Once you’ve thought of an amazing app idea that will change the way business is conducted or the way that people live their everyday lives, putting together a go-to-market strategy can be overwhelming.
Aside from market validation and funding, you need to set expectations around how long it will take to actually develop your app. This can be tricky, as lots of factors can influence the timeline for developing an app.
In this article, you’ll learn how long it typically takes to develop an app, and what you can do to ensure you are building quality products at the most efficient pace possible.
How Long Does it Usually Take to Develop an App?
The timeframe for developing your app will be dependent on the complexity and functionality of the app itself. More complex applications will take longer to develop, while simpler, more basic apps can be built more quickly.
The time that will be required to develop an app is dependent on three factors:
- The resources that you have access to
- The scope of the app that you’re trying to build
- The levels of skill, knowledge, and experience possessed by the members of your team
Your goal while developing an app should be to deliver a ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP). Depending on the purpose that your application will serve, the time to deliver your MVP will vary significantly.
However, you should always lean towards taking more time to deliver a fully comprehensive product that is more valuable than if it had been rushed through development. With tons of applications constantly being added to the App Store, it has become common practice for users to download an app, and then delete it almost immediately when they realize that the app doesn’t meet their expectations, needs, or desires.
Perhaps the UX is just a little wonky. Maybe things are too complicated, or the app is just downright buggy. These are issues that can be solved for if developers adopt a longer production timeline.
All high quality apps have intuitive interface designs, are beautiful to look at, and provide indispensable user experiences. This should be your goal, but this also takes time to produce.
It’s safe to expect a fully functional app to require four to six months of development, however this is dependent on the team that is building the app, and the complexity of its functionality. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to app development timelines.
How to Streamline the Time Required to Develop an App
There are many reasons why startups and enterprises may choose to develop apps.
In some cases the goal might be to generate additional sales, reduce costs, or enhance customer experiences. In others, these businesses may be attempting to broaden their market coverage or receive feedback more effectively.
Regardless of the purpose or motive that drives a business’ decision to develop an app, expectations need to be set around how long app development typically takes.
Businesses should not expect to build their product overnight, but the following measures can be taken to ensure that the production process is as efficient as possible.
Clearly define your technical requirements.
This is arguably the most important element of the planning process prior to proceeding to development. In the beginning stages of planning, it is absolutely critical to understand, define, and communicate the technical requirements of your application.
Do you have existing products that will need to integrate with the application? How and from where will the app get its content and/or data? Will the app contain peer-to-peer features such as chat? Is there a precise list of all functionality that will be required? Is that list simple or complex? Do you have someone in a CTO-type role that can oversee the technical aspects of development?
All of these are important questions to ask early on. A development agency will require all of this information upfront in order to fully put their plan together, and ensure that that plan is efficient and comprehensive.
Know who you need on your team.
Do you have the necessary talent in-house to develop your app, or will you require a third-party team of specialists? Perhaps you have the resources to get the coding completed, but you may need help with design elements. Or maybe you just have an idea, and need to work with a team for all aspects of the end-to-end production of your app.
Determining what type of assistance you’ll need, and who you can bring onto your team to provide this assistance, is critical in the early stages of development. The more external assistance you need, the more that will affect your timeline for production, as finding the right talent can take time.
If bringing your app to market quickly is your main priority, then your best option will be to enlist the help of a reputable app development agency. Working with third parties enables you to have a talented team working on developing your app full-time.
Stick to your product roadmap.
This is where all of your anticipatory planning from earlier will pay off.
A truly comprehensive app development agency will have assisted you with not only planning for your MVP, but well into the future as well. They should provide you with a breakdown of the features that will be included in the future releases, and how those features align with your overarching business goals.
Simply put, it’s important to understand that the timeline for app development doesn’t end when you release your MVP in the market.
You’ll need to iterate on the first version of your app to enhance and improve it over time. In fact, most successful apps release one to four updates per month!
The frequency of your updates will depend on user feedback, data, and the size of your team. Once people start using your app, you might uncover insights into their expectations and desires that you did not see clearly beforehand. Also, new smartphone functionalities might come into play that you want to capitalize on.
It’s best practice to plan two to four updates in advance, but to also stay aware of market demands and adjust your roadmap accordingly.
Know that app development will usually take longer than originally expected.
It’s always best to be conservative while defining and communicating your timeline for app development. It’s common for unforeseen challenges and obstacles to present themselves during development. You might uncover issues during the QA process that end up delaying a release, for example.
This is why it’s important to give yourself some wiggle room when officializing your timeline. Build buffers into your roadmap that give you the flexibility required to deliver the absolute best product possible. Taking longer to produce an app is much safer than releasing a buggy, broken app into the market. If you release a dud, and people take notice, it can seriously dampen your reputation and reliability to those in the market.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one definitive answer to the question, “How long does it take to develop an app?”
The time required to produce a capable, impactful application is dependent on the functionality of the app, the team building it, and whether or not the goal is to release an MVP into the market, or to perform extensive user testing prior to release.
When all is said and done, it’s safe to expect a fully functional app to require four to six months of development, however this timeline can be adjusted by prioritizing and customizing various combinations of the factors discussed above.
If you have an app idea that needs to be brought to reality, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Koombea. We have a fully staffed team of experts that can streamline your app development timeline by leveraging years of expertise.