How Long Does It Really Take to Develop a Mobile App?

Every year the world becomes more reliant on mobile devices. In 2017, there were 178 billion new mobile app downloads, and by the end of 2018, that number jumped up to almost 200 billion. It’s no wonder companies are spending more time and money than ever before on developing mobile apps to reach their increasingly phone-obsessed consumers. If a company doesn’t have an app, they’re almost guaranteed to be overlooked in favour of a competitor that does.

If you’re a business that hasn’t yet broken into the lucrative market of mobile apps, the first question is often “how long does it take to create and launch one?” That answer can vary wildly depending on what features you want to offer, how many platforms you want to reach, the development team behind the app, your ability to stick to a set plan, and your budget. With all of that in mind, the industry average for a successful app is generally 4-6 months. There is the possibility for variation in either direction, but a 4-6 month period tends to ensure that your app has a manageable scope and is developed by a seasoned team of professionals who have realistic expectations for the workload involved. A shorter time frame often results in a product that hasn’t been fully realized or tested; it is often frustrating to use, unintuitive, full of bugs, or built by developers with little to no expertise. A longer time frame, however, can have its own problems; often resulting in an app that has no clear vision, is overbudget, bloated with unnecessary features, or doomed to crash and burn before it’s ever released.

A 4-6 month period ensures your app is launched, fully realized and working, into a marketplace that hasn’t already moved on from your big idea. An app that may have made a big splash in 6 months is most likely not the app customers want in a year or more, often because another company has already launched on-time with a similar idea and poached your client base.

With the overall time frame sorted, what are the stages of app development and their individual timelines?

Stage 1: A Big Idea and Research

Ask yourself: What is your one big idea? What do you want to offer your target market in order to deliver on a need that’s not being met?

Whether the idea for what to offer your consumers comes immediately to mind, or you need some help brainstorming, it’s paramount that you take the time to establish your target audience and research your direct competitors. What apps do your competition have on the market? How many users do they have? What features do they offer? If you have an established audience, reach out to them. Go directly to your clientele to find out what features they want in an app or what other companies are doing poorly that you can do better.

Put the effort into your research. It can take several weeks, but it lays a strong knowledge foundation for the subsequent stages of app building.

This is the first article of the series “How Long Does It Really Take to Develop a Mobile App?”. On the next articles we will cover the Planning and Development, Testing and Release stages of a mobile application development. Stay tuned!

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