How Much Does Software Development Cost?

Modern software is the key to success for many companies because it makes it much easier to promote your business, reach a larger audience, and gain a competitive edge. No matter how you market yourself and what PR tools you choose, it is worth creating an app. But how much will it cost?

In this guide, we’ll look at several aspects to consider when calculating the cost of software development. Remember, software is not just code. It also requires creative thinking, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of your target audience. Let’s see how to bring this to life.

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Table of contents

    Key takeaways

    • Software development includes defining a concept, as well as designing, programming, and testing an app for desktop, web, or mobile devices.
    • Software development costs depend on the app’s type, complexity, features, technologies used, and the way you hire developers.
    • A simple app could cost from $25,000 to $60,000, and there’s no upper limit. It depends on the sphere you are interested in.
    • To minimize costs, hire an outsourcing firm, choose cross-platform software development, and develop an MVP to check your business hypotheses first.

    What is software development?

    Software is a general term used to describe programs on PCs, laptops, and smartphones. This includes mobile, desktop, and web apps.

    Software development includes designing, programming, and testing phases that a company faces when creating and maintaining apps. Usually, it starts with the idea that your company needs an upgrade or a completely new product, and going online is a good choice. At this stage, you need to think about how to transform the concept into a functional and usable software product.

    Some apps are created for the employees and the company itself. For example, business automation apps, team communication platforms, project management systems, etc. Other apps are created for interacting with customers — marketplaces, financial apps, fitness apps, etc.

    The types of software

    In general, software can be divided into four categories: native mobile software, cross-platform mobile apps, desktop programs, and web apps. Let’s discuss these types of software below.

    Native mobile apps

    Native mobile applications are created for a specific mobile operating system using platform-specific frameworks and programming languages. They take advantage of the OS they are built for and work efficiently with APIs. Native apps have direct access to the hardware and functions of the device — camera, GPS, and contacts.

    For instance, native iOS apps are built using Swift and Objective-C programming languages and the iOS development environment. They run on Apple devices — iPhones and iPads. 

    For native Android apps coders use the Android Software Development Kit and mainly Java and Kotlin languages. These apps work on Android devices from different manufacturers.

    Creating native mobile apps for multiple platforms requires developers to use separate codebases. This is time-consuming and the cost of software development is higher if the product targets several operating systems.

    Cross-platform mobile apps

    Cross-platform development is a great way to save time and money and cover both mobile operating systems at the same time. Such mobile apps are based on a single code base. Developers use specific frameworks and technologies to write code once and deploy it to both iOS and Android. 

    As opposed to native programs, cross-platform software significantly lowers development time and effort and is more cost-effective in both the development and maintenance phases. 

    React Native and other cross-platform frameworks simplify the development process and provide UI libraries that copy the look and feel of target platforms. Here’s how we designed a crypto wallet using this method.


    One disadvantage of cross-platform frameworks is that they rely on bridging technologies to work with native APIs, which may lead to delays in accessing certain functions. However, experienced professionals can solve this issue.

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    Web apps

    These are apps accessed through a web browser. To create web applications programmers use a specific technology stack, including CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. You can access a web app through any browser on your laptop, PC, or smartphone.

    Web apps are not tied to a specific operating system. They are responsive and easily adapt to different devices, screen sizes, and orientations. They also don’t require downloading on user devices. As they are usually hosted on servers and deployed centrally, maintaining and updating web apps is generally easier than native or cross-platform ones.

    Have a look at how we developed a healthcare web app that helps users find the right therapist and take care of their mental health.

    Desktop apps

    This is software designed to run on desktops or laptops. It’s installed and executed directly on the user’s operating system. Desktop apps are specific to a particular platform: macOS, Windows, or Linux.

    Desktop software has direct access to the computer’s storage. Some of them can work offline without a permanent Internet connection, while others have online functions that require connection to the Internet. Apps for PCs provide the most personalized user experience possible.

    Our client, a stun gun manufacturer, asked us to build a unique desktop app. Check out how we managed to do it: a stun gun data analysis app.

    Steps to develop software

    Your future app is what you want it to be: you can choose any functions and UI/UX design you like. However, we advise starting with a minimum viable product. An MVP is an app that has all the necessary basic functions to work smoothly, and it’s the right choice if you want to check your idea in the market. 

    What does app development consist of?

    App development stages

    Below, you can find the key steps you go through when you create your product with us.

    Market analysis & planning

    The journey begins here. Define the concept of the project and find out more about your target audience and the current market trends. Identify the problem your product is intended to solve. At the planning stage, you’ll also need to choose the main features you want to include in the software to set priorities and estimate project timelines.


    The design phase focuses on visualization. At this stage, we’ll create a visual representation of the project’s structure, functions, and user flow. Gather references and examples of design styles that match your vision. 

    We use mind mapping to organize ideas and then build wireframes that reflect the layout, placement of content, and key interactions. This way you’ll get a high-quality UI/UX design

    Development & testing

    Now we convert the design into functional software. A software development team will code your app using frameworks to implement the features defined in the previous steps. To make the software function perfectly, you’ll need quality assurance. We always test early and often to identify and troubleshoot bugs.

    At Purrweb, we use React Native for cross-platform mobile apps, React.js and Node.js for web apps, and Electron.js for desktop apps. We get the best out of these frameworks to create apps that meet the needs even of the most demanding clients.

    Release & post-release maintenance

    Release the software to the market — make it available on app stores and start a marketing campaign. Gather feedback and reviews from your first users to understand their experience, identify areas for improvement, and gather ideas for future updates. Our team will help you maintain your app after the launch to solve any problems that may arise.

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    What influences software costs

    App development price varies depending on:

    • type of app,
    • complexity of the app,
    • technologies used,
    • number of features that the client wants to add to the app, 
    • number of team members and ways of hiring them: in-house, freelance, outsourcing.

    Each company has its methodology, level of expertise, and rating, so it’s hard to name the average costs of software development. Furthermore, each app has individual requirements and serves a specific goal, so it’s difficult to say for sure “your app will cost this much” without research and planning. But we still will give approximate estimates below.

    Let’s discuss the main factors that affect the cost of software development in more detail.

    The complexity of the app

    The complexity of the application depends on the features that the customer chooses to include and the user interface design. All of this requires careful planning. If you want to create a custom app with complex user interactions and advanced animations, developing your app will be more complicated. 

    The complexity also increases if you plan for your software to interact with other services, such as payment gateways, social media platforms, and third-party Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

    The technical stack used

    If you want to create an app that covers several platforms at the same time, it’s better to go for cross-platform development. Otherwise, the costs and time needed to develop software increase dramatically, since you’ll need platform-specific coding, optimization, and testing for two mobile apps (iOS and Android) or three desktop apps (Windows, macOS, Linux).

    Additionally, the choice of the technical stack affects the development time, and this  will ultimately impact the cost of software development. 

    The way of contracting employees

    There are three ways to find a software development team: employ an in-house team, hire freelancers, and turn to an outsourcing company.

    In-house: hiring a team that works directly for your company. This option provides better control over the development process and makes collaboration easier, but is the most expensive. You’ll face extra equipment and office rent costs, as well as spend money on recruiting and HR management.

    Freelance: hiring specialists to do a specific project. This can be a good idea if you are looking for flexibility and low cost. However, finding the perfect specialist with the right portfolio takes a lot of time and effort. Moreover, managing several freelancers can be a challenge.

    Outsourcing: partnering with a software development company. Outsourcing companies offer you to work with a ready-made team of talented and experienced professionals. Such companies have set up project management processes, so they can handle project planning, coordination, and communication effectively. What’s more, outsourcing is a cost-effective option. 

    If you think outsourcing is the right solution for you, learn more about Purrweb’s mobile app development services.

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    The average cost of software development

    Let’s talk about numbers. Below we gathered several apps with different functionality and design that the Purrweb team has evaluated. We’ve chosen 3 categories of applications for comparison: healthcare, dating, and FinTech. Let’s talk about the average costs to develop an app.

    Healthcare apps

    Wellness and health management apps are of great help to both users and doctors. They allow them to use modern methods of care, track symptoms, and improve the interpretation of physical and mental health analyses. For example, you can find medication delivery apps, apps for communicating with a doctor, and fitness trackers in this category. 

    App features: differ significantly from app to app. Usually, there is a smart search, a user profile, a key metrics overview, a dashboard, and push notifications. Additionally, you can also integrate a chatbot, appointment scheduling, interactive map, and customer checkout. Also, don’t forget that you might have to build a HIPAA compliant app, which means additional costs has to be accounted for.

    Costs: A simple app with basic features will cost you approximately $25,000. The cost of an average-complexity app with elaborate functionality and design will be $45,000.

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    Dating apps

    Apps like Tinder are incredibly popular. Such apps help to chat with people you like and find casual or long-term partners. There are three kinds of dating apps: with location-based, profile-based and niche-based search options.

    App features: a secure registration form, user profiles, geolocation, partner search algorithm, audio/video chatting, and in-app purchases.

    Costs: an MVP for dating will cost you about $55,000, and a full-fledged mobile app will be close to $70,000.

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    FinTech apps

    Financial technology allows us to access and manage finances digitally. There are several types of fintech software: banking apps, payment processing programs, insurance, investment & personal finance management apps, and exchanges.

    App features: linking a card, a payment gateway, basic financial transactions, advanced data encryption, security protocols, and custom notifications. Additionally, personalization, use of AI algorithms, and blockchain solutions.

    Costs: the average costs of software development in FinTech start from approximately $59,000. But banking app development cost can fluctuate a lot, so do proper research, if you want to complete your project.

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    Tips for minimizing software development costs

    Not all the software development cost factors we discussed above are unavoidable. This is, it’s not a must to create a fancy custom app with advanced functionality and hire an in-house team to do this. Usually, a nice MVP would be enough. Let’s see how you could cut costs and boost efficiency. 

    Go for cross-platform mobile app development

    As a rule, any company that provides mobile app development services works with both operating systems. It is possible to design two apps for iOS and Android systems separately. But would you like to almost double the costs to get native apps? If not, cross-platform development is a solution.

    At Purrweb, we use the React Native framework to build compatible native-like applications. A large library of pre-built components and plugins available in the React Native ecosystem significantly speeds up the development. It’s a perfect solution to minimize the software development cost.

    Start with a minimum viable product

    We have more than 8 years of experience in developing apps for businesses, and the idea we keep coming back to is “start with an MVP”. The main pros of developing a minimum viable product include:

    • Launching your product and entering the market faster.
    • Testing your idea in the market without giving away much money.
    • Getting feedback from real users and finding ways to improve your app.
    • Attracting investments for your company’s further development.

    There are many more advantages to building an MVP first and turning it into a fully-featured product after testing in the market. Learn more about this in our article on MVP product development.

    Outsource instead of hiring an in-house team

    One more way to reduce the software development cost is to hire an outsourcing company. This way you don’t spend time and resources searching for each specialist individually, checking CVs and portfolios, establishing communication between employees, or renting an office. 

    Outsourcing allows you to choose a team that has been working together for a long time and has already streamlined all the internal processes. Communication through the project manager and analysts will be convenient both for the team and for you. Read more about outsourcing for startups. 

    Summing up

    The software development cost varies from case to case, and there’s no definite standard. In most cases, you’ll need an individual session with an analyst to draft a plan and estimate potential costs. Good news: this is actually free at Purrweb! Fill in the form to contact us and get an offer. 

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