Debunking the Myth: How Long Does It Take to Build An App?

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Building an app prototype, MVP or new feature in an existing project? Discover how long it typically takes from inception to completion
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Nerdheadz
Published
4/12/24

Introduction

If you're thinking of developing your app, you've probably wondered how long it takes to turn your concept into a fully functioning reality.  Well, let's debunk the myth once and for all. 

Building an app isn't an overnight process, but don't despair, it's also not an endless undertaking. 

In this article, we'll explore the factors that influence app development timelines and give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

From idea validation and wireframing to coding and testing, every stage of the app development process contributes to the timeline. 

Understanding each step and how they fit together is crucial for managing expectations and ensuring a successful project.

So, how long does it take to build an app? The honest answer is that it depends on the complexity of your app, the features you want to include, the size of your development team, and your budget. All of these play a significant role. 

By breaking down the process and evaluating your specific requirements, you can estimate a more accurate timeline and plan accordingly. 

So, let's dive in and unravel the mystery of app development timelines.

Remember, patience is key, and with proper planning and realistic expectations, you'll soon see your app idea come to life.

The importance of app development timelines

When it comes to app development, time is of the essence. 

Whether you're a startup looking to launch your product or an established company expanding your digital presence, delivering your app to the market promptly can make or break your success. 

Time-to-market is a critical factor in the highly competitive app industry, where trends change rapidly and users have high expectations. 

A delayed launch could result in missed opportunities, loss of market share, and a damaged reputation.

So in that case, what are the factors that can affect your application’s development time?

Some Factors that affect app development time

Now that we understand the importance of app development timelines, let's delve into the factors that can influence the duration of the process. 

1. Project Complexity: 

The complexity of your app is one of the primary factors that will impact development time. 

A simple app with basic functionality will naturally take less time to build compared to a complex app with advanced features and integrations. 

The more features you want to include, the longer it will take to develop and test each one.

Another factor to consider is 

2. The size of your development team. 

A larger team or agency like Nerdheadz can typically accomplish tasks more quickly due to the increased manpower. 

However, effective communication and coordination are crucial when working with a larger team to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals. 

Additionally, the experience and expertise of your development team can significantly impact the speed and quality of the app development process.

3. Your Project Budget

Budget is yet another influential factor. 

App development can be costly, and a limited budget may result in a longer development time as you may need to make compromises or find alternative solutions, such as no-code app development, to achieve your desired functionality. 

It's important to strike a balance between your budget and your app's requirements to avoid unnecessary delays.

Related: Budgeting For An App: Why You Need Project Managers.

4. Your Choice of Code Stack (Coded vs. No-Code): 

Traditional coding typically requires more time than using no-code platforms. 

According to Forrester, no-code development can reduce app delivery time by 50-90%. 

However, the required capabilities of coded solutions may justify the extended timeframe.

5. Durations OF User Feedback & QA Testing: 

The 2020 Capgemini World Quality Report highlighted that organizations spend about 23% of their IT budgets on quality assurance.

This means that iterative development models, which involve user feedback loops and the integration of this feedback, can prolong app development time.

Also, detecting and rectifying app bugs is crucial which means the longer the testing phase, the more extended your app’s development duration. 

Related: QA Testing: The Secret To Delivering Reliable Applications

6. Regulatory & Compliance Needs: 

If you’re building an app for industries like finance or health, your app must adhere to specific regulations. 

Compliance checks and necessary modifications can also contribute to a prolonged app development duration.

Discover how long it takes to build your app idea. Try Nerdheadz Free Project Estimation Tool

Common misconceptions about app development time

Before we proceed, let's address some common misconceptions about app development time. 

Many people mistakenly believe that building a simple app can be done in a matter of days or weeks. 

While it may be possible to create a basic app quickly, it's important to remember that quality and thoroughness should never be compromised. 

Rushing through the development process can lead to a subpar product that fails to meet user expectations and lacks the necessary functionality.

On the other hand, some individuals believe that building a complex app will take an eternity. 

While it's true that complex apps require more time and effort, with proper planning and an experienced development team, the process can be streamlined and carried out efficiently. 

It's all about finding the right balance between speed and quality.

Understanding the app development process

While the specifics may vary depending on the development approach and methodology, the core stages typically include 

  • Idea validation, 
  • Wireframing,
  • UX/UI design
  • Coding or No-code development, 
  • App testing, and finally,
  • Deployment.

Stage 1: The Idea validation stage 

This is where you determine the feasibility and potential of your app concept. 

This involves conducting market research, identifying your target audience, and validating your idea through user feedback and surveys. 

This step is crucial in ensuring that your app will meet the needs of your target audience and have a market demand.

Stage 2: Wireframing

Wireframing is the next step, where you create a visual representation of your app's structure and functionality. 

This stage helps you map out the user flow and identify any potential usability issues or design flaws. 

It serves as a blueprint for the development team and provides a clear vision of the final product.

Stage 3: UX/UI Design

UX/UI design is where the visual elements of your app come to life. 

This stage involves creating an appealing and user-friendly interface that aligns with your brand identity and enhances the overall user experience.

The design should be intuitive, engaging, and visually appealing to attract and retain users.

Once the design is finalized, the development team begins the coding/development phase. 

Stage 4: Coding or No-Code Development

This is where the actual development of the app takes place, with the team writing the code/or building the frameworks that bring your app to life. 

Depending on the complexity of your app, this stage can take a significant amount of time, as it involves implementing the features, integrations, and functionality outlined in the earlier stages.

Stage 5: App Testing

Testing is a critical stage that ensures your app functions as intended and is free from bugs and glitches. 

The development team conducts rigorous testing to identify and fix any issues, ensuring a smooth user experience. 

This stage may require multiple iterations and can be time-consuming, but it is essential to deliver a high-quality, bug-free app.

Stage 6: Deployment

Finally, once the app has been thoroughly tested and meets your requirements, it is ready for deployment. 

This involves submitting the app to the respective app stores (such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store) and going through the review process. 

Once approved, your app is officially available for download and use by users.

Related: 6 Insider Secrets For Building An App Without Coding, practiced by Nerdheadz.

Explore duration estimations for each stage of the app development process with Nerdheadz Free Project Estimation Tool

Average timelines for different types of apps

Now that we understand the steps involved in app development, let’s provide some general estimates based on the average timelines for different types of apps:

it's important to note that the time required for each step can vary depending on the complexity and scope of your app. 

1. Simple apps: Basic apps with limited functionality can be developed within a few months.

2. Moderate apps: Apps with medium complexity and functionality may take around 6-9 months to develop.

3. Complex apps: Apps with advanced features, integrations, and customizations can take anywhere from 9 months to 1 year or more to develop.

Strategies to speed up your app development time/duration

If you're looking to expedite the app development process, there are several strategies you can employ:

1. Plan and prioritize: 

Clearly define your app's requirements and prioritize the features and functionality. 

This will help you focus on the essential elements and avoid unnecessary delays.

2. Use agile development methodologies: 

Agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, promote iterative development and allow for flexibility and quick adjustments. 

This can help streamline the development process and reduce time-consuming rework.

3. Leverage pre-built components: 

Utilize existing libraries, frameworks, pre-built components, and agencies like Nerdheadz with deep industry experience to accelerate development.

This can save time and effort by eliminating the need to build everything from scratch.

Related: Discover the 5 Best Templates For Building A No-Code App on Bubble.io

4. Collaborate effectively: 

Foster effective communication and collaboration within your development team. 

Regularly scheduled meetings, clear expectations, and a shared understanding of goals and timelines can help ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.

Nerdheadz optimizes collaboration by assigning a dedicated project manager to each client’s project.

5. Outsource non-core tasks: 

Consider outsourcing non-core tasks, such as UX/UI design or QA testing, to specialized agencies or freelancers. 

This can free up your development team's time to focus on core development tasks, potentially speeding up the overall process.

By implementing these strategies, you can optimize the app development timeline and increase the chances of delivering your app to the market sooner.

Nerdheadz has departments and dedicated professionals to handle these roles and expedite the app development process.

6. Utilize No-Code App Builders

No-code app development is a proven strategy for expediting the app development process. 

With statistics from Forrester Research indicating that no-code development can reduce app delivery time by 50-90%, it's evident that businesses can bring their digital products to market more swiftly using this approach. 

These platforms often come with built-in functionalities, templates, and integrations, reducing the time spent on ground-up coding and bug fixes. 

By eliminating traditional development bottlenecks and fostering real-time collaboration, no-code platforms can empower your business to iterate rapidly, respond to user feedback promptly, and adapt to changing market dynamics in record time.

Related: Easy For Newbies, The 10 Best No-Code App Builders in 2023

Average Timeline and Duration For The Development Of Different App Models- Custom Code Vs. No-Code

It's essential to recognize that the exact duration for app development can vary widely based on numerous factors, including the ones we listed above (complexity, team size, etc.). 

However, let’s work on providing an average duration on a few commonly developed apps based on industry trends and experiences.

Model 1: ERP and CRM Apps:

Custom code development of CRM and ERP apps often takes about 6-12 months. 

Enterprise-level ERP and CRM systems are inherently complex, involving integration with various systems, extensive databases, and multiple functionalities.

However, by using No-Code frameworks,  the duration can be expedited to about 2-6 months. 

No-code platforms have templates and integrations that can speed up development, but customization might be limited.

Also utilizing an experienced no-code development agency like Nerdheadz can help with expediting this process.

Related: 5 Best Bubble.io CRM Templates In 2023

Model 2: Social Media Apps:

Custom code developments for social apps require a duration range of 4-9 months

Social media apps require scalable architectures, real-time data processing, and potentially, AI-driven features.

No-code development expedites this process to about 1-4 months because no-code tools allow for basic social networking features to be implemented faster, but advanced functionalities might be limited.

Model 3: Portfolio Apps:

Custom code development for portfolio apps takes about 2-4 months. 

These apps are usually more straightforward, showcasing work, and credentials, and providing contact methods.

No-code development further expedites this process to about 2-6 weeks. 

Many no-code platforms also have templates specifically for portfolios which can expedite the process.

Model 4: Blog & Blogging Apps:

Custom code development for blogs can require up to 3-6 months. This accounts for a custom CMS, user management, and possibly advanced features like analytics.

Contrarily, No-code development expedites this to approximately 3-8 weeks. 

Platforms like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace already offer quick setups, and other no-code tools, like Bubble.io and Webflow.io can assist in creating more customized blogging apps.

Related: 5 Best Bubble.io Blogging Templates For 2023

Model 5: Directories Apps:

Developing custom code directories apps requires about 4-8 months. Directories require a strong backend, advanced search, and categorization features.

However, with no code, the process can be expedited to 1-3 months. 

Basic directory setups can be quickly developed on no-code platforms, but unique features may require more time.

These timelines are averages and can be shorter or longer depending on specific project needs and other influencing factors. 

Additionally, post-development phases like testing, bug fixing, and deployment should also be considered when thinking of the overall project timeline.

It's important to note that these are rough estimates, and the actual timelines may vary based on the factors we discussed earlier, such as team size, budget, and development approach.

Do you have an app idea? Explore how long it takes with Nerdheadz Free Project Estimation Tool

Hiring an app development team/agency

Choosing the right app development team is crucial for the success and timely delivery of your app. When hiring a development team, consider the following:

1. Experience and expertise: 

Look for a team like Nerdheadz with relevant experience in developing apps similar to yours. 

Check through the agencies’ portfolios and client's testimonials to assess their capabilities.

2. Communication and collaboration: 

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for a smooth development process. 

Ensure the team has good communication skills and is responsive to your queries and concerns.

3. Development approach: 

Understand the team's development approach and methodologies. 

Agile methodologies are often preferred for their flexibility and adaptability.

4. Budget and timeline: 

Discuss your budget and timeline expectations with the team to ensure they align with your requirements. A transparent and honest discussion upfront can help avoid misunderstandings later on.

Take the time to carefully evaluate and compare different development teams to find the one that best fits your needs and can deliver your app within your desired timeline.

Real-life examples of app development timelines

To provide some real-life examples, let's look at a couple of popular apps and their development timelines:

1. Instagram: 

Instagram, one of the most popular social media apps today, took around 8 weeks to develop the initial version. 

However, it's important to note that the app went through several iterations and updates over the years to reach its current state.

2. WhatsApp: 

WhatsApp, a widely used messaging app, took approximately 5 months to develop the first version. Like Instagram, it has undergone numerous updates and enhancements since its initial release.

These examples highlight that even successful apps with millions of users took time to develop and evolve. It's essential to have realistic expectations and understand that app development is an ongoing process.

3. Lambda School: built on Bubble.io

Lambda School offers online programs in software development and data science. 

While the school now utilizes various custom-built solutions, its initial version was created using Bubble.

The initial prototype/MVP was created in a matter of days.

Nerdheadz Project Timeline & Estimation Tool

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Conclusion: Setting realistic expectations for app development time

In conclusion, the question of how long it takes to build an app doesn't have a definitive answer. 

It depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your app, the features you want to include, the size of your development team, and your budget. 

However, you can estimate a more accurate timeline for your app by understanding the app development process, breaking it down into its key steps, and considering the strategies to speed up the process.

Setting realistic expectations is crucial to avoid disappointment and frustration. Remember, building a high-quality app takes time, effort, and meticulous attention to detail. 

Patience, proper planning, and effective collaboration with your development team will ensure a successful and timely app launch. 

So, stay focused, keep your goals in sight, and soon your app idea will become a reality.

Remember, patience is key, and with proper planning and realistic expectations, you'll soon see your app idea come to life.

Discover how long it takes to build your no-code app MVP/Prototype. Try Nerdheadz Free Project Estimation Tool
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