Apps cost money, but how much?

There are many ways to get to a working application that supports and helps grow your business. Two common way are as follows:


Some businesses try to save upfront costs by engaging companies abroad in lower cost countries, such as Malaysia, Ukraine and Poland, to name a few. It is easy to find companies there, which offer similar quality app development services as Australian companies. However, there are pitfalls to consider:

In order to work from Australia with a development company abroad, you may need at least one if not more staff with specialized knowledge in:

  • Translating business requirements into technical requirements
  • Transferring knowledge of local user behaviors to technical staff abroad
  • Project management skills in handling both budget and timeline constraints with an unfamiliar team abroad
  • Willingness to work across time zones and often exceedingly early or late hours of the day (forget 9am-5pm)

So, what are often considered initial cost savings when working with a team abroad, can quickly blow out due to intangible costs that are not often considered in your initial budget.


A quality application build in Australia is expected to cost more than an application build abroad. But there are several considerations to be taken into account before deciding:

  • Local businesses are much better adapted to the ‘way things work’ in Australia
  • It is easier for locals to understand business requirements and translate them into technical requirements, because we live and work in a similar culture
  •  Both parties are working in the same time zone
  • It is much easier to meet face to face and explain business concepts and requirements, then trying to do the same remotely, via screens and ppts. This way boiler-plate documentation can be kept to a minimum, saving both effort and money in the process

But what should my app budget be?

Before we address that question, we should dig a little deeper!

  • Are you a Start-up, looking to translate a business idea into an application that will help you drive your business?
  • Are you an existing business, looking to digitize some or all parts of a well-established business process?
  • Are you looking to integrate with other applications and support some more complex business processes?

Each of the above may require an adapted approach and more targeted budget spend.

In general, you should consider the following

  1. How many platforms do I need to support?

Many development studios will tell you that for each platform that you need to support, your budget will increase substantially, as often the team developing the Android version is separate from the team developing the iOS version and again separate from the team developing your web-application presence. This is not necessarily true. With Flutter (a Google Framework) one team can now develop a single code base that is deployed to Android, iOS, Web + Desktop (Windows, macOS). Some minor adaptation may be required, but no longer three separate teams. One code base, multiple platforms is the way to go. This achieves multiple goals.

  • Your total application code base is smaller
  • Your team size required to maintain this code base is smaller
  • Maintenance is substantially reduced as the technology footprint is smaller
  • How many workflows do I need to support?

Each workflow may require multiple screens. Thing about the Login page. You need to provide user options to sign-in, sign-up, reset password or skip the sign-up process altogether. That is one workflow, but often multiple screens.

Another workflow could be onboarding customers or providing any number of your business services. The more complex the workflow the more careful forethought is required.

Each workflow may require a cost consideration from between AU$5,000 – AU$10,000+ or more.

  • Application design, from app mockup to app prototype

Does your budget support a full-scale design process, which includes an application prototype build using design tools such as Figma or Zeplin, which can then be translated by developers into an application? Or does your budget require flexibility to go from mock up to a basic app, without all the bells and whistles?

Each approach may attract a substantially different cost, with a starter budget as low as $AU 5,000 on the basic end to $AU25,000 on the other end.

  • Standalone Application versus Integration

Simple business application may be able to work in standalone fashion and require no integration with other platforms. For example, consider a simple app, that reminds your customers, when their next appointment is. This application may only need a simple calendar function. Other apps may require you to integrate to other systems, such a Google Maps-API, to dynamically show the location of where your customer needs to go.

Each integration brings with it, its own complexities. The more integration, the more budget should be put aside for both integration and the resulting testing effort. Integrations are hard to estimate and need to be considered on their own merit.

  • Other Considerations

Depending on the technology used and at which stage your business is, further backend work may be required. If you are a Start-up, the backend may be easier to maintain, as you are essentially starting with a blank canvas. Established businesses may have existing backend databases and other applications that need to co-exist with the new application, this will increase the development coast and need to be considered on their own merit.

It is important to pick the right team for your app development efforts. Ensure that your budget can support the most critical business features first. This will keep a tight lid on both, your expenses and on the timeline to first app version.

App development is an iterative process. If you need a feature light app, that allows you to rapidly grow a customer base, from which you gain ‘real’ user feedback and then refine and expand your application feature set based on ‘real’ user feedback, such an application can be developed from as low as $AU30,000 – $AU50,000.

More complex applications will require a stronger budget, as outlined above.

No matter, what your budget is, come and talk to us, we can help.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *