From Pixels to Perfect: How Long Does It Take to Make an App?

Are you thinking about creating an app but don't know what you're in for? Want to know how long does it take to make an app? Learn here.

As mobile browsing has finally lapped the number of people browsing with desktops and laptops, it’s clear that the most productivity is happening via mobile. If you haven’t built an app yet, you might be intimidated wondering how long does it take to make an app. While the answer is different for every company, there are some basic elements that come into play.

Here are the four elements to determine how long it’ll take to make your app.

1. Set Your Scope

There’s no clear answer for how long it really takes to build an app. In reality, the best apps are constantly growing and changing, expanding and headed toward becoming “finished.” But developers know that no app is ever truly finished.

If you want to get your first iteration out the door, start by setting the scope of your app. The scope is the list of features, screen sizes, operating systems, and platforms you’re trying to deploy on. Making this list helps you figure out how much effort it’s going to take to get your app out the door.

While it’s pretty easy to figure out screen sizes and platforms – usually, all of them – it takes a whole lot of testing to ensure that your app works. Building apps for all screens have become easier with most app development tools on the market.

Your biggest problem is figuring out how many features you can cram into your application. Start by making a list of “must have” features with your team, putting together what you need to have your app do for users.

Now rename that list as “nice to have” and choose just three items that you have to have for your first release. You’re going to start your journey imagining your app as a Swiss army knife but think about what that means. You can’t do everything you want to do with a Swiss army knife, so why not focus on just a few things that you can do really well?

2. Set Your Budget

While you might think of your budget as a practical matter, it’s also vital for figuring out your timeline. The more money you spend, the faster you can deploy your project. Your budget is also a balance of time and money.

The more time you devote to building your app, the less time you’ll be spending on the other elements of your business. The costs of time add up to money quickly. If you’re not looking at your time and money spent, you’ll miscalculate your business’s potential income for the year.

You suffer what’s called “opportunity costs” when you pursue other things than the exact profit-making element of your business.

When you figure out what your budget is, you’ll know what you have to fund your app. This budget determines the scope of your app. Perhaps you’ll have time to develop four or five of those features or maybe just one or two.

Some companies start off with hundreds of millions of dollars for building an app. If that’s not the case for your company, then you might need to seek investment from venture capitalists. If you’re a new business, this is a perfectly natural way to get the ball rolling.

3. Think About Expertise

If you want to get the job done with your team, you need to think about the kind of skills and expertise that you already have access to on your team. If you don’t have the people you need to get the project off the ground, you might need to send them to training.

You’ll also know whether or not you can afford to take on new talent for your project. It’s vital that your team works with the technology that they know if you want to get the job done quickly. However, if there are better technologies available, it’s going to take time for your team to learn them before they do and implement them.

There are a lot of different levels of talent in the world of building apps. There are people who are good at design and user interface to ensure that people enjoy working with your app. There are people who are better with backend and data transfers who ensure that all the information stored with your app is secure.

You can outsource some members of your team overseas, but it’s not always the best idea. If there are particular industry related or vernacular terms vital to your app, it’s not going to be easy to translate. However, you could always outsource or hire consultants domestically too.

4. Make a Process

You need to start with a strict app development process even if you’re using an app making tool. If you don’t follow a serious process, you’ll dramatically impact your timeline. Your app might never even see the light of day without a process.

People new to software or creative production processes are going to struggle to try to get a process together.

A process isn’t a stand-in for real skills but it allows you to make the most of your team. Creativity on your team gets the chance to shine when there are clearly defined roles. Simple formulas for app development help you to get the most out of everyone.

Scheduling is vital to getting work done. Don’t expect to keep a rigid schedule but having your process broken down week by week helps to get things done and to avoid major snags.

Look at Waterfall and Agile methods for app development to find the type that suits you the best. The mobile app development cycle is complicated for people new to it.

How Long Does It Take To Make an App?

If you’re wondering how long does it take to make an app, it really comes down to your budget, who you have on your team, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Every app is going to require you to scrutinize these details to ensure you get what you’re looking for.

Before you get started, take some time to learn about one of the foundational languages of app development.


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