Mobile Apps

5 Factors Driving the Price of Your App

By: Bob Kernen

We get asked all the time: “How much does an app cost?” And we always give the same answer: “As much as a car.” You see it all depends on what kind of car you want to drive. You can get a nice compact sedan for a few thousand dollars, but a luxury sports car with all the bells and whistles could easily run into six figures. It’s the same with apps.

There are a number of key variables that drive the cost of an app. A good app developer can work with you on those variables to help you create an app that accomplishes your business goals within your budget.

Here’s what’s driving that quote you get from your app developer:

  1. Customization
    A bespoke suit always costs more than one bought off the rack! If your business needs special features and functions that’s going to cost you. The good news is that usually you don’t need anything special. Chances are your app falls into one of a half-dozen categories for apps (media delivery, location guides, ecommerce, etc.) and so if you find the right developer, who has the expertise you need, and has built apps like what you need before, you’ll save a lot. Even if you need a few custom features, if you can pull most of your app’s functions off the shelf, you’ll be okay.
  2. Design
    It’s easy to get caught up in beautiful design, and certainly there are some really great looking apps out there (we’ve built some of them here at jācapps). But, speaking from personal experience, the apps I use every day – Facebook, Instagram, Michigan Radio, the NY Times and my favorite solitaire game – are less beautiful than utilitarian, and that’s as it should be. Getting caught up in design returns only limited benefits. Mobile apps aren’t like websites – there isn’t a lot of room for pretty designs and images. Easy user interface is the most important thing. If websites are epic poetry, mobile is haiku.
  3. Back-end
    Many clients call us up and say, “I need a mobile app,” but upon further conversation with them, they need a lot more than that. In most cases, whatever the functionality of the app, something needs to be powering it. It can be something as simple as a web content management system, or something as complex as a relational database, and sometimes both. Those elements are not technically the “app,” but they are a crucial part of the product. And they cost money to build.
  4. Integration
    Integration with other digital systems is another thing we work with a lot. The good news is that clients frequently already have some of those back-end elements mentioned above, and our job as the app developer is simply to integrate with them.
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
    Mobile never stands still. New devices, new operating system versions keep the space as dynamic as anything I’ve ever seen. We believe that part of our job as an app developer is to make sure that no matter what happens in the mobile space, your apps should keep running and up to date. So we usually charge our clients a small monthly maintenance fee to protect them from the whims of Google and Apple.

To learn more about what drives the cost of your mobile app, or to discuss your mobile strategy contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

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