted, but yes you can get someone to build an app even for free! Just all depends, but most agencies or development firms charge much higher than the amount you’re stating. As for the big picture of an app, you need to have a really good developer to also be a UI / UX expert. IMO — I haven’t come across many (and I work with many) that have both skillsets. They’re entirely different skillsets and roles. And should be. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Thanks for sharing, this article is extremely great and helpful it is very useful for developers. Thanks and keep Sharing.