What does an app cost?

Simon bieri portrait 2023 01 30 102312 mpia
Simon bieri portrait 2023 01 30 102312 mpia
Simon Bieri UX-Designer und Product Owner

One of the most common questions in app development is about costs. The answer is: it depends. Because the costs depend on many factors such as the idea, the requirements and the complexity of the app. This means that the cost of an app can vary greatly and there is no upper limit.

Let's take a look at how the cost of an app materialises and what you should look out for when estimating the cost. The development of an app can be divided into three phases: Planning and design, development and operation. Costs arise in all three phases, which you should already take into account during the planning phase.

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Costs in CHF


Architecture and basic framework for the app.


Conception and creation of an impressive app design.

Content management (CMS)

Content Management System to manage the content.

Project management

Planning, communication and meetings, testing, deployment of the app on the web or via stores.

The values given are rough estimates and do not constitute a binding offer. Your individual requirements are necessary for an accurate cost estimate.

Planning and conception

In the planning and conception phase, fundamental decisions are made. For example, the type of app to be developed is decided. The range of functions and the corresponding design of the app are also worked out in this phase.

Type of app

  • Native App: Native apps are programmed individually for each operating system (e.g. Android or iOS). A native app makes it possible to use the operating system optimally and to offer functions that cannot be realised with other app types.
    However, since the app must be developed for different operating systems, native apps are more expensive to develop and operate than other types of apps.

  • Web App: If you want your app to run in any web browser, then a web app is the right alternative for you. Examples of web apps are Youtube, Netflix, AirBnb or Galaxus. As you can see, big companies often develop both web apps and native apps to give their users the best experience on all channels.
    Since only one version needs to be developed, web apps are usually cheaper than native apps.

  • Progressive Web App: A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a web app that can be used to replicate certain features of native apps. For example, a PWA does not require an active internet connection and can be stored on the end device. This eliminates some of the disadvantages of a pure web app.
    A progressive web app is accordingly more expensive than a pure web app.

  • Hybride App: A hybrid app combines the advantages of a native app with those of a web app. Hybrid apps are often referred to as cross-platform apps because they work across platforms. A hybrid app can use functions of operating systems such as Android or iOS without having to develop separate apps for both operating systems.
    Thanks to modern frameworks such as Flutter, the development of hybrid apps can be very efficient and thus financially attractive compared to native apps.


It is worth investing time and money in the design of the app because a) the app is understood more quickly by the users and used in the long term and b) a targeted design shortens the development time.

Basically, a distinction is made between user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX). An appealing user interface is particularly important if the app is aimed at customers. If the application is only used internally, the user interface does not necessarily have to shine with a sophisticated UI. In both cases, however, user-friendliness and thus the user experience (UX) are of key importance.

The cost of designing an app should not be underestimated, depending on the purpose of the app, as it can take up a lot of time. Especially if the app is complex or the design is to be validated and refined in so-called user tests with the target group. Nevertheless, a mature design saves time and costs in the long run, as redundant developments can be reduced and new functions can be validated based on user feedback.

Development location

The wage costs for the developers and the UX/UI designers play a crucial role in the cost of developing an app. These can vary greatly depending on the country of development. Excellent developers and designers can be found anywhere with the appropriate effort. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing a country of development:

  • Highly qualified developers may be more expensive, but they prove their worth in the long run. After all, high code quality pays off in long-term projects. High-quality code is easier to maintain, safer, more extensible and less error-prone.

  • Language barriers inevitably lead to misunderstandings and thus to unplanned additional work in project management.

  • Clear legal frameworks are important in case something goes wrong in the cooperation.

  • Sustainability is also of central importance in development. This concerns the working conditions of the developers on the one hand and the quality of the delivered results on the other.

  • Last but not least, the budget for the development of the app is a criterion for the choice of the development location.

Development by an agency or in-house

A fundamental question with long-term implications is whether the app should be developed by an agency or by an in-house team. There are several aspects to consider when answering this question:

  • Personnel: Do I have the necessary knowledge and free resources in my company to develop an app? If so, it may make sense to develop the app myself.

  • Time: How much time do I have to develop the app? If you need the app as quickly as possible, it is advisable to hire an agency. They have the manpower and the knowledge to implement projects quickly and competently.

  • Proximity to the business model: Is the app a central component of the business model or just a medium for providing services or selling products? If the app is a central component of the business model (e.g. in the case of SaaS solutions), it may make sense for the development to be driven by an in-house team and for an agency to play a supporting role.

  • Budget: Is my budget big enough to hire developers myself? If not, it is worth hiring an agency, as the developers are only needed for the duration of the project.

  • Flexibility: An agency is more flexible in implementation than internal teams, as it has a high level of expertise and staff.


The development phase is where the actual development of the app takes place. Most costs are generated during the development of the app, as the development phase is the most time-consuming and cost-intensive. The main cost drivers here are the technologies used and the development time.

Development time

The development time depends on the range of functions and how the developers work together and do their work. Qualified developers are either faster in development or minimise the error rate. This has a positive effect on development time.

Basically, it should be noted that software development does not happen overnight. Software development takes months to years, depending on the scope. In many cases, it is also never finished, as it is constantly optimised and expanded.


The choice of technology has long-term effects. Using a modern programming language or framework that has a large developer community and continues to be maintained helps to train new developers faster and reduce the lock-in effect.

Relying on an outdated or less widely used technology inevitably leads to higher costs. On the one hand, it takes longer to find new developers, and on the other hand, there is a risk that the technology will not be further developed. Sooner or later, the application will have to be redeveloped.


Running an app costs money. This is often forgotten and can lead to surprises. Therefore, it is important to consider the operating costs from the beginning. The costs during operation are made up of, among other things, licensing costs and operating costs.

Licence costs for tools

Licence costs for tools are not bad per se. Using ready-made tools in development reduces the development effort and thus the costs. In addition, licence costs guarantee the qualitative further development and support of the tools used. And that is important.

Nevertheless, licence costs are often neglected or hidden in the small print. This can lead to expensive surprises. It is therefore advisable to ensure transparent communication of licence costs when selecting developers. At devedis, we select our tools carefully to not surprise our customers with (unjustifiably) high licence costs.

Operating costs

A technical infrastructure is often required to operate the app. Today, this is in many cases a cloud solution such as Google Cloud. The elimination of errors, so-called bugs, or the maintenance of the app also cause operating costs. For example, apps have to be updated regularly to meet the latest requirements of the operating systems. This involves, for example, ensuring compatibility with new operating system versions or meeting new security requirements.


Developing an app costs money. It's impossible to say in general how much. The price always depends on your idea, the range of functions and many other factors. In many cases, it makes sense to first develop a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), i.e. a version with a reduced range of functions, and then add further functions from there. The solution approach is crucial and always depends on the situation. If you are not sure which solution is best suited for your idea or you would like a non-binding offer, please feel free to contact us.

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