How long does it take to develop an app?

6 min readDec 13, 2023

The journey from conceptualizing an app idea to its full-fledged implementation is a multifaceted process, with numerous factors influencing the app development timeline. Unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, no one can provide a short answer to the question “How long does it take to develop an app?” right away.

If we still try to put it into specific figures, our experience shows the following approximate breakdown:

  • Simple app — 3–4 months,
  • Medium-complexity app — 4–7 months,
  • Complex app — 7–12 months.

However, if the average answer doesn’t suit you, keep reading this post. Below we explain factors and layers that define the development duration as well as tips on how to hit the market faster.

“To estimate a customer’s request accurately, comprehensive requirements are gathered and transmitted to the technical team. Close collaboration with the customer is maintained during the assessment, including asking detailed questions. Specific information, like desired functionalities, design preferences, and scalability requirements, is crucial for accurate app development estimation.

If a contractor confidently commits to a specific time frame with no a clear understanding of the requirements, it’s definitely a red flag that may lead to potential problems during the project. Issuing a definitive estimate without delving into the specifics should serve as a cautionary signal.”

Yana Maksimova, Chief Commercial Officer at SolveIt

Factors that influence the app development timeline

Addressing the fundamental query of how long app development takes, let’s explore the core aspects that shape the development trajectory:

App complexity

An app’s complexity is directly linked to the depth of its capabilities, ranging from simple applications with basic functions to complex systems that demand advanced features.

Instead of trying to understand how long it takes to create an app, answer the following questions first:

  • How complex will my app’s functionality be?
  • Should we implement sophisticated, customized UI/UX design?
  • Will we scale the app in the future?
  • Will the app handle sensitive data and require increased security?

As the complexity increases, so does the time required for tasks like detailed coding, extensive testing, and fine-tuning of user interfaces.

“The complexity of the application is the primary factor influencing the cost. Often, clients want to implement all the features at once, but some of them are not used by users after the launch.

This can result in wasting money that could have been spent on marketing and design.

To avoid this, we closely collaborate with business analysts to prioritize features, understand the real needs of the target audience, and focus on the market demands that impact the product itself. We recommend developing an MVP to realize a minimally viable scope of functionality with all the associated benefits for testing the idea — cost efficiency and a quicker time-to-market.”

Yana Maksimova, Chief Commercial Officer at SolveIt

Third-party integrations

The integration of third-party services or APIs is a common practice in app development. This offers access to extended functionalities like payment gateways, social media platforms, cloud services, and more.

While these integrations enhance the app’s performance, they also introduce potential complexities. Delays in coordinating with service providers, resolving compatibility issues, and prolonged testing can impact the overall schedule.

Experience of the development team

Have you gathered a seasoned team to navigate app development challenges? In fact, developers’ expertise can significantly impact the speed of the process. In other words, it’s not about “how long does app development take?”, it’s about the speed at which your team navigates the mobile app development process.

Experienced teams tend to use proven tactics, coding standards, and efficient problem-solving techniques, reducing the likelihood of errors. So make sure you put in enough effort to gather a well-tuned team.

At this point, you have the option to hire the whole dedicated team at once instead of building an in-house crew yourself. The decision between these alternatives can also speed up or lengthen the process.

As a rule, searching for in-house experts involves the time-consuming processes of recruitment, onboarding, and ensuring that the team works together effectively. In contrast, most outsourcing teams are already coordinated well and can initiate the project in the shortest possible time, without an extra adaptation period.

Precision of requirements

Well-defined and detailed requirements provide a clear roadmap for the development team. They help to reduce misunderstandings or mid-project changes. If requirements are ambiguous, it can lead to scope creep and constant modifications, posing risks to the project’s success and threatening team motivation.

To mitigate these risks, invest time and effort in stating precise requirements at the beginning of a project. Communication between all stakeholders, including clients, project managers, and development teams, is essential to have a shared picture of project goals and expectations.

How long does it take to make an app: process breakdown

The app development journey typically unfolds in several phases, each contributing to the overall duration of the project:

1. Discovery phase

The discovery phase serves as a foundation, encompassing crucial activities like ideation, idea validation, and competitor research. This is where the spark of your app idea transforms into a well-defined concept.

The duration of this phase can vary based on the complexity of your idea — allocating a few weeks to a couple of months is common. This initial investment in time pays off by refining your app’s concept and setting the stage for a smoother workflow. To learn more about how crucial the discovery phase is for your future app success read here.

2. Design

Designing an app is all about striking the right balance between aesthetics and functionality. To understand how long it takes to design an app, let’s explore the steps that stand behind app design:

Wireframing (UX) 2–4 weeks

  • Outlining the app’s layout and navigation
  • Ensuring a logical flow of user interactions and screen transitions

Conceptualization (UI) 1 week

  • Brainstorming design concepts
  • Creating rough sketches or basic wireframes

Mock-ups (UI) 3–6 weeks

  • Implementing the visual design into the app’s interface
  • Fine-tuning elements such as buttons, icons, and overall layout for consistency and responsiveness

Prototyping (UI/UX) 2–3 days

  • Building prototypes to simulate the user behavior
  • Testing and refining the prototype based on usability feedback

Conceptualization (1–2 weeks)

  • Brainstorming design concepts
  • Creating rough sketches or basic wireframes

It’s important to note that the provided timeframes are general estimates and can vary based on app complexity, the size of the design team, and the level of detail required.

3. Development

The development phase includes coding, database development, and integrating features. Let’s split the development process into parts to find out how long it takes to build a mobile app:

Project setup (1–2 weeks)

  • Setting up development environments and tools
  • Establishing team roles and responsibilities

Front-end development (4–12 weeks)

  • Writing code for UI/UX
  • Implementing design elements and ensuring visual consistency
  • Incorporating interactive features and functionalities

Back-end development (6–12 weeks)

  • Building server-side logic and managing databases
  • Integrating third-party services and APIs
  • Ensuring secure data handling and storage

4. Testing

Learn the time-saving tips for mobile app development and explore the full version of the article here.