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How Long Does It Take To Create an Application? We Explain with a Concrete Example

9 min read

What do you do when you need an app? You just go to the respective application market and download it. Easy, right?  But have you ever imagined how long does it take to build an app?

Difficult to comprehend? We agree! There are many aspects that affect the time taken to build an app.  But before we dig deeper into those factors, let us take a look over the stats below.

Adding to it, the number of smartphone users worldwide was over 3.5 billion in 2020. Also, it is found that 88% of their time is spent only on apps. That shows that the usage is growing, and so are the products.

Does this imply we need to toss the production rate? Clearly, not.  An application will take the usual time it takes. And if you have a unique idea, time will not matter as the performance of the app will be off the charts.

Anyway, the average time to develop an app is from three to nine months. There can be variations in time due to a variety of reasons, including the complexity of the product, the final structure of the model, and more. Moreover, the time took also varies from person to person and company to company.

So, without much ado, let’s discuss the aspects that influence the time frame to build an app.

What Influences the Average Time to Develop an App?

There are many factors that impact the mobile app development stages’ timeline. Here are some of them:

The Key Factor Is the Founder’s (Your) Vision

As the first thing, the idea or the vision of the founder holds immense significance. Your vision includes the structure, the specifications, and an idea of how the final product should look like.

Once you are certain, the rest can proceed smoothly. Remember that the initial request that the founder puts in front of the development agency decides how long does it take to build an app. The time taken is 100% depends on this aspect.

Let’s understand what factors are shaping your founder’s vision.

  • Factor 1. The Complexity of an Idea

The complexity of the app is the prime factor affecting its timeline. Designing a simple app like 30/30 that helps you organize your daily tasks has a simple interface. Moreover, a simple Tetris game app is also easy to build.

The time to build apps like these is way less than complex apps like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix.

To build an Uber-like app, you can use a white label constructor. However, if you look to build something unique, let’s say SaaS, that can create and launch ads across different podcast platforms, then you have absolutely no choice but to work with the experts to plan the development process.

  • Factor 2. The Precision Of Requirements

A description of requirements incorporates the core features of the app and what it is all about. Hence, the more detailed the requirements, the less time needed.

Plus, functionalities such as backend infrastructure, selecting CMS, third-party service integration may increase or decrease the time to develop an app.

In addition, if you decide to add more features, the overall cost and time will surely shoot up. Listed below are some features founders look for in their solution:

  • Sign up through social media or email
  • Chat or messaging
  • Push notifications
  • Portrait or landscape view
  • Payment integration
  • Maps integration
  • User login and more.

There can be additional features, too, based on the type of application.

  • Factor 3. The Clarity of the Final Result

After you have decided on the above, it’s time to document the requirements. The documentation is essential to get an idea of the final goal and an app development timeline. You may ask, why?

Stats suggest that around 13% of the startups fail just because they lose focus. Hence, detailed documentation is necessary.

These documentations are later used by the design team to create wireframes. The latter are digital blueprints displaying how the MVP will look like.

It does primarily two things:

  1. First, it provides information required to identify potential pitfalls.
  2. Second, it includes only essential functionalities, leaving the rest.

And yes, if the final product requirements are not clear in the beginning, it will lead to more change requests in the middle of the project.

For this, the agency has to add additional work for the managers, analysts, designers, and developers, increasing the app development timeline.

How long does it take to build an app with a wireframe?

With a wireframe, you look to resolve all customers’ pain points while creating a unique user experience for them. Here’s the catch. You may not be able to hit the bull’s eye on the first go.

This is what happens during the process:

  1. As a team, you create a wireframe
  2. Then you present it to the stakeholders for feedback and possible shortcomings.
  3. You make changes as per the suggestions.
  4. Repeat the process until you get the desired outcome.

Note that depending on the scope of the project, wireframes may take 2-3 days to complete.

  • Factor 4. The Business Expertise

If you are someone who is an expert in coding, then you only need assistance in product and design strategy. But if you are a fresh entrepreneur, you would need help from start to end (time taken will be more than the case mentioned above).

In addition, there are other aspects as well. For instance, if recruiting an in-house team is part of your business model, then consider the time to hire and train the team for the project. If you already have a team, then only the design and development time will be counted.

But if you have less time, hire a developer or a product development company and share your mobile app development timeline. You will save a lot of time in this case.

The founder's vision the key complex factor, that define app development timeline

Planning Stage

The fundamental stage in the app development timeline is the planning stage. It focuses both on the development team and the customers. This stage helps to determine the expectations and the project roadmap and takes about 2-3 weeks.

In this stage of application development, you collect and analyze the information about the project, the market, the competitors, and the audience. The time taken to perform the discovery stage varies greatly. Here are some aspects of it:

Specs Writing and handling over specifications may take up anywhere between one to two weeks. To give you an initial idea, here are a few things you must add to the brief:

  • Project goal and success metrics
  • Request for proposal (RFP)
  • Budget range
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Approximate date of delivery
Low fidelity wireframes Low fidelity wireframes are the initial visual representations of the product. It is performed to help the designers and clients get a clear picture of the design and the product’s functionalities.

They are highly flexible, increasing the process productivity while keeping the expenses low and reducing the average time for developing an app.

Tech stack It is also necessary to analyze the technology stack that you will need for developing an MVP. The better the software, the shorter will be the mobile app development timeline.

iOS apps

  • Programming languages: There are mainly two languages are used:
    • Objective C is the primary language with object-oriented abilities
    • Swift: A newer and more commonly used language than Objective-C

 

  • iOS development tools
    • Xcode: It offers vital functions for coding, UI design, and testing
    • Appcode: Powered by a third party, it includes a flexible coding system

 

  • UI Frameworks
    • UIkit: A basic framework for developing and managing graphical elements
    • SwiftUI: Resembles UI kit but supports the latest versions of iOS only

Android apps

  • Programming languages
    • Java: It is the most popular language with the best options for developing apps
    • Kotlin: It is lightweight and is compatible with Java Virtual Machine. Thus developers can use both frameworks

 

  • Android development tools
    • Android Studio: Powered by Google, it offers a user-friendly intuitive interface, in addition to debugging and code editing tools

 

  • UI Frameworks
    • Android UI: It helps developers easily coding app using native Android design patterns
    • Jetpack Compose: Simplifies UI development with intuitive Kotlin APIs and powerful tools

 

Cross-Platform apps

  • Flutter: it has some built-in widgets for quick performance.
  • React Native: based on Javascript, It has similar UI building blocks as in iOS and Android
  • Xamarin: uses C# language and provides direct access to APIs of both iOS and Android

The entire discovery process may take 40-80 hours of the app development timeline. For example, we at Spdload worked on an app, MyWishApp for which the discovery phase took us close to 72 hours.

Design Stage

In the design stage, you conceive and iterate the UI and the UX design of the product.  This process leads to a blueprint to be handed over to the developers to start building the product.

Let’s take a closer look at what this stage includes.

  • High-fidelity wireframes

High fidelity is computer-based representations of the product. We can say these are the closest relatives of the final product.

With high-fidelity wireframes, you provide test participants with the final representation of how the product will look and behave. This is what JT Grauke has done.

After starting with low fidelity wireframes to match storytelling with the content strategy, it then moved on to create high fidelity wireframes for deciding the layout in addition to the hierarchy of the app.

You can check the wireframes made by SpdLoad for the dating app, SwiDate.

  • UI kit

There are user interface components in the UI kit, and these provide the functionality to the users. Application elements like buttons, navigation buttons, checkboxes, widgets, and progress bars are all included in a UI kit.

In addition, some kits contain a framework for underpinning the app’s layout or the site.

Most importantly, UI kits incorporate all the UI elements. Hence, you don’t have to design them by yourself. Implying strict adherence to mobile app development timeline.

The design stage of an MVP takes about 80 to 160 hours in total. However, both planning and design can take two weeks to 1 month.

For SwiDate, the UI/UX design process took 150 hours for Spdload.

Development Stage

The development stage is the core part of the app creation process. It focuses mainly on building three things: the design, the frontend, and the backend. Besides, there is testing and uploading to app stores to be done.

  • Backend Development

Backend is the hidden part of an app responsible for storing data and providing security. It serves the same purpose as the server. You can access it via the internet using API (Application Public Interface).

Some commonly used alternatives for backend servers are a custom server, a cloud server, and MBaaS.

The backend includes the following:

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

The storage capacity provided by the backend can also be taken from a third-party company. Or you can have an in-house app backend development team. But remember, not all apps require a backend.

We would like to share our own story here.

Videonext’s founder contacted us to move their website into the cloud. There were many challenges. The biggest among them was creating backend integration for the existing platform’s functionality.

But our team managed to surpass it with the API made by the customer’s team.

Read the entire case study here.

  • Frontend Development

The front end of an app is everything that a user can see.

From structure to design and from behavior to content, everything that a user sees is curated by front-end developers. It uses elements such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Besides, it is responsible for the responsiveness and performance of the app.

Take a look below as the frontend includes the following:

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

Generally, the average time to develop an app varies from 3 months to launch an MVP and up to 9 months to scale it to a big product.

  • QA Testing

Testing is one of the concluding and critical phases of the app development process. It may take you anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

For our project SwiDate, it took us 340 hours for QA testing.

The development process of mobile app require different time spending accordingly to the complexity of design and development tasks

Moving forward

If you seek an answer to how long does it take to build an app, then make a wise choice.

Share your list of requirements with us, and we will provide you with the average time to develop an app.

If you want to explore our past work, we welcome you to check out our guides on app design cost and app development cost for more clarification on our working style.

You can also get in touch with us here!

Read More

The development timeline defines the final cost to develop an app. Find out more about the cost structure in our in-depth guide.

Read the guide

Thinking about App Development?

Check our in-depth guide about the cost to develop an app

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