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How Long Does it Take to Build a Mobile App?

By Dileep Gupta
March 5, 2019 8. min read
Last update on: March 17, 2021

TL;DR

  1. All the different app development processes take their individual development time. 
  2. Although research stages take up around 2 to 3 weeks of development time, when done right, they can not just save time on a later stage but also aid the smooth sailing of processes. 
  3. Factors that slow down the mobile app development timeline are changes made mid-project inexperienced developers and  use of complex technologies
  4. RFPs, MVPs, and Cross-platform development tend to speed up the app development process.
  •  

There is no doubt about the fact that with 350 billion app downloads worldwide, businesses are looking to get the same attention. It’s very normal for a business to inquire about the app development process and the app development cost.

Usually, businesses and clients are interested in knowing how long does it take to create an app, the cost of app development, and all the efforts involved. As soon as they learn the benefits of having a mobile application for their business, they wish to get on with it. Hence, the question how long does it take to develop an app.

{Also read our article on – How much Does it Cost to Develop an App Like Careem & Uber}

Now, usually, the average time to develop an app looks like the below image. But there is no definite time as it depend on person to person and company to company

Average app development Time before launch

But there is no definitive-ness. And thus this article.

In this blog, we will not only look at the mobile app development process, factors affecting the average time to build an app but also will determine how long it takes to develop mobile app.

Key Stages of The App Development Process

The app development process has different stages and all of these stages require different time slots. From the planning process until the launch of the application, the entire process is interdependent on each other and requires proper attendance. It is quite obvious that apps with different sizes and different features have different app development time.

Each development stage is discussed below to answer the question ‘how much time does it take to build an app?’

How long does it take to make an app in each development stage

This is one of the main documents that entrepreneurs and app developers often miss out on. Ideally, the better the brief the lesser time it would take to understand the software project and the requirements. In fact, this one step can have a HUGE impact on the time required to develop an app.

There are some things that you have to include in the brief which you are working with such as the company information. But to help give your app development agency a detailed understanding of the project and the mobile app development services they will have to deploy.

The outcome of this stage is usually:The Brief of an App Development Before we look into the different design and development related phases, let us first look into the time it takes to set the basis of all the design and development processes that follow.

Project 

  1. Project goals and the success metrics
  2. RFP
  3. NDA
  4. The budget range 
  5. Delivery date

Stage 1: Forming ideas and research

Average cost of app development - Discovery stage

It’s easy to get great ideas but it’s not necessary that everyone will agree to it being great. The idea formation and research part very much affect how long it takes to build an app. This stage involves starting with an idea and then researching it for more improvements.

Even if the idea of the app seems right, a test must be run to keep things as real as possible. This can prove to be a very important step taken in the initial stage. Testing application ideas also ensure that when the app is launched in the market, the users are going to love it.

Another thing that this stage involves is targeting the right audience. It is in this initial stage that the right audience is targeted for the app. Defining the target audience not only helps in boosting the app after its launch but also in shaping the app in the right direction.

Different apps have different size and ages of the target audience. For instance, Facebook has all ages of people on its platform whereas Tinder has a younger target audience. Targeting has made these apps so successful therefore is suggested that proper targeting and research should be done.

Analyzing the competitiveness of the market and the app is also necessary. During the research about the app, one should also gather information about the competitors and potential threats. This will prepare the app owners for any difficulties after the app launch.Schedule a Call

The entire research takes several weeks. By the end of the research, you should know all the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors, the app strategies and defined target audience.

By the end of this stage, you should get these outcomes:

  1. Minimum Viable Product 
  2. User Stories 
  3. App Prototypes

Stage 2: Planning it all out

The next stage is the planning stage. Once you know all about your market, its time to plan out the app development process. The planning stage involves decisions regarding the configuration of the app. These decisions include making a choice between iOS and Android, native or hybrid, cross-platform or not, web-based app or mobile app, etc.

Once these plans are made, its time to add on the features. Now the features of an app should be such that neither does it complicate the app nor slows it down. There are many basic features that an app should have such as search bar, social media sharing buttons, profile building, login option, etc. These features make a basic app much convenient for users.

As the app size increases, the features are more and more directed towards the type of app. For instance, any e-commerce app will have the ‘Add to cart’ feature. Similarly, social media apps have the option of media sharing and various other features for engagement on the app.

All these planning is quite complex and will require a month or so.

Stage 3: Design Sprints and Idea Validation 

Design sprints processes are being used for testing different aspects of an application. It takes around a week to complete the whole design sprint. The idea of the stage is to test different aspects of the idea and get them validated by a pool of prospective users. 

Design Sprint helps businesses understand if users value a feature, how they use it, when they would be using it, how easy or difficult do they think it is to navigate the application, etc. 

Design Sprints and Idea Validation

Stage 4: Development stage

In the development stage, there are three elements that need to be built: the UI, Front End and Back End. Once all the planning is done, the developers and designers will work their magic and start building the app. So how long does it take to build an app? Well, the development and designing stage takes about six weeks.

The UI of an app is taken care of by graphic designers. This gives the apps an appearance to enhance the user experience. UI is important for any app to flourish in the market because the users seem to like visually appealing apps more.

The Frontend and the Backend are also very important components of the app development process. The Front End is what users see and how they act in an app but nothing will make sense until the Back End is developed. The Backend connects the UI with the system and allows the proper functioning of the app. So, how to make a mobile app without either of these? Well, you cannot.

Let us deep dive a little to know what both the engineering processes consist of:

Backend Engineering

  1. Data storage
  2. Users management
  3. Server-side logic 
  4. Data Integration
  5. Versioning 

Frontend Engineering:

  1. Frontend logic
  2. Caching
  3. Synchronization
  4. Wireframing 
  5. UI Design 
  6. UI development

Stage 5: Developer and QA Team

Picking the best development team is never simple, even when you have the best team you are in constant search of more. To help you with the hunt, you can either look for them locally, which is quite difficult or outsource the task to either app development companies or to freelancers that will turn into a team under your influence.  Or if you want, you can opt for companies in your area like mobile app development company in USA if you live in the US or any other area where you reside.

Obviously, the most ideal alternative is to find a current development team with demonstrated experience in the industry and direct all the requirements to them. There are a few reasons behind that:

  • Having a team means that they know each other and are strong as a group.
  • As the developers know each other thus, their work timings and pace are similar minimizing any sort of delays.
  • Having a strong team with a project manager will help you to place all your requests to an individual (project lead/manager).

Another incredible benefit of selecting a ready to work development team is that, they will give you the end result and will handle all the application development stages themselves. In addition, proficient groups can provide you with a good understanding of the process of developing apps, guide on improving the work process, and assist you with picking a native or a hybrid app, based on your objectives.

Stage 6: Testing

What does it take to run an app? To know whether the app is even going to run after the development is finished, we need to do test runs. We cannot deny the fact that the app will have some or the other bugs that need to be fixed before the final launch. These bugs can be identified with the help of tests.

There are many ways to test a mobile app’s performance and functioning. We, at Appinventiv, have our own strategies for testing mobile apps. The quality assurance tests are run so that users don’t find any issues when they first use the app making the app more likable.

Alpha and Beta testing are done on the app to make the app error-free. After the testing, the app is launched. Post-launch whatever feedback is gathered from the users, the necessary changes are made.

Stage 7: Deployment on Stores

The time that it takes to deploy the app can be divided in two sections: submission & review. When you submit an application, either on the Apple App Store or on the Google Play Store, there are some guidelines you will have to follow, such as:

  1. Screenshots
  2. App Descriptions 
  3. Icons
  4. Video or Image demonstration 
  5. App Store Optimization

The time stores take for deploying your applications. 

When you compare the time it takes to launch apps on App Store compared to publishing them on Play Store, Apple follows a very detailed reviewing process – which increases the launch time to some extent. On the other hand, Google makes use of algorithms for pre-analyzing your apps, thus lowering the app launch time.

What Slows Down The App Development Process?

As seen in the section before, the app development process usually takes about 2-3 months. But there are some things that delay the overall process and the answer of how long it takes to create a mobile app.

Mid-project changes

Developing apps is a continuous process where all the stages are connected to each other in some ways. If there are sudden changes in the plan in the middle then the process is bound to get slower. These mid-project changes can also affect the app’s performance since too many changes in an already built code base can do that to the app.

Unexperienced developers

What does it take to build an app that is successful? Great ideas, proper budget and a good developer, for sure. Often business especially start-ups make the mistake of hiring developers that aren’t up to the mark with the work. This results in slowing down the process as well as a poor app for the business. Our team of app developers is highly skilled with good experience at hand which has allowed us to launch high performing apps one after another. We also have helped our clients with their app ideas so that they get the best outcome for their business.

Complex technologies

Technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, VR, AR, etc. cause the slow down of the mobile app development process. There’s no doubt that these technologies make the app a better experience but everything good comes at a price. And the price of using the latest technology is that they might slow down the app development process.

The reason why this happens is that the technologies are a bit complex and takes time to fit in the app.

Industry-wise difference

The industry for which the app is being built also plays an important role in the average app development time. The answer to the question of how long does it take to make a social media app is 1-2 month(s). Whereas on-demand apps take more time to be developed. Therefore, the industry is another factor that affects the time required to make an app.

How to Speed Up The Time of Application Development?

With the fast growth of mobile apps, one cannot afford to slow down in the development process. Businesses, be it startups or enterprises, are looking for mobile app developers who can develop apps faster without compromising the quality of the app.

There are no problems without solutions and the same goes with time required to develop an app. When it comes to startups, then gathering a massive crowd is a survival goal and for that mobile apps are the solution.

By now we know how to create an app and what does it take to make an app? We have also known what factors affect the time to make an app. It’s time to see how we can reduce the time of application development.

Speed up the time of application management

MVPs and prototyping

MVPs or prototypes are a great way to save time. They can be built easily and resemble the original idea of the application. Once the MVPs are out in public, the actual app can be built by adding features and making improvements.  Many businesses like Airbnb, MailChimp, etc. started as MVPs before the actual implementation.

Go for cross-platform

Android vs iOS is the biggest debate of all times and sometimes people get so confused that they don’t know which to choose. The timeline and cost of app development of both the platforms individually are relatively high. But cross-platform app development is a solution for this. With tools like Xamarin and PhoneGap, great multi-platform apps can be built which take less time.

Looking for a Quick go-to Market Time

Hire a professional developer

A professional app developer for your app is the best you can do. Not only will the app have amazing UI/UX design but also will take less time to develop. In fact, the hours will only lower if you choose to outsource. Being one of the top reasons why you should outsource, when you choose a professional app development company off-shore, you’ll not just get a good experience but will basically make your work easier. Appinventiv is also a professional app development company that has developed several successful apps for clients.

Agile development

There are numerous app development organizations that follow agile development as it accelerates the development cycle. The main purpose behind agile app development is that the organizations can’t face the challenge of starting all over again. It has a flexible and adaptable programming structure that is ideal for open-ended communication between app owners and developers. To put it plainly, it speeds up the development process and guarantees that the application is developed on time.

White label solutions

White label solutions are products that were produced by one company and then is rebranded and made to look like other company’s. This will save a lot of time since there will be no need to build anything from scratch. However, this will not result in a good application especially not the one that generates huge traffic or sales.

Automated testing

Automated testing, although it sounds a quite obvious thing but this is ignored by many. This type of testing is one of the significant periods of development that reduces the mobile app development cycle. The best thing about automated testing is that it can run a whole set of tests all at once. This decreases the time spent on manual testing and helps in improving the security of the application. Automated testing involves several testing methods that are applied to save time. As the testing process becomes quicker, the development process also aces its speed. Executing more than one testing strategy can offer error free code.

This was our take on the mobile application development process timelines and some ways to reduce app development timeframe. Feel free to contact our app developers at Appinventiv for any further queries on how to reduce yours.

Dileep Gupta
Dileep Gupta
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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