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SF AppWorks Sep 25, 2019 2:04:00 AM 5 min read

How Long Does It Take to Create a Mobile App? The Truth | SF AppWorks

There are currently countless apps available in app stores, and there are more being added all the time. How long it takes to create a mobile app will vary greatly. On average a first version can be developed anywhere between four to six months. 


Apps with complex design may take longer, while simpler app designs may be finished sooner. There are a number of factors that can increase the length of time it takes to develop an app, such as choosing the wrong developers, platforms, and/or features. Luckily, there are a few things that can be done to speed up the process of launching a new app.


Stages of App Development


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Apps with different sizes, different features, and in different industries will, of course, have varying timelines. Still, it takes between four and six months, on average, to create a mobile app. Keep in mind that this is for a first version (usually called a minimum viable product), and it is always wise to fix any bugs and add new features after beta testing.


Big name apps such as Facebook, Uber, Google Maps, and Instagram are constantly being further updated by teams of app developers who have likely spent thousands upon thousands of hours developing them. Although competing with the resources that these large companies have may be difficult, by following a basic app development process, one can launch her own product within six months. 


A first version product needs to be good enough to be used and liked by people. After that, further refining and additional features can be developed.

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1. Planning and Research - at least several weeks


rocket as a concept of developing an app 


Idea formation, planning, and research are going to greatly impact how long it takes to create a mobile app. Defining the target audience and testing the app to ensure users will enjoy the product are very important elements of app building in the early stages. Knowing who will be using the app, and whether they will continue to stay engaged are the first steps to take after coming up with an idea. 


At this point, research into potential competitors should be done as well. If a similar app already exists, there must be something new that can be introduced to outshine the competition. 


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2. Configuring and Choosing Features - about a month


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At this stage, decisions about the app configuration are made. This includes what operating system the app will be created for — iOS, Android, and/or Windows. Choosing to develop cross-platform and for multiple devices will increase the amount of time spent at this stage. 


This is also when features are chosen. Deciding to implement too many features at the beginning can delay progress and can end up costing much more. A slim budget helps in cutting down unnecessary features and focusing on the core aspects that are most crucial.


3. Developing Front-End, Back-End, and UI - one to two months 


Front-end development involves wireframing, caching, and synchronization. Back-end development involves user management, data storage and integration, server-side logic, and push actions. Graphic designers tackle UI to give the app a better appearance.


4.Testing for bugs - about a month


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Running tests to find bugs before launching the app will give users a more positive experience. People are more likely to enjoy the app if it launches with few glitches and road-bumps. After completing this phase of alpha testing, the app can be beta tested by real users who may find unexpected errors and issues.

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What Slows Down the App Development Process


There are many factors that can alter the app development process, slowing things down considerably.

Hiring developers with little to no experience

There is a vast difference in app development abilities. Hiring a developer without enough experience, or the right experience needed for creating the desired app, is a mistake. Not only does this lead to a longer development time, but it will eventually result in  a poor app in the end. Instead, consult with professionals to determine the right kind of developers for you.

Changing the plan in the middle of the project

Making large changes to the plan for the app after development has already started will set the process back. Each stage of app development is connected, so altering something in the middle of the building process will change everything. In fact, too many changes to the code will impact the performance of the final product.

Choosing to use complex tech

Using the latest technology in an app will undoubtedly give app users a better experience. However, implementing complicated technologies such as artificial intelligence, VR, machine learning, or AR are likely to take a lot of time to implement in the app. This adds extra time to the development stage.

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How to Speed Up the App Development Process


mobile_devices as a concept of responsiveness

The app development process can be streamlined by cutting back in some areas and focusing more on others. Here are a few ways to speed up the process:

  • Opt for a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) as an early release, then add additional features and improvements afterward. Don’t try to put too much into your first release.
  • Choose to develop cross-platform with a tool that allows for developing apps on multiple operating systems without sacrificing time. Don’t spend time deliberating which platform to use. 
  • Hire a professional app builder who knows what they are doing and can produce a high-quality app in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t scrimp on your budget when choosing your developer.

Creating an app can be an extremely lengthy process, but it doesn’t have to be. Good quality apps need to be planned and researched properly. They also need a competent developer and a few core features in order to complete testing and launch within a few months. Altering plans or opting for complex technology can extend the app development process well beyond six months, as can adding too many features. Focusing on a MVP and using a tool to allow for cross-platform development can get the process back on track and get the app closer to launch.


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Contact SF AppWorks for consulting on app development.