Startups
Mobile apps

How long does it take to develop an app?

Tech Researcher

Novikova Darya

Tech Researcher

Chief Commercial Officer

Maksimova Yana

Chief Commercial Officer

December 8
2023
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The journey from conceptualizing an app idea to its full-fledged implementation is a multifaceted process, with numerous factors influencing the app development timeline. Unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, no one can provide a short answer to the question "How long does it take to develop an app?" right away. 

If we still try to put it into specific figures, our experience shows the following approximate breakdown:

  • Simple app – 3-4 months,

  • Medium-complexity app – 4-7 months,

  • Complex app – 7-12 months.

However, if the average answer doesn’t suit you, keep reading this post. Below we explain factors and layers that define the development duration as well as tips on how to hit the market faster.

"To estimate a customer's request accurately, comprehensive requirements are gathered and transmitted to the technical team. Close collaboration with the customer is maintained during the assessment, including asking detailed questions. Specific information, like desired functionalities, design preferences, and scalability requirements, is crucial for accurate app development estimation.

SolveIt CCO, App Development Timelines Quote

If a contractor confidently commits to a specific time frame with no a clear understanding of the requirements, it's definitely a red flag that may lead to potential problems during the project. Issuing a definitive estimate without delving into the specifics should serve as a cautionary signal."

Yana Maksimova, Chief Commercial Officer at SolveIt

Factors that influence the app development timeline

Addressing the fundamental query of how long app development takes, let’s explore the core aspects that shape the development trajectory:

App complexity

An app's complexity is directly linked to the depth of its capabilities, ranging from simple applications with basic functions to complex systems that demand advanced features.

Instead of trying to understand how long it takes to create an app, answer the following questions first:

  • How complex will my app's functionality be?

  • Should we implement sophisticated, customized UI/UX design?

  • Will we scale the app in the future?

  • Will the app handle sensitive data and require increased security?

As the complexity increases, so does the time required for tasks like detailed coding, extensive testing, and fine-tuning of user interfaces.

"The complexity of the application is the primary factor influencing the cost. Often, clients want to implement all the features at once, but some of them are not used by users after the launch. 

This can result in wasting money that could have been spent on marketing and design.

To avoid this, we closely collaborate with business analysts to prioritize features, understand the real needs of the target audience, and focus on the market demands that impact the product itself. We recommend developing an MVP to realize a minimally viable scope of functionality with all the associated benefits for testing the idea—cost efficiency and a quicker time-to-market."

Yana Maksimova, Chief Commercial Officer at SolveIt

Third-party integrations

The integration of third-party services or APIs is a common practice in app development. This offers access to extended functionalities like payment gateways, social media platforms, cloud services, and more. 

While these integrations enhance the app's performance, they also introduce potential complexities. Delays in coordinating with service providers, resolving compatibility issues, and prolonged testing can impact the overall schedule.

Experience of the development team

Have you gathered a seasoned team to navigate app development challenges? In fact, developers’ expertise can significantly impact the speed of the process. In other words, it’s not about “how long does app development take?”, it’s about the speed at which your team navigates the mobile app development process.

Experienced teams tend to use proven tactics, coding standards, and efficient problem-solving techniques, reducing the likelihood of errors. So make sure you put in enough effort to gather a well-tuned team.

At this point, you have the option to hire the whole dedicated team at once instead of building an in-house crew yourself. The decision between these alternatives can also speed up or lengthen the process. 

Hiring a dedicated development team

Read article

As a rule, searching for in-house experts involves the time-consuming processes of recruitment, onboarding, and ensuring that the team works together effectively. In contrast, most outsourcing teams are already coordinated well and can initiate the project in the shortest possible time, without an extra adaptation period.

Precision of requirements

Well-defined and detailed requirements provide a clear roadmap for the development team. They help to reduce misunderstandings or mid-project changes. If requirements are ambiguous, it can lead to scope creep and constant modifications, posing risks to the project's success and threatening team motivation. 

To mitigate these risks, invest time and effort in stating precise requirements at the beginning of a project. Communication between all stakeholders, including clients, project managers, and development teams, is essential to have a shared picture of project goals and expectations.

When considering different contract types (such as the Time and Materials model, the Fixed Price model, and the Budget with Float Scope model), it is crucial to align them with the specific project requirements and constraints. Each model has its own advantages and considerations that impact the development timeline and overall project success.

Factors That Influence the App Development Timeline

How long does it take to make an app: process breakdown

The app development journey typically unfolds in several phases, each contributing to the overall duration of the project:

1. Discovery phase

The discovery phase serves as a foundation, encompassing crucial activities like ideation, idea validation, and competitor research. This is where the spark of your app idea transforms into a well-defined concept. 

The duration of this phase can vary based on the complexity of your idea – allocating a few weeks to a couple of months is common. This initial investment in time pays off by refining your app's concept and setting the stage for a smoother workflow. To learn more about how crucial the discovery phase is for your future app success read here.

2. Design 

Designing an app is all about striking the right balance between aesthetics and functionality. To understand how long it takes to design an app, let’s explore the steps that stand behind app design:

Wireframing (UX) 2-4 weeks

  • Outlining the app's layout and navigation

  • Ensuring a logical flow of user interactions and screen transitions

Conceptualization (UI) 1 week

  • Brainstorming design concepts

  • Creating rough sketches or basic wireframes

Mock-ups (UI) 3-6 weeks

  • Implementing the visual design into the app's interface

  • Fine-tuning elements such as buttons, icons, and overall layout for consistency and responsiveness

Prototyping (UI/UX) 2-3 days

  • Building prototypes to simulate the user behavior

  • Testing and refining the prototype based on usability feedback

It's important to note that the provided timeframes are general estimates and can vary based on app complexity, the size of the design team, and the level of detail required.

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3. Development

The development phase includes coding, database development, and integrating features. Let’s split the development process into parts to find out how long it takes to build a mobile app

Project setup (1-2 weeks)

  • Setting up development environments and tools

  • Establishing team roles and responsibilities

Front-end development (4-12 weeks)

  • Writing code for UI/UX

  • Implementing design elements and ensuring visual consistency

  • Incorporating interactive features and functionalities

Back-end development (6-12 weeks)

  • Building server-side logic and managing databases

  • Integrating third-party services and APIs

  • Ensuring secure data handling and storage

4. Testing

Once your app takes shape, the focus shifts to testing. Mobile app testing ensures that your app functions seamlessly across different devices, operating systems, and scenarios. Identifying and addressing bugs, glitches, or performance issues during this phase is crucial for delivering a reliable app.

To clarify how long it takes to test an app, focus on the complexity of the steps above. Simple apps usually require a couple of weeks of testing while more complex ones potentially extend the app development timeline to several months.

Why is mobile testing so crucial for your app?

Read article

5. App launch

The culmination of your app development journey is the app launch. The process involves submitting it to app stores, navigating through their review processes, and strategically planning a marketing campaign to create buzz around your product. 

Actually, the "how long does it take to launch an app" quiz is quite hard to crack as it’s difficult to predict how long it takes app stores to review your app. If you strictly follow their guidelines, you have a good chance to avoid correction work. Otherwise, app stores are free to reject the app until it meets their requirements. 

Also, remember that launching your app is not the end of the journey. Post-launch activities, such as gathering user feedback, monitoring performance, and implementing updates, continue to shape the app's trajectory. 

How Much Does It Take to Develop an App

How long does it take to build an app: time-saving tips

Time to market is vital in the fast-paced world of app development. Here are four key strategies to reduce the average time to develop an app:

Start with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Strategy: If you get an estimation of how long it takes to develop an app and you’re not satisfied with it, the solution is simple – don’t build the all-in app, build an MVP. Instead of implementing all features at once, prioritize only essential functionalities. This move allows you to release a basic version of your app, gather valuable user feedback, and test the market a lot quicker.

Time savings: Starting with an MVP accelerates the development process by focusing on core features, thus reducing the time spent on design, development, and testing. Typically, the development of an MVP spans a duration of 2 to 6 months, encompassing the discovery phase.

Choose a cross-platform approach

Strategy: Opt for cross-platform development frameworks that enable the creation of a single codebase compatible with multiple operating systems. Frameworks like Flutter streamline development for both iOS and Android platforms simultaneously.

Flutter for app development: 10 reasons to choose

Read article

Time savings: Cross-platform development doubles the speed required to code and maintain apps for different platforms. With shared code and resources, developers achieve faster development cycles and quicker releases.

Outsource app development to professionals

Strategy: You can always seek advice about how long it takes to make an app from a trusted provider. Or simply outsource your project to experienced professionals. Companies like SolveIt specialize in efficient and high-quality app development, allowing you to delegate the development and focus on other core business functions.

Time savings: Outsourcing to seasoned professionals minimizes potential delays associated with in-house team setup. With a dedicated and skilled team, you can expedite the development process and benefit from faster development workflows.

"Do not outsource the development of your product to the first company you come across. Increasingly, we encounter situations where clients approach us with partially developed apps that do not perform as expected. They seek assistance to salvage their project, make improvements, redesign it, adjust the architecture, or even rewrite it using different technologies. 

This is a nightmare scenario for any startup when money has been invested, but the results are far from ideal.

Therefore, before seeking development services and choosing a partner, conduct thorough research. Create a pool of companies, read reviews about them, and examine their portfolios to determine if they possess relevant experience to address your specific needs. Consult with multiple companies, and only then make an informed decision."

Yana Maksimova, Chief Commercial Officer at SolveIt

Agile development

Strategy: In Agile methodologies, the development process is divided into small, manageable iterations, or sprints, each typically lasting a few weeks. After each iteration, an app is assessed and adjusted, experiencing continuous improvements throughout the development lifecycle.

Time savings: Regular feedback loops enable quick adjustments, reducing the likelihood of serious bugs and delays down the line. Plus, mistakes can be quite costly, and who wants to add another item to the list of app development expenses?

How much does it cost to design an app?

Read article

How long does it take to create an app: SolveIt experience

At SolveIt, we constantly make estimates on how long it takes to build an app and develop strategies for reducing the time to market for each specific case. In the following section, we’d like to spotlight two projects that showcase how the SolveIt team navigates app development timelines.

Case #1: Streaming app

SolveIt crafted a mobile app dedicated to live streaming, providing users with the capability to view others' broadcasts or initiate their own streams. The application facilitates real-time communication with streamers through an integrated online chat and enables users to purchase gifts for streamers.

The client required a high-quality solution within a constrained time frame. Leveraging third-party services such as video filters, chat functionalities, and video chat, the SolveIt team efficiently developed an iOS MVP and an admin panel in a mere 4 months. 

The expedited development pace was made possible through the integration of these external services. And, despite the time constraints, the resulting app aligns with the client's specifications and demonstrates great potential for generating revenue even at the MVP stage.

SolveIt Case Study Streaming App

Case #2: Job search app

A client approached SolveIt with the challenge of revitalizing their outdated mobile job search app. Our team undertook the mission to not only revamp the design but also to develop a user-friendly mobile application for job seekers, targeting both iOS and Android platforms. The emphasis was on simplicity and clarity in user experience.

By opting for Flutter, SolveIt crafted an MVP and solved the quest of how long it takes to create an app within a 3-month timeframe. In fact, Flutter's ability to facilitate development for both iOS and Android translated into a cohesive and efficient development process.

SolveIt Case Study Job Search App

Final say

How long does it take to develop an app? Well, we hope that this post convinced you that this question is too broad to ask. 

Each particular case is unique and needs an individual estimate. If you’re looking for a trusted provider to discuss your future project, our SolveIt team is here to do the math! Contact us today.