How much does it cost to develop an app in South Africa?

Many people ask me what it costs to develop a mobile app here in South Africa. The answer to that is not a simple one. It largely depends on what you want your app to do AND which developer you speak to. I recently had to chance to cost an app for a new client which gave me some fantastic insight into this question.

Cost of developing a mobile app in South Africa

The first thing that you will find when you start shopping around for a price for your awesome new app idea, is that there is a huge range of prices you will receive. The most recent app I costed out got quotes ranging from R 120 000 to R 880 000, just or development. Yes, those were quotes for the same application. That is the kind of crazy price variation you will find in this arena.

The kind of international standard for a simple mobile app is $10 000 – $12 000. So R130k – R160k. And in this case you are dealing with a development company in India, so you better be sure your communication skills are really sharp. And even if you think you are dealing with a South African, at that price, I assure you it is an India based dev company doing the work in the background.

A South African company, with the rates we pay our developers, is going to struggle to do the app at that price and make profit. Local developers are going to cost you in the region of R250k+ for that same app. And that’s not all…

Other mobile app development costs

Development is only one cost you have to consider. There are a few more costs that you should not forget about.

Wireframes: This will help you & everyone you speak to in the process to understand what you are trying to do at the end of the day. Having a wireframe before you get a dev cost, is likely to get you a more accurate quote. You can get these designed locally but you will also find that most dev companies will also cost you to create these (if you haven’t already). This can add another R20k+ of cost.

If you don’t have the money for this though, have a look around on the net, there are many online wireframe creation tools. Some even offer a “free” for life option (limited by the total amount of projects). This might even help you to flesh out your idea properly, so it is well worth having a go at it:)

Design: It really, really pays to get a professional designer to design your app before you even start getting costings. Same as wireframe, most dev companies will also quote you for this (if you have not done it). But if you have this already done before you speak to them, you will likely get a more accurate dev quote.

There are some online design tools BUT there is no substitute for the training and experience of a professional designer here! There is a BIG difference in the final product between something professionally designed and something designed by developers (or yourself). This aspect can add another R14k to R50k to your project cost BUT it is an absolutely vital cost. If you want to create a great final product, start with a great designer! And get them to design your website at the same time (see below)

Hosting: If your app needs a database or some kind of admin panel, then it will have to be hosted somewhere. This you will find out from the developers. just be sure to ask what is required here and shop around again. Your developers will offer their solution but you should just check their pricing. This should not cost more than about R 4000/year.

Website: You are going to need a website to promote your app so be sure the hosting mentioned above can also handle your website. Websites are similar to apps in that it pays to get a designer to design it (use the same person who designs your app for consistency) and a professional developer to create it. This process will likely cost in the region of R30k to R100k, if you do it properly and depending on what you want.

Yes, you can get cheaper website BUT you will get what you pay for. My advise, do not scrimp on your website because it is a vital part of your users’ path to purchase. If you are going to create a website, make it the best it can be so it really supports your sales process 100%.

Support: Give this some thought too as it could seriously affect your running costs. Make sure that you add a support ticket system to either your app or your website. And consider who will be answering those requests. If you don’t have the money it will be you, so be sure you have a simple, easy to use system to manage all of this.

Developer accounts: To add an app into the iStore or Play market, you need to have a developer account. This costs $99/year and $25 once-off respectively. Your developers will have accounts and they will offer to add your app to their account. you can do this, if you like but I do recommend getting your own accounts if you can afford it. It just gives you more control of your property!


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How to get it done cheaper?

So people ask “what does it cost” and I run through all of the above and I get this look. This “are you effen serious” look. And the next question is always “how can I get it done cheaper”?

If the app you want is something completely custom that has not been done before, there is NO shortcut or cheaper option, sorry.

If your app is something more common and you are willing to compromise on a few things, then complete the form below because we can help you. We can offer simpler apps, using templated designs and functions, with a little customisation, that will work for you. In the price range of R40k+

What kind of apps & functionality fall into this category?

Community apps: Schools, sports clubs, churches & any similar groups who need an app to aggregate information they post on their website, calendar & social media. Something to send push notifications to users, based on user defined interests. Somewhere they can easily and quickly add information or downloads or useful links.

Shop apps: Restaurants, coffee shops, caterers & most online shops can be easily supported. From presenting your full menu or products, to taking in app orders & payments. For loyalty cards, discount coupons and competitions. Geo-targeted push notifications for people in the area and much more.

Why is it cheaper and what other costs are there?

We use a CMS like app creation system which allows us to create apps along a specific framework and easily change their content. It uses a templated design. That means you cannot custom design your app, you have to use one of our layouts (huge choice) BUT we can customise stuff like colours, logo, splash screens, backgrounds and icons. Many of our templates include graphics for backgrounds and splash screens. You will have to provide your logo, icon and any custom backgrounds you want. We can recommend a designer.

We have certain pre-defined functionality available. We have modules which provide different functionality such as those listed above. This makes it easy to add in (or remove) any of these functions to your app BUT they work the way they do. If you want them customised in any way, that will cost.

We are cheaper because we have spent money on creating a system to create applications. The apps we create are native applications and will look, work and feel like any other custom designed application. What’s more, we can easily and quickly update the app content without having to re-publish in the app stores.

When you publish your app, you can publish on our developer account or your own (it’s up to you). The only other cost that will be involved is a monthly hosting fee (R550/month) for your app (the HTML5 browser version) and app control panel.

If you want a “custom” mobile app in the R40k+ range, please¬†complete your info below.

Get a quote for your app…

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